Even in online political discussions, some phrases invite recoil or aghast worthy of taboo. On the left, I think ‘family, faith and flag’ is such a phrase.
Those who know their political factions will know that The Cornerstone Group, a traditional conservative faction of the Conservative Party, uses ‘faith, flag and family’ as their motto. Furthermore, the title of Sarah Palin’s book, ‘America By Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag’, will further isolate casual centre-left sympathisers.
But for me, ‘family, faith and flag’ are rooted within the Labour tradition and values and have become more important in today’s society.
Family can take many forms and for me is defined as a close bond based on relationships built around respect, compassion, solidarity and love. People shy away from discussing ‘family’ as it is perceived to mean a ‘nuclear family’ built around marriage.
But this misses the point profoundly about how diverse families can be and how important these relationships are; a Labour movement should certainly look to both facilitate these bonds and protect them.
Faith of any religion is key as it often lies at the heart of a community – a community which is built around common traditions, relationships and action. Through this it can be far more effective in facilitating changes for the local population than the central state or even local government.
Again, many have shied away from this topic as they feel it could be discriminatory or exclusionary based upon Christian ideals. Furthermore, it conjures up images of traditional Tory shires with little diversity or tolerance.
There is a significant difference in explicitly bringing religion into politics (which I oppose) and getting political parties to understand and harness the potential it has in making a sizeable impact on the local community.
Flag and with it national pride is, again, seen to be exclusionary and anti-immigration when in fact it is actually about upholding traditions that form that common bond between generations within families and communities.
Part of being British, or the tradition that it holds, is to be tolerant, accepting and welcoming. For me, this notion that I cannot feel patriotic or promote patriotism for fear of being exclusionary or agitational goes against what I think ‘British’ stands for.
Why don’t we on the centre-left promote ‘flag’ for what it means on the centre-left rather than avoid the term completely?
For me, this is more to do with how we convey our own interpretations rather than simply accept right-wing definitions; we should be prepared to clearly make the case in order reclaim its use.
Would the public disagree with what the phrase stands for from a centre-left point of view? There is only one way to find out – let’s go out and ask people what they think.
First published on Liberal Conspiracy