Today, as most of you reading will already know, is St George’s Day. It is England’s national day. Each year on this date, several things occur. One is that a certain portion of the population gets out their crosses of St George and revels in their idea of Englishness. This is sometimes benign, it is sometimes nasty, but it mostly the former. Another portion of the population, meanwhile, tries to look down its nose at the very idea of St George’s Day. The fact that St George was Greek, spent his whole life in Asia Minor and never came to England once gets brought up ad nauseam. St George’s Day becomes symbolic to liberals every late-April of everything they don’t like about England at the moment, which unfortunately includes a majority of the nation’s population.
I think liberals fighting this battle are being silly. This is an unneeded annual fixture in the ongoing culture war. By complaining about St George’s Day every year, liberals are just fuelling the idea that circulates on the right that only they care about the country and that liberals are openly disdainful of the place. They are unnecessarily fuelling the culture war. They are also leaving England’s national day to the right.
My suggestion is that liberals should ideally try and reclaim the day, using it to celebrate what they like about England. Yet I realise I’m asking for the moon on a stick with that, so I ask this instead: could liberals just ignore the day if they don’t want to take part? Why wind up those on the right they disagree with on what is just a day that means something to a group of people even if means nothing to them? Don’t both the left and liberals push the idea of people being allowed to enjoy days of celebration that have particular cultural resonance to a group of people living in Britain? For instance, I don’t celebrate Eid or Passover, but I wouldn’t think to belittle those that do. What I’m saying here is, can’t you extend this idea to those within your own country who just want to celebrate their own national day? Can’t we be liberals and allow space for those we disagree with to do their thing when it isn’t causing any harm?
I know what the answer to this is. Yet I can still feel annoyed about it.
I have a new book out now. It’s called “Politics is Murder” and follows the tale of a woman named Charlotte working at a failing think tank who has got ahead in her career in a novel way – she is a serial killer. One day, the police turn up at her door and tell her she is a suspect in a murder – only thing is, it is one she had nothing to do with. The plot takes in Conservative Party conference, a plot against the Foreign Secretary and some gangsters while Charlotte tries to find out who is trying to frame her for a murder she didn’t commit.
Also: there is a subplot around the government trying to built a stupid bridge, which now seems a charming echo of a more innocent time!
It’s available here:
What a weird article! I have never been sufficiently aware of St George’s day to either celebrate or complain about it. St George does not register sufficiently for any one to be bothered about it. In which circles do you mix where the life of St George is bought up ad nauseam? Actually if you had asked me, I would have guessed that St George was a mythical rather than an actual historical figure.
For some countries the national day has genuine significance, often the date to mark some kind of independence.