Sunder Katwala is Director of British Future, whose report 'This Sceptred Isle' can be read on www.britishfuture.org.
Yet This Sceptred Isle, a report published by British Future today to mark St George’s Day and Shakespeare’s birthday captures why mainstream politicians need to speak about England’s place within the reshaped United Kingdom after devolution.
Only a slim majority, six out of ten, of the English associate the St George's Cross with pride and patriotism, which is surely the main point of a national flag, according to YouGov’s polling for the report. More than eight out of ten in Scotland and Wales can say that of their flags, while 80% of the English do see the Union flag as patriotic too. But as many as one in three of the under 40s think of racism and extremism when they see England's national flag. Conservatives are three times as likely to see extremism in the English flag (17%) as the Union Jack (6%).
That suggests that the extreme street hooligans of the English Defence League have toxified our national flag, but should share the blame with the democratic politicians who have failed to speak up for the inclusive patriotism of the English majority.