Does England need its own national anthem?

As MPs get the chance to vote on whether England should have its own national anthem, Chris Bond asks some of Yorkshire's politicians what they think.

Wednesday, 13th January 2016, 5:37 pm
Updated Wednesday, 13th January 2016, 5:39 pm
England's Ben Youngs (left) and Tom Youngs sing the National Anthem before a match at Twickenham in 2012. (Tim Ireland/PA Wire).
England's Ben Youngs (left) and Tom Youngs sing the National Anthem before a match at Twickenham in 2012. (Tim Ireland/PA Wire).

ITALY has one, so does Wales and our friends across the pond. Even Kazakhstan has one. But England doesn’t.

However, this could be about to change with MPs debating whether England should have its own national anthem. We already have God Save the Queen, of course, but this is for the whole of the UK and Chesterfield’s Labour MP Toby Perkins believes England needs one for itself.

He’s using a 10-minute rule motion in parliament to propose that a public consultation should be launched to decide which song would be best, with people able to opt for something traditional or new. The bill is backed by several campaign groups and has received support from across the political divide with fellow Labour MPs, as well as some Tories and Lib Dems, in favour of the move.

Should England have its own official national anthem?

Michael Dugher, Labour MP for Barnsley East, applauded Perkins for kick-starting the debate about an English national anthem, saying “identity and national pride are really important.”

Some people find the idea of national anthems a bit old-fashioned, or associate them with flag-waving knees-ups like the Last Night of the Proms, but there’s a growing feeling that an English anthem is needed for big sporting events.

North of the border they have Flower of Scotland, which is a national anthem in everything but name, and Wales has Land of My Fathers, which is belted out with gusto whenever its national teams take to the field.

Alec Shelbrooke, the Conservative MP for Elmet and Rothwell, is among those who would like England to have its own equivalent song. “We would still have the British national anthem, but it would be useful at sporting events for England to have its own anthem and I’ve always quite fancied Land of Hope and Glory.”

Should England have its own official national anthem?

Andrea Jenkyns, Tory MP for Morley and Outwood, also welcomes the opportunity to have a debate and says her personal choice would be Jerusalem.

This isn’t the first time the issue will have been debated in parliament. In 2007, the Liberal Democrat’s Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland introduced an early day motion calling for English sporting associations to “adopt an appropriate song” for people to get behind,

He, too, is backing the latest calls for change. “England should have a distinct anthem, separate from the United Kingdom National Anthem, which belongs equally to all the home nations.

“I have represented Great Britain at Masters (over 35s) rugby league was very proud to sing God Save the Queen as a member of a Great Britain team, but it is quite wrong for English teams to sing it,” he says.

“It is high time English sporting associations showed the common sense and courage to follow the example of Commonwealth Games England and use an English anthem for English athletes and teams. It’s also time to give English people a say as to what the English anthem should be.

“How much longer do we have to hear about Scottish and Welsh people refusing, understandably, to sing God Save the Queen because it is misappropriated by English teams, for these blinkered stuffed shirts to finally adopt an English anthem?”

If the bill does get passed the next issue is choosing an anthem. The front-runner would be Jerusalem, while David Bowie’s Heroes has been mentioned as a more leftfield choice.

But would a new anthem lead to greater respect among fans and increase England’s chances of sporting success? Possibly not.

There’s the fear, too, that while many people would opt for the music of Elgar and the rousing lyrics of Land of Hope and Glory, we could end up with Vindaloo by Fat Les.