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Friday, 28 December, 2001, 23:02 GMT
Flags on car plates - right or wrong?
European style number plates
Motorists in England, Scotland and Wales are being allowed legally to bear their national icons on their car number plates.

The UK Government has bowed to pressure to let drivers carry the St George's Cross, the Saltire or the Welsh dragon on their plates.

Only the European flag with the letters GB beneath had been permitted since the registration system was changed in September.

But is it important to be able to show a national flag on a car number plate? Why does the sight of such icons provoke passion in some people? Could it even increase the risk of a car being attacked at home or abroad?


What I want to know is who will say now that their flag has not been included? The Cornish perhaps? Orcadians and Shetlanders? I'm Dave and I am English and that's all the identity I need.
Dave, England

I've never ever considered myself British. While the 'British were achieving that great 'victory' at Dunkirk, the 51st Highland Division were being decimated protecting their retreat- and so it has been throughout the rise and rise of the British Empire.
H. Mackay, Scotland

What I want to know is who will say now that their flag has not been included? The Cornish perhaps? Orcadians and Shetlanders?

Dave, England
Over hear you can get the Toronto maple leaf emblem on your number plate. It's just people showing their colours if they want to, nothing wrong with that.
Rob Soutar , Canada

Roll on the United States of Europe. I am proud to display my Scottish residence on my EU number plate alongside my Cymru bumper sticker. The layer of government in London is unnecessary, expensive and increasingly undemocratic and I feel no attachment to it whatsoever. So why should I have to display anything which belongs to it?
Charles Moore, Scotland

There is a half chance that a fellow countryman in need might rally to the displayed flag.
David de Vere Webb, England

The government fears this trend as they know it is a symbol of the home nations asserting their own identities and rejecting 'Britain'.They fear the end of the moribund United Kingdom, but I don't. Bring it on.
Robert, England

Hopefully there will be a special symbol for those of us who want to show we are not interested in pointless petty nationalism.
Andy Draper, UK

I fully agree with Blewyn, I too have no wish to be identified with the British. I am English and proud to be so. To classify me in the same breed as the intolerant and xenophobic Welsh is an insult. I guarantee that over the next couple of years you will see a lot more English identification and the sooner we gain independence from the rest of GB the better.

This should really be irrelevant, however it ceased to be so when the government decreed that the only flag allowed on number plates was that of the EU. Quite why they did this is beyond me, unless they really think that seeing the flag on the car in front really is going to soften up opposition to us joining the Euro.
Paul Evans, England

M. Newdick should try telling French German or Danish people, to name but a few, that they aren't loyal and respectful to their national flags. They understand just as well as hybrid UK/US citizens.
Alex G. McLeman, UK

Hopefully there will be a special symbol for those of us who want to show we are not interested in pointless petty nationalism.

Andy M
As Wales is not included in the Union Flag and has been considered part of England for centuries, displaying a Welsh symbol gives us (at last) a sense of identity.
Michael P.Keohane, Wales

The Scots are proud to be Scots. The Welsh are proud to be Welsh. The English prefer to be British! Why, as D.A., says do foreigners hate the English so much? Good question. Maybe if the English ask themselves that and work on it, they might be prouder to identify themselves with their own symbols and stop carping on about other peoples' identities!
Gordon, Scotland and Europe

I thought the idea of permitting GB on the number plate was to display the international identifier of the registering authority.

That said, the Welsh would probably want us all to display CYM as the DVLA is in Swansea!
Alex, UK

As a Scot now living in Canada I am always amazed at the lack of "patriotic" enthusiasm when I return to The UK. I understand it is against the law to fly one's country's flag even on one's own property.

As a Scot now living in Canada I am always amazed at the lack of "patriotic" enthusiasm when I return to The UK.

M. Milne, Canada
Here in Canada each province has its own car plates, showing flags or symbols of that particular province. The same applies in the US. There has always been an inherent pride in one's own country. The European Economic Union has stripped the rights of the citizens to "show the flag" . It's a great thing to see it now on the licence plates. What next? Government sponsored flag poles for all your enthusiastic gardeners? I sincerely hope so!!!
M. Milne, Canada

I am British and live in the USA. I am very proud of being British and I show the Union Jack licence plate on my car. Many Brits show this in the USA.

