A cohesive nation needs a national identity. It cannot be a collection of separate communities, each with their own completely separate values and beliefs. This is, or should be, common sense. Of course, it hasn’t been. Britain has had a cultural cringe that led to our own national flag being appropriated by the Far Right without anyone batting an eyelid. The good news is that attitudes are changing. The bad news is that the government is making a hash of it. They seem to be trying to build national identity while simultaneously restricting the freedom of speech, and thought. The idea seems to be that if no group can offend any other group then somehow they will all come together. Or at least glower at each other in silence.
Amid all of this Gordon Brown wraps himself in the Union Flag. His motives, at least, are clear. He is Scottish, very Scottish in fact. He is going to have an electoral problem in England, especially now that there is a Scottish parliament. The Saltaire and the Cross of St. George are no good to him. He needs the Union Jack.