Thursday 14 January 2016

One step closer to equality with Wales and Scotland?

Yesterday the UK Parliament discussed the possibility of England and Northern Ireland having their own anthems for use at sports events and, after a debate, the proposition received support and it will move on to a second reading in March.

It was a reasonable debate and the result is most welcome however the contribution made by Jacob Rees-Mogg was naive and ill-informed to say the least. His view that to provide an anthem for each nation was divisive laughably ignored the fact that it is sport itself which has divided the nations; there is after all no UK or GB national team but teams for each individual nation.

His comment was also a further example of the rather unfathomable view that England must somehow represent the UK as a whole and it fails to recognise that Wales and Scotland have already removed themselves from the "National Anthem" of the UK and the divide has therefore already happened.

That said, what anthem should England adopt? Whilst I am very fond of Jerusalem (it was the only one that the boys at my Church of England school would sing with absolute flourish and enjoyment) I have reservations as to its value in an all inclusive English society. I agree that the use of the present National Anthem should be abandoned (in a sports context only you understand) but what to replace it with? The present anthem was never perfect in that it is a religious anthem and may well therefore have prevented sport enthusiasts who are atheists and agnostics from feeling fully included but at least the "God" in "God Save Our Gracious Queen" can be the God of any religion. There appears to be an instinctive call to replace it with Jerusalem but I am uncomfortable with this option; much as I love it, this is a specifically Christian Hymn and would likely alienate a great proportion of the English sports fans  who are non Christian in their belief or simply non believers. I remain open to suggestions for a suitable replacement.

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