UK: Labour MPs Refuse To Use Union Jack Election Leaflets

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Labour party leader

Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer is facing a backlash from some Labour MPs over the party’s use of the union jack flag in election material.

Despite the fact that the Union Flag, or Union Jack, is the national flag of the United Kingdom, MP’s are refusing to use it on election leaflets. They claim that its ‘colours are associated with the National Front’ and that it will put off black and Asian voters.

Sir Keir launched his local election campaign this week with swathes of red, white and blue plastered on campaign banners and leaflets. However figures inside the party are warning that the extensive use of the Union flag is ‘definitely detrimental’ in areas with large ethnic minority populations who see it as a symbol of the far right.

The Mail Online reports: The leader is trying to boost his patriotic credentials among disenchanted Tory voters, particularly in so-called ‘red wall’ areas where support for Labour faltered before the last general election.

Recent Labour events have featured the Union flag across banners, backdrops and even lecterns from which Sir Keir and deputy leader Angela Rayner have delivered campaign speeches. 

Yet some feel the ‘plastering’ of British flags on campaign materials is over-the-top – amid reports that street teams are uncomfortable handing out the pamphlets for fear they are associated with groups such as National Front.

Those said to be critical of the patriotic papers have raised concerns with Sir Keir’s chief of staff, Sue Gray, and chief whip Alan Campbell.  

They were aired at recent meetings of the party’s black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) group at Westminster and also by London members of the parliamentary Labour Party.

We are all really proud of our country but this can be a complex issue for some communities and we have to navigate that more carefully,’ one MP told the Guardian, which first reported the concerns.

‘For a lot of communities we are talking about colours that are associated with the National Front or another far-right group.’

The MP said using the flag might be ‘great’ to target the ‘hero voters’ the party needs to switch from the Tories, but there should be ‘segmented branding’ with different material used in other areas where it may be viewed negatively.

Another MP told the Guardian: ‘I can see how it would work in some places but it’s definitely detrimental in university towns, and in heavily BAME seats.’

Niamh Harris
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