Call for English anthem made today


5:58 pm - April 22nd 2012

by Sunny Hundal    


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A group of writers, MPs and other personalities from across the political spectrum have today published a letter in the Sunday Telegraph calling for an English anthem.

I am one of the signatories too.

The letter states:

SIR – When British athletes win Gold for Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics, God Save the Queen will play to celebrate. However, when it is England who take to the sporting field to play rugby or football, they should be heralded by an English anthem for an English team, just as Flower of Scotland and Land of My Fathers are sung as Scottish and Welsh anthems.

The lack of an English national anthem can lead to complaints about a lack of fair play, while treating the British national anthem as if it belongs to England undermines an equal claim to British identity and the allegiance of other nations within the United Kingdom.

An English anthem would show symbolically that pride in our national identities is no barrier to being proud to be British too. We would like to see an English anthem used when England play France in their first game in this summer’s Euro 2012 football tournament.

This St George’s Day is an ideal moment for the proud and inclusive majority in our country to speak up. It would strengthen the case that the fringe extremists of the English Defence League, who would tear England apart, have no real claim to St George’s flag.

An English anthem for the talented, diverse teams that represent us on the sporting field would help modern patriotic pride to defeat prejudice.

Signed by
Sunder Katwala, Director, British Future
Robert Halfon MP (Con)
David Lammy MP (Labour)
Greg Mulholland MP (Lib Dem)
Rob Berkeley, Director, Runnymede Trust
Baroness Berridge (Con)
Phillip Blond, Director, ResPublica
Mihir Bose
Jon Cruddas MP (Lab)
Iain Dale
David Goodhart, Director, Demos
Paul Goodman, Co-editor, ConservativeHome
Sunny Hundal, Editor, Liberal Conspiracy
Guy Lodge, Associate Director, IPPR
Rachael Jolley, Editorial director, British Future
Dr Andrew Mycock, Huddersfield University
Prof Tariq Modood, Bristol University
Max Wind-Cowie, Head of Progressive Conservatism Project, Demos
Gareth Young, OurKingdom

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


1. flyingrodent

Why the Hell not – you can have Flower of Scotland, if you like. Droning, cacophonous, backward-looking dirge that is.

I’ve been trying to turn the nation onto changing our anthem to Donald, Where’s Your Troosers? for years, but I’m not getting much traction. Strange, since Donald is superior musically, thematically and patriotically.

Various songs with English patriotic flavouring have, at various times, already been suggested as anthems including: Jerusalem, Land of Hope and Glory, and I vow to Thee, My Country.

For lusty renditions, try the last night of the Proms on YouTube.

Given that ‘The Empire’ from the original star wars triology was largely played by English actors, can we have the imperial march tune please?

“Why the Hell not – you can have Flower of Scotland, if you like. Droning, cacophonous, backward-looking dirge that is. ”

I thought Flower of Scotland had been overtaken in the popularity stakes long since by Scottish Soldier:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sAitY3y9mY

Utter jingoist bollocks.

God Save The Queen is a hideous anthem. I wish we would do away with it for good.

The English have got Jerusalem at hand, the lucky sods. Fine words, fine tune, and can be bawled out by the semi-tone-deaf. Uplifting sentiments as well.

Flooer o’ Scawtland is a hideous miserable nationalistic dirge celebrating a very old victory. I’s go for Letter from America – It has a very singable chorus. The history it deals with – the death of industrial towns – is recent, in fact it’s current affairs.

Should be “my country I vow to thee” – beautiful song

Has to be “Jerusalem”. Great musically and lyrically, as opposed to “Land of Hope and Glory” whose lyrics are “God wants us to conquer the lesser races”.

The problem with Jerusalem is that after every line I feel compelled to answer, “No”.

11. Charlieman

England and UK are different.

Within England, I reserve the right to have a go about people who live in Yorkshire because I am a Lancastrian. Yorkshire people are permitted to disagree. This is civilised conduct.

When Olympians get on a platform, it may be a UK event. Think further about UK tribalism.

Jerusalem – Parry and Blake, definitive orchestration by Elgar. Utterly English, and equally memorable.

13. Alex Grant

I think you need a reality check chaps
The English already have an anthem – it’s called ‘God save the Queen’. It was written for the English after all the the sixth verse runs….

