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About Gareth


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Gareth has written 54 articles so far, you can find them below.


We’re the English, but we’re not really sure what that means

I recently received some interesting feedback via our contact form:

How can you use quotes from that communist lackey Billy Bragg, it is him and his ilk that have managed to bring England to the sad and sorry state it is at the moment, and quotes from the Daily Mirror, mouthpiece of New Labour who sold us out to Europe and allowed our Parliament to be constantly over ruled by a group of un-elected European federalists. Shame on you.

Andy, some of my best friends are communist lackeys and EU-federalists.

Actually I don’t know any but as it happens I did just read Billy Bragg’s new book ‘The Progressive Patriot’. In it Billy writes:

There is a simple reason why so many ordinary people have recently turned to the St George’s Cross as a means of displaying their support for our national team. It’s the only thing we English have that belongs to us alone. Of the thirty-two countries that competed in the 2006 World Cup there was only one which didn’t have its own parliament or passports or national anthem: England.

Of these three it’s the last which rankles most. It’s been years since our Welsh and Scottish neighbours stopped singing the British national anthem, ‘God Save the Queen’, at sporting events. It didn’t take an Act of Parliament, or the United Kingdom to crumble or the monarchy to collapse, to make the change. When the Welsh sing ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’ they are sending out a message, and even if the language is unfamiliar, the meaning is clear: ‘Hello, we’re from Wales and we’re very proud of it.’ England’s continued attachment to the British national anthem smacks of a lack of self-confidence, a worry that, without it, we might somehow be a lesser people. The message sent out every time we sing ‘God Save the Queen’ is one of ambiguity: ‘Hello, we’re the English, but we’re not really sure what that means.’

Communist lackey or not he has a point. The Progressive Patriot is available from Billy Bragg’s website.

Letter from the Department of Culture Media and Sport

A reply to my letter asking for an official English anthem:

Thank you for your email of 10 October about national anthems.

As you may know, it is the tune which constitutes the authorised part of the National Anthem in the United Kingdom and not the words. The latter are traditional; and the choice of words and verses to be used on any particular occasion is one for those concerned.

Your suggestion has been carefully noted, but there are no plans to recommend to The Queen that any change should be made.

The National Anthem is the anthem for the whole of the United Kingdom. The constituent parts of the United Kingdom may quite properly have national songs for which they have a particular attachment. However, there are no plans to introduce an official English Anthem.

I appreciate that the playing of national anthems at sporting events is an issue which gives rise to strong feelings in many people. However, this is a matter solely for the governing body of the sport of public entertainment concerned, and the Government has no locus to intervene.
I hope this information is helpful.

Regards

Denis Clarke
Desk Policy Officer
Central Information and Briefing Unit
DCMS

Hmmm…I’m not entirely sure that he understood my letter. I was not asking for a change to the UK national anthem but simply whether the government offered any advice on what is, and what is not, appropriate in terms of the anthem played.

I don’t believe that the Government has no locus to intervene; the power invested in them by the electorate makes them the locus. Daniel Kawczynski’s Early Day Motion and the recent anthems debate in the Scottish Parliament would indicate that I am correct.

My reply:

Thank you for your response. You may have misinterpreted my letter. I am not objecting to God Save the Queen as the UK anthem, I am objecting to God Save the Queen being used as the English national anthem because it is not. And because its use as an English anthem conflates England and Britain and creates unnecessary nationalist tensions between England and Scotland and Wales.

The UK Government is the de facto English government so it must have responsibility to advise on these matters. The Scottish Parliament can debate on the Scottish anthem and Daniel Kawczynski’s Early Day Motion in support of Jerusalem clearly indicates that the Government does have the power to change things.
Are you suggesting to me that the UK Government has no opinion on what the English national anthem should be, and that they are completely happy to let sports governing bodies decide upon what the English anthem should be, regardless of what is chosen?

If so, can you tell me whether they take the same relaxed and enlightened attitude to what British national anthem should be played at the 2012 Olympics?

I rather suspect that the Government may be willing to take a firmer line in regard to British identity.
It will be interesting to see whether the UK Government has differing policies in regard to English and British identity.

MPs give their reasons

Two MPs that have signed the motion in support of Jerusalem have been kind enough to get back to me:

I agree with your reasons for our need for an English anthem (though, as a republican, I dislike God save the Queen). Jerusalem has words that inspire the wish to work for a better country, together with a rousing tune – and I enjoy singing it!

LYNNE JONES MP

It is a great song which has a link with the Labour movement and was sung at Labour Party Conferences in the past.

