THE family of Rod McCord has explained why they flew the Communist Party flag at New Stalybridge Labour Club at his funeral, a decision that caused a furore on social media.
It was widely criticised coming days after the suspected Russian involvement in the nerve gas attack on double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, Wiltshire.
In a statement, his sons Danny and Patrick McCord said: “Our dad was a Communist and also a passionate local activist whose contribution made a difference to our community.
“We are very proud of him and wanted the memorial to be a fitting reflection of our father. As a family we took the decision to fly the Communist Party flag at full mast over the Stalybridge Labour Club.
“This was purely to mark our dad’s passing and in no way was it our intention to cause offence, upset or to associate the flag with the Labour Party.
“We also feel that given this has triggered a healthy debate, we recognise and acknowledge what this particular flag has come to represent. However, this is no different to the way many people across the world interpret the Union Jack, our national flag which has been hijacked by the far right.
“Had we taken the decision to fly the Union Jack, would this have been more appropriate? Certain not for our father.
“For our dad the Union Jack represents empire and as we all know the sun never set and the blood never dried. Atrocities have been committed in the name of all flags.”
Cllr Jan Jackson, chair of Stalybridge Town Council, said the flag being raised was a family matter and was “not aligned or associated in any way with the New Stalybridge Labour Club”.
The Labour councillor said: “It has gone viral and caused a furore on social media, something that should not have happened.
“It was for the funeral of a very stalwart person who sat on the Tameside Hospital Action Board and did a lot of good work for the community.
“People are dying all over the world and struggling to put a loaf of bread on the table yet flying the flag has caused all this fuss. There are more important issues.”
Cllr Doreen Dickinson says she was received complaints from constituents, not only about the flag but also the Communist Red Flag being relayed by loudspeakers outside Stalybridge Civic Hall where the funeral took place. It is, however, the anthem of the British Labour Party.
Conservative Cllr Dickinson made a critical tweet, but removed the post after being contacted by Mr McCord’s family.
She said she never intended to upset the family, but added: “If it was a private funeral in a private building then you can you do whatever you wish, but the funeral was in a public building.
“The messages I received were not about the funeral, but about the flag flying and people were also disgusted about the Red Flag being played over speakers so it could be heard in the town centre.”