Is the Government minister’s promise to “look into” the possible redesign of the British flag to incorporate Wales merely a case of saying the right thing at the right time, or is it a serious proposition?
Margaret Hodge told the House of Commons she will consider changing the Union flag, which currently does not have a representation from the Principality, after an MP suggested the Welsh dragon could be incorporated in a new design.
The idea was proposed by Ian Lucas, MP for Wrexham, who said the current flag only represents three of the four home countries.
Looking at this at face value, he is right. It is only fair that all four countries are represented in the national flag of Great Britain.
Changing the design would also add credence to the Prime Minister’s quest to kick-start a new debate on Britishness in the 21st century.
And yet, as a Welshman living in England, I can’t help but think the whole issue is a non-story. It smacks of yet another example of Labour identifying a major issue – in this case Britishness – but then shying away from the really big and difficult questions and focusing on the incidentals that in the long-run don’t really add anything to the debate.
Ask Welsh people what they think and most will probably agree that Wales should be represented in the Union flag. But how many would then go on to agree that the 400 year-old flag should now be redesigned?
Personally, I like the fact that Wales isn’t so closely associated with the Union flag.
Simply adding the Welsh dragon to the existing flag would not be an attractive proposition. If they want to include Wales then a radical new design is the only way forward.
The Union flag doesn’t mean too much to me at present and what it does suggest is largely negative.
If we are to have a proper debate on Britishness, then there are a lot more pressing issues we should be concentrating on. Compared to the myth of multi-culturalism, for example, the absence of Wales from the Union flag is hardly worth dwelling on.
Vive la difference, as they don’t say down Cardiff way.