James Heale, Daily Mail, November 24, 2018
Students at an Oxford college has voted against flying the Union Flag on the Queen’s birthday because it is a ‘symbol of colonialism’.
The decision was made by 21 votes to six at a meeting of the Junior Common Room of Somerville College – whose alumni include Margaret Thatcher – last Sunday.
The motion that was rejected also called for the flag to be flown on Remembrance Sunday and on the birthdays of other senior Royals, and for the Home Nation flags to flown on patron saints’ days.
According to the JCR minutes, one objector said: ‘The Union Jack is not a unifying flag as many soldiers were forced to go into the war and it is also a symbol of colonialism.’A second added that ‘St George’s flag has been taken to be a symbol of the far-Right’ and that it was also associated ‘with violence against non-white people’.
Concern was also raised over the risk of students from Northern Ireland being offended.
A Somerville student told The Mail on Sunday: ‘It seems a shame that JCR members have spurned the opportunity to display their respect and gratitude for those who laid down their lives in defence of the freedoms we now enjoy and to join the nation in celebrating the Queen’s birthday – both simple gestures which I would have thought people from all backgrounds could unite around, though sadly this is not the case.’Motions at the same meeting to introduce a ‘meat-free’ day and provide funding for Chinese New Year celebrations passed easily.
The Somerville JCR Committee did not respond to requests for comment.
A spokesman for Somerville College said: ‘While we will take the JCR’s vote into account, this is a decision for the College and the wider college community, not just the JCR, which represents undergraduates.
‘We fly the Union Flag at Somerville four times a year, on the Queen’s accession day, her birthday, her official birthday and St George’s Day. It is also flown when royalty visits the College. We will continue to do so.’