Eric Pickles: "The only way is Wessex!"
In a riposte to the absurd decision by Labour-run Radstock Town Council in Somerset to ban the Cross of St George (in order 'not to offend Muslims' - no, this is not a joke), Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has responded today by encouraging the flying of all local flags with pride. He has no time at all for ‘stupid municipal officialdom’, as he calls it. And all reasonable people would concur: it undermines community relations and negates national culture. (Has a Muslim ever complained about the flying of the flag of England? If so, Col. Bob Stewart MP has a message for them).
As part of its programme of recognising and celebrating the traditional institutions of England, the Government has decided to mark Wessex Day today by flying the Flag of Wessex over departmental buildings.
Wessex is the kingdom which gave birth to the united English nation. It dates back to the 6th Century, stretching across southern England. Wessex was the dominant kingdom of Anglo-Saxon England, its name deriving from the Old English form for ‘West Saxon’. Wessex kings, such as Alfred the Great, fought off Danish incursions, and by the early 10th century, the Wessex kings had become kings of England. This continuing connection with the Monarchy is reflected by Prince Edward holding the title of Earl of Wessex.
Today also marks the Feast of St Aldhelm, the patron saint of Wessex.
His Grace understands that Radstock Town Council has now reversed its position after a public outcry, including from Muslim groups. There has also been controversy over a Preston housing association banning a front door from displaying a smartly-painted St George’s cross. That needs reversing also.
In April, the Government formally acknowledged the continuing role of England's traditional counties in English public life. Previously, many parts of Whitehall and municipal officialdom shunned these ancient counties, many of which date back over a thousand years. This move complements the Government’s abolition of unelected regional government in England, based on the European Union’s ‘NUTS1’ administrative boundaries. The celebration today of Wessex reflects how the Government is championing the long-standing, traditional localities of England.
Eric Pickles said: “Recent events remind us that we are stronger as a society when we celebrate the ties that bind us together. In the last week, stupid municipal officialdom has sought to ban the English flag, harming not helping community relations. I want to send a strong signal – we should fly our flags with pride. Whatever one’s class, colour or creed, let’s have pride in Britain’s local and national identities. It’s right to celebrate the kingdom that paved the way for a united England: for today, the only way is Wessex.”
Derek Pickett, Chairman of the Wessex Society said: "It took a thousand years for the Wyvern to fly free, may it once again inspire those who gaze up to it and bless those who toil beneath it."
You know.. if a political party were to champion St George's Day (which happens also to be Shakespeare's birthday) as a national holiday in England, it would assist the inculcation of a national identity and remind people of the dominant culture and values. It might even be worth a few votes..