This weekend, the music festivals at Leeds and Reading will be flag-free zones. The organisers, Festival Republic, have decided that the elaborate pennants waved at open-air events may obscure the audience's view of Radiohead and Arctic Monkeys. The same company threatens to outlaw them at next year's Glastonbury, after they threatened to occlude the sight of Damon Albarn from Blur on the main stage in June.
Diehard tribalists will mourn the removal of these symbolic ensigns from the Great British Audience. But is there a case for restraint in general flag usage? Without the brandishing of Millwall and West Ham flags last week, the violence at Upton Park might never have exploded. Without the Union Jack, we need never be subjected to rebarbative appropriations of national identity by Spice Girls or Gilbert & George. The very concept of "flag-waving" has long been a byword for thoughtless jingoism. Down with flags!Reuse content