Fury as Labour councillors and candidates say flying the Union flag is 'chilling'

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Fury as Labour councillors and candidates say flying the Union flag is 'chilling' and a 'move from the Fascist playbook' despite Keir Starmer trying to use it to win back Red Wall voters

The comments were made by Labour Party members in Warrington, CheshireThey contradict Sir Keir Starmer's new strategy to use the flag to push patriotismLeaked WhatsApp messages posted in response to debate about flying the flag 

By Liz Hull for the Daily Mail

Published: 00:00 BST, 3 April 2021 | Updated: 09:43 BST, 3 April 2021

Labour councillors and candidates have provoked outrage after appearing to describe the flying of the Union flag as 'chilling' and a 'move from the Fascist playbook'.

The comments, made by Labour Party members in Warrington, Cheshire, contradict leader Sir Keir Starmer's new strategy to use the flag to push patriotism and win back 'red wall' voters.

The leaked messages were posted in response to a debate about flying the Union flag in a Labour Party WhatsApp group.

Labour councillors and candidates have provoked outrage after appearing to describe the flying of the Union flag as 'chilling' and a 'move from the Fascist playbook' (file photo)

Former MP Faisal Rashid, who lost his Warrington South seat to the Tories in 2019, and is standing as a Labour candidate in the local elections in May, kicked off the conversation by posting a screenshot from ITV's Good Morning Britain, who were asking: 'Should Union flags fly every day? Are flags a sign of unity and patriotism or do they divide us?'

He asked those in the group: 'What is your view?'

One election candidate Amy Brooks replied: 'Personally I don't agree with it, many use the flag to push non-inclusive agendas.'

While Robin Frith, another election candidate and secretary of Warrington North Constituency Labour Party, commented that it was 'another move from the Fascist playbook'.

Councillor Paul Warburton then said: 'Next step: teaching the national anthem in schools and the singing of it each morning at the raising of the flag..'

To which councillor Rebecca Knowles, cabinet member for adult social care, replied: 'It's chilling. There's nothing at all wrong about being proud of your nationality but this all feels pretty creepy and I must say as the mum of a biracial family it makes me feel very nervous indeed.'

Another Labour party member Kenny Watson replied: 'The problem is we're going along with this narrative. Have you noticed Kieran (sic) Starmer's announcements now have the union flag in the background?'

An insider told the Mail: 'Some of these comments are pretty despicable and many Labour voters in Warrington will be appalled that said that prospective candidates and councillors have been talking about the union flag and national anthem in such a derogatory, un-British manner.

The comments, made by Labour Party members in Warrington, Cheshire, contradict leader Sir Keir Starmer's new strategy to use the flag to push patriotism and win back 'red wall' voters

'They definitely fly in the face of all attempts by Starmer to use patriotism to win over voters in northern towns.'

The insider said the Labour Party in Warrington was 'at war' following the infiltration of hard-left members after the arrival of MP Charlotte Nichols, a Corbynite parachuted into the Warrington North seat at the last general election.

Tory Andy Carter took the Warrington South seat off Mr Rashid in 2019 and although Ms Nichols held onto the seat for Labour it was by a much-reduced majority.

Labour was forced to defend its plans to focus on patriotism and the union jack to win back disillusioned voters following a backlash from some sections of the Party in February.

A leaked strategy document advised Sir Keir to make 'use of the [union] flag, veterans [and] dressing smartly' at war memorials as part of a rebranding to help it win back trust in previous Labour heartlands.

In more recent speeches and broadcasts Sir Keir, who later insisted he was 'patriotic,' has been seen against the backdrop of the union flag.

Mr Watson declined to comment when approached by the Daily Mail. All other councillors and candidates were approached for comment.

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