Why do we have a problem with ‘faith, family and flag’?


11:06 am - October 5th 2011

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contribution by Joe Sarling

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.


Joe Sarling is an economist and blogs at Comment Today and tweets from here.

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Reader comments


> Family can take many forms and for me

Yup. But sadly not for people who use ‘faith, family and flag’.

Hey, things are looking up.

Wise words, Joe.

Sadly, centre-left politics is populated by intellectual snobs who think all this beneath them. It won’t fly.

Joe,

It is very simple. Socialism transcends national boundaries. A worker exploited regardless of where they herald from causes me the same pain and anguish. Thus, I do not regard the cause of inequality as confined to one geographic boundary.

For a socialist the cause of a Chilean miner is identical to that of a Durham miner.

The only flag is a red one.

4. So Much For Subtlety

Family can take many forms and for me is defined as a close bond based on relationships built around respect, compassion, solidarity and love.

So I hate to start with a Tory cliche, but an illegal immigrant and his dog may have respect, compassion, solidarity and love. Does that make them a family?

Notice that in Britain families do not take many forms, at least not in what people want. What people want is a nuclear family, despite all the efforts of the government to destroy that institution.

Most of the Leftists I have known or read about seem to have issues with their parents. So I am not sure they are going to buy into the idea of supporting the idea of a family now. Not when the Left is so invested in destroying it. Take child care. Most women would prefer to spend more time at home with their children. The Left is committed to forcing them into work and putting the children into creches. Has been for over 100 years. Going to challenge that?

Through this it can be far more effective in facilitating changes for the local population than the central state or even local government. … 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.

So talking about Faith is fine as long as it is entirely for the purpose of exploiting them for political ends? A cynical approach that sees other people’s religions as tools for some politician’s career?

It doesn’t sound fair. Have I missed some subtle point here?

Why don’t we on the centre-left promote ‘flag’ for what it means on the centre-left rather than avoid the term completely?

Because, and I am not entirely sure you can miss this, a large chunk of the Left hates Britain and all it stands for? That is why so many supported the Soviet Union. Why so many support the EU. Anything that would either abolish Britain or change profoundly into something more palatable.

Thank you so much for your comments so far.

Ian P – my argument is to reclaim this term and not to let it slide away into a meaning that is far too narrow.

Flowerpower – many thanks for your comment. It will indeed be a shame if such ideas are not understood or embraced.

Eoin – extremely interesting take and can see from a political philosophy point your reasoning. I fear that populations do not define themselves in terms of political philosophies but rather by nationalities and feel it would be better to embrace this for good rather than exclusion.

So Much for Subtlety – thank you for your input. I do feel we differ on these points. For me it is about allowing both choice ie the balance between going to work and family life as well as supporting such diverse differences in personal situations e.g. ‘nuclear family’, ‘one-parent family’, ‘carers’ etc. The left should be there to support this choice.

As for the faith issue, I certainly did not mean to exploit faiths for one’s own ends. I do not want to see religion deciding political issues. Rather I want us to understand that faith is often at the heart of the community, along with many other non-faith organisations, and if this group of people want to make a difference in their communities then we should support and facilitate this.

The idea that “Part of being British, or the tradition that it holds, is to be tolerant, accepting and welcoming” has always been bizarre to me.

Surely, if we’re basing things on historical experience being British is about slaughter, murder, rape, occupation and Empire.

That’s why focus on the flag is so absurd, because it has a lot of worldwide baggage attached.

Agree with Ciaran.

‘Part of being British, or the tradition that it holds, is to be tolerant, accepting and welcoming.’

This might be true of certain people’s identification with what it means to be British. Those of us born in parts of the world which were colonised by Britain tend to disagree with the sentiment that ‘being British’ means being tolerant, accepting and welcoming.

Eoin

Thus, I do not regard the cause of inequality as confined to one geographic boundary…For a socialist the cause of a Chilean miner is identical to that of a Durham miner…

Really? So, you’re just throwing the “borders” thing out the window. What does that mean, exactly? Do you think that the welfare state should be expanded over the entire world? That British police should respond to French crime as swiftly as if it had been in England?

Oh, I REALLY hate HTML.

Part of being British, or the tradition that it holds, is to be tolerant, accepting and welcoming.

Which tradition is this, exactly?

There s some strange synergy at work here—I was just writing a comment that addressed precisely this point in another thread, came back to the front page and this article had been posted.

The comment is here: http://liberalconspiracy.org/?p=27489#comment-318285

To expand slightly, the problem you have with “faith, flag and family” is that these things all conflict with liberalism, and liberalism is the dominant ideology of the age. All the mainstream parties are controlled by metropolitan elites who believe in liberalism (including the Tories)—although this is not necessarily true at the parochial, lower income, less-educated grassroots level—and all the important public institutions (civil service, BBC, etc) are dominated by well-educated people who naturally believe in liberalism. Anything that conflicts with liberalism is therefore likely to be ignored or censured by these powerful groups.

Liberalism is the attempt to construct a Universalist and technically rational society where all desires are treated equally and all can reach optimal level of satisfaction under proper application of technocratic methods. The individual is (nominally) supreme, and his or her choice of values is inviolable and sacred. Consequently, there can be nothing that transcends the individual and his or her sovereign choices, except that force that arbitrates disputes between individuals in a disinterested and value neutral fashion such that the maximum utility is achieved for all.

The highest virtues of liberalism are tolerance, inclusiveness and diversity, and “faith, flag and family” clearly violates these principles. Religion, national identity and family life are all suspect because they imply that the individual’s choices between beliefs and values are not the totality of existence. In order to make the system work, liberalism has to reduce everything down to individual consumerist preferences, in order to prevent conflict between ostensibly sovereign individuals. Hence, anything “exclusive” or “intolerant” has to be ruthlessly suppressed–and in practice what this means is that the traditional institutions that cleave society together (and therefore cleave societies apart) need to be dismantled.

