Saint George’s Day: David Cameron tries to walk tightrope of pleasing Ukip supporters AND Scottish people in English national day address

Verdict on Twitter suggests he failed

Click to follow
The Independent Online

David Cameron has attempted the difficult task of trying to woo would-be Ukip voters and potential supporters of Scottish independence at the same time - and seems largely to have failed.

The Prime Minister said in a special St George’s Day video that the cross of St George would fly above No 10 today and that England’s national day had been overlooked “for too long”.

“St George has been England's patron saint since 1350. But for too long, his feast day - England's national day - has been overlooked,” Mr Cameron said.

“Today, though, more and more people are coming together on or around 23 April, eager to celebrate everything it is to be English. And there is much to celebrate. Because this is a country whose achievements in industry, in technology, sport, music, literature and the arts - they far outweigh our size.

In recent years, the Tory MP Andrew Rosindell has attempted to introduce legislation that would make St George’s Day a national holiday, but failed to get sufficient backing from other MPs. Writing on the ConservativeHome website, he has vowed to continue his campaign. “The reason is simple: the people of England deserve a day to feel proud!  So many other countries in the world have their special day to celebrate, so why not England?”

Ukip’s Deputy Leader Paul Nuttall has also repeatedly called for St George’s Day to be a national holiday.

Mr Cameron went on to say that being part of the wider UK was “one of England’s greatest achievements”, and appealed to the people of Scotland to “remain a part of this global success story”.

And with the Scottish referendum approaching in September and recent polls showing a gradual, albeit slight, increase in support for independence, Mr Cameron used his address to venture support for the ‘Better Together’ campaign.

 “I want us to reflect on one of England's greatest achievements: its role in the world's greatest family of nations - the United Kingdom,” he said.

“In just five months, the people of Scotland will go to the polls and decide whether they want to remain a part of this global success story. So let's prove that we can be proud of our individual nations and be committed to our union of nations.


“Because no matter how great we are alone, we will always be greater together.”

If Mr Cameron hoped he could succeed in striking the right balance with his speech, the reaction on Twitter appeared to suggested he didn’t.

John McCollum (@johnmcc), from Glasgow, tweeted: “Aye, appeal to our sense of Englishness. That should do it.”

Anne (@AGlesca), also from Glasgow, said: “It’s good that we have our individual nations and we can still be friends when Scotland is independent.”

On the other side of the fence, Peter B (@purpleline) wrote: “Wrong wrong wrong, today is England’s day. Would you have tweeted this on St Andrew’s or St David’s? #anotherreasontovoteUkip.”

Meanwhile user Jack (@19jackrees92) simply asked: “Why don’t we get a day off?”

Alex Salmond also used the day to deliver a speech at Carlisle Cathedral in which he set out to ‘love bomb’ the north of England.

He promised: 'The ties that bind the nations of these islands will continue and flourish after Scotland becomes independent. You will remain Scotland's closest friends, as well as our closest neighbours. Following independence, the social union between the peoples of these islands will remain.”

Support for Scottish independence is weak on the borders, and many people in Carlisle and other English border towns have friends or relatives in southern Scotland who will have a vote in the referendum.