Lord grant that Marshal Wade
May by thy mighty aid
Victory bring.
May he sedition hush,
And like a torrent rush,
Rebellious Scots to crush.
God save the Queen!

And you wonder why the Scots don’t feel to keen to sing it – even though you eventually dropped this verse.
By the way you also have an English Parliament – it’s called Westminster

@5: “Utter jingoist bollocks.”

Try this tribute to Piper Bill Millin of Lord Lovat’s commando unit who, after landing on Sword Beach, took over from the British glider troops who had captured the Pegasus Bridge, Normandy, in the night before the D-Day landings on the 6 June 1944 to block any counter-attacks on the invasion beaches:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CedJZNTzhqw

“Millin is best remembered for playing the pipes whilst under fire during the D-Day landing in Normandy. Pipers had traditionally been used in battle by Scottish and Irish soldiers. However, the use of bagpipes was restricted to rear areas by the time of the Second World War by the British Army. Lovat, however, ignored these orders and ordered Millin, then aged 21, to play. When Private Millin demurred, citing the regulations, he recalled later, Lord Lovat replied: “Ah, but that’s the English War Office. You and I are both Scottish, and that doesn’t apply.” He played “Hielan’ Laddie” and “The Road to the Isles” as his comrades fell around him on Sword Beach. Millin states that he later talked to captured German snipers who claimed they did not shoot him because they thought he was crazy.” [Wikipedia]

15. Chaise Guevara

@ 1 Flowerpower

It can’t be any worse than God Save the Queen, which remains the most turgid dirge ever written despite John Lennon’s spirited attempt to win the title with Imagine.

@ 2 Bob B

Agreed with all three – with the caveat that we’d have to rename Jerusalem to prevent confusion, and that most people can’t sing I Vow to Thee My Country. Both beautiful and stirring pieces, though.

Ideally I’d like to see something that doesn’t make presumptions about the singer’s religion and political stance – but I can’t think of anything, and suspect something made to fit would be insipid. God’s got the best anthems, happy to borrow one of his.

16. Chaise Guevara

@ 5

“Utter jingoist bollocks.”

How so? If we’re going to have anthems, they might at least fit with one another. It is a bit weird for England to use the British anthem when the other countries don’t.

17. douglas clark

Sunny,

You were being a tad satirical when you signed that petition, no?

It is obvious to anyone that isn’t English that ‘God Save the Queen’ is exclusively English. As per the missing stanza that Alex Grant mentions.

You can keep your ‘God Save the Queen’ as your national anthem, for that is all it ever was, a patriotic statement of Englishness. It had bugger all to do with the rest of us.

“Send her victorious, happy and glorious”

Eh!

And what is this shit about a God saving a Queen?

The FA I recall did give LOHAG a go in th 70s, but it didn’t really catch on.

Billy Connolly once suggested the Archers theme, which I though was rather nice.

19. douglas clark

Chaise @ 15.

I quite like ‘Imagine’.

To understand the historic context of why the Scots react against God Save The King/Queen, try this illuminating documentary: Battle of Culloden (1/6)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUc-_e6pdag&feature=related

The Battle of Culloden was in 1746. In the year before, a Scottish Jacobite army had invaded England and moved south to eventually capture Derby, a town about 100 miles north of London but then retreated with the Scottish command in disarray and because the expected supporting French invasion hadn’t materialised. The Battle of Culloden in northern Scotland, just south-east of Inverness, was the ultimate response of the British government. It was the last battle on British soil.

There is surely only one possible choice?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vh-wEXvdW8

“Remember, if it hadn’t been for the English you’d all be Spanish”

22. Alisdair Cameron

Utter jingoist bollocks

Um, isn’t a national anthem inescapably jingoistic? Sort of the nature of the darn thing…even if an anthem’s words aren’t jingoistic, once it becomes a national anthem, then bingo, a bit of jingo(ism).

CG @ 16

It is a bit weird for England to use the British anthem when the other countries don’t.

I think it is the other way about, though. ‘God save the Queen’ being conceived at a time when the terms British/English were interchangeable. I doubt you could find many people outside Scotland, Wales and Ireland who understood the distinction and the appropriate uses of the terms.

I bet most Americans, Germans, Dutch, French etc would see the Union Flag and ‘God save the Queen’ as ‘English’ anyway. The first international sporting event was a Scotland Ireland rugby match, during the early eighties. Before the match, the band played, for both teams and to loud catcalls, ‘God Save the Queen’.

