Philip Davies has seconded an Early Day Motion (like a Parliamentary Petition for MPs) by Greg Mulholland, calling for an English National Anthem to be sung at events where it is England, as opposed to Great Britain, who is playing.
Although my instinct would be to be very wary of anything Davies supports – a useful habit – I can see the logic of it, though not from the same threatened and defensive mindset Davies seems to approach it from but rather from a supportive stance to the wider UK.
Wales and Scotland both have their own anthems while it wasn’t too long ago that there was a row in Northern Ireland over their using the UK national anthem as England does. It therefore seems something of an anachronism for England to play the UK national anthem when other member countries do not and it does seem to play into stereotypes about England being an overmighty force in the UK that gives succour to those who would break up the UK as we know it.
As long as England sings the UK national anthem it lends weight to the idea that it is our national anthem and not the anthem for the whole of the UK. When Scots or the Welsh are part of Team GB and they sing the anthem, is there ever any awkwardness over singing a song that doubles as the English national anthem?
If England had its own anthem, would it ‘free up’ God Save the Queen to be a more truly ‘national’ anthem for the whole of the UK?
Would it help cement a more ‘English’ identity that could answer some of the growing concerns about the lack of ‘Englishness’ that have been discussed by some politicians?
In no way am I suggesting it would be a panacea for any of this and done in isolation could even be seen as something of a sop. Likewise any decision to split up the UK will be taken on far more weightier issues than the national anthem.
Nonetheless it might help change the terms of the debate and acknowledge the concerns on both sides of the border about notions of national identity in an era of devolution and globalisation. If it kickstarted some deeper thinking on national identity by our politicians then that could only be a good thing.
If it did happen, arguably you might want to consider retiring God Save the Queen altogether and coming up with something more inclusive.
Ironically the people promoting an English national anthem would probably be the same people who would be mortified at the thought of replacing the UK national anthem with something else!