Let’s analyse it calmly: Faith, family and the flag, which is worryingly similar to that banner of the Vichy government in France under German occupation in WW2: Travail, famille, patrie

Mind you, I fully understand why, in current circustances, they found it expedient to substitute a beguiling alternative forTravail. At nearly a million, the numbers of young people in NEETs (not in work, education or taining) has reached a record high.

Successive censuses and polls show decreasing personal commitment to religious faith, even in previously devout countries like Ireland. In that case because of the mounting scandal of the paedophile priesthood in the dominant Catholic church there and not only in Ireland. Internationally, the church has paid out millions in compensation to victims of abuse.

In short, with that and Global Jihad, religion is thoroughly discredited and on the way out. In 1992, the Catholic church finally exonerated Galileo for publicising his heretical theory that the earth moved round the sun. Finally, try also Deuteronomy 22:20-22, which is fundamental to all the Abrhamic faiths:

20 But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel:
21 then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die; because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.
22 If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.

Family – with half of all children in Britain born to unmarried couples and half of all marriages ending in divorce? C’mon. When is the next stoning scheduled for?

The flag? As Samuel Johnson reportedly put it: Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. Remember Blair’s rallying call for support in June 2003 while flying the flag?

Tony Blair has rejected calls for an official inquiry into the government’s claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Speaking at the G8 summit in Evian, Mr Blair said he stood “100%” by the evidence shown to the public about Iraq’s alleged weapons programmes.

“Frankly, the idea that we doctored intelligence reports in order to invent some notion about a 45-minute capability for delivering weapons of mass destruction is completely and totally false,” he said.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2955036.stm

I wonder what the Chilcot inquiry will be reporting about that.

Of course, there is nothing really novel about youthful scepticism over calls to rally to the flag. Try that Oxford Union debate in February 1933 on the motion: “This House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country”. It was passed by 275 votes to 153..

12. Chaise Guevara

In the context in which they’re normally used, “faith, family and flag” tend to be thought-terminating cliches. I.E. appealing to any of those three concepts shows how noble your ideas are without actually supporting them properly. That’s why people have a problem with it.

Through my experience there wasn’t a greater time than the 1980s to now that the ideal family has been dissiminated. We have really been living in a right wing world since the 1980s.

So Much For Subtlety – If women should stay at home to bring the kidds up then pay them as most households today need two incomes to get by in life otherwise these families wouldn’t survive without two incomes.

So that’s “relationships, communities and tolerance” then?

Other problems include ‘family’ often being a code word for ‘anti-gay’, faith being a code word for ‘anti-women’s rights’, and ‘flag’ being a code word for marking out contrary critical opinions as being treasonous.
Other than that I’m sure grabbing the mantle of modern day fascism is a brilliant idea.

So, with that in mind, it might be an idea to try to analyse Mr Sarling’s article, which tries to re-imagine the slogan along liberal lines. The important point to remember is that liberalism rejects particularism, and so “faith, flag and family” will remain anathema unless the implied exclusivity, intolerance and uniformity can be neutralised in both substantive and connotative senses. Then “faith, flag and family” will be simply one more idea in the market place for sovereign-individual lifestyle choices. And of course, one shouldn’t denigrate individual choices because that would be intolerant and judgemental.

“Family” sounds bad, because it implies heteronormity, patriarchy and so forth, which imply that one type of relationship is better than another. But in the modern age families are “diverse”, and thus there is a liberal familial institution in which the individual choice is supreme and no one type is preferred over another.

“Faith” sounds even worse, because the very idea of God radically conflicts with the notion of liberalism. Human desires are at the centre of the liberal world, and so man occupies the space one held by God. We have done away with the transcendent aspects of life altogether.

Further, explains Mr Sarling, religion itself has connotative aspects that modern liberals find unappealing. Specifically, there are connotations of the particular traditions of Britain, and this violates Universality, inclusivity and diversity.

On the other hand, to banish religion totally would also be exclusive, and thus there must be a space for it amidst all the other choices. And so, if religion and liberalism are to coexist, then religion must have all significance drawn out of it, so that one chooses between religions as one chooses a tie.

“Flag” of course is the sort of thing that racists and people who read the Daily Mail go one about, and they are basically equivalent with Nazis. National identity is essentially arbitrary and meaningless. Everybody is the same and cannot be anything other than the same.

However, modern Britain is liberal, and this means that its national identity is also tolerant and supportive of diversity and so on, thus enabling a new connotative relationship to be established between the British flag and liberal values.

I see people aren’t keen. How about Gays, Guns, and God instead?

You really don’t understand “faith groups” do you ? Religions don’t primarily exist to do good, or even act charitably although some of them do; they exist to promote their point of view which, strangely enough, is that they, and only they, have access to the truth and everyone else is wrong.

Such people may well work with you, but only so far as it promotes their own agenda. And they will also want payback, they will want privileged access to power (eg Bishops, Rabbis and imams in house of Lords) and they will want influence.

All of which is fine if they support progressive leftish goals, but let’s not kid ourselves about all the other, much less savoury aspects of religious influence, particularly for women.

And where does that leave that majority of Britons of little or no faith whatsoever. Where is our privileged access ? Who represents us when the Commons is packed to the rafters with believers who only claim not to do God whenever a microphone is near ?

Secular society is not atheist, it is about all faiths AND none. What you propose is a regression, an inherently conservative regression.

I also wonder what you mean when you discuss “family”. It is such a wide issue, do you mean in an EastEnders plot line way, something which seems more akin to mafiosi bloodline than any actual lived experience ? Or do you mean in the slightly gentler Glasman-esque way of wondering why people in Council houses can’t get flats for their kids just down the road (involving hand-wrung denunciations of immigrants jumping queues to appease Dagenham-man).