Americans are very proud of their country and that is why they are looked upon. It's about time people in UK do the same thing and you will surprised how people overseas will raise their hats to you
Melvyn Cohen, USA

CRC, USA writes that living in Texas is special and he is right. We have the best number plate in the 50. So come on England, Scotland & Wales: show us your plates with pride!
Mark Leyton, Texas

When we all are at risk from Middle Eastern terrorism, be really patriotic (whatever your nation), fly your flag from your bicycle or stick one on your bus pass. Real patriots don't drive private cars using Arab oil.
Peter C. Kohler, USA

I think there is a much larger problem here than just the licence plate issue. Many people are proud of their roots and want to show it and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Here in the US we have those people who want to pretend the Civil War never happened and have expended all energies in eradicating anything that shows the "rebel" flag (of the Confederacy) and any war statuary honoring fallen Confederate heroes.

You cannot deny history or those of us who want to proclaim who we are and what we stand for. I drive around the States with decals of the Saltire of St. Andrews, the Lion Rampant, the Union Jack AND the EEC. It's my choice and if someone wants to take issue with it, let them come.

This is about individuality and expression. There are so many more important things to worry about - like football hooliganism - why not ban team colours - now there's an idea!
Di Stewart, USA

Well I may as well be the first to say it: "You may take our car plates but you will never take our FREEDOM."
Andrew, Scotland

It's the same argument as shall I put a dice in my car or not.
Nat, UK

Whenever an issue like this comes up, the subject of "British yob culture" is brought up. It is a shame that genuine pride of where you come from is being denied by a minority of people who have got nothing to be proud of to offer.
Edmor, UK

Why is it important? Heaven only knows. I understand people taking pride in their nationality but to get upset because you can't stick a particular flag on your number plate sounds a bit daft to me. People should get a life of their own and stop hiding behind national symbols in an attempt to infuse themselves with some sort of surrogate identity.
Bill, UK

In the United States, each state has its own plate design, often complete with a symbol or emblem of some kind (Florida has oranges, New York has the Statue of Liberty), so what's the problem? I'm very proud to be both Welsh and European so my car wears it's Welsh/EU plates with pride.

Having said that, I do know of some morons in my home town who cheerfully vandalise any car they see that has the 'cheek' to bear the George Cross. This leads me to the conclusion that this talking point is just one small part of a much wider issue.
Owain, Wales

When I see a flag or a symbol of some kind on a car, one wonders whether it is a sign of a strong identity or a weak identity on the part of the owner.
Toby Irwin, GB

What a storm in a tea cup! The sooner Scotland dumps the rest of the UK and goes it alone the better.
Steven, Scotland

One wonders whether it is a sign of a strong identity or a weak identity on the part of the owner.

Toby Irwin, GB
The new plates already have letters indicating the origin of the car so any risk of aggression towards the vehicle, because of what part of the UK it is from, is already there. If people want to display their patriotism then surely there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Adam, UK

U.S. states issue individual plates because they have separate licensing systems. The special "vanity" plates are provided because the states charge more for them. Other than those people in the south that are still fighting the Civil War, there is not a lot of passionate inter-state rivalry (outside of Texas), unlike the Welsh/Scots/English/Irish rivalry.

With all the devolution that has taken place, the UK has become a far more divided nation in any case. For this reason alone I see no objection to allowing individual flags to be displayed on plaques.As for determining the origin of any vehicle, the new numbering system has made this very easy. Only problem? What do the thugs do with a 2-year-old Kent registered car displaying a Scottish flag? Which is correct? I suspect the ensuing dilemma would be far too much for them.
Julian, UK

Until the 1 September this year all symbols on the registration plate were illegal. The registraton plate is a legal document like a passport or driving licence, and as such should conform to a standard. If people want to display a symbol on their vehicle, there are lots of other places to display it other than on the registration plate.
Gordon, United Kingdom

It does seem rather a waste of money to be producing so many different number tags. However, should I ever get around to being able to afford a car in the UK, I will stay with the EU symbol on the tags.
Arri London, EU/US

The good thing about having a Euro-flag on a number plate is that it encompasses so many different countries and identities.

