Merton remembers the forgotten Saint by raising the flag for St George’s Day
By Rhys Hayward, Colin McKean, Josh Richards, Sam Smith and Jason Thomson
The Cross of St George will rise over Merton tomorrow, despite England being described this week as Europe’s least patriotic country.
Mayor Nick Draper will hoist the flag at the Civic Centre in Morden at 10am in celebration of England’s patron saint.
The survey, undertaken by This England magazine, said only a third of the 5,820 people asked were even aware it was St George’s day.
“I think it’s time for ordinary English people to stop being so timid about it,” said editor Stephen Garnett.
Mr Garnett argues that indifference to England’s flag and St George’s Day leaves these symbols open for adoption by right wing political groups such as the BNP.
“It’s the flag of everybody in England, so we claim it from any kind of extremist associations.
“If people are not standing up and doing that they’re surrendering really,” he added.This reluctance is obvious to Wimbledon flag salesman Martin Armstrong, who has seen little rise in sales in the lead-up to St George’s Day.
“We’re not really flag-orientated like the Americans,” he said.
“Many people are scared to put up a flag because the cross has had some bad publicity in the past. The Union Jack tends to be more popular.”
The UK Independence Party is campaigning for St George’s day to be made a national holiday in its election manifesto.
Wimbledon’s UKIP candidate Mark McAleer said: “I remember when I was growing up 15 years ago people flew their flags proudly, but you don’t see that anymore.”
“This isn’t a race issue. At sports events like Football, Cricket and Rugby you see people with the St George’s Cross.
“They have pride in their team, and have pride in their country.”
Mr Armstrong hopes this will be the case and he has already seen evidence the flags will be flying high come June.
“We’ve had a big order from Fuller’s pubs and it tends to be the only time when English flags are out and about,” he said.
Mr Garnett agrees: “In a couple of months there’ll be England flags everywhere, and no one’s going to tell anyone to take them all down.”