> With the World Cup thankfully over, and the flags safely tucked away for another two years, WesternEye looks at their perceived significance in today’s society, and how BBC Radio 4 managed to make a mountain out of a molehill

FLAGS! Careful, now.

World cup fever is over. Thank God. It was painful, nobody wants to talk about it, and, frankly it was all a bit of a waste of time from an England fan’s perspective. However, amongst this, an ugly issue raised its head. Every World Cup in my memory has been overshadowed by three debates.

1) Who gets England’s number 1 shirt?

2) Is there nobody in England capable of having a talented left footed child?

3) Does having a Cross of St George flag make you a racist?

It is, strangely, the third one I want to look at.

The banner on the top of the BBC website the week before England’s first match read “What does it say about you if you fly an England flag?” Aside from being incredibly clumsy as a sentence (why not say “What does flying an England flag say about you?” ?) it’s also the most mind numbingly infuriating proposition since someone at the BBC decided that some dizzy Canadian bumbler was a suitable temporary replacement for Steve Wright on his eponymous Sunday morning radio leviathan Love Songs

Middle aged women’s radio aside, what are the BBC trying to achieve by engaging in the ultimately pointless charade that is the concept of patriotism? Following the link led to a BBC Radio 4 preview for the following day.

As you can well imagine, the debate quickly descended into an argument about race, and not, as it perpetrated to be, a debate about a flag. You could write the script before it’s been broadcast.

Extreme right calls for flag-hating generic foreigners to be deported because they’re “taking the jobs and that”; extreme left says of said generic group that they should be deported because they’re taking the jobs and that”.

Meanwhile Mr. Moderate, king of the Radio Four Vox-Pop, takes a step back from his Aga to exclaim “Well, I’m all for inclusion, and I’m not a racist but…” followed by a racist sentiment, and to counter balance all this there’s a man from a charity, usually of unrelated cause, saying that everyone is “beautiful and free and welcome” and subconsciously inviting anyone who happens to be listening to vomit.

There we go, that’s what happened that morning on Radio 4. I woke up perilously early to listen to that, and I’ve summarised it in fewer than 100 words. It’s an unnecessary debate that will never be resolved. It’s a flag, not anything more. It is not a symbol of England, it is not Nick Griffin’s favourite piece of cloth based pornography; it is a piece of fabric with a hugely unimaginative symbol on it. People project their own connotations onto it, there’s nothing intrinsic about its values.

Trying to argue over the flag’s importance is like trying to beat a wall at a game of tennis. It means different things to everyone, move on.

Anyway, back to the statement at hand, “What does it say about you if you fly an England flag?” Well BBC, it says two things:

1) You own a flag.

2) There is at least a moderate breeze.

It does not make you a racist. Being a racist makes you a racist, oddly enough. And that’s really that I suppose. Fly a flag if you want to, don’t if you don’t. At the end of the day we all affiliate with our nation in different ways.

Many ex-pats would argue that they are still English, and yet when people from other nationalities come to live in Britain, morons demand that they integrate. Why the double standard? Do they genuinely think that there was a Dog and Pheasant or Brian’s Caff on the Costa del Sol before the English immigrated in their droves? No. If we refuse to integrate then what right do we have to rant and rave about a flag being supposedly offensive? Fly your flag if you want, it’s just a flag; nobody’s going to burn it.

Are they?