National flags may bring pride for some but for others , especially in Northern Ireland, and to a lesser extent Scotland, they are symbols of sectarianism. Do we really need that?

Keith Hodgkin, UK

Should I ever get around to being able to afford a car in the UK, I will stay with the EU symbol on the tags.

Arri London
Having an identity is very important to most people. We like to make people aware of where we are from and what we stand for, however wrong or right it is to be proud of your background.

Cars are a very common way to do this. Personalised plates are sought after, so why not make the option available to everyone to show where they are from?

I think Americans do it on their licence plates as well. If there are consequences, then at least if the plates are by choice, nobody can blame anyone but themselves.
Eleanor Giles, London

can't bring myself to care about this when there are a few more important things happening in the world.
Mike, Person, UK

It's a silly idea, almost like wanting to go around wearing a big hat with your national emblem on it. What's the point, especially if your car was made in Japan.

TJ, England

What's the point, especially if your car was made in Japan.

TJ, England

Firstly what a waste of time and money. Secondly, in these times of terrorist trouble do we really need another reason to start more trouble?
Cameron Gerrard, England

I live in a small village called New Eastwood. Half this town is full of seemingly pleasant folk until they see any type of flagged up design upon our bumper-jacks. For some obvious reason they seem over zealous (over sensitive?) about such matters and within literally minutes these emblems are ripped off from whence they came. What is the problem? I've been told by a researcher colleague (Prof. Mark Waggscarve) they may in fact diminish the negative effects of petrol emission!
Adriana Wragg, UK

Yes, introduce it on a global scale. I think this would reduce the temptation of terrorism. At least the Middle Easterns and the Irish would be more noticeable and would maybe think twice about their actions.
Fraser Howse, London, England

What's the harm being done here? As long as the car plate displays the vital information (ie number) uninhibited, why is there such a ruckus? In 10 years I fear that I'm going to visit the UK to find nothing but a bunch of conformist Euro-drones. Also, what's with the EC logo on your plates? Do they own your souls already?
William, USA

We have a Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish assembles, but not English one. At least now we can show our country of birth on our number plate.
Caron, England

If people want to label themselves what's the problem? Providing the part of the number plate that identifies the vehicle is clear does it matter what people put on the other area. Why shouldn't motorists be allowed to show their allegiance to non-EU countries, vehicle manufacturer, football clubs etc.?
Mike Parker, England

We are all citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in this country. Do we not have a UK passport? Yes, we do. It is not Scotland, Wales, England or even Great Britain that are members of the EU. The United Kingdom is. Therefore, we should all have 'UK' on the number plates.
James, UK

We have been driving around The Hague for years bearing out emblem just above the back brake light. I must admit though GB does tend to be synonymous with English. My parents are Bangleshi and Mexican respectivley and so have grown up without any sense of 'emblem-cloth bravado'. Let them remain there.
Paula Moir, The Hague, Holland

Imagine a car driving through England with an Iraqi flag?

Chris Gower, Liverpool
Imagine Wales beating England in a football match. Actually, imagine Wales beating England in a rugby match and in the car park the cars are there with their national pride stickers on? I think this is more cause for trouble that we do not require.
Mark Blackburn, London, England

It's a silly idea in certain cases and I think we can avoid unnecessary trouble by not allowing this to go ahead. You will always get your yobbish stereotypical football fan that would object to an opposing nation with force. Imagine a car driving through England with an Iraqi flag? I think the driver could potentially be welcomed with a brick or two.
Chris Gower, Liverpool, England

I think people all over the UK are not allowed to be passionate about there respective country of birth. People in power are to scared to promote this in case it upsets the ethnic minorities. I think the Americans go too far, but at least they are proud of their country.
Tony Brudenell, England

What you should be asking is why such displays are against the law? Where is the harm in proclaiming your association with your country any way you choose? Because it divides us into nations each with interests to protect and it seems to me that the EU has to eradicate that to achieve it's goals. One day there will be a generation that only knows EU rule, then Britain will truly be European!
Dee, USA

Of course the government has bowed to pressure to place flags on number plates - anything to take the heat off the fact that fuel is still expensive due to TAX! Has anyone else got any crack-pot ideas that the government can waste time on rather then deal with the real agenda?
Richard, Yorkshire

