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.

Cap in hand

by John Joannides

This is my first posting here so it’s with some considerable satisfaction that I find myself doing what I normally do, that is to stretch my remit so far beyond what it actually is as to try the very patience of an angel.

I am casting my mind back. Far, far back in time to when I first met the young lady that I was eventually to marry. Musically challenged, or rather challenging, is the way I would have described her at the time but on reflection I admit that it was my own insistence at dwelling upon the trailing edge of music made predominantly by the progressive rockers of the 1970’s that was the cause of many a musical difference and misunderstanding. I still can’t quite get to the point of appreciating the soundtrack from Starlight Express but there is much that she appreciates that I have become fond of too.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a fan of Gabriel during his dressing as a flower stage but my net is now cast considerably wider.

It was during one of our many short road trips across England that I became acquainted with one of her new favourites. A predominantly acoustic band that was briefly popular with the masses but which was also blessed, as is often the way, with far more talent than is usually made apparent by the saleable releases played on the commercial radio stations.

“Scottish?”, I said. “I think so”, she replied. “They’re called The Proclaimers”.

There was one song in particular the set the goose bumps all aquiver. Called Cap in Hand it was a veritable anthem of a song driven by a deep seated desire for equality and a passion for Scottish nationalsm in a British Union that was apparently seen by some as being driven predominantly for the benefit of the largest nation in that Union, England.

I felt completely at ease with the song, seeing it as a relic from times long gone. I certainly did not notice in it anything recognisably current with respect to Scotland’s place in the Union but I fairly admit that I had not undergone any particular political awakening before hearing it for the first time.

Things are different now and I am less at ease.

Here’s a taster but I do urge the eager reader to get hold of a copy to listen to as only then can you really get a taste of the songs energy and fervour.

I could get a broken jaw from being in a fight
I know it’s evening when day turns to night
I can understand why stranraer lie so lowly
They could save a lot of points by signing hibs goalie

But I can’t understand why we let someone else rule our land
We’re cap in hand

We fight – when they ask us
We boast – then we cower
We beg
For a piece of
What’s already, what’s already, what’s already ours

Less at ease indeed and that’s not just because I lack any memory of seeing a Scotsman begging and cowering to an Englishman (I doubt any of us have such a memory). No, I am less at ease because the political climate that persists in the Union serves to deflate the song entirely. Absolutely. Utterly.

England now is barely a nation except in the hearts and minds of those that call themselves English. While Scottish ministers hail Scotland as a nation in its own right they deign to refer to England as “The Regions”. More painfully our own UK politicians, with mandates from English constituencies, seem eager to join in with the absurd nomenclature. Even UK government ministers are not immune from using such derisive language. This is The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and here are its nations and regions. The regions are The English Regions. I bet you don’t remember voting for that particular paradigm shift in the British Union.

England has no parliament. England has no executive to look after its interests. England has per head public spending that is far less than that of Scotland. England has few civic institutions that have not been misappropriated for Britain and England has no national anthem.

What England does have is a growing number of people that are beginning to wake up to what is happening to their country. If there is one thing that the English can be counted on for it is a tolerance that is born out of a sense of fair play and justice. A sense of equality. But the bond has been broken by New Labour’s disastrous devolution settlement. A settlement that sees Scotland with its own parliament, Wales with its own Assembly and an unpopular and unfair regional agenda in England.

The English will soon be struggling to keep their Shire Counties intact.

The dangers to England posed by the increasingly asymmetrical state of the Union is no longer a secret and the fight back has begun. Part of that fight is an anthem for England and one of the reasons why it will be difficult to attain is because its existence goes some way to gaining recognition of England as a singular entity. The very notion is contrary to the direction of travel of the British Union and, to some extent, the political aspirations of the European Union.

But hey, that won’t stop us trying. After all, why should we English have to beg for a piece of what’s already ours?

No distinction between English and British

Unlike their Scottish and Welsh counterparts the English Football Association continue to play God Save the Queen, the British national anthem, even when England are playing other British nations. Why?, you may well ask. Well, according to Premier League chairman Dave Richards:

“There’s no distinction between English and British.”

How utterly bizarre. These people reside on a wholly different planet to the fans that they are supposed to represent.

England, My England

I read over the weekend that the FA is looking to make this the official England World Cup song, which if true is nicer than a lot of the ones they have used in the past.

England, My England

William Ernest Henley (1849-1903)

WHAT have I done for you,
England, my England?
What is there I would not do,
England, my own? With your glorious eyes austere,
As the Lord were walking near, Whispering terrible things and dear
As the Song on your bugles blown,
England-
Round the world on your bugles blown!

Where shall the watchful sun,
England, my England,
Match the master-work you’ve done,
England, my own? When shall he rejoice agen
Such a breed of mighty men As come forward, one to ten,
To the Song on your bugles blown,
England-
Down the years on your bugles blown?

Ever the faith endures,
England, my England:-
Take and break us: we are yours,
England, my own!
Life is good, and joy runs high
Between English earth and sky:
Death is death; but we shall die
To the Song of your bugles blown,
England-
To the stars on your bugles blown

They call you proud and hard,
England, my England:
You with worlds to watch and ward,
England, my own!
You whose mail’d hand keeps the keys
Of such teeming destinies,
You could know nor dread nor ease
Were the Song on your bugles blown,
England-
Round the Pit on your bugles blown!

Mother of Ships whose might,
England, my England,
Is the fierce old Sea’s delight,
England, my own,
Chosen daughter of the Lord,
Spouse-in-Chief of the ancient Sword,
There’s the menace of the Word
In the Song on your bugles blown,
England-
Out of heaven on your bugles blown!

Jerusalem: An anthem for England?

Philosophy Football are in favour of England adopting Jerusalem as the national anthem –

Whenever England play Scotland or Wales at football and the teams line up for the National Anthems something a bit weird happens. The Scots have their anthem, Flower of Scotland and the Welsh theirs, Land of My Fathers but the English don’t. Instead we join in with the BRITISH anthem, God Save the Queen. And whatever our differing views on the perilous state of the House of Windsor everyone knows their realm isn’t just this particular part of these islands.

The Commonwealth Games in Manchester muddied the musical mystery still further with England’s Gold Medals being awarded to the tune of Land of Hope and Glory. Meanwhile the Ashes victory (won of course by a team calling itself England but actually representing England AND Wales) was celebrated by the singing of Jerusalem.

To our mind Jerusalem is the number one choice for an English National Anthem, and the sooner it is adopted the better, and fairer. Our Jerusalem shirt is a contribution to the cause. Why Jerusalem? It is traditional, it actually mentions ENGLAND in the words (something surely any NATIONAl anthem has to do, and God Save the Queen does not), combines the rural and the urban, and is a song of desire for a better life. Christian? Certainly in inspiration, yet secular in its ambition.

You just gotta love that t-shirt!

UPDATE: I am now the proud owner of the Philosophy Football Jerusalem t-shirt. It’s great, very good quality, and I highly recommend it.

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Random Quote

How do England get away with using God Save the Queen as their national anthem? Unless there has been some act of independence passed, Her Maj is our Queen as well – like it or not – and the anthem belongs to the UK, not just England.

— John Greechan, Daily Mail

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