Rather amazingly the Right have, in some quarters, peddled this myth that somehow the English were not ‘allowed’ to have an identity due to ‘political correctness’. Nothing could be further from the truth. The English have always assumed the British identity as their own. Every football/sporting event England vs Germany being a re-enactment of the Second World War and vs Argentina as the re affirmation of the inherent ‘Britishness’ of the Falklands, despite the task force containing Scots and Welsh Guards at the time.

24. Chaise Guevara

@ 19

“I quite like ‘Imagine’.”

Each to his own! I think I’d be ok with it if it wasn’t so highly rated.

Forget Silicon Glen, try this for the fiercesome sight of Scottish regiments on the march with battle flags flying in Edinburgh:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ND1-rMh-u4&feature=related

26. Chaise Guevara

@ 23 Jim

“I think it is the other way about, though. ‘God save the Queen’ being conceived at a time when the terms British/English were interchangeable.”

Fair point. Historical anomoly.

“I bet most Americans, Germans, Dutch, French etc would see the Union Flag and ‘God save the Queen’ as ‘English’ anyway.”

I think most of the above would see Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast and for that matter Dublin as “English”. With the exception of the well-informed and of those annoying Americans who pretend to be Irish, support the IRA and accuse modern-day Brits of invading their country because their great-granded was from Ireland and they’re called O’Neil.

“Rather amazingly the Right have, in some quarters, peddled this myth that somehow the English were not ‘allowed’ to have an identity due to ‘political correctness’. Nothing could be further from the truth. The English have always assumed the British identity as their own.”

Hardly amazing – it’s the instinctive desire for victim status – but you’re bang on. As if anyone’s stopping you from celebrating your Englishness if you want to. I know St. George’s Crosses draw fretful glances if there isn’t a big game on, but it’s hardly the left’s fault that the national flag got co-opted by twats.

27. Chaise Guevara

@ Tim J

Yeah, I’d back Song of Patriotic Prejudice too. Especially for that line in the other version about foreigners not knowing how to play cricket because “they argue with umpires, they cheer when they’ve won… and they practice beforehand, which ruins the fun!”

28. Charlieman

Perhaps it might be smarter to shut up.

For reasons that are too complex to comprehend, the UK nation is represented by four teams.

The Scots, who have the strongest argument for a special anthem, cannot agree about the song that might be sung at football and rugby games.

Put up with the dirge.

29. douglas clark

Here is an interesting point for Mr Hundal to chew over. Why have all the other nations of the UK found it necessary to demit from the English National Anthem? (I’ll admit I have no idea what the Northern Irish see as their own).

Jim has it about right. It was a, fortunately, failed attempt of Victorian England to subsume Scotland into an idea that we were merely North Britain.

I have no wish to fall out with ‘people of the left’ but is becoming increasingly difficult to see Labour, or Sunny as my political friend. He will, obviously, continue to be my non political friend, but this is just daft.

It’s lovely seeing the knots you English are tying yourselves into over this!

flyingrodent @1:

“Why the Hell not – you can have Flower of Scotland, if you like. Droning, cacophonous, backward-looking dirge that is.”

I quite like it; and it has the clear advantage that it can’t be played properly on the pipes (if anything can, of course) because of that flattened note in the last line. Doesn’t stop the bastards trying, though…

Why the Hell not – you can have Flower of Scotland, if you like. Droning, cacophonous, backward-looking dirge that is.

It sort of works (-ish) at Murrayfield against England, but when Scotland are playing, say, Tonga it just seems a bit sad to be singing about how your ancestors once won a battle against England.

32. douglas clark

Da Judge @ 30,

I think tou’ll find that that that Flying Rodent is a Scot.

“treating the British national anthem as if it belongs to England undermines an equal claim to British identity and the allegiance of other nations within the United Kingdom.”

Historically ignorant nonsense. The national anthem used to be used by all four home nations. in contests between England and Scotland, for example, just one anthem would be played. The other three decided to drop it, it’s not that England hijacked it. Nothing is stopping Northern Ireland, Scotland or Walers using it again.

Still, Jerusalem would be a decent alternative.

@ #13

More nonsense, and disingenuous to boot. It was not part of the orginal anthem, was not appended on any official authority, and fell out of use shortly after 1645.

