Anthony Barnett (London, OK): Peter Facey has just argued in OK that Blake's Jerusalem be sung as the English national anthem when England play football. And when else? His argument is that his Britishness is a multi-layered identity for him. He wants it to stay this way but this means, he insists, that there has also to be an expression of his Englishness; just as there is for those Scots, Welsh, Irish and others who also think of themselves as British as well. How can the English find the essential personal expression of this without singing Jerusalem at sporting events - especially against fellow Union teams? I take it for granted that if the director of Unlock Democracy and Charter 88 says Jerusalem is England's national anthem that this is now official. But if so, when should the British anthem get sung, and can God Save the Queen still be called the "national" anthem? Should not it become, in Peter's scheme of things, the multinational anthem? Answers and proposals please! And don't think that careers may not be ruined by the wrong answer. Only this weekend, Yves Leterme, leader of the Flemish Christian Democrat in Belgium who was in the midst of putting together a coalition to become Prime Minister was asked by a TV reporter to sing the national anthem on camera - and apparently sang the Marseillaise, the national anthem of France! According to Dan Bilefsky in the International Herald Tribune, his mistake has left Belgium "reeling".
When do we sing whose anthem?
24 July 2007