Or perhaps you mean Thatcher type “wealth cascading down the generations” which seems to have suited David Cameron personally more than most Labour voters. Or the problem that arise when family is dispersed due to employment mobility leading to mothers lacking childcare or parents being left abandoned in old age ?

And these are just the issues that spring to mind whenever any politician of any stripe starts lecturing about the moral advantages that accrue to their own ideas of “Family”. You might as well go on about Mum and Apple Pie or Truth, Justice and the American Way (given British politicians excruciating deference to the USA we may as well) ; they’re just phrases that are far too overloaded with personal baggage for them to ever have wider meaning in a national context, as any fule kno.

Perhaps because we’re so used to those using “family, faith and flag” missing out the same word – my family, my faith, my flag.

It doesn’t really make sense without inserting that.

20. John Baxendale

Because, to put it bluntly, it sounds fascist. It echoes the fascist slogans of the 1930s and 40s, such as Vichy’s ‘travail, famille, patrie’. The intention of such slogans was to invoke ‘traditional’ values of subordination to existing structures and values, in opposition to left-wing demands for equality, freedom, democracy, self-determination etc. I think this echo may even be deliberate on the part of some Blue Labour enthusiasts who think being transgressive is cool and we should ‘think the unthinkable’. To be more specific, families are fine, but hardly unproblematic: has 40 years of feminism taught us nothing? The nation is OK in itself, but ‘flag’ suggests unquestioning obedience to a symbol and those who wave it rather then membership of a free and equal political community. And ‘faith’ sticks in this unbeliever’s craw for obvious reasons – but more than that, are you aware that ‘faith’ has historically always been a source of division and conflict in British politics – Anglican versus Dissenter, Protestant against Catholic, and now perhaps Christian against Muslim? Faith may indeed unite some communities, but more often than not it unites them against other communities united by other faiths. Faith has never united this nation except at times when minority faiths were being persecuted.

In Samuel Johnson’s time it made sense to say that patriotism was the last refuge of the scoundrel.

Joining the army or the navy was a widely recognised way of avoiding imprisonment for unpaid debt or evading arrest and indictment for any of the many crimes which carried the risk of the death penalty on conviction.

22. Chaise Guevara

@ 20

“Faith has never united this nation except at times when minority faiths were being persecuted.”

Not to mention that the difference between “belief” and “faith” appears to be a willingness to ignore evidence that contradicts your preferences. I’m having trouble with coming up with another nice-sounding concept that would be a worse principle to rally behind than “faith”, of all things.

23. Marmaduke's Coat of Many Colours

Here are the reasons why I have a problem with ‘faith, family and flag’;

1. It’s the worst example of alliterative dross since ‘education, education, education’. Alliteration should never be used in politics, it sounds childish. Stop it.

2. It’s none of politicos’ business. Let people worship, marry and identify however they want. Why should we care whether people worship hair straightners, marry a horse and fly the flag of the Republic of Transdneistr outside their house? Good legislation shouldn’t discriminate anyway, I think that’s the point we should make instead.

3. All these things are fundamentally, a choice. We can’t consider all faiths, family circumstances or definition of nationhood – and neither do you get homogeneous communities (outside of rural middle England) – it therefore automatically creates exclusion.

4. I think your focus on ‘British’ is a misnomer, as most people don’t identify themselves as such; but as one of the constituent nations of Britain. Or as one of the regions of Britain. Or as one of the immigrant groups in Britain. Of course, the enlightened and better amongst us identify as European nationals. But that’s because we rock.

5. It’s all a bit woolly really, isn’t it? Like hugging a hoody, tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime, etc. It’s a soundbite which means very little. Instead, you should adopt the mantra of ‘be sensible’. This mantra means that if people in a community have a good idea, and it won’t hurt anyone, do it. If it might hurt a few people, talk to them and see what would help. And if it would hurt a lot of people, you should probably take a long hard look at what you’re doing. It’s just called being sensible, it doesn’t need fancy rhetoric attached.

Although, a blog entitled ‘let’s be sensible’ would be quite short. And not attract many readers. Lack of alliteration, you see.

Whilst family and flag have been seen for years as the preserve of the right, both are concepts that the left should really be able to claim as their own.
In the 21st century, rampant global capitalism is the biggest threat to both family and nation. For the left to step in as defender of both makes sense.

That addition of faith to these is something that I, as someone without a faith find somewhat sinister, particularly given the increasingly aggressive stance of the Vatican (often backed up by the CofE and various Islamic groups) towards generally secular values of most Britons. Also given the multicultural nature of the UK, using faith as a binding agent is a recipe for disaster.

The really sad thing about this debate is the almost dogmatic insistence by on sticking to the three terms, despite it being abundantly clear how divisive they are to many people. The same goes for the equally provocative and misleading ‘blue labour’ label.
If your aim is to build consensus, why not use words that clearly and unambiguously get the underlying message across? Family, neighbourhood and nation?

25. the a&e charge nurse

99.9999999999% of the world’s problems can be traced back to what does, or doesn’t happen during childhood.

I would say the most important task facing any culture is to provide conditions were children feel secure and loved and are encouraged to recognise the importance of social responsibility – and by this I mean the presence of love and security, not just the appearance of it.

Problem is such an easy going group would soon leave themselves wide open to predators – at least until such conditions exist across the globe.

The key question – apart from the fact that, even if you overlook the deeply uncomfortable historical precedents, it has all the deep significance of any other soundbite – is that of asking, “Whose?”

Whose faith? Protestant (and, if so, which kind)? Catholic (and, if so, are pervert priests included)? Seventh-Day Adventists? Christians generally, or are other sects included?

Whose family? The standard-issue ‘nuclear’ family (should such a thing still be in widespread existence)? The single parent trying – and succeeding far more often than credit tends to be given – to bring up his/her children to live active, useful lives? Or could even those families given that convenient prole-bashing label ‘dysfunctional’ be found a place?

