Friday 28 November 2003

Which anthem?

I rarely agree with Mike Watson but he is on to something here:
MIKE Watson, Scotland’s former sports minister, yesterday called on the English rugby team to come up with its own national anthem - because God Save The Queen "gets up the noses" of the Scots and the Welsh.

Lord Watson, the Labour MSP for Glasgow Cathcart, said that while he congratulated England on their rugby World Cup success, he disagreed with the decision to play the British national anthem before their matches.

The Conservatives are correct in stating that matters of this sort should be left to the relevant sporting authorities.

Nevertheless, as Watson says:

"But at a time when I think there is greater warmth felt towards England in Scotland, I don’t think the English help when they breast-beat before matches singing an anthem which is not the anthem of England. It does get up the noses of people in Scotland and Wales when England effectively suggest they are the UK. It’s that sort of attitude that doesn’t help break down the rather negative feelings some people in Scotland have towards England."
I have noticed that Scottish pub customers will very often support English club teams when they play against teams from elsewhere in Europe. The same neighbourliness is not extended to English national teams precisely because of the "England equals the UK" attitude that is pervasive in the London-based media.

Note these letters, in particular the first one:

Susie Glover (Letters, 25 November) records her distress at Scottish attitudes towards the English. It would be sad if she has experience of this at a personal level, although I suspect not.

I feel she is wrong to say that there is widespread dislike in Scotland of English people. It is more likely a well-founded resentment of the overwhelming tide of Englishness which washes over us all day and every day from all sections of the media.

Switch on Radio Scotland and, while the headlines are often read by native Scots in their own accent, it is an English-accented announcer who reads us the main news about "Pethsha" and "Ahba-deen". We resent the implication that such an accent is superior.

Mr Ribet's views are very widely held in Scotland. I believe that the United Kingdom will need to extricate itself from the European Union in the near future. That will be all the more difficult if the various nations that make up the UK fail to respect each other's identities.