To Sing or Not to Sing

Wayne Rooney has been criticised by Bob Peedle, Vice Chairman for Royal Society of St George, for not singing the British national anthem:

“The England footballer does not show the patriotism that I see from other players.

“I can only assume that he does not know the words to the anthem and is just not prepared to learn them.< “He just stands there stern faced. He sticks-out like a saw thumb and he is setting a bad example to the young people who idolise him. “In America, every morning in school assembly they stand with the hand on their hearts and sing their anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. “It is about time we started doing that in this country and then people like Wayne Rooney would know the anthem as second nature. “I imagine Rooney has never been taught the words and does not know their significance. “He can’t be embarrassed about his singing voice. He could take a leaf out of the book of the England Rugby team who really sing the anthem with a passion. “He should learn the anthem and not just because he represents English football but because it is the duty of every Englishman to sing the anthem. “I’d like to see him know the word of God Save The Queen by St George’s day and I would be very happy to teach him.”

Meanwhile the Dean of Southwark Cathederal has banned the hymn Jerusalem for being ‘too nationalistic’. If Wayne Rooney and the lads sang it instead of remaining silent during God Save the Queen I might well agree.

Astonishingly the Telegraph informs us that Jerusalem is the favourite hymn of Gordon Brown.

Response to Jerusalem Petition

The government has responded to the petition requesting that the English national Anthem be changed to Jerusalem, by stating that they will not do it.  You can read the response here, but it is copied below

The national anthem of the UK ‘God Save the Queen’ only has that status by convention. It has no official status either by legislation or royal proclamation. Similarly, ‘Flower of Scotland’, although it is regarded in some quarters as the Scottish national anthem, has no official status. Insofar as a anthem for England is concerned, ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ is often played when England play in sporting competitions (such as the Commonwealth Games) against other countries of the UK. However, this too has no official standing. The Government has no plans to legislate on this issue.

So it appears that the United Kingdom has no official anthem.

The Prime Minister Responds

Six months after our petition ended the Prime Minister’s Office has finally got around to responding.

You signed a petition asking the Prime Minister to “initiate a Parliamentary debate on the adoption of a national anthem for England that is distinct from the British national anthem.”

The Prime Minister’s Office has responded to that petition and you can view it here: http://www.pm.gov.uk/output/Page13766.asp

There are currently no plans to introduce an official English anthem, but the Government recognises that the constituent parts of the United Kingdom may quite properly have national songs for which they have a particular attachment. However, the choice of anthem at sporting events is entirely a matter for the sport concerned. The English Cricket Board, for instance, made the decision to play ‘Jerusalem’ when the team took the field. Any such suggestions are best addressed to the relevant sport’s governing body.

So that, we must take it, is the official position of the United Kingdom Government. We will have to adopt another strategy in order to further the anthem4england campaign.

However, it is not inconceivable that the UK Government might be embarrassed into discussing the issue of an English national anthem in the wake of a debate initiated by the SNP administration up in Scotland. In opposition the SNP frequently raised the matter. Possibly this was a way of grabbing headlines, we shall have to wait and see whether in government they have the stomach to take on such a contentious subject.

In other news Radio Four’s Questions Questions broadcast a heavily truncated interview with Stuart Parr in which Stuart mentioned anthem4england. Our thanks to Stuart for his efforts, and our commiserations that they only played a brief snippet of the interview. I can sympathise because I was interviewed for half an hour by BBC Radio Lincolnshire back in March and only five minutes of the interview actually made it onto the radio.

Random Quote

The routine conflation of English with British is both ignorant and aggravating; the Union flag and the national anthem are supra-national emblems, not the property of one part of the United Kingdom.

— Alex Massie, This Sceptred Isle

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