Should English National Sports Change Anthem?

A senior Labour MP is to launch a bid in Parliament for an English national anthem to be sung at major sporting events instead of God Save The Queen.

For decades, at international football, rugby union and rugby league matches, God Save The Queen has been sung before the game, even at matches against other home nations.

But now shadow minister Toby Perkins is introducing a Bill in the Commons proposing that England should have its own national anthem, like Scotland and Wales.

The 6ft 4in Mr Perkins, MP for Chesterfield, played rugby union for Derbyshire, is a qualified rugby coach and has played in goal for the MPs' football team.

Although the Government has not expressed a view on his Bill, David Cameron has previously backed calls for an English anthem for sporting events, declaring the hymn Jerusalem as his favourite.

The Scots' national anthem is Flower Of Scotland and the Welsh is Land Of My Fathers.

In a break with tradition in 2010, the public voted for Jerusalem to be played for English athletes competing at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

"God Save The Queen is the national anthem of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but on sporting occasions the union is broken up and we play as individual nations," said Mr Perkins.

"Scotland and Wales have their own national anthem and it seems right to me in this era of devolution that England should also have its own anthem.

"Years ago England fans would have taken the union jack to matches.

"Now they take the flag of St George and I think part of that is about having an English national anthem."

Mr Perkins says the reaction to his proposal has been very positive.

In one survey, 70% of those polled thought it was a good idea, he added.

Like the Prime Minister, Mr Perkins favours Jerusalem, but says Land Of Hope And Glory, I Vow To Thee My Country and There'll Always Be An England have also been suggested.

In his Bill, which is backed by MPs of all parties, he calls for Culture, Media and Sport Secretary John Whittingdale to hold a consultation on whether there should be a change.

Backing the proposal, Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell said: "All four parts of the UK should have their own anthem.

"Even the Isle of Man has its own anthem."

And another Tory MP, Daniel Kawczynski, added: "It's high time we celebrated our Englishness more."

And Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland said: "It's high time English sporting associations showed the common sense and courage to follow the example of Commonwealth Games England and use an English anthem for English athletes and teams, rightly leaving God Save The Queen for Team GB at the Olympics and World Championships."

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