Whose flag? That gaudy rag which flies over Westminster and elsewhere, perhaps an early example of branding created by a committee of the witlessly unimaginative? The red cross on the white background which seems to be favoured more by the English nowadays, with all its significance as being the symbol of a foreign, pre-mediaeval arms dealer? Or could the Saltire or even (whisper it) the Red Dragon be considered in some carefully-limited contexts?

The point I’m trying artlessly to make is this: these are all excluding terms. If you were, say, a single, non-parenting atheist who long since abandoned any notion of loyalty to ‘Britishness’ (and how the hell do you define that while we’re at it?), would you feel as if you had a stake in this virtuous triangle? Or would you simply feel that it was just another attempt by the more calculatingly pseudo of the political and economic overclass to put yet another veneer of obfuscation over their own occasional twinges of unease that they may be responsible in some small way for the überfuck which constitutes much of what we behold today?

Bob B @ 11:

“Let’s analyse it calmly: Faith, family and the flag, which is worryingly similar to that banner of the Vichy government in France under German occupation in WW2: Travail, famille, patrie”

Of course, some might call it a little ironic that you talk about “analys[ing] it calmy”, and them immediately jump to the Nazi comparisons…

Anyway, yes, Vichy France did use use a similar slogan. So what? That doesn’t prove that these Blue Labour people are all fascists. One point of similarity doesn’t prove much. You might as well say “My local high school’s policy of making pupils wear uniforms is worryingly similar to the Nazi policy of making their activists wear uniforms.” It would prove about as much.

“In short, with that and Global Jihad, religion is thoroughly discredited and on the way out.”

Thoroughly discredited by whom, exactly?

“In 1992, the Catholic church finally exonerated Galileo for publicising his heretical theory that the earth moved round the sun. Finally, try also Deuteronomy 22:20-22, which is fundamental to all the Abrhamic faiths:”

The Galileo trial was more because of Galileo’s own tactlessness and offensiveness than religion, or even the beliefs of the Catholic Church. (Fun fact: the Pope had originally been a supporter of Galileo’s ideas, until the astronomer published a pamphlet calling the Pope a simpleton.) And although the Church may have officially exonerated Galileo in 1992, I don’t recall there being much Catholic opposition to his teachings for the last few hundred years, so the point’s kind of irrelevant, really. You might as well argue that English people are violent and warlike because it’s still technically law that you have to practise with your longbow once a week.

Also, Deuteronomy isn’t “fundamental” to any Abrahamic faith other than Judaism.

“The flag? As Samuel Johnson reportedly put it: Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.”

Firstly, just because you can find a quotation agreeing with you, that doesn’t prove you’re correct. Secondly, Johnson’s point was that war-mongering politicians often appeal to patriotism to try and stop criticism of their policies, *not* that patriotism is intrinsically wrong and anybody expressing patriotic sentiments must have some sort of ulterior motive.

Vimothy @ 10 and 15:

Jolly good posts, sir!

29. Rob the crip

Well now all we have to do is find a labour party to root into and we are fine.

Centre left to me means Blue labour or worse New labour.

I’d also like to add if this whole farce is because of an obsession with Gillian Duffy somehow being the archetypal “lost labour voter”, I will fucking despair.

Is this post some kind of joke? How could anyone with progressive views fall for this bullshit?

Why do we need a neat little alliteration to sum up our ideology? What are we now? Americans? Why not unite under ‘Snooker, Snow & shopping’? Or ‘Hill walking, Helping & Hot pants’? Dundee has corner ‘Jute, Jam & Journalism’, so what about ‘Fighting, football & fornication’?

Faith? I have no problem with people holding any religious views or none for that matter, but what kind of ideology is it that has to built around any particular faith or the
concept of ‘faith’? What if you are not part of a faith group? Why is ‘faith’ (whatever the fuck that is) important in a secular Country? As for ‘family’ yeah, we are all for that in whatever form it takes but what is the issue here? Who exactly is anti family? Have you ever heard anyone say ‘I think we should fuck the family’?

And as for flag? You can fuck right of with that. I share an island with sixty million people and I share a Nation with those people too. I share a Country with Five million people (I am Scottish), but really that is as far as it goes. I may share ‘some’ values with ‘some’ of those sixty million people, we drive on the same side of the road and I share a common language with most of them, but other than at the superficial level, I share no common thread with a good percentage of them. Scotland will be playing football this weekend and no doubt I will be drowning my sorrows with many of them after yet another defeat, but again, dig a bit deeper than sport and there is nothing to unite many of us. I share nothing what-so-ever with people who think that the unemployed should be driven into the dirt, the NHS should be sold of to the highest bidder and that the disabled should be ground up for dog meat. I share nothing with people who espouse Nazi ideology or people who deny Climate Change, depression or autism.

Don’t get me wrong, I expect to rub along with people who I share very little with, but please, in the name of whatever God you support expect me to unite with people who throw terms like ‘Patriotism’ whilst simultaneously supporting companies who close down British factories and reopening in China. Who move call centres to India, who employs Polish people before British people? Who drive the terms and conditions of their fellow British people down?

Flag? Will that be the same people who trade in the British Isles, yet offshore their head office and themselves to avoid paying tax? Where is the ‘flag’ there? The only ‘loyalty’ these cunts have is to their own back pocket and swollen bank accounts.

Sometimes I despair when regarding the ‘Left’, I really do.

@ 31:

“And as for flag? You can fuck right of with that. I share an island with sixty million people and I share a Nation with those people too. I share a Country with Five million people (I am Scottish), but really that is as far as it goes. I may share ‘some’ values with ‘some’ of those sixty million people, we drive on the same side of the road and I share a common language with most of them, but other than at the superficial level, I share no common thread with a good percentage of them. Scotland will be playing football this weekend and no doubt I will be drowning my sorrows with many of them after yet another defeat, but again, dig a bit deeper than sport and there is nothing to unite many of us.”

