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Saturday, 29 December, 2001, 17:39 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?


As an English man living in Wales for my job, I am very concerned as I would suffer racial attacks if I had the English flag on my car. I am not Welsh so I would not want the Welsh flag on my car either. I have already been told I am a racist for wanting my national flag on my car because I am English. Does the fact that I am English make me racist?
Alan Taylor-Shearer, Wales

I don't really want to fly a flag on my car but I was annoyed to be told I had to, and that it had to be a European one. Since when are democratic people made to fly flags, especially flags of an institution that at least half of UK citizens consistently vote against in opinion polls? If we must, I am glad that we can at least choose which flag gains our allegiance.
Luke Magee, UK

What a waste of time. The new number plates are unclear anyway in that you tend to remember the first few letters, which, under the new system are common to thousands of cars. Why clutter up the clearest number plates in the world with this nonsense?
John P., Scotland

To "The _Chaotic_1, It was to be expected that one of the continual American bashers who frequent this website would try to include the United States in this stupid topic.

Does anyone really give a monkey's what is on one's licence plate?
Jim, Texas

I don't really want to fly a flag on my car but I was annoyed to be told I had to and that it had to be a European one.

Luke Magee, UK
I'm laughing my head off over this minor "dilemma" you lovely people are having. You should look to what is happening in Alabama, where it was decided that flying the Confederate flag over government buildings was banned because it offended the African Americans who live here in the Land of Dixie.

Our heritage remains more visible as ever now - we resolved that problem, Never seen so many confederate flags flying in so many front yards, and flying on car antennas, in my life! People will do as they like. It's called "freedom".
Jeannie, USA

I live in the US and have proudly displayed a Union Jack and a GB sticker on my car for the past 10 years. I want people to know where I come from.
Liza, USA (ex-pat)

With everything that is going on in the world just now surely no one would grudge anyone a slight bit a patriotism. It's not about labels or showing off it's about telling people that we are still proud of our Western Culture and we still stand strong.
Celine, Scotland

A lot of Scots (and far be it for me to say, by far the most) do not consider themselves British and therefore do not acknowledge the letters "GB" as being an appropriate "national" identifier for our country.

Why all the "hoo ha" over a little country just wanting to be treated like any other?

Are the Scottish flag and the letters "SCO" really so offensive to English and European politicians?

Officiate the "SCO" identifier internationally and let's be done with this fine and extremely embarrassing example of bureaucratic nonsense!
Stuart, Scotland

Why clutter up the clearest number plates in the world with this nonsense?

John P, Scotland
Nice to see some people are still proud of their nationality and are not willing to allow Brussels to wipe away yet another small piece of their national identity.

As for the EU flag on cars what a joke! It represents the worst of bureaucracy and corruption in Europe. It certainly isn't something anyone should be proud of.
Roy Troughton, USA

To Daniel Crawford: I have indeed been to Orkney, many times, and am aware of the Cross of St Magnus. I personally like visiting Maes Howe. The point I was making - of course, ironic that you should accuse me of ignorance, when you yourself cannot see that point - is that will they have their flag on their numberplate. Think before you make a comment in future it may save your embarassment.
Dave , England

It is all so petty. GB stickers will still be required abroad - so what is the change all about? Patriotism - The last refuge of the scoundrel.
Graeme, UK

Wales have got their own plates, but the government has forgotten a few important factors when introducing plates for Wales. C is the first letter for Cymru, then the second can be anything from A to Z, not relating to Wales. Z is not in the Welsh Alphabet, neither is Q, nor V, nor K, so why has these letters been allowed to stay?
Hywel Evans, Llanlli, S. Wales

As far as I understand it Jersey, Guersey and the Isle of Man are all part of the UK but have their own international identifiers (GBJ, GBG & GBM). Why can't Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (or even England) adopt their own? We have our own football teams after all!
Iain McLaurin, Scotland

We should be proud of our national flag, the Saltire, and fly it more.

Ian Douglas, Scotland
What a silly debate. We already have enough to distract us with exhortations to call companies about the standard of their drivers' driving etc.
Chris Klein, England

Oh come on folks! It's only a bit of fun! The government has simply allowed for the fact that some people like to display their regional identification. If you feel so damned strongly about it then why settle for a paltry little numberplate sticker? Why not paint your entire car with the design of your favoured national flag? After all, nobody has legislated on vehicle colour schemes! Yet...
Chris B., England

Bill, UK, is so right. There's nothing intrinsically wrong in it, but we're talking car number plates for god's sake! What a sad, sad commentary this is on GB at the threshold of 2002 .

