LTW louderthanwarSo Jeremy Corbyn didn’t sing the national anthem at Tuesday’s service at St Paul’s Cathedral, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, it was Mr Corbyn’s first official ceremonial engagement since becoming Labour leader.


The national anthem is not even official. It’s not even unique – many other countries (including the Royal’s homeland, Germany) have shared it over the years. Musically and lyrically it represents a country that has nothing to do with most of us and what makes me proud to be British is not reflected in this song. It’s champions in the national press tap the Royal families phones and are non doms – what kind of phoney patriotism is this?

The right wing press has gone into  meltdown pushing the Tories tax credits off the frontpage and avoiding having to write about the real debates that are going on. Some of the papers were supporting Hitler in the 1930’s and it makes you wonder which anthem they would have sung at that time.


This is cartoon caricature journalism – an attempt to destroy someone they seem genuinely scared of. It’s  just like Michael Foot at the cenotaph all those years ago –  the story about Foot’s so called Donkey jacket  that the queen had complemented him on minutes before his appearance.

My own father fought in the second world war. He was in the RAF and would have wondered what the fuss about this was. He was fighting for lots of things but singing the national anthem wasn’t very high on that list. it’s not even the officially recognised anthem of the UK – just the one shelled out for customary use.

It begs the question though – do we need a new national anthem? musically it’s hardly  a rousing piece of music and lyrically it’s actually a bit strange.  Even the melody is not unique to the UK – before 1914 the tune was shared with about several other countries – even the Germans had the same melody for their national anthem. The first German national anthem, Heil dir im Siegerkranz, used the melody of “God Save The King”.

Surely we have far more to offer tin the UK that one family and a song about an invisible, made up God saving one family is shrinking everything great about this wonderful country into the most micro mini version of what put the Great into Britain.

Do you think we need a new anthem? a new more rousing more 21st century piece of music? maybe with lyrics that celebrate all that is great about Britain? or is tradition a good thing? thoughts please!



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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. As a Scot, I don’t want to be showing allegience to the Queen in any shape or form. Plus, what’s wrong with being a republican and a patriot? Nothing. A new national anthem that engages all the nations would be very beneficial.

  2. Give me an anthem that says something relevant about the WHOLE of the United Kingdom and I’ll gladly sing it. Until then, we have a dirge with irrelevant lyrics. Tradition is wonderful if it remains relevant, but as we see on a daily basis in so many areas (parliament being the prime example), we hang onto outdated traditions that actually offer nothing or, even worse, drag us down.

    This discussion stems from one man choosing not to sing a song that goes against everything he believes. Jeremy Corbyn is being slated for sticking to his principles, which is more than so many in the public eye do. I know who I’d rather be aligned with.

  3. Found this in a Guardian article by Peter Tatchell in 2008 “some versions substituted loyalty to parliament and the rule of law, and toned down the God references. The best of these versions is undoubtedly William Hickson’s alternative of 1836, which, although it maintains an appeal to divine intervention, at least exalts more noble ideals than the elitism of monarchy and the gore of imperial bloodlust:

    May peace her power extend,
    Foe be transformed to friend,
    And Britain’s rights depend
    On war no more …

    May just and righteous laws
    Uphold the public cause,
    And bless our isle:

    Home of the brave and free,
    Thou land of liberty …

    From shore to shore:
    Lord make the nations see
    That men should brothers be,
    And form one family
    The wide world o’er

    In 1919, following the first world war, the official “peace version” of God Save the Queen was approved by the privy council, but it never gained popular currency and is now largely forgotten.”
    The words are definitely an improvement, hard to believe that they have been around so long. I definitely think a change is needed, as the current one makes you a moron…


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