Quarter of adults in England have negative view of those flying St George’s cross

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
April 23, 2024, 11:08 AM GMT+0

Labour voters take an especially negative view of the England flag

Today marks St George’s Day, and the red cross of St George will be flying all over the country. The flag of England has been at the centre of several rows in recent years, and now a new YouGov survey examines attitudes towards the act of flying the flag.

Most Britons (57%) say they have a favourable opinion of people flying the England flag outside their home, including 61% of adults in England. However, a quarter (27%) say they have an unfavourable opinion, including 24% among adults in England.

These results are similar to our previous survey in 2018, which found that 56% of Britons had a favourable view of those flying the England flag, and 24% a negative one. (The results among English adults specifically are likewise almost identical).

Disapproval of the England flag is not unique, however, being slightly higher than the 18-22% who have an unfavourable view of those flying the UK, Scottish and Welsh flags. Indeed, approximately 13% of Britons expressed a negative attitude towards flying ALL flags listed.

Attitudes towards the flags are political in nature, particularly when it comes to the English flag. Fully 44% of 2019 Labour voters in Britain have a negative view of those who fly the England flag – higher than the 37% who have a favourable view – these figures are virtually identical among Labour voters in England specifically. By contrast, only 10% of 2019 Tories in Britain have a negative view of England flag-flyers.

English 2019 Labour voters are notably more negative towards the England and Union flags than they are towards the Scottish and Welsh flags - while the aforementioned 44% dislike flying the England flag and 37% the Union flag, this falls to 22% for the Scottish and Welsh flags.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Scots tend to have a negative view of those who fly the England flag (50%, versus 31% who have a favourable opinion), while in Wales people are split 41% to 42%.

There is no such reciprocal disdain among the English for those flying Scottish or Welsh flags – 60% of English people have a favourable opinion in both cases.

Flags on sports kits

March saw a row over Nike’s “playful update” of the England flag on the men’s team’s kit ahead of the 2024 Euros, with Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer the addition of blue and purple stripes to the design.

Curious as it might have appeared for the prime minister and leader of the opposition to weigh in on the debate, their views reflect those of the wider population – 56% of adults in England say that it is unacceptable to depict the England flag in this way. Only a third consider it acceptable (34%).

A version of the England flag question asked a couple of days earlier included an option for respondents to say they “don’t care” about the England flag depiction issue. Providing this option saw 19% express their disinterest, seemingly drawing from all points of view: compared to the question without a don’t care option, the effect was to reduce “acceptable” responses by seven points, “unacceptable” by five points, and “don’t know” by seven points.

At around the same time a media storm also brewed over a redesigned Union Jack as merchandise for Team GB.

On this concept the public are split – 47% of Britons thought the Team GB fan flag was acceptable and 46% did not.

See the full results:

GB results for 2-3 April survey

England results for 2-3 April survey

GB results for 4-5 April survey (England football and Team GB flags without "don't care" option)

What do you think of the England flag, patriotism, and everything else? Have your say, join the YouGov panel, and get paid to share your thoughts. Sign up here.

Photo: Getty

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