Kash Singh was recently vilified for trying to encourage social cohesion through a National Day for the whole United Kingdom (The Yorkshire Post, July 3).
Even a ‘national song’ written by primary school children was the subject of ridicule and abuse from leading politicians and commentators.
So why is it that many people are resistant to official displays of patriotism? Firstly, of course, patriotism is associated with its ugly sister, fascist nationalism, which lingers on in right-wing groups today.
Then there is the current disillusion with Empire and its legacy. There is antipathy on the part of internationalist-minded left-wingers and many members of our liberal elite and intelligentsia.
There is even the view that if you are the best you don’t need to brag about it.
So what hope for a United Kingdom National Day in these contentious times of devolution, Brexit, Irish nationalism, Scottish Independence and our ethnically plural society?
Could it be that the National Health Service is emerging as a surrogate for the unifying force of patriotism? The NHS embodied post-war national ideals for society. We contribute through taxation, we value those who work tirelessly in it, we augment its services through voluntary effort.
We may justifiably criticise its workings but it commands widespread support and affection. Today it is seen by many as the best representation of our shared human values of fairness and care for each other.
People have even begun to celebrate it officially on July 5, the date of its foundation.