Which is, of course, precisely the sort of problematic attitude which Blue Labour wants (inter alia) to improve.

“I share nothing what-so-ever with people who think that the unemployed should be driven into the dirt, the NHS should be sold of to the highest bidder and that the disabled should be ground up for dog meat.”

No, I suppose most people don’t share much with strawmen. That’s sort of the point.

yeah, everything is alright, just keep looking at the flag. Give us a break. faith? – it’s there if people want it, don’t force it on me. The fifties are not comming back!!!, stay contempory please!

Faith, Family and Flag.

Faith – tripe designed to make the terminally gullible toe the line in the middle ages, no need for it in the modern world.

Family – no objection, but don’t just include stereotypes.

Flag – a bit of coloured rag which has no major impact on culture except to retards and dullards. So, you were saying..?

XXX @ 32

Which is, of course, precisely the sort of problematic attitude which Blue Labour wants (inter alia) to improve.

Whoa! What attidude? We are now living in fragmented Nation without a common thread that binds us together. That has happened since the eighties and no silly slogan stolen by the Left from the Right is going to change that anytime soon. The quicker New, Blue Labour wonks understand that, the better.

If you want to address this ‘problematic’ attitude, you better take it up with the people who Calvary charged the miners. I am not sure if they did that for ‘faith’, ‘family’ or ‘flag’, but all three suffered during the eighties.

@ 35:

“Whoa! What attidude? We are now living in fragmented Nation without a common thread that binds us together.”

That attitude which you just expressed.

“That has happened since the eighties and no silly slogan stolen by the Left from the Right is going to change that anytime soon.”

Just repeating “Faith, flag, family” won’t, but introducing policies encouraging people to get more involved in running their local community might.

“If you want to address this ‘problematic’ attitude, you better take it up with the people who Calvary charged the miners. I am not sure if they did that for ‘faith’, ‘family’ or ‘flag’, but all three suffered during the eighties.”

Erm no, if I “want to address this ‘problematic’ attitude”, I’d better do something to change people’s minds, not sit around spending all my time whingeing about Thatcher and the Tories.

Im afraid I’m with all the normal folk here proclaiming this to be absolute nonsense for the terminally ignorant.

Family – Great, everyone’s got one, love mine. Bit like saying ‘hooray for air’ or ‘long live food’
Faith – Religion is institutionalised delusion purpose-built for getting the incurious to stay that way
Flag – Meaningless bit of coloured cloth. My ‘British’ culture, which I love, shares nothing in common with what little a sociopath like Move Any Mountain/SMFS might boast.

XXX @37

That attitude which you just expressed.

What attidude? What I expressed was perfectly reasonable, wasn’t it? Most of us share an island but we no longer share a common set of values, do we?

Lets face it, we no longer form a coherent country.

This week the Tories had there usual conference. I have to be honest with you, I find the attitudes, beliefs and the eventual policies of many of these people repugnant. Don’t get me wrong, I dare say that many of the people have the same taste in music as I have and I bet some of us share the favourite authors too. I bet I share football clubs, favourite drinks, TV shows and other stuff with them too, but apart from those superficial things, I share little else. On a political level I no doubt share a few values like my opposition to the death penalty or my stance on abortion, for example. However, none of that amounts to anything that tallies to anything quintessentially ‘British’. I dare say I could find people I agree on with regard to sentencing of convicted criminals or whatever, but the underlying vision? No fucking way! I find modern Tory values totally foreign to me.

I find their values and even how they express them more to do with American culture than British values. Their attitude to welfare (itself an Americanism) and public servants appear to be lifted from the Republican strategy manual. Their position on Global Warming appears to be based around the anti-science sentiment and naked short term self interest of the deep South, than the Country of Sir Isaac Newton.

In short, I have less in common with these people than they have the bible belt Republican in America.

Now, there is nothing intrinsically ‘wrong’ with that. I do not have a fundamental problem with Tories wanting to aspire to an American-type lifestyle, if that is what they want, but to attempt to expect us all to come together as a Nation under a common identity is simply not possible because our cultural beliefs are so different, we are no longer a Nation. Nothing is going to change that, least of all some half hearted attempt by some Blue Labour scumbag to force us all into some North Korean affirmations that we are all acolytes of ‘Faith, Flag & Family’.

Just repeating “Faith, flag, family” won’t, but introducing policies encouraging people to get more involved in running their local community might.

Try it. Most of us already hate the Tories botched ‘Big Society’ thing and even the Tories are more than a bit embarassed by it. It is dead in the water.

@38: “Lets face it, we no longer form a coherent country.”

I’m not entirely convinced although by BBC reports, 40% of London residents were born abroad. As John Cleese was recently reported as saying:

London is no longer an English city and that’s how it got the Olympics
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2032956/John-Cleese-London-longer-English-city-thats-got-2012-Olympics.html

40. Leon Wolfson

@11 – Thanks for proving once more that you know nothing about history.

Gallilo Gallei was a snob and intellectual bully who managed to annoy most of his defenders over the years, and downright *earn* the enmity of fellow astronomers like Grassi and Kepler. Kepler, in particular, actually solved the problem that the geocentricism of the day more accurately described the motion of the planets than heliocentrism, but he was rudely dismissed by Gallilo

He managed to lose the support of the Pope and the Jesuits by calling the pope a simpleton. In print. He deliberately pushed things to where there had to be a response, and was never physically mistreated.

What he really offered to science were practical, in telescopes, and in theories related to the fields of kinematics and materials, which he continued to work on with no controversy, rather than his flawed work theoretical on astronomy – he was wrong on comets and tides, for instance, as well as rejecting Kepel’s work.

There are plenty of good examples of people who were actually actively persecuted by the Catholic Church and the Inquisition. Such as Giordano Bruno, who was burn at the stake for his views.