Mike Gapes MP

Hopefully the others are replying by snail mail.

BBC Subtitles

Watching the live coverage of England -v- Greece on the BBC I was disappointed to see the subtitles describing God Save the Queen as the English national anthem.

England, of course, doesn’t have a national anthem. God Save the Queen is the British national anthem and the BBC is well aware of this.

I wrote to the BBC last night:

Hi,

I have been watching the England -v- Greece match and when the national anthems were played I noticed that the subtitles announced God Save the Queen as the English national anthem. As you are no doubt aware, GStQ is the British national anthem and not the English national anthem. England has no national anthem. Please ensure that GStQ is correctly identified as the British national anthem as I, and many others, find the continuing (deliberate?) confusion of England and Britain by the BBC offensive.

They wrote back to me today:

Dear Mr Parr

Thank you for your e-mail regarding ‘Match of the Day Live: England v Greece’.

I understand you feel ‘God Save The Queen’ was incorrectly referred to on the subtitles as the ‘English’ rather than the ‘UK’ national anthem during this broadcast.

We appreciate that you feel that this anthem was incorrectly described and as such please be assured that your comments have been fully registered and will be made available to the ‘Match of the Day’ production team, the subtitling department and senior BBC management. Feedback of this nature influences future policy and programming.

Thank you once again for taking the trouble to contact the BBC with your concerns.

Regards

Patrick Marr
BBC Information

I replied:

Patrick,

It’s not a matter of opinion as you seem to infer – God Save the Queen is the national anthem of the United Kingdom, not of England. There is no English national anthem – in fact, there is technically no British national anthem as there has never been a royal proclamation or act of parliament designating it as such but that’s irrelevant. Can you confirm that the British national anthem will not be referred to as the English national anthem in future? If Scotland was playing, nationalist nutters would have burned down Broadcasting House in protest.

Stuart

A damning indictment

I do feel that things are changing for the better, but still, to anyone English, this passage from The Christian Science Monitor must serve as a damning indictment of lacklustre England:

There is no national dress, no national song. (The English footballers must sing the British anthem before matches.) The national day, April 23 – named for the patron saint of England, St. George – is an utter non-event compared with July 4 in the US, March 17 in Ireland, and July 14 in France. A decade ago, a World Cup run would have been feted with British Union jacks, not St. George flags.

England is a strange country

Simon Lee, writing in the Yorkshire Post:

ENGLAND is a strange country, politically speaking.
If it was an independent nation-state, England’s population of 50 million and national income of £861bn in 2004 would make it both one of the largest member-states of the European Union and a prospective G8 member. Paradoxically, as the New Encyclopaedia Britannica acknowledges: “Constitutionally, England does not exist.” England and its political identity have been subsumed within and conflated with the institutions of the British state, symbolised by the playing of the British national anthem at England’s World Cup matches.

Is there any other country at the World Cup without its own national anthem? Is there any other country at the World Cup without its own parliament?

“Get rid of God Save the Queen”

In the Leicester Mercury the Devil’s Advocate argues the case against God Save the Queen.

Dr Chris Harwood is a psychologist from Loughborough University. He knows all about the effects music can have on the sporting psyche.

“Music before a sporting event can play a part in getting the athletes and crowd ready for the game,” he says.

“God Save the Queen is – how can I say this – very consistent. The tempo and melody is the same throughout the song.”

What we need instead, suggests Dr Harwood, is something which rouses to a galvanising, stirring climax; something to fire you up.

What we want, he says, is a tune with a bold rhythm; a song with qualities that represent the toil of the forthcoming battle.

“I would agree that God Save the Queen, from a musical point of view, is not very inspiring,” he says.

“The tempo and melody are simply not very good. I would have thought Land of Hope and Glory and/or Jerusalem are lyrically more suitable and musically more inspiring.”

The Advocate concludes with a statement that is not so far away from the thinking behind this site.

Is it too much to ask that we drop this irrelevant, tuneless, dumb and offensive piece of music for something that actually works: a tune that represents England, all that’s great to be English – and something which gets the hairs on the back of your neck standing to attention when it’s given a public outing?

Everyone knows the Devil has the best tunes.

This Devil wouldn’t object to Jerusalem. That would do. Land of Hope and Glory? Yep, we’d settle for that, too.

We’d even swap it for Don’t Stop Me Now, by Queen, or Gercha, by those stalwarts of Englishness, Chas and Dave. It can’t be any worse than what we have at the minute.