The idea is relevant, due to the present need to feel united. It can be nationalism, patriotism, but I see no harm in it. Great idea.
J. Armfelt, Finland

I have never heard of anyone being attacked because they had a California plate

Earl James,
Of course none of this is my business but I would like to point out that each state in the US has a plate designed to display the state motto or or perhaps a nature scene. Of course the plates are valid anywhere in the US. Seems to me you simply want to display the same pride in home that we do. I am 61 years old and I have never heard of anyone being attacked because they had a California plate.
Earl James, USA

The practice seems most common amongst the Scottish people who are now resident in England I have noticed. I don't quite know why, since they can't love Scotland that much if they have left it for England. Perhaps one of them could tell us?
James , England

Why not identify your nationality (or sympathies) on your auto tag? Here in the US each state issues a great variety of its own tags. There are veterans' tags, "Save the Whale" tags, university tags, vanity tags, etc., etc. Why not let drivers have a choice?
Jim Ezell, USA

I see no harm in allowing such things. People have been putting such stickers on their cars since they were created; it is only the location that is changing. It is the mentality behind some of the displays (and reactions to them) that is problematical, not the display itself.
Graham Clohessy, United Kingdom

Proud to be Scottish, I bought a new motorcycle on 1 September to coincide with the new style registration plate, and I arranged to have the Scottish saltire (white diagonal cross on blue background) and the letters "SCO" on the left hand side of my number plate. Although technically illegal, I have not been challenged by the police and, even if I had been, I would have been happy to have my day in court to explore Article 11 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights regarding freedom of expression.
Robert Stewart, Scotland

Why could anyone object to someone proclaiming they are Welsh, Scottish, English or anything else? By objecting to this, the objectors who like to claim they are liberal, multicultural, socialist and European show that they are in fact, anything but liberal.
Edwin, England

If somebody really wants a nice flag on their plate, then okay.

No harm in allowing people to specify their own flag though

But the standard ones should have one perhaps with the Irish or British flag as a canton on a EU flag with the letters IRE or GB underneath. It would be nice and colourful and easily identified. No harm in allowing people to specify their own flag though.
Michael, Dublin, Ireland

When I drive abroad, I always have the Saltire on the car. It's amazing just how friendly other drivers are when they see the flag. I can't understand your comment whereby this may increase the chances of an attack on a car. Do foreigners really hate the English so much? This is also an opportunity for the English to show off their own flag. After all, most of them think their flag has three colours!
David Anderson, Scotland

It's a great idea. I'm French but I'm Scottish in my heart and I often drive up to Scotland. For the fun and to display that I'm in love with Scotland, I have stuck the Scotland flag on my car number plate for several months.
Patrice Boutiller France

The problem with 'GB' for may Scots and Welsh such as myself, is that foreigners equate British with English. We are not English and do not wish to be identified as such. Having said that, it does seem a silly place to want to put a flag, what's wrong with a bumper sticker ?
Blewyn, UK

I'm all for national emblems on the number plates. But why oh why do we need the EC flag over the top? I am British, not European. This is another example of the govenment attempting to send us a United States of Europe by stealth!
Neil Breden, UK

You cannot impose a loyalty or patriotism to any entity, especially one that is anonymous, bureaucratic, and doesn't even speak your language!

We are loyal and respectful of our symbols only because we, personally, want to be

Mark Newdick,
Sticking a Union Jack, or any one of its composite parts, on your bumper/license plate, is your statement of who you identfy with ... it's harmless, quietly comforting, and entirely voluntary! I will turn away from any flag that I'm "told" to fly and respect. One of the core British freedoms we have striven hard to achieve over the centuries is that we are loyal and respectful of our symbols only because we, personally, want to be. That is something our European neighbours will never understand.
Mark M. Newdick, US/UK

Living in a liberal democracy, it seems reasonable to me that those who want to display flags on their car registration plate (e.g. Scotland or English etc.) should be allowed to do so. But it seems slightly ridiculous to be passionate about the issue; it's hardly a life threatening issue.
Michael, Scotland

Great idea as I use my ham radio call sign on my plates. So why not?
Roy T Clarke, Canada

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28 Dec 01 | Scotland
Flag day for patriotic drivers
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