Waving Flags: British Sea Power song features in anti-UKIP campaign

British Sea Power have voiced their support for a campaign started by a fan to get their pro-immigration song ‘Waving Flags’ into the UK singles chart as a gesture of opposition to the recent UKIP electoral gains.

A mailshot from the band’s Secretary (AKA music journalist and author Roy Wilkinson whose two youngest brothers front the band) explains: “Nigel Farage’s UK Independence Party are bumbling bozo-ologists whose reactionary agena centres on the scapegoating of immigrants. UKIP made substantial gains in recent UK elections. In the face of this, long-standing BSP devotee Gary Williams has decided to try and get BSP’s pro-Bulgar Waving Flags into the UK charts. Says Gary: ‘Even to get the track into the lower reaches of the chart would be a gesture worth making. We’re calling on the BSP audience to help wake people up in these worrying times.’ Less Rage Against The Machine. More Machineries Of Joy against the Farage…”

Meanwhile in a message published at theQuietus, singer Yan (Jan Scott Wilkinson) expands on the idea: “Obviously times are hard and the economy is not going well, and it seems the old story of ‘blame the last ones in’ rather than looking towards real solutions has become popular. It’s a kind of superstitious nonsense akin to witch burning. Instead of hearing about the NHS being staffed and kept going by conscientious hard workers from other parts of the world, we’re told that it’s groaning under the strain of newcomers…. The sentiment of the song is a genuine one, literally welcoming people in to help improve the standards of this island and wanting this feeling to be reciprocated back to us when we travel to other places, whether temporarily or permanently.” You can read his full statement on the website here.

Despite their name, which occasionally led to some misconceptions in their early days (back in 2005 a friend and I both coinicidentally wearing the same BSP T-shirt to a Bunnymen gig were asked by a fellow gig-goer if we were neo-nazis, which was a little disturbing to say the least) British Sea Power have a long history of supporting European integration, particularly with respect to those countries once behind the Iron Curtain. A 2004 gig exchange saw them play alongside Czech psychedelia/indie veterans The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa in both Prague and London, with the bands joining forces to rework earlier BSP song “A Lovely Day Tomorrow”, about the 1942 Czech assassination attempt on SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich. Their third album “Do You Like Rock Music” was partly recorded in the Czech Republic, and several of the band’s gigs have featured performances by The London Bulgarian Choir. Here they are performing the song at Glastonbury in 2008.


“Waving Flags” was originally released in January 2008 with a special event at London’s Czech Embassy, and entered the BBC Radio 1 Independent Label Singles chart at number one as well as breaking into the regular UK Top 40. The single received glowing reviews at the time – including at least one in a tabloid newspaper not known for its pro-European stance – and has been a popular fixture in the live set ever since, not least at the band’s first performance in Poland at OFF Festival in 2008 where it was greeted by a sea of flags from the delighted audience. The band will return to Poland in June to play at Poznan’s Malta-Festival following a short tour of Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

To feature in the campaign, Waving Flags needs to be downloaded before midnight this Saturday, 11th May. For a choice of download links or to join the Facebook event, visit the campaign Tumblr page here.

All words by Cath Aubergine, more writing by Cath on Louder Than War can be found here.

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Cath Aubergine grew up in Cheshire near a chemical factory which sometimes turned the river orange; this may or may not have had lasting effects. It was however usefully close to Manchester where she published her first fanzine “Bobstonkin\' Aubergines” with a school friend in 1989. After spending most of the 90s trying to grow up, she admitted defeat in 2001 and started going to too many gigs instead. Cath started writing about music again for manchestermusic.co.uk in 2003, and now co-manages the site as well helping out with local bands, campaigning against pay-to-play promoters and holding down a proper job to fund her excessive music habits. Cath is obsessed with ten inch vinyl and aspires to have one day stayed at every Travelodge in Britain apart from the shit ones on motorway junctions.


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