I could make up an objectionable verse and add it to Flower of Scotland, and get some people to sing it with me, but that would not make it part of the song or the original writers – let alone Scots in general – responsible for it.

@ Bob B

More Scots fought on the Hanoverian side at Culloden than on the Stuart side. And Charles Stuart was fighting to possess the crowns of both Scotland AND England, not to liberate Scotland from England. He was a rival claimant to the thrones and in fact distantly related to the Hanoverians. It’s simplistic to say the least to characterise the war as one between England and Scotland.

36. david heffron

How about changing it to ‘Tubthumping’ by Chumbawumba?

Jerusalem is Ok, but isn’t it a bit strange to have the name of a city in another country as the title for your national anthem. Shouldn’t you just change it to London, or wherever your capital is going to be…?

38. Strategist

More Scots fought on the Hanoverian side at Culloden than on the Stuart side. Charles Stuart was fighting to possess the crowns of both Scotland AND England, not to liberate Scotland from England. It’s simplistic to say the least to characterise the war as one between England and Scotland.

This is all absolutely true. He had in fact promised full freedom of conscience on religion, but I guess quite a lot of Scots just didn’t trust a Stuart on that.

He was a rival claimant to the thrones and in fact distantly related to the Hanoverians.

This is somewhat disingenuous. He was heir to the throne/thrones in the direct male line eldest son to eldest son. So, if you want to believe in primogeniture as your key qualification, it was definitely his. Of course, the 1688 and 1701 settlements made it clear that the key qualification was to be protestant.

Lamia: “It’s simplistic to say the least to characterise the war as one between England and Scotland.”

But I didn’t suggest that. The Jacobite uprisings were totally mischievous and rubbed against the grain of deep English sentiments – and many Scottish sentiments as well.

The intent of the Jacobite uprising in 1745 was to put a Catholic Stuart king back on the throne of both Scotland and England, as you suggest, but with the military aid of a supporting invasion by the French, the historic enemy of England, and after James II, Bonnie Prince Charlie’s grandfather, had been evicted from the throne in 1688 because of popular fears about another attempt to restore Catholicism to a country that was mostly resolutely Protestant.

The Act of Union between Scotland and England had been in 1707. In 1745, the year before the Battle of Culloden, the English had not anticipated an invasion by a Scottish army, which is why the invading Jacobite army had such an easy time of conquering Carlisle, Manchester and Derby on its way south. The Scottish command fell out in Derby over whether to move on south to take London, as Prince Charlie wanted.

Of the Hanoverian monarchs, the first two Georges had poor command of spoken English as well as distractions in Hanover so the business of governing tended to be left to prime ministers and their cabinets, which suited Parliamentarians better than the notion of the divine right of kings to rule, which James II had been committed to. George III believed in an activist monarchy, which led to more or less disastrous results and then he succumbed to long periods of madness.

Unwittingly, the Hanoverian monarchs facilitated the transition to a constitutional monarchy. Queen Anne, technically the last of the Stuart monarchs, had been the last monarch to refuse to sign an Act of Parliament in 1707. Her reign of twelve years (1702-14) was very eventful but she was not regarded as a greatly successful monarch in her personal capacities. By 1745, there was no deep nostalgia in England for the enforced return of the Stuart dynasty. As you say, many Scots fought on the Hanoverian side at the Battle of Culloden.

All that said, Culloden is still evoked in Scotland as a historic rationale for independence while most English know little or nothing about the Jacobite uprisings and their motivation.

It is deeply weird that the Scottish civil war gets categorised as a battle between the Scots and the English (although then again, the first American civil war gets similarly miscategorised). I suppose it’s always easier to blame the foreigners than accept that the main belligerents on both sides were your own countrymen.

douglas clark @32:

Yes, I do know that – I read his blog.

42. Robin Levett

@john b #40:

…the first American civil war gets similarly miscategorised…

As George Brassens pointed out; in the Flanders translation he refers to “watching England’s free descendants busy defeating German Jarge”.

43. Robin Levett

A more general thought – how would the history of these islands of ours differed had the Scots (under Cumberland) lost Culloden, rather than won?

Jerusalem, has to be.

Perhaps the only thing I agree with Billy Bragg on. He’s been suggesting this for years.

