MP defends Union flag – and says there’s a ‘right and wrong way to protest’

A Nottinghamshire MP has supported the Union flag being flown on public buildings following a row about its symbolism.

Brendan Clarke-Smith, MP for Bassetlaw, said that while history is and should be taught accurately in schools, the flag represented freedom worldwide.

His comments follow a mass protest by pupils at Pimlico Academy in London after allegations of discrimination against Muslim and black students.

It led to the Union flag, which had previously flown outside the school, being lowered until after a review of school policies.

But speaking on TalkRadio on Monday, Mr Clarke -Smith – a former headteacher himself – disagreed with the move. He said: “My school had the flag very proudly displayed outside the front.

“I always tried to listen to my students through student councils and you take into account what they’ve got to say, but you’re also teaching them that there’s a right or wrong way to protest.

“I really don’t see what this obsession is with some people about the Union flag and that there’s something wrong with it.”

Mr Clarke-Smith previously headed the Royal School in Transylvania, Romania, before being elected as Bassetlaw MP in 2019.

He was one of 17 backbench MPs to publicly criticise the BBC in March for an on-air incident involving Housing Minister and Newark MP, Robert Jenrick.

Two presenters of the BBC Breakfast show poked fun at Mr Jenrick over the portrait of the Queen and the Union flag in the background, which was suggested as being “not up to standard size”.

Speaking to NottsLive, Mr Clarke-Smith said he had received a positive response following the letter, and that the flag should be used as something to rally behind.

He said: “People are very proud of our country and its history.

“I received an overwhelming response to the letter we wrote to the BBC when their presenters were disrespectful towards the flag and a picture of the queen during an interview.

“People clearly take a great deal of civic pride in both these things, as I do too.

“Nowadays some people seem keen to fly all sorts of flags, yet the only one they have a problem with is our own.

“Where they see only division, I believe our flag can instead be used to bring people together.

“I think publicly supporting this and encouraging wider expressions of civic pride would be positive for everybody. Other countries do it, so I don’t see why we can’t too.”


Nottinghamshire Live – Local News