As most of Europe embarks on an exciting new future, insecure elements of our society are looking back at past differences and wanting to reinforce them. Can't we just grow up as a nation and address real issues such as how we can better get on with our European partners and make a real contribution to the European Union?
John Bligh, UK

We should be proud of our national flag, the Saltire, and fly it more. Try telling the Yanks they can not fly the Star spangled banner
Ian Douglas, Scotland

Very good of the mealy-mouths to let us be our own nation. I have to wonder just who is making all the rules, the EU or this Government in England. I will display my Scottish one with pride as usual.
Mairi M Scotland, Scotland

Graham from the Netherlands, I think you should take care to remember where the oil is located in the UK.

That is the sole reason the UK has kept afloat the past years, what natural resources does England and Wales have to support them (in the major way that the oil does)?

The steel and coal industry that's got death at its door? If the oil was not here the UK would be in a far worse state than even now.
Fraser Heath, Aberdeen, UK

Haven't we more important things to think about?
Mike Bywater, UK

I loved the "You can take our number plates, but you'll never take our freedom". Let's have a wee bit of humour.

"Who's like us, damn few an' they're no' English!!"
Benny. Mackin, Australia

I am British. I live and work in Spain, however I cannot, legally, use a GB sticker on my number plate.

This sticker only identifies the car. If you want to identify yourself why not tattoo a flag on your forehead or better still, your passport number.

Seriously, someone who is sure of him or herself doesn't need a label, you are who you are; a human being.
Andrew Mortimer, Spain

I refuse to have the European flag on anything. Not only is it more like a trade mark than a flag, but it doesn't really stand for anything! Now the St George's cross and the Union Jack both have history, and those I will display with pride..
Lesley, England

The new car registration system now states where in the UK that car comes from, so what would be the harm in displaying our national emblems as well?
Matt W, England

If you want to identify yourself why not tattoo a flag on your forehead or better still, your passport number.

Andrew Mortimer, Spain
It seems to me that our individual countries are what make up the Union; without individual countries, there could be no union at all, right?

I am a very proud English woman, proud to the point of having St George's cross tattooed on my body (as many English people have); all this means is that I love my country, much as the Scots love theirs, and the Welsh theirs.

There's nothing wrong with this. We have our differences, obviously, but there's no reason that those differences can't be brought together in a union. Unionisation doesn't homogenise, it's self-supporting, if its done right.

I'm proud to be English, happy to be in Britain, and tired of all the hair-splitting; fly your flag, be proud, and get on with it; we're all on this island together, for God's sake.
Kirsten, England

I am presently living in the United Arab Emirates, a country that is home to a population that consists of about 60% ex-pats from all over the world.

Everyone here is quick to display on their car something that identifies their country of origin out of pride for that country.

I think it fulfils a basic human desire to feel a sense of belonging (I am with the ex-patriot community), but on the other hand stands one apart from the crowd (I am an Aussie-American ex-patriot).

It's a deep-rooted human trait that should be acknowledged and tolerated. I think we all agree we should not go so far as to get into a "my country's better than your country" syndrome, but celebrating one's diversity is healthy.
Von, United Arab Emirates

Is this really worth a talking point discussion?

Who really cares what immature drivers put on their cars. These things will be like all the rest of the silly stickers, put on by exhibitionists who want other people to look at them.

It's the same with personalised number plates. Does anybody really give a stuff about the sort of arrogant big heads who have to proclaim that in their own small-minded way thy have "made it". WOW....Big Deal!!

What a load of plonkers, the lot of them
Keith Simpson, UK

These things will be like all the rest of the silly stickers, put on by exhibitionists who want other people to look at them.

Keith Simpson
About time...I have seen in the last few years plates showing Indian/Pakistan/Bangladesh flags on plates which are illegal but the police won't do any thing. I can't wait to show the St George flag on my plate.
Harish, U.K.

Like H MacKay of Scotland, I have never considered my self British either, and Celts like him are the reason. The day the English got finally tired of that sort of prattle, vote for home rule for the English, and dump the rest of the ungracious UK, the happier (and financially better off) most of us will be. The truth is that Scotland has done far better out of the UK than the English ever did, or ever will. Bye-bye, H MacKay.
Graham, Netherlands

With the introducing of the Euro I feel myself no longer Dutch. We visiting Wales many times in a year with a sticker of Wales on our car. You all must be proud to be Welsh, Scottish or English. Please let the people of the UK show their own identity. Ours is gone with the terrible Euro.
Henk van Bergen, The Netherlands

Great news, I have lived in the USA over 20 years (from Wales), and for that time all our cars have had a Welsh Dragon on them, so please let's fly the flag for ALL our countries when we have the opportunity.
Ken P., USA

You all must be proud to be Welsh, Scottish or English. Please let the people of the UK show their own identity. Ours is gone with the terrible Euro.