45. Chaise Guevara

@ 37 Tris

“Jerusalem is Ok, but isn’t it a bit strange to have the name of a city in another country as the title for your national anthem. Shouldn’t you just change it to London, or wherever your capital is going to be…”

Problem there is you get the line “And was London builded here, among those dark satanic mills”. Which a) doesn’t scan and b) the answer is obviously “um, well, yes”. Similarly the song would end by looking forward to an idealised future in which we’d managed to build London.

Easier solution: name it England’s Green and Pleasant Land for anthemic purposes.

Jerusalem is Ok, but isn’t it a bit strange to have the name of a city in another country as the title for your national anthem. Shouldn’t you just change it to London, or wherever your capital is going to be…?

It’s not about Jerusalem in Israel.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/And_did_those_feet_in_ancient_time

Surely God Save the Queen is perfect, a song to celebrate the English establishments removal of the (Scottish) Jacobites with a puppet monarchy from Germany. Then with references to the military suppresion of the Scottish resistance (and yes I know not all Scots were Jocobites), and chnage of the Act of Union to effectively a military occupation.

We then forced it to be their National Anthem – a nod to previous practice of paying homage to the overlord.

From an English point of view – it’s perfect.

48. Chaise Guevara

@ 46 ukliberty

No, but it would blatantly confuse people.

49. Planeshift

Another opportunity to revive the suggestion of the national anthem being Napalm Death’s ‘you suffer’, as was on the downing street petitions site a while back.

50. John Lilburne

“England” by Ralph McTell is a good option:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTwavrfsO44

@43 Robin Levett: “A more general thought – how would the history of these islands of ours differed had the Scots (under Cumberland) lost Culloden, rather than won?”

A government army had lost battles at Falkirk and Prestonpans in 1745 prior to Culloden in 1746 so there is no reason to suppose the government military would have given up and gone back home, especially since the Jacobites had backing from the French who were at war with Britain at the time. The prospects of putting the Stuart dynasty back on the throne were virtually nil. For more detail, try:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/civil_war_revolution/scotland_jacobites_01.shtml

There are more interesting questions. The British are widely regarded as a war-like people – how else did we acquire an empire controlling a quarter of the world? Why was the Royal Navy so successful in sea battles? How come crowds in London celebrated the outbreaks of the Crimean and Boer wars and WW1? The question is the extent to which the Scots contributed to the relish for war.

I arrived in Scotland to live and work in 1961 at about the same time as the Scottish Soldier song was launched upon an unsuspecting world – see the link @4. It spent 36 weeks in the UK pop charts. In Scotland, it became almost impossible to tune into the radio without hearing it played.

The marching habits of the Scots and their continuing fascination with military tattoos suggest a certain enduring nostalgia for warrior traditions – as exemplified by Piper Bill Millins playing bagpipes as his commando unit went into battle on D-Day. Some cynics have suggested that the British empire was really a device to keep conquesting Scots occupied overseas. Recall that Hadrians Wall was the most fortified border in the Roman empire.

Jerusalem is incredibly beautiful and would be my choice. But let’s face it, it is written from a thoroughly deranged Christian mystic perspective.

While I see the appeal of this appeal, I can’t imagine what could ever gain wide enough support to get officially enacted as an English national anthem. How do you pick between Jerusalem and LoHaG? In fact, maybe God Save The Queen does have a specifically English appeal: proving that we (unlike those disloyal Scots, Irish and Welsh) are sufficiently loyal to Her Majesty that we need no other anthem.

“Jerusalem is incredibly beautiful and would be my choice. But let’s face it, it is written from a thoroughly deranged Christian mystic perspective. ”

Which could be construed as appropriately celebrating the enduring regard of the English for eccentricity.

@52

Jerusalem would seem to fit the bill pretty well, as you and others have mentioned. I reckon lots of anthems are pretty bonkers if looked at objectively; of course… the recent BBC TV series about the English (I forget the name of the presenter for the present) made the interesting point that if you listen to the words, it’s pretty obvious that it reflects the English belief that they were “special”, and had inherited the mantle of the Jews as God’s chosen people, otherwise why would they have managed to construct the largest Empire the world had ever seen?

As for it engendering English eccentricity a la Bob B @ 53, that’s about the only useful contribution I’ve seen him make…. no finer example of English eccentricity exists than the man himself.

