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.

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It’s time we had a proper anthem and I can think of nothing better than Jerusalem. Some may say that it’s a bit too much of a socialist song but if it’s good enough for the Women’s Institute it’s good enough for me.

— Charlie Whelan, Evening Standard

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"Never again will I stand for the national anthem" - Academic Kehinde Andrews argues 'God Save the Queen' and the Union Jack are symbols of Britain's colonial past #viewsnight

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