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A new national anthem for England?

Submitted by on 23 Nov 2010 – 12:30


By Greg Mulholland, Liberal Democrat MP for Leeds North West

There were a number of factors which led to England’s premature departure from the World Cup this summer and I think that we can all agree the choice of National Anthem sung by the team before the game was not one of them.

But I believe that there is a real issue with the use of God Save the Queen by a football team representing England and judging by the amount of publicity I received recently for raising this point in Business Questions, many people agree with me.

The performance of the Anthem before the game against Germany kicked off was actually one of the highlights of the afternoon, which in itself says something. In fairness, with only a couple of exceptions (Messers Milner and Rooney to be specific), the lads absolutely belted out the anthem in such a way as to make you proud. What I am campaigning for, and what I have received broad support from all quarters, is a purely English anthem which our boys can give their all before representing England at the highest level.

God Save the Queen is the Anthem of the United Kingdom and it represents all the people who live there and while Scotland and Wales have their own respective anthems which represent them as individual nations, England has been left behind having to rely on God Save the Queen to serve both purposes.

The point I am making is quite simple: God Save the Queen is great for the Great British team representing us in the Olympics but is not appropriate for the English football or rugby teams. We need our own anthem and for God Save the Queen to be elevated to its rightful position of the Anthem for the entire United Kingdom.

I was delighted when the question of the English National Anthem was opened up to the public when a survey carried out by YouGov asked people what song they would like to be sung by athletes representing England in the upcoming Commonwealth Games. The result of this survey was that most people voted for Jerusalem. This was a great move on the part of the people in charge of our Commonwealth team; they have managed to excite national interest and raise the important issue of where we are letting our national identity be overlooked.

So my suggestion is: let’s get the country involved. Let’s put the question to the English people-what song do you feel best encapsulates what it is to be English? I am quite sure that there would be some inappropriate suggestions should the scope for nominations be opened up wide enough, but I have faith in the English people to eventually settle upon the most appropriate anthem.

I am not claiming to be an authority on this issue but for those of you interested I consider it to be a straight two horse race between Jerusalem and Land of Hope and Glory.

I hope that some day soon the wonderful individuality of all the countries that make up the United Kingdom can be recognised through individual anthems and our unity celebrated properly through God Save the Queen.