To those of you who have come to this website via www.drivetheflag.org.uk, please use the URL, www.british-gazette.co.uk The “Drive the Flag” campaign was a campaign to persuade the Blair government to allow the use of the Union Flag and our other national flags on British car number plates following the new number plate regulations – persuant to an EU Directive – to have the flag of the European Union upon them.
The history of the Drive the Flag campaign:
The tale of the new number plate regulations was a sorry tale of national surrender and New Labour cronyism on a monumental scale.
Up to 1st September, 2001, number plates were allowed to be constructed to British Standard AU145a.
Before the passing of the Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations 2001, Statutory Instrument 2001, No. 651 which instituted the new standard, BS145d – the construction and display of number plates was regulated by the Road Vehicle (Registration & Licensing) Regulations 1971 and subsequent amendment; the Road Vehicles (Registration & Licensing) (Amendment) Regulations 1972 – known as BS145a.
BS145a was an effective piece of legislation that provided for a deal of flexibility in number plate style and design and left the market open for healthy competition. However, a group known as the British Number Plate Manufacturers Association (BNPMA) lobbied the government and were involved in the “consultation process” and the discussions with the European Union authorities that led up to the new regulations.
Much had changed in the years since 1972 in so far as manufacturing number plates was concerned. The development of the computer and new technology had introduced new methods of producing number plates. In the consultations and discussions the government had decided to tighten and to closely define the font or typeface for the new number plate standard. The upshot of this was that the Blair government allowed the British Number Plate Manufacturers Association – a small group of large firms control over the supply of the new font or typeface. The result of this is was an oligarchy of supply with these firms controlled by boards in favour of the EU, its works and its ambitions.
In the period leading up to the new regulations the BNPMA had seen the growth in the use of industrial label printers used in the manufacture of number plates – indeed their members had promoted and supplied these very machines for this task. The new regulations however give these firms a stranglehold over the market for they control the two vital items need to manufacture number plates; 1. The special software and 2. The legal font itself.
Normally you would expect a commercial firm to go out and purchase the necessary equipment need to manufacture the product it supplied. This is not now the case with British car number plates. A firm wishing to manufacture number plates has a limited choice of suppliers to choose from and only one option is offered by each – RENTAL. This is the RENTAL of the printer and the software needed. Purchase of same is not an option and the rental agreement comes with strings attached. The hirer strictly monitors the hire to ensure the hirer is obeying the regulations – eg; not supplying plates with illegal items such as the Union Flag on them.
The result of this squalid deal is that if a company wishes to manufacture legal number plates it must go to a member of the British Number Plates Manufactures Association who will insist that all provisions of the new European regulations are complied with. FAILURE OR CONTRAVENTION of these undertakings given by the company will result in termination of supply and hefty penalties!
The supply that these companies most jealously guard is the software. It is specially written in the manner that the legal font forms part of the core of the programmes and are not accessible.
INDEED THE LEGAL BS AU 145d FONT IS IN FACT UNOBTAINABLE APART FROM GOING TO LABOUR’S CRONIES AT THE BNPMA.
Not only do the programmes themselves have anti-copying devices written into them but the companies back this security up with a refusal to supply the hirer with a copy disk. A company employee visits the hirer and installs a working image of the programme onto the hard drive of the customer’s PC and will from time to time inspect same in the customer’s premises at which time this employee will inspect what is going on in the hirer’s premises – to make sure that no illegal plates bearing flags other than the European Flag are being produced.
The agreements also stipulate that the hirer must purchase all consumables from the hirer at prices decided by the hirer. An interesting example is a printer ribbon for a certain model of printer commonly used in the manufacture of number plates. For an industrial user not making number plates such a ribbon would cost around £9.00 plus VAT. For a user making number plates and tied onto a single source of supply the cost is just under £81.00 plus VAT! We leave you to draw your own conclusions.
THE BENEFITS TO THE EUROPEAN AUTHORITIES AND BLAIR OF THIS SITUATION ARE OBVIOUS – THE RIGOROUS ENFORCEMENT OF EUROPEAN LAW HAS BEEN PRIVATISED TO CARTELS OF EUROPHILE CORPORATIONS! THUS AVOIDING EUROPE AND BLAIR TO DO ANY OF THE DIRTY WORK!
Up to August 2001 the manufacture of the Drive the Flag number plates was sub-contracted out to a number plate manufacturer. However political pressure was applied to this supplier and they advised us that they would no longer manufacture number plates for us. We therefore had to look to establishing – at considerable cost – our own manufacturing capability or close down. We decided to continue and make the necessary investment. Needless to say the Europhiles at the BNPMA did not wish to supply Drive the Flag! We therefore PURCHASED a suitable thermal printer and ribbons (not at £81.00 each!) – with some special software not supplied by BNPMA members to manufacture number plates.
Our plates however had one important difference. We were unable to use the legal font. As a result we used the TrueType font Arial with the attribute set to bold at 288 point. You can see what such a number plate would look like by typing it out in this font – set to bold – using upper case letters and using the lower case “l” as the numeral one. Your word processor is unlikely to support scaling the font to 288 point – 72 point is likely to be the largest setting – but you can see how it looks on your screen. This font is virtually identical to one of the fonts used on the old BS145a plates up to August 2001. The size of the legal BS145d font characters are (with the exception of the numeral one) uniformly 79 mm high and 50 mm wide. Our Arial Bold characters vary in width from 95 mm in the case of the letter “W” down to a more typical 57 mm in the case of the letter “T”. Our characters were uniformly 72 mm in height some 7 mm shorter than the BS145d characters. Because of the width of some letters particularly the “W” – we sometimes had to use the TrueType font Arial Narrow again set to the Bold attribute.
At this point you may well ask – What was the attitude to the Police to these number plates ?
The answer is this. They generally did not notice – as most cars were registered before 1st September, 2001 when the new pattern of registration number came into effect – and when they did they didn’t bother as police officers are only concerned when a number plate is so designed to fool speed trap cameras or are so dirty and/or damaged as to be unreadable. Plates using the Arial Bold and Arial Narrow Bold fonts at 288 point do not fall into this category – AND THE POLICE KNEW THIS. The proof of this is revealed in the size of the LEGAL CHARACTERS of motorcycle number plates which are 63 mm in height and 43 mm in width – considerably smaller than our characters be they Arial Bold or Arial Narrow Bold.
They were also be able to see that we are using the BS145d standard reflective material and acrylic that have significantly improved reflective values – for speed trap camera recognition1 BS145d also requires the name and post code of the manufacturer and supplying outlet of the plates to be displayed at the bottom centre of the number plate. The Drive the Flag plates did not have this but do have the website (drivetheflag.org.uk) in 36 point Arial Bold font at the bottom centre – as you will see the index page of the site gives all the necessary information any investigating police officer could ever need!
At this point you may well ask – What was the attitude of the BNPMA, the DVLA and the Blair government to these number plates ?
One of annoyance but resignation as any action on their part will expose their highly profitable cartel to the glare of publicity and cause acute embarrassment to the government that declared it was going to be;
TOUGH ON SLEEZE AND TOUGH ON THE CAUSES OF SLEEZE!
The Eurosceptic tabloids would have had a field day on this one!
Thus, from 1st September, 2001, the plates supplied by Drive the Flag were, apart from the font/typeface, were illegal for the following reasons;
The strip colour. B.S.145d stipulates that the background colour (of the GB/Euro markings) must be Pantone Reflex Blue. Pantone Reflex Blue is the standard colour for such markings across the European Union. On the legal plates displaying the E.U. symbol the blue strip is created through a silk screen printing process which deposits reflective inks in the reflective backing that forms part of the number plate. The initials GB are retro-reflective, ie; the colour of the underlying reflective backing (white front/yellow rear) In the case of number plates supplied by Drive the Flag a plain unprinted reflective strip is used, with the registration mark printed “right shifted” as it would be for printing in a Euro printed strip, and then a separate clear plastic strip that has been three colour silk screen printed over with the legally prescribed colour of the Union flag (Pantone Blue Ref. 280C and Pantone Red Ref. 186C) together with the legally prescribed retro-reflective GB initials and with the Union flag to the ratio 5:3 (the Union Jack (seaborne) being 6:3).
IT WAS ILLEGAL TO DISPLAY THESE ON A MOTOR VEHICLE IF THE PLATES WERE PURCHASED AFTER SATURDAY, 1st SEPTEMBER, 2001.