55. Robin Levett

@Bob B #51:

Assuming (a huge assumption I agree) that the French had come up with the promised military assistance and the Stuarts had been put back on the throne, I’m not convinced that even this would have changed anything significantly. The Jacobite rebellions were not about Scottish independence from the United Kingdom, but about Scottish supremacy within it. Ultimately, English gold, population and military clout would have ensured that the centre of gravity of the Kingdom would return to/remain in the Southeast.

56. Chaise Guevara

@ 52 Mender

“Jerusalem is incredibly beautiful and would be my choice. But let’s face it, it is written from a thoroughly deranged Christian mystic perspective. ”

This particular secularist is prepared to take that hit to get something as good as Jerusalem as our national anthem.

“While I see the appeal of this appeal, I can’t imagine what could ever gain wide enough support to get officially enacted as an English national anthem. How do you pick between Jerusalem and LoHaG?”

I would marshall my arguments thusly: Jerusalem is WAY better.

Jerusalem is probably suitable for those who like national anthems, being both dull and silly.

I find works such as Butterworth’s Banks of Green Willow beautifully evocative of the country I love but I wouldn’t want it as an anthem to be overused and ruined.

However we probably shouldn’t change our current anthem, it seems to me suitably English to put up with something rather awful without complaining.

@55 Robin: “Ultimately, English gold, population and military clout would have ensured that the centre of gravity of the Kingdom would return to/remain in the Southeast.”

London grew by accident and chance to become the largest and eventually the most important urban conglomeration in Britain – there was no master plan as there was eventually for Paris. The Romans founded London on the north bank of the Thames but the capital of Britannia was elsewhere for a while. William the Conquerer ordered the original building of the central keep of the Tower of London to keep his treasury and important prisoners. But in the early medieval period, Norfolk had a thriving agricultural economy based on wool exports and Norwich was one of the most prosperous cities in what became Britain.

The Bank of England, founded by a Scot in London in 1694, grew in importance to become one of the pioneering central banks. The later pioneering industrial revolution, starting in the late 18th century, was mainly in Yorkshire, Lancashire and Glasgow. Even so, by the first population census in 1801, London’s population of nearly a million made it the largest city in the world then.

At that time, England had two ancient universities, Oxford and Cambridge, but Scotland had four. Post-Cromwell, the English and then the British political tradition was set against maintaining a large standing army, which ensured that civilian government prevailed notwithstanding Wellington who had a brief and unsuccessful political career on the strength of his reputation from Waterloo. The clever decision – probably from Charles II and Pepys onwards – was to build a powerful navy.

Britain has mostly a pretty awful climate but the London climate is arguably the more congenial on average than that of other large conurbations in Britain, which probably ensured that London stayed as the premier conurbation.

59. Planeshift

“I arrived in Scotland to live and work in 1961 ”

Bob – I think you have some issues about your time in Scotland that you could do with resolving. ;-)

I really don’t care. I’m happy with GSTQ and I would particularly care if it was changed. My one request would be that if it is changed that they pick an oldie. Can you imagine the farce or composing a new English anthem? It’d cost millions and everyone would hate it.

61. Chaise Guevara

@ 60 Chris

It would probably have loads of embarrasingly gauche attempts to sound down with the kids: “Britain is so rad / we think it’s super-bad” and so on. That would be awesome.

I’ve an idea!

Why is it taken as read that a national anthem has to have words?

So you could have Parry’s wonderful tune, but shorn of Blake’s mystical bollix.

You could even have variations, depending on the circumstances: you could have the Norman Cook Remix for sporting events; you could have The Orb Ambient Trance Mix for more laid-back occasions (Buck House garden parties, for example; I’m sure Willy and his changeling half-brother would go for that); you could have Penguin Café arranging a version featuring two kotos, a harmonium and a mobile phone for those arty-farty YBA occasions; and a ten-second version by Napalm Death, for when people just want to get the tedious ceremonials over with and get on with what they’ve come for.

Can I have my Lottery grant now, please?

“You’re gonna get your ***kin ‘ed kicked in” repeated ad nauseum should suffice for most occasions.

Or ‘A New England’ by Billy Bragg / Tubthumping by Chumbawamba

Failing my suggestions being taken up by the authorities, Jerusalem would suit me fine.

64. Shatterface

The theme to Mission Impossible.

No particular reason, it’s just a great tune.

