On national flags ...

Whether they view them positively or negatively, you certainly cannot say that nobody cares about national flags.

Yesterday afternoon I tweeted a reply to a Labour friend  - I do have some - suggesting in moderate language that Britain's national flag should not be the property of extremists like the NF and BNP and that rest of us are entitled to use it. There was nothing in the post which I expected to be controversial. The  authors of a recent report to Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour party, suggesting that Labour should not be afraid of presenting itself as a patriotic party would have agreed.

It was a lot more contentious than I expected. In the following 34 hours my tweet had 236 likes, nine retweets and 69 replies which ranged from strong agreement to abuse. That's a lot for me on Twitter. The Labour friend I was replying to has had nearly four thousand retweets and fifteen thousand likes for his original tweet. He commented 

"Well, this kind of blew up. I really wasn’t expecting it to get that much attention." 

Ironically one of the people who made a response to me which was very negative about people who display the Union Flag was at the time himself displaying it in his twitter name. (He removed it when the inconsistency was pointed out.)

I try very hard not to be too quick to block or mute people but life is too short to waste it engaging with the kind of person who is convinced that anyone who disagrees with them is a xenophobe or an extremist. I think I've blocked or muted more people on twitter this weekend than in the previous two years (though still well inside single figures.) 

I think the lesson is that when you touch matters of national identity you should, to borrow a phrase, tread softly for you tread on people's dreams.


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