But we have to move quickly. There’s a World Cup looming. And if we’re stuck with this dreadful old dog of a song, then God Save The Team.

How to change your national anthem

In 2002 the Isle of Man’s Tynwald gave Land Of Our Birth official status as the island’s national anthem. The story was largely ignored by the UK media but Glasgow’s Daily Record felt the story deserved two lines, a month after the event:

Manx anthem
The Isle of Man has replaced God Save The Queen with its own anthem, Land Of Our Birth. But they will still play the national anthem whenever the monarch visits.

Yes, it’s really that easy. God Save the Queen has no official status, so if you don’t like it change it. The Australians did so in 1974, on the basis of a public opinion poll (Encyclopedia of Australia):

In April 1974 the Whitlam Labor Government announced that, as a result of a public opinion poll, the Australian national anthem would be changed from God Save the Queen to Advance Australia Fair. God Save the Queen had been the official anthem since Federation in 1901. God Save the Queen would still be used on certain occasions to honour the Queen. The new anthem was considered more appropriate as Australia’s ties with Britain weakened. A suggestion to make Waltzing Matilda the national anthem was rejected, although Waltzing Matilda is recognised as a symbol of Australia and is often regarded as an unofficial anthem.

Give England a Song

by The Monarchist

As a Canadian supporter of our shared British Commonwealth Monarchy, I am strongly opposed to a future England formally adopting God Save The Queen as its national anthem. GSTQ is not the chattels of any particular British nation or Commonwealth country, but the historic and patriotic property of every one of Her Majesty’s loyal subjects, wherever they might live in her 16 remaining sovereign realms. The Royal Anthem belongs to not just Britain, but to all of us, even if relegated to constitutionally nominal and nostalgic pretenses.

The recent kafuffle over the playing of GSTQ in Australia during our Queen’s official opening of the Melbourne Commonwealth Games was a fresh case in point, which perfectly illustrated just how confused and out of touch we have become over the roots of our common identity. Many Australians now apparently believe that their royal and national anthems cannot co-exist, that there is a contradiction in the traditional dual allegiance we pay to Crown and Country, presumably because the Royal Anthem is also used unofficially (and unfortunately) as the national hymn of the United Kingdom. We are not British they tell themselves, we are Aussie. Advance Australia Fair should take precedence in Australia, even over that of the anthem of the Queen of Australia! It’s all so wonderfully misunderstood.

The incident highlights the need for reform and statutory recognition: The need for Britain to denationalise GSTQ and adopt it in its proper royal context; the need for England to shed its quango state image and formally adopt a national anthem like Scotland and Wales; and the need to recognize an ever increasing important reality – that our once shared and still receding Britishness has been, and is being, supplanted by a deeper fealty and affection and native attachment to our respective nations and lands.

Now I don’t believe in a rabid nationalism – the heart that beats to the nationalist drum can be repulsive and partly savage. But I do believe in a proud, gentile and emblematic attachment to country and an equally symbiotic and patriotic connection to crown, as a lasting, indeed permanent, symbol of our collective identity. We should embrace the bonds that bind without sacrificing our shared institutions. The best way to do this, in my outside humble opinion, is to officially recognize the existence of England in a federal Britain; a federal Britain that is outside Europe and firmly inside the Commonwealth. For the real tragedy is not whether Britain loses its Britishness (its national identity), but whether it loses its britishness (its cultural identity).

As for England’s national anthem, that is for England to decide. I may be an Anglophile, but I am not English enough to be of any use in that department. Just keep your dirty palms off the Queen’s anthem. Oh, and stay well clear of Zadok The Priest. That one belongs to God.

The Reckoning

By Theodore Goodridge Roberts

YE who reckon with England–
Ye who sweep the seas
Of the flag that Rodney nailed aloft
And Nelson flung to the breeze–
Count well your ships and your men,
Count well your horse and your guns,
For they who reckon with England
Must reckon with England’s sons.

Ye who would challenge England–
Ye who would break the might
Of the little isle in the foggy sea
And the lion-heart in the fight–
Count well your horse and your swords,
Weigh well your valour and guns,
For they who would ride against England
Must sabre her million sons.

Ye who would roll to warfare
Your hordes of peasants and slaves,
To crush the pride of an empire
And sink her fame in the waves–
Test well your blood and your mettle,
Count well your troops and your guns,
For they who battle with England
Must war with a Mother’s sons.

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Random Quote

I believe that England should have its own national anthem for sporting events and tentatively suggest that it should be Jerusalem.

— Greg Pope MP

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