65. Just Visiting

Mission Impossible is a fine tune – but – hard to sing those tricky intervals if you’re unaccompanied…or had some beers…

66. Chaise Guevara

I have to say I’m rather enamoured of the idea of a bunch of drunken footie fans standing up to sing “Bah-bah-bahhhh, Bah-bah-bahhhh, Bah-bah-bahhh… Bah-bah!” while holding their hands in the shape of pistols and pretending to be spies.

There have been slews of good English song-writers in the last 50 years or so.

I’d go for Jarvis Cocker’s Common People myself – just the chorus.

Ray Davies’s Thank You for the Days or the Village Preservation Society

Queen’s We are the Champions

Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song (the name alone would really piss off the BNP).

Pink Floyd’s Shine on You Crazy Diamond – it’s supposed to be about Syd Barrett but it could be about England. “Remember when you were young/You shone like the sun/Now there’s a look in your eyes/Like black holes in the skies.” It exhorts like Jerusalem does – telling England to shine.

Few songs have better historic claim to be an anthem for Britain:

The white cliffs of Dover, as sung by Vera Lynn
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hqtaoz4QFX8

I could think of a more appropriate Jarvis Cocker song:

Sorry. Cocked up the link again:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRGGbyZzuTg

71. Planeshift

“Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song (the name alone would really piss off the BNP”

Only if New Orleans gets ‘when the levee breaks’

72. Chaise Guevara

@ 68 Bob B

“The white cliffs of Dover, as sung by Vera Lynn”

Yeah, but “there’ll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover” sounds to me like a metaphor for “the Americans are going to invade!” No bluebirds in these parts, guv.

I suggest England Belongs To Me by punk band cock sparrer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eU8P0Ufwpl8

74. Chaise Guevara

@ Bob B

Although how about Noel Coward’s There Are Bad Times Just Around the Corner?

“There are black clouds over the greyish cliffs of Dover,
And the rats are all abandoning the BBC.
We’re a downhearted breed, yes we’re very sad indeed,
And surrounded by misery, gloom and dread,
So let’s unpack our troubles from our old kit bags,
And wait until we drop down dead.”

Chaise: “Yeah, but “there’ll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover” sounds to me like a metaphor for ‘the Americans are going to invade!’ No bluebirds in these parts, guv.”

At the time of that song in 1942, prospects for England were looking decidedly grim even though America had recently been dragged into the war in Europe when Germany declared war on America on 10 December 1941 in the aftermath of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. Try as an inspiration source for an anthem this essay by George Orwell from a year earlier: England Your England (February 1941)
http://orwell.ru/library/essays/lion/english/e_eye

“I have spoken all the while of ‘the nation’, ‘England’, ‘Britain’, as though forty-five million souls could somehow be treated as a unit. But is not England notoriously two nations, the rich and the poor? Dare one pretend that there is anything in common between people with £100,000 a year and people with £1 a week? And even Welsh and Scottish readers are likely to have been offended because I have used the word ‘England’ oftener than ‘Britain’, as though the whole population dwelt in London and the Home Counties and neither north nor west possessed a culture of its own.”

Orwell was writing about what others have dubbed our “finest hour”.

Not only is God Save The Queen a turgid dirge, the only verse that is ever used isn’t even about the country. It requires those of us who are atheists and republicans to call for some imaginary being to prolong the life of a single person whose continuing existence is considered somehow more important than that of anyone else. What other countires have a “national” anthem about the head of state?

Land Of Hope And Glory is a great tune but the line “Wider still and wider shall our bounds be set” is a bit dodgy. I would be perfectly happy with Jerusalem (even though it still has a religious element) or I Vow To Thee My Country.

@ The Judge – Cocker’s song you linked to is international rather than national. If you’re looking for a global anthem, it would be on the short list.

78. Robin Levett

@Simon #76:

Not only is God Save The Queen a turgid dirge, the only verse that is ever used isn’t even about the country. It requires those of us who are atheists and republicans to call for some imaginary being to prolong the life of a single person whose continuing existence is considered somehow more important than that of anyone else.

So GStQ goes because of its religious content and not being about the country.

Land Of Hope And Glory is a great tune but the line “Wider still and wider shall our bounds be set” is a bit dodgy.

The following line is “God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet”…

I would be perfectly happy with Jerusalem (even though it still has a religious element)

sc. is entirely religious in content…and ahistorical to boot.

or I Vow To Thee My Country.

