This post was first published by Croydon Advertiser on 22/04/2017.
Croydon UKIP members on a mission to make St George as popular as St Patrick
UKIP are on a patriotic crusade to educate the people of Croydon about England’s patron saint St George.
Party faithful have taken to the streets of New Addington today to share the story of the Greek holy warrior whose cross has become England’s national flag.
Croydon UKIP representatives took the decision to actively promote St George’s Day as a time of national celebration to rival the feast days of St Patrick, St Andrew and St David.
The leadership of UKIP’s local branch feel that England’s patron saint and his saint’s day on April 23 do not get enough attention.
They decided to hand out leaflets listing facts about St George – a Roman solider from Greece – to promote English national pride and a better understanding of the Christian soldier.
The party also believes it is the only political group to proudly show its patriotic fervour in Croydon.
“I think we all know what Labour think of the St George’s cross,” said Mike Swadling, UKIP chairman in Croydon.
“And the Conservatives like to pretend they are a patriotic party, but they’re not.
“Not one other party during the Brexit campaign backed the country, no Conservatives here campaigned for it [Brexit].
“We are the actual patriotic party in Croydon.
“The Scottish have St Andrew’s Day, St Patrick’s Day is celebrated in a big way and even St David in Wales has more made of it.
“We feel like St George is a great saint and we should be celebrating St George’s Day more.”
To increase an understanding of England’s patron saint, who slew the mythical dragon, UKIP members took to New Addington with factsheets about the semi-historical figure.
These include him being the patron saint of Ethiopia, Catalonia, Palestine, Georgia and Portugal among many other places.
He was, according to legend, put to death – and was beheaded – by the Roman emperor Diocletian for his Christian religion, but his brave martyrdom inspired the ruler’s wife to convert to the religion.
The reported date of his death, April 23, is his Christian feast day.
Mr Swadling added: “When you come to New Addington you see the cross of St George flying proudly.
“We thought it would be good for us to go there and teach people a bit about him.
“People have always somewhat shied away from talking about and celebrating St George so that’s why we’re handing out these leaflets.
“And it’s a bit of fun to get out and talk to people on the streets.”
New Addington was the most pro-leave ward of Croydon during the Brexit vote last year.
St George’s Day falls on a Sunday this year, but UKIP reasoned that more people could be reached by their message on a busy Saturday.