Revealed! MPs plot against the Union flag

Sound the bugle, the Union flag may be coming down. MPs will this week seek to blow away centuries of tradition with an assault on the "outdated" rules on the flying of national flags from official buildings.

Sound the bugle, the Union flag may be coming down. MPs will this week seek to blow away centuries of tradition with an assault on the "outdated" rules on the flying of national flags from official buildings.

Minor royal birthdays and obscure parliamentary occasions should no longer qualify for the honour; instead the standard should be hoisted only to mark events of genuine national celebration or remembrance, they say.

Currently there are 19 days each year on which national flags should be hoisted, according to protocol experts in the Lord Chamberlain's office.

Tom Watson, Labour MP for West Bromwich East, says the list no longer reflects modern life and should be overhauled. A glance at the dates suggests he has a point.

While few would begrudge an outward show of national pride on Remembrance Day, those sent to raise the standard on 20 January each year might wonder whether the Countess of Wessex's birthday is really a cause for national rejoicing.

The Queen, as one might expect, has the flag flying most often; not only are both her birthdays honoured, the anniversaries of her coronation, accession and wedding are designated dates.

It would be wrong to suggest that the Royal Family is the only much-loved institution that the rules favour. The European Union and the Commonwealth are also accorded the honour.

"The whole thing has become a bit of a nonsense," Mr Watson said last night. "Symbols are important to a nation and it is dangerous if they become irrelevant."

Mr Watson is to table a Commons motion this week that calls for responsibility for the list of designated dates, currently shared between the Royal Household and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, to be handed to an independent commission.

Handing responsibility for the list of designated flag days to an independent body would raise the possibility of standards being hoisted for red-letter days in the sporting calendar and other events of popular culture.

The FA Cup final might become a candidate, although it is difficult to see all the nations and provinces of the UK uniting in demands to fly the flag for the England football team.

Mr Watson's proposal has drawn fire from royalists. Lord St John of

Fawsley said: "I would regret any reduction in the number of days that flags are flown. They brighten up public buildings and lift people's spirits."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Accounts Executive

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Administrator / Secretary - South East

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time Administrator/Secreta...

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

Today's pre-school child costs £35,000, according to Aviva. And that's but the tip of an iceberg, says DJ Taylor
Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US