The Proposition: We Need a New National Anthem

Feature by Marc DeSadé | 06 Jan 2011
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Scotland needs a new national anthem. In fact Scotland needs any national anthem. We don't have one. Honestly. We're pretty unusual that way. Instead we've got a few de facto substitutes that come in handy maybe five times a year for the rugby and maybe once more again when we beat the Faroes at football. If we beat the Faroes at football.

People have conducted polls on this subject you know – real-life, nationwide polls conducted by real-life, respected organisations with apparently nothing better to do. According to said polls it would seem that Jock McBloggs is 41% in favour of Flower of Scotland with only 29% opting for Scotland the Brave and a further 30% of deviants picking from the remaining melee of patronising teuchter detritus. Mind you, it's worth bearing in mind that this poll was conducted from amidst the kind of people who fill out online surveys for The Royal Scottish National Orchestra and thus probably spend the rest of their day carving pheasant, reversing over postmen in 4x4s and kicking tramps. Not an entirely representative cross-section.

But before we go any further let’s get a few things straight: Jimmy Shand is out. That's an executive decision influenced by a lifetime of Scottish bloody television on Hogmanay and the stereotypical orgy of fiddles, tartan and Jackie Bird it continues to peddle. 

It's worth asking, then: what would the public actually vote for if otherwise given carte blanche? There's a stubbornly naive nationalist somewhere inside me that wants to believe we'd pick something noble and inspiring; something with lyrics that tell of struggling against the odds, embracing disadvantaged strangers as we would our own kin, aspiring for excellence in our every pursuit. But as Joe Esposito is American and his legendary Karate Kid classic You're The Best is thus rendered effectively ineligible, there isn't a hell of a lot else to choose from that carries the sheer motivational oomph our beleaguered sportsmen and women require.

Rather I suspect the people's choice would be a wearying contemporary pop hit of native origin. Strawberry-blonde, karaoke-monster 500 Miles is an obvious contender. After all, Leith might as well contribute something to the country. Don't You Forget About Me is another pop behemoth bound to get a mention. Given that Flower of Scotland was only penned in 1967, time clearly isn't a vital criterion and by those standards Westminster could quite easily have opted for Sabbath's Paranoid UK-wide, which frankly might have made said union a slightly less distasteful affair. In fact we could use the new anthem to send a message to the Auld Enemy, making Ultravox's Give It All Back a sure-fire winner.

But we have to be realistic about this. After all, we do live in a country where the majority of people look a lot more like Michelle McManus and Jimmy Somerville than Sheena Easton and Darius Danesh. The best answer might not necessarily be the answer we want to hear. Del Amitri cynically pre-empted the entire debate with the wryly appropriate Nothing Ever Happens whose frank, everyday pessimism is at least in keeping with 90% of the nation's daily lives. Likewise Teenage Fanclub's Alcoholiday ticks some important boxes. Hue and Cry had songs called Cynical, Violently and Long Term Lovers of Pain which collectively are at least fitting for most of the population of Glasgow. In that vein, if only we'd managed to thrust citizenship upon Lou Reed, Roger Waters and Spinal Tap we'd have Heroin, Money and Hellhole for Dundee, Edinburgh and Hamilton respectively.

Having reflected on it I say we make a statement; go deep into left-field. Let's embrace our limitations and reflect on them in typically self-deprecating style. For that reason I've already taken the liberty of sending Murrayfield and Hampden my tape: a looped clip of a man coughing over some police sirens, subtly backed by a deep fat fryer and ending on the phrase "...Big Issue pal?"

If nothing else, we'll probably prove much better at singing along when it comes to game time.