St George’s Day serves, in an ever-growing world, as a reminder of our national and cultural identity here at home.

From mystic tails of the man himself slaying a dragon in a feet of immense bravery and courage many years ago, to the flags adorning windows across the nation during football tournaments, the cross of St George and its symbolism is engrained in the very fabric of what it means to be English.

Crucially, St George’s Day brings people together, and gives us an opportunity to celebrate the shared identity of our community.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a fantastic St George’s Day celebration at Thornley Park in Denton.

People young and old, from right across the community, coming together to celebrate our cultural heritage, with music, dancing, food, and all manner of fun and games.

It wasn’t about barriers, or marking things that split people apart, but crucially about what unites us.

As a country, we have always looked outwards to the world, embracing different cultures, and celebrating the contributions they make to society.

Englishness is not the preserve of any one group of people, any demographic, or any community, it belongs to every single one of us, and is something in which we should all be proud.

There are some who in recent times have taken to claiming that the flag of St George and using it to represent a dark and sinister form of patriotism, that we should never recognise.

The flag is not a symbol of division, it is not based on outdated views about race, but should be something that allows everyone in this country to share in their English identity.

The cross of St George belongs to every one of us who is proud of country and wants to work to make it even better.

It must never be surrendered to those who seek to spread hatred and divide communities.

I will always be proud to be English, proud of our history, and proud of the flag that brings all of us together as one.

So I wish everyone across Tameside and beyond a very happy St George’s Day, and I hope our celebrations continue to go from strength to strength in the years to come.

Constituency Office Address

Town Hall, Market Street, Denton, M34 2AP

Parliamentary Office Address

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA