A FORMER Mirfield mayor has been left cross by what he claims are attempts by an MP to "hoodwink" residents about marking St George's Day.
Conservative Mirfield councillor Martyn Bolt says plans by Dewsbury MP Shahid Malik to make St George's Day a bank holiday are just an attempt to "jump on a bandwagon".
The party-political bunfight erupted after Mr Malik introduced an early day motion in the House of Commons calling on the government to make April 23 an official national holiday.
Clr Bolt said: "When I was Mayor of Mirfield last year we had a St George's Day parade.
"Mr Malik was a parliamentary candidate and didn't turn up. The others did.
"I think this shows his feelings about St George's Day."
Clr Bolt said Mirfield Town Council had recently debated St George's Day and written a letter to the Government.
"They said it was government policy not to promote people or events through bank holidays.
"That was only a couple of days before Gordon Brown talked about British day."
Mr Malik said he was astonished at Clr Bolt's comments.
He said: "If you support St George's Day you would think you would support your elected MP when he backs it as well.
"It is quite incredible really and it just shows it as party political and petty.
"Nearly half-a-million people are supporting a campaign led by Ian Botham for St George's Day to be a national holiday.
"Are they jumping on the bandwagon too?
"Clr Bolt needs to grow up a little bit."
Mr Malik added: "I want to fly the flag and take pride in being English and I know for a fact there are thousands of people in our area who feel the same way.
"St George's Day offers a unique opportunity for people from all backgrounds and beliefs to come together and celebrate the things that make England great."
St GEORGE FACTFILE:
* He was born in Cappadocia, now eastern Turkey
* He lived in the 3rd century
* His parents were Christian
* He became a Roman soldier
* It was while he was in England that he heard about the persecution of Christians in Rome
* He returned to Rome to persuade the Emperor Diocletian to spare the lives of Christians
* He was urged to give up his faith but refused and was beheaded
* His popularity stems from the time of the Crusades
* St George's emblem, a red cross on a white background, was adopted by Richard the Lionheart and brought to England in the 12th Century