Cry ‘God for Boris, England and St George!’
With the news that the Mayor of London has fulfilled his promise to hang a portrait of Her Majesty the Queen at City Hall, there is a sense with each passing week that the next Conservative government shall instil a sense of patriotism and redress the UK’s constitutional imbalance by throwing a few crumbs to England. Today, Mayor Johnson is touring the capital city in an open-top bus and on Saturday he shall be promoting a free concert of modern English folk music in Trafalgar Square.
England is worth celebrating and the English should be proud to do so.
St George was not English. Indeed, he was born in (what is now) Turkey and was martyred in Israel (which some prefer to call Palestine). Yet his story is bound up with that of England, for it is a story of a quest for religious liberty. Born of Christian parents during the late third century, George became a soldier – a loyal and successful one – in the army of Emperor Diocletian. When in AD302 the Emperor issued an edict that every Christian soldier in the army should be arrested and every other soldier forced to offer a sacrifice to the Pagan gods, George refused. He was neither going to bow the knee to false idols nor honour religious tyranny. Just as the English were eventually to do, George rejected the notion of ‘Divine Right’ and king worship. He renounced the Emperor’s edict and declared before his fellow soldiers that he was a Christian and would worship only Jesus Christ. Diocletian had George tortured by laceration on a wheel of swords. He was eventually beheaded for his faith, a witness which caused others to convert to Christianity who were themselves martyred for their faith in Jesus.
It is no surprise that such a story should inspire the English who endured centuries of persecution at the hands of their own religious fanatics. And Cranmer surely knows. It is a bloody, messy and murky history. But the settlement came at the beginning of the 18th century, since which time England has been a nation of increasing liberty, and that liberty has been a beacon of light to the modern free world.
As far as Cranmer is concerned, St George’s Day should be a national holiday in honour of all that England has bequeathed to the world. And while His Grace is in a patriotic mood, he wishes it to be known that all public buildings ought to display prominently and permanently a portrait of Her Majesty. All schools, hospitals and town halls ought to make a very public display of affection for and allegiance to the Sovereign Head of State (even if she be a vassal citizen of the European Union). Civic pride must be restored: ‘citizenship’ must be supplanted by an appreciation of such notions as loyalty, allegiance and respect for liberty and the traditions of liberal democracy. In addition, the BBC, as the State broadcaster, financed by a compulsory tithe of Her Majesty’s subjects, ought to reinstate the daily rendering of the National Anthem.
It is not mere coincidence that St George’s Day coincides with the birthday of the world’s greatest poet and playwright.
Go on, Mr Cameron: give a manifesto pledge. Grant the English a day of liberty to honour St George and William Shakespeare. Your victory at the next general election would thereby be assured.