(I have no use for the Catholic Church. I have even less use for defending a man who caused his own issues by being a rude braggot)

41. So Much For Subtlety

5. Joe Sarling

For me it is about allowing both choice ie the balance between going to work and family life as well as supporting such diverse differences in personal situations e.g. ‘nuclear family’, ‘one-parent family’, ‘carers’ etc. The left should be there to support this choice.

Although the problem remains that if people are allowed to choose, they will choose in a way the Left does not like. So much so that Simone De Beauvoir said that women should not be allowed to make that choice. The policy of the Left has been, very quietly, to use the tax system and other means to push women into making the choices the Left wants them to make – into the work force and out of the home. So how does your attitude amount to a new policy approach? What are you going to do?

As for the faith issue, I certainly did not mean to exploit faiths for one’s own ends. I do not want to see religion deciding political issues. Rather I want us to understand that faith is often at the heart of the community, along with many other non-faith organisations, and if this group of people want to make a difference in their communities then we should support and facilitate this.

It is odd to hear anyone on the Left making a distinction between “making a difference in their communities” and “deciding political issues”. Aren’t these exactly the same thing? What if the difference they want to make is to keep women at home, bare foot and pregnant? Wearing the niqaab? What if the difference they want to make is unacceptable to the Left?

6. Ciaran

Surely, if we’re basing things on historical experience being British is about slaughter, murder, rape, occupation and Empire.

The British Empire having introduced unparalleled levels of peace and quiet to the world. This is just myth-making.

7. Gavin

Those of us born in parts of the world which were colonised by Britain tend to disagree with the sentiment that ‘being British’ means being tolerant, accepting and welcoming.

Really? What part of the world might that be then?

11. Bob B

Let’s analyse it calmly: Faith, family and the flag, which is worryingly similar to that banner of the Vichy government in France under German occupation in WW2: Travail, famille, patrie

And the songs sung by the Labour Party have traditionally been similar to those sung by Stalinists. Their flags the same as those waved over mass executions, mass famine and the Gulag. So what?

In short, with that and Global Jihad, religion is thoroughly discredited and on the way out.

And yet after 9-11 the Left leapt to embrace the Islamists. Something they are quietly backtracking from now. Yet the New Statesman still runs articles calling for Iran’s system of temporary marriages for instance.

Finally, try also Deuteronomy 22:20-22, which is fundamental to all the Abrhamic faiths:

Fundamental in what sense? In the sense you fundamentally want to believe it? Because has a single Christian country ever even tried to implement this law? A single Christian ever called for anyone to think about it?

Family – with half of all children in Britain born to unmarried couples and half of all marriages ending in divorce? C’mon. When is the next stoning scheduled for?

Because of the fundamentally hostile attitude of the government to the family – and the massive rewards they hand out for people who are not married. Come on, most people still want to get married, many of these “unmarried” people are in effect married, they just want the benefits, and if welfare was abolished today, there would be a hell of a lot less unmarried people tomorrow.

Of course, there is nothing really novel about youthful scepticism over calls to rally to the flag. Try that Oxford Union debate in February 1933 on the motion: “This House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country”. It was passed by 275 votes to 153..

And what do you know, a few years later they were called on to fight for King and Country. Most of them did. After June 22 1941. Still it was a major step in Britain’s decline to someone else’s colony.

13. steve

If women should stay at home to bring the kidds up then pay them as most households today need two incomes to get by in life otherwise these families wouldn’t survive without two incomes.

I did not say they should. I said people wanted to. We need two incomes now because both parents work. That drives up the cost of housing. If we banned women from working – and I do not suggest we do – housing prices would drop and families would continue to live more or less the same as they do now but on one income. It is a paradox of the modern economy that we seek to drive more and more women into the work force so that they can have less and less affordable houses. The solution is to encourage what works best – two married biological parents, one of whom stays home. We can’t pay them. We don’t have that much cash. But perhaps we should allow a health tax deduction if one parent stays home.

“People shy away from discussing ‘family’ as it is perceived to mean a ‘nuclear family’ built around marriage.”

Really? How many people do you know who actually shy away from discussing family? Or has the author been reading to much into right-wing generalisations about the left?

Get married if you are lucky enough to find someone who’ll have you, have faith if you are lucky enough to believe in anything and wave a flag if it really means that much to you. It’s alright by me.

43. Disabilababe

Well that went down well.

Probably because its both an empty slogan but also one with loads of baggage.

Some parts of the left as a movement may be floundering around for some way to express itself in a relevant way to others but am not sure those others need slogans & symbols.

For people to live their lives there are some pretty fundamental things needed & practical policies which support those are more important than slogans. If you’re looking for some overarching story those policies just need to link together not contradict each other eg like making Jobseekers apply for jobs 90 mins travel time away yet also wanting people to be linked into their community & also look after granny at home.

& you should be able to explain the rationale for them based on fundamental values of human flourishing and facts not misinformation & ‘what the public thinks’ based on tabloid myths.

Communities can cohere around multiple identities at different times not singular ones. As a disabled person one may have a greater sense of community with other disabled people than a faith institution that may see them as an object of charity & good works. No thanks!

Am with HelenGB on much of what she said.

First, answer the question why you need a slogan? Seems a bit navel-gazing when there’s practical stuff to be done.

44. Leon Wolfson

@43 – There’s perfect coherence. Poor people get to spend time and money travelling to jobs which pay peanuts (and in many cases with part-time jobs will COST them money).

The rich get to say they’re socially responsible for volunteering a few house a week.

And a slogan is a banner to rally round. A good slogan can make a campaign. A bad one can make it.

45. Leon Wolfson

@43 – There’s perfect coherence. Poor people get to spend time and money travelling to jobs which pay peanuts (and in many cases with part-time jobs will COST them money).

The rich get to say they’re socially responsible for volunteering a few hours a week.

And a slogan is a banner to rally round. A good slogan can make a campaign. A bad one can make it.