“And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.”

Religious; and about Heaven, not the UK..

I really don’t think you can get away from religious content…

My vote goes to

When an old cricketer leaves the crease

Roy Harper

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xt1C00e__5c

80. Chaise Guevara

Seriously, I Vow To Thee My Country isn’t viable. Too broad a range; most people won’t be able to hit the high notes.

KP Player @77:

“Think globally, act locally”

:-)

It looks as though the votes stack up in favour of Jerusalem as an alternative anthem but nothing is simple.

As someone here said, William Blake, who wrote the lines, was a Christian mystic. The lines: “And did those feet in ancient times Walk upon England’s mountains green” relate to an old legend that Christ visited England or Scotland post-resurrection. Try this:
http://www.sacredconnections.co.uk/holyland/sacredbritain.htm

Years ago there was an online discussion about this and someone then cited text which claimed that as a result of the divine visit the English or the British were a “chosen people”. The examples of early Christian churches and communities in Britain were evidence of this. The problem is that the adoption of Jerusalem as an anthem could be construed as giving credence to those claims about the British being a “master race”, hence the empire and: Land of Hope and Glory.

As said, nothing is simple.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. M G

    there are no words: http://t.co/39tR35y2

  2. Pablo K

    TEH PRESSING ISSUEZ OF TEH DAY; Or, How To Defeat The English Defence League http://t.co/rZpJn2pA ? This is real. LOLs are inadequate.

  3. Sean Brannan

    http://t.co/PzevmUKX LMFAO #noborders

  4. James Robinson

    Fuck that noise. «@mwgiles00 there are no words: http://t.co/JCqemPbI»

  5. Mark Carrigan

    TEH PRESSING ISSUEZ OF TEH DAY; Or, How To Defeat The English Defence League http://t.co/rZpJn2pA ? This is real. LOLs are inadequate.

  6. Kevin Blowe

    What is the collective noun for a group of people who really can't see the wood for the trees? http://t.co/lE6cabfH

  7. nobby-Lobby

    What is the collective noun for a group of people who really can't see the wood for the trees? http://t.co/lE6cabfH

  8. Alex Snowdon

    What on earth are Sunny et al wittering on about? http://t.co/O2SkVbty

  9. Rutter for England « Though Cowards Flinch

    [...] big debate is whether we should have an English [...]

  10. Adam Ford

    So, Scummy is campaigning for an English national anthem? Time to campaign for the abolition of England! http://t.co/WTGhYDcK

  11. mark wright

    scummy hundal with more nationalist nonsense a english national anthem to unite us ? http://t.co/omC0NPKf

  12. David Wearing

    I propose a deal with our liberal friends. Face up to UK crimes first http://t.co/70J2BPlP Vacuous neo-patriotism later http://t.co/EGYk8ujr

  13. Moonbootica

    I propose a deal with our liberal friends. Face up to UK crimes first http://t.co/70J2BPlP Vacuous neo-patriotism later http://t.co/EGYk8ujr

  14. Sam Asumadu

    I propose a deal with our liberal friends. Face up to UK crimes first http://t.co/70J2BPlP Vacuous neo-patriotism later http://t.co/EGYk8ujr

  15. erich frommnomnom

    I propose a deal with our liberal friends. Face up to UK crimes first http://t.co/70J2BPlP Vacuous neo-patriotism later http://t.co/EGYk8ujr

  16. H Jo

    I propose a deal with our liberal friends. Face up to UK crimes first http://t.co/70J2BPlP Vacuous neo-patriotism later http://t.co/EGYk8ujr

  17. Daniel Knight

    I propose a deal with our liberal friends. Face up to UK crimes first http://t.co/70J2BPlP Vacuous neo-patriotism later http://t.co/EGYk8ujr

  18. Ben Mitchell

    Call for English anthem made today | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/QfJi6ciy via @libcon

  19. mikerobb

    Completely agree -> Call for English anthem made today | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/UKuzxdEz via @libcon

  20. Nationalism, patriotism, and being English » Gappy Tales

    [...] lately have led me to thinking. Saint George’s Day, the gearing up to the olympic games, and this letter published in the Sunday telegraph and on Liberal Conspiracy, signed by a group of writers, mp’s and other political players, [...]





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