Henk van Bergen, The Netherlands
I agree, the more opportunity we have to be English, the better. Wave on!
John Jolley, Norway

What I want to know is where is the Pict plate?
Pict, Pictland

Having had the opportunity to travel over the last few years it is obvious that most other countries take pride in their nationalities and make the effort to display their national colours, I see no reason not to display the flag, indeed this should be encouraged.
Lee, Malaysia

Excellent news! Does this mean I can have the white rose of Yorkshire on my car when I go back to the UK.
Paul Stancer, Hong Kong

This all started when the EU High Commission thought that your car would be more 'retro' with an EU flag on it. Why not have no flags on the registration plates and be done with it all. Wasn't the little 'GB' sticker on the back of your car enough for you?
James Ross, UK

What on earth is all this talk about ripping off flag stickers on other cars? Here in New Jersey, we not only have specialized plates (breast cancer, wildlife, trees, battleship, etc) if you like, but in the last few days, I have seen flag stickers from Denmark, Guatemala, Ecuador, Mexico, St. Croix, just to name a few, on cars around here. What is the big deal about it??
Linda, NJ, USA

Well, the problem is simple... Britain is full of politically correct do-gooders.

Jake, Canada (ex UK)
Several correspondents ask why someone would feel the need to display a flag. This is not the real debate. The question is who did the government think they were, saying what you could and could not stick on your car. The truth is that this government hate this country, finding it's history and culture(s) embarrassingly un EU (not European as many fail to differentiate.) and try to rub out evidence of them wherever they can.
Paul Gough, United Kingdom

To Dave of England, the Orcadians already have their own flag and fly it proudly but you as an Englishman has probably never been to that part of UK, but instead you spout ignorant, unjustified indignant comments here in Talking Point. The Orcadian flag is in the style of the other Scandinavian countries with a red cross imposed on a yellow gold background.
Daniel Crawford, Sydney, Australia

Well, the problem is simple... Britain is full of politically correct do-gooders...

Show your flag and you are considered a racist. I am English/British and I fly my flag proudly outside my home here in Canada along with a number of other homes who proudly fly the Maple Leaf.

Go on U.K, fly the flag be proud of who you are and where you are from.
Jake, Canada (ex UK)

Coming from the only place that really is proud to be British, I say show the Union Jack
Jonas, Northern Ireland

A vehicle number plate is a legal document and must not be tampered with. The recognised abbreviation for mainland Great Britain is GB and that is used for identification purposes.

What you do on the mainland is one thing, but other European police forces do not turn a blind eye to such abuse.

Simon Crozier, Germany
Failure to display a recognised national identification either on the number plate or separate oval badge is an offence and will result in a fine. What you do on the mainland is one thing, but other European police forces do not turn a blind eye to such abuse.
Simon Crozier, Germany

As several of my countrymen have pointed out, vehicle registration is the responsibility of individual states. What they failed to mention is that the states have embraced the desire for individualism as a source of substantial income.

Traditionally, states adorned plates with mottos, from anodyne tourist promotion ("You have a friend in Pennsylvania") to the bluntly political (New Hampshire's "Live Free or Die.")

"Vanity plates," with letters and/or numbers of a driver's choice, have always been available for a surcharge. In California, they became an art form among film celebrities.

More recently, many states have begun offering a sort of middle ground: A variation on the traditional design -- professional sports team logos, calls to nature conservation, celebrations of the arts, etc.

The cost is more than a "generic" plate, but less than a "vanity" plate, and part of the surcharge may go to a good cause. For instance, New York drivers who choose a "NY: State of the Arts" plate add a few bucks to the budget of the New York State Council on the Arts.

There are obvious issues in turning a state-issued licence into a billboard, but if it raises revenue without offending the Constitution, why not? It's less insidious than a lottery, for example.
Harry Matthews, USA

We have to have the State displayed on out Licence plates here so I can't see what all the fuss is about having your country on your licence plates there.
Shane D'Arcy, Maine USA

I can't imagine telling any American that he is now "allowed" to fly his own flag.

Jon Livesey, USA
I'm beginning to think that you have to live outside the UK to fully understand what a sad lot the UK anti-British brigade really are. I can't imagine telling any American that he is now "allowed" to fly his own flag.

I'm starting to really despise people who take all the benefits of living in the UK, which is really a pretty soft life, and spend their time slanging the place.
Jon Livesey, USA

So many patriots here who don't know the name of the UK flag! It's the Union Flag not the Union Jack. The Union Jack is flown from ships.
Alan Cooper, England

I don't feel any particularly patriotic feelings for Scotland. In fact, I consider it to be a mound of dirt protruding from the sea with one or two nice looking bits in between the grey, concrete retail parks.

Still, I think it's important that I and the rest of the population of Scotland should have the ability to say that we do not consider ourselves to be part of the British (American) empire.
The_Chaotic_1, Scotland

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

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28 Dec 01 | Scotland
Flag day for patriotic drivers
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