46. Shatterface

Speaking as a single atheist anarchist my problem isn’t so much people committed to the nuclear family, sky pixies or the nation state as to them being privileged for that commitment.

47. Leon Wolfson

@46 – And you have to be rude about it, right.

48. Shatterface

@46 – And you have to be rude about it, right.

I don’t have to. I choose not to respect those who are socially conservative and think they are entitled to their privileges..

Look, I don’t have a problem with people having families, people having faith, people waving flags and so on.

But that’s not the point, is it? I might not object to “faith” per se, but a political movement seeking power whose slogan was “FAITH! FAITH! FAITH!” would be something I’d find more than a little threatening, as an atheist.

The whole point of this idea of making “family, faith and flag” a slogan is to appeal to people who think these things – traditional family values, Christianity and national pride – should be enforced by government on people who don’t like them. Trying to convince liberals the slogan is entirely innocuous and means nothing more than a general liking for these three individual concepts is frankly a waste of time.

50. When horses attack!

Yeah…Fuck all that pride in your nation. Fucking fascists!!!! British history, culture and society is bullshit and means nothing!!

(Unless it’s the Nation of Islam/any other nation/culture/society/history OTHER than British, or even worse…English).

Family? Who cares man! Fuck family. Family is racist!

(Unless it’s huge Polish families and Muslim families in which case we love them and respect their family ties and closeness..Fuck those English families though man!)

Faith? No way man!!!
Faith is mind control based on utterly unproven, supernatural, horse-shit and protected Word of God bigotry, prejudice and hate that all should have died out decades ago! (TOO DAMN RIGHT IT IS).

(Unless it’s Islam in which case we love it, respect it, want to see it grow in power and influence for centuries to come and we hope to import as many Muslims into the country as possible to ensure all this happens…cause it’s a religion of peace, is mostly brown people, hates the evil West and really hates America).

That about sum up the Lefty view around here? Thought so.
All still here though ain’t yer!!!??

Fucking hypocritical, quisling, Communist loving, Islamist hugging pricks!

51. Chaise Guevara

NURSE!

@27 @40 Interesting that Galileo has been brought up, as he seems a great analogy for much of the Left; stubborn, dogmatic, arrogant, fearing and despising the traditional “working class” who they lay claim to represent.

Joe Sarling may say “for me, ‘family, faith and flag’ are rooted within the Labour tradition and values” and yes that is true, but that was the old Labour built by Dissenters, Co-operators and Trades Unionists (as opposed to Fabians).

But large swathes of the Left (especially the “middle class”) rejected these traditional values a long time ago, with more or less justification, and are no way going to tolerate any in the other half of their movement who hold to those old values.

Seems to me that Joe, with his FFF slogan, has pretty much put his finger exactly where the massive fault line in the godalmighty Split in the Left actually lies.

Well done Joe!

@50:

Hope you manage to find your village again.

@52:

‘Traditional values’ has seldom been other than code for, “Know your place, you oik!”.

@ Judge – well that is a neat soundbite of how many on the intellectual Left choose to frame the issue. But unfortunately, many less privileged people who should be the natural constituency of the Left will insist on cleaving to those traditional values, like monarchy, patriotism, heterosexuality, and the rest.

Hence the monumental Split.

The Split that Joe is so valiantly trying to fudge in the OP.

56. Chaise Guevara

@ birdie

“Hence the monumental Split.”

It’s not so much a split really, more the fact that politic views are wide-ranging, and while it’s convenient to gather some commonly correlating ones together and call them “left” and “right”, ultimately these are very loose definitions that will rarely apply to individuals. To give an example on the other side, some people defined as “right wing” are libertarians and others feel they should be entitled to massive control over people’s private lives.

Chaise, thanks for a thought-provoking reply. You have a good point, in that “Left” and “Right” are in some degree an out-dated and partially redundant distinction.

However, you can look at matters from the following pov:

The Right, whether Libertarians or Authoritarians, may be seen to comprise the set of those who care not a damn for equality in condition between people.

In contrast, the Left are those who are concerned with fair equality in condition.

I’m always amused when I see the Libs and the Authoritarians fighting like the ferrets in a sack that they are: live by the sword, die by the sword. But it is very saddening to see the Left who should be caring for their fellows, each according to their need, always being so intolerant of different cultural approaches, especially on the lines of Class, which is where the fatal Split in the British Left is, and always has been located, in my view.

58. Chaise Guevara

@ 57 birdie

“The Right, whether Libertarians or Authoritarians, may be seen to comprise the set of those who care not a damn for equality in condition between people.

In contrast, the Left are those who are concerned with fair equality in condition.”

I think this only holds true if you’re talking about Left and Right as broad, inclusive categories. For example, a libertarian might define themselves as “someone who cares about freedom”. I suspect you’re correct in that the socialist and liberal sides of the left tend to co-operate because the two concepts are based heavily on equality. As for the right, who make rather stranger bedfellows, I imagine they exist as an identifiable political grouping mainly because they’re united against a common enemy.

59. Chaise Guevara

@ 57 birdie

“But it is very saddening to see the Left who should be caring for their fellows, each according to their need, always being so intolerant of different cultural approaches”

Sorry – meant to bring this up too, mainly to agree with it! I do think sometimes there are irreconcilable differences within the left (I consider myself socialist and liberal, and would have trouble voting for a socialist candidate with authoritarian views). But it is tragic when the pointless class wars start, as often happens on this very site when people start shouting each other down based on where they live and what kind of school they went to.

The reason I oppose the whole “faith, family, flag” aspect of the Blue Labour philosophy is actually fairly simple, I believe the notion to be incompatible with socialism. To take each in term:

1. I’m an atheist, as I believe any rational socialist should be. While I think anyone has the right to believe what they want, we need to defend the values of the secular Enlightenment. Religion has no place in the state or in our politics, especially not left wing politics.

