Singing the word England: PJ Harvey, without apology

Will England find its voice? PJ Harvey’s acclaimed new record opens with 'Let England Shake': a blood lust for the ancient practice of English Revolutions, and an uncanny hymn to possible future ones.
Tamara Barnett-Herrin
17 February 2011

PJ Harvey’s acclaimed new record opens with the title track, ‘Let England Shake’. It is an eerie, intimate song, all spacey autoharp and brushed cymbals. It reaches out for a martyr whose smile might save England from its rot: ‘Bobby’, who will splash around in ‘a fountain of death’ and ‘laugh out loud’.

It’s a blood lust for the ancient practice of English Revolutions, and an uncanny hymn to possible future ones - and all the repressed forces they might unleash. Strange and apt that this record should be released now, striking a weird harmony with the reverberating aftermath of Egypt and Tunisia and the rumbling overtures in the rest of the Arab world.

Harvey sings:

The West is lost, let England shake

Weighted down with silent dead

I fear our blood won’t rise again

Harvey has always found a way to sing the unsayable and here she sings the word England without apology. The album is a dirge for England and also a warning.

Watch out to take care of your English shame, your English pride, and your English indifference - lest they be lost in blood spilled elsewhere in pointless, nameless war.

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals

To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.

By adding my name to this campaign, I authorise openDemocracy and Foxglove to keep me updated about their important work.

Who is bankrolling Britain's democracy? Which groups shape the stories we see in the press; which voices are silenced, and why? Sign up here to find out.


We encourage anyone to comment, please consult the oD commenting guidelines if you have any questions.
Audio available Bookmark Check Language Close Comments Download Facebook Link Email Newsletter Newsletter Play Print Share Twitter Youtube Search Instagram WhatsApp yourData