As stated above, the government announced a review. They intended to allow the Union Flag. HOWEVER – only number plates bearing the initials “GB” – the long established and internationally recognised national identifier – AND SURROUNDED BY THE European Stars will be regarded as internationally recognisable. THIS WAS AT THE INSISTENCE OF THE AUTHORITIES IN BRUSSELS. This is because Blair gave up this country’s rights to decide upon these affairs in September 1998!
When interviewed on BBC Radio 4, the MP for Aldershot, Conservative Gerald Howarth, said that it [the display of national flags on number plates] was a question of freedom of choice – that people should be allowed to choose. We would suggest it is a question of SELF GOVERNENCE. That the parliament of which the honourable gentleman is a member should be a sovereign parliament of this land and not one whose authority is subordinate to another higher authority – which in sad fact it is – to the nascent European supra-national confederation.
Although illegal we did not expect motorists to be prosecuted, given the hornets’ nest any official objection would have stirred up and the eagerness with which the Euro-sceptic tabloids would have picked up and run with any such incident. No drivers were stopped.
NOTE; It is interesting to note that it was in the reign of the last Queen Elizabeth that parliament legislated for the establishment of monopolies – at this time Good Queen Bess prevailed upon parliament to reward her courtesans and loyal courtiers. Now, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, Tony (Let me feel your pain) Blair has prevailed upon his present collection of New Labour non-entities on the green benches to his rear to legislate a monopoly for his cronies.
However can you imagine Queen Bess’s reaction to the news that ministers in the government of this land had and were continuing to cede (permanently) power to a foreign body outside these shores ?
The programme for legislation and introduction of British Standard AU145d plates had been;
Early February; European Union reply to the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions on the proposed changes (Europe of course must have her say !)
26th February, 2001; – the Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations 2001 Statutory Instrument 2001, No. 561) published.
28th February, 2001; the above regulations laid before Parliament.
24th April, 2001; Regulations debated in the House of Commons but voted through on 25th April, 2001.
21 Days after the regulations are passed by Parliament number plates constructed to British Standard AU145d become legal.
April to End of August; Number Plates built to either the old British Standard AU145a or the new British Standard AU145d may be used.
31st August, 2001; Government announced “an urgent review” of the regulations due to come into effect the following day, advising police to delay enforcement.
1st September, 2001; Only Number Plates built to British Standard AU145d may be issued for either new registrations or replating – although cars registered before 1973 are exempt.
The new British Standard AU145d is as follows;
1. Stronger Acrylic – designed to withstand impacts better.
2. Reflective values improved slightly since the toughened acrylic absorbs more light.
3. Standard font (typeface) – to facilitate automatic reading equipment – this is something this Home Secretary and his civil servants at the Home Office are very keen on as it is intended to have very large scale automatic surveillance of the citizenry.
4. Security Marking – the supply outlet must be identified on the number plates together with the post code to enable traceability. Space for marking will be strictly specified so many garages and car dealers will have to alter their logos appearing on the plates of the cars they sell. The new regulations state that this so-called personalisation may be in any colour but must include the name of the supplying outlet together with the postcode. This cannot be a single postcode for a dealer group. It can be in any size but cannot exceed an area greater than 178 mm x 13 mm (7 x 0.5 inches) and must be situated centrally at the base of the plate.
5. European Flag. To provide space for this on a standard plate, the letter width has been reduced from 57 mm to 50 mm. Display of the E.U. flag is optional in the sense that the car owner can choose to display the E.U. flag or no flag at all. If a car owner wishes to have the GB symbol built into their number plates then the E.U. flag AND NOT THE UNION FLAG must be displayed. Thus forcing people to display the flag of the despised European Union.
Number plates bearing the Union Flag and being of approximately the same size as the EU flag were to be illegal.
31st December (New Year’s Eve), 2001; Government announce a climbdown. The union Flag and other national symbols (the Cross of St. George, St. Andrew and the Welsh Dragon – but not the Red Hand of Ulster. However, unlike the E.U. symbol, these symbols will not be on a coloured strip.
1st September, 2002; the government are to place revised regulations before parliament. This will allow the Union Flag to be displayed (see above).
31st December (New Year’s Eve), 2002; I-N-M (U.K.) Limited Trading As “Drive The Flag” ceased to supply number plates.
1st January (New Year’s Day), 2003; The Vehicles Crime Act came into force.