2. I grew up in a single parent household, which proponents of the family always seem to demonise. Yet despite this “social disadvantage” I was top of my class at school and now have a Masters in Political Science from Cambridge University. Despite what you claim, discussion of the family inevitably falls back into conservative ground.

3. Flag-waving always leads to nationalist rhetoric and an isolationist jingoistic POV, totally incompatible to a progressive, globalist perspective. We on the left don’t promote it because nationalism and nationhood are meaningless, we are all citizens of the world. As Johnson said “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.

Rob @ 60:

“Religion has no place in the state or in our politics, especially not left wing politics.”

That may be the case, but you haven’t at all proved it.

“I grew up in a single parent household, which proponents of the family always seem to demonise. Yet despite this “social disadvantage” I was top of my class at school and now have a Masters in Political Science from Cambridge University.”

A pity you never learned why appeal to anecdote is a logical fallacy.

“Flag-waving always leads to nationalist rhetoric and an isolationist jingoistic POV,”

Nationalism is no more an inevitable result of patriotism than nepotism is an inevitable result of loving one’s family.

“As Johnson said “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.”

And as other people have said, the mere fact that you can find a quotation backing up your point doesn’t prove that it’s true. At most, it proves that at least one other person in the whole of recorded history has agreed with you.

(Actually, your quotation doesn’t even prove that. Johnson’s point was that dishonest politicians often appeal to patriotism to try and defledt criticism, not that patriotism is inherently bad and that every patriot is a scoundrel.)

62. Chaise Guevara

@ 61 XXX

“A pity you never learned why appeal to anecdote is a logical fallacy.”

Depends what he’s arguing against, really. I took it that he meant that all single parent families are tarred by certain conservative groups, so anecdotes could be a reasonable way to claim that this is unfair.

[Agreed with the rest of your post.]

63. Chaise Guevara

@ 60 Rob W

” I’m an atheist, as I believe any rational socialist should be.”

With you on the “rational”, but why “socialist”? Whatever the real-word trends, I don’t see how religion is particularly connected to one’s view on equality and redistribution, either positively or negatively.

64. the a&e charge nurse

Flag and faith at least are constructs we need to move beyond – for all our sakes.
Why ……… some clues here
http://comment.rsablogs.org.uk/videos/page/2/


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Why do we have a problem with 'faith, family and flag'? http://t.co/4cgfc1Lo

  2. Michael Bater

    Why do we have a problem with ‘faith, family and flag’? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/ynfaUyaY via @libcon

  3. Sam Kelly

    Why do we have a problem with 'faith, family and flag'? http://t.co/4cgfc1Lo

  4. Dave Harris

    Good points, well made RT @libcon Why do we have a problem with 'faith, family and flag'? http://t.co/oOYxm68n

  5. Joe Sarling

    Why do we have a problem with ‘faith, family and flag’? | Liberal Conspiracy | @joesarling | http://t.co/9If9KBxe via @libcon

  6. Sabrina

    Why do we have a problem with ‘faith, family and flag’? | Liberal Conspiracy | @joesarling | http://t.co/9If9KBxe via @libcon

  7. Hugo K Biedermann

    Liberal Conspiracy goes full Blue Labour/Spiked "Why do we have a problem with 'faith, family and flag'?"http://t.co/djhUPgQD

  8. Kira

    RT @joesarling: Why do we have a problem with ‘faith, family and flag’? | Liberal Conspiracy | @joesarling | http://t.co/4y8kZpDz

  9. sunny hundal

    Why do we have a problem with ‘faith, family and flag’? asks @joesarling – http://t.co/93HHjubi I agree with this

  10. Joe Sarling

    Why do we have a problem with ‘faith, family and flag’? asks @joesarling – http://t.co/93HHjubi I agree with this

  11. Joe Sarling

    One last plug: for those who didn't see my article on Family, Faith and Flag on @libcon | http://t.co/WOvzCpkc

  12. sunny hundal

    One last plug: for those who didn't see my article on Family, Faith and Flag on @libcon | http://t.co/WOvzCpkc

  13. Gav Jacobson

    Why does the Left have a problem with 'faith, family and flag?' http://t.co/4V9TGh6s

  14. Alex

    Finally, an answer to the often-asked question "what is there to actually hate about the centre-left?" http://t.co/gclQx67V via @libcon

  15. flyingrodent

    Finally, an answer to the often-asked question "what is there to actually hate about the centre-left?" http://t.co/gclQx67V via @libcon

  16. Zoe

    Finally, an answer to the often-asked question "what is there to actually hate about the centre-left?" http://t.co/gclQx67V via @libcon

  17. Subjefe del Piombo

    Finally, an answer to the often-asked question "what is there to actually hate about the centre-left?" http://t.co/gclQx67V via @libcon

  18. M D

    Finally, an answer to the often-asked question "what is there to actually hate about the centre-left?" http://t.co/gclQx67V via @libcon

  19. luther

    Finally, an answer to the often-asked question "what is there to actually hate about the centre-left?" http://t.co/gclQx67V via @libcon

  20. Phil Edwards

    O @libcon, O mores. "for me, ‘family, faith and flag’ are rooted within the Labour tradition and values" http://t.co/vM7sJ06B

  21. Why do we have a problem with ‘faith, family and flag’? | Comment Today

    […] published on Liberal Conspiracy LD_AddCustomAttr("AdOpt", "1"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

  22. sunny hundal

    @ShellyAsquith @Kevinmorosky @Conorpope the three Fs are not blue labour, but yes I like them – http://t.co/93HHjubi by @joesarling

  23. Joe Sarling

    Given the discussion around #onenationlabour here is my piece from October 2011 on family, faith and flag | http://t.co/9If5d1o4 (@libcon)

  24. Joe Sarling

    .@bbcnickrobinson indeed – I wrote this in almost exactly a year ago | http://t.co/9If5d1o4





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