‘Hen Wlad’, ‘Flower of Scotland’ and ‘Jerusalem’?

wales flag  scotland flag  england flag Wales: Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau     Scotland: Flower of Scotland         England: Jerusalem ??

If memory serves me correctly, it was in 2001 (or thereabouts) that I used my opinion column in the newspaper group for which I was senior editor to call for the British national anthem to be reserved for purely British use.

I argued that, as Wales has Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau and Scotland has Flower of Scotland, it is inappropriate for England to use the British God Save The Queen. It is not England’s property and never has been. It is just that although both Wales and Scotland have their own identities, England hasn’t.

It’s hardly surprising that some people from other countries get Britain and England confused.

On more than one occasion when I have told someone that I lived in Wales, as I did at the time, the follow-up was along the lines of ‘Oh, right, Wales is in England’ to which I would point out, as politely and diplomatically as I could that Wales is most certainly not in England but that they are both part of Great Britain.

So, having explained all that, you can possibly imagine my delight in the fact that a cross-party group of MPs is going to present a Bill in the House of Commons to give England its very own anthem. And it looks like, if it is successful, that the anthem may well be Jerusalem.

The words to Jerusalem are taken from William Blake’s preface to his epic poem, Milton, and the music was composed by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916. It is well known as the WI hymn as, at every Women’s Institute branch in England, members sing it at their meetings; it refers to ‘England’s green and pleasant land’.

Some people may feel that There’ll always be an England may be preferable but that in itself has a problem because it contains the words ‘Red White and Blue, what does it mean to you?’ but the English flag is an upright red cross on a white background. Red, white and blue are, of course, the colours of the British flag. The words also contain the call ‘Britons awake’.

It may have taken 15 years for my dream to come true but it certainly looks hopeful that the Bill will eventually become Law. Apparently, Prime Minister David Cameron welcomes the proposal and favours using Jerusalem as the English anthem.

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Longer winter nights spark daylight saving debate

daylight

It’s time to say a final goodbye to summer and welcome the longer winter nights as Europe put the clocks back early Sunday morning while the USA follows suit next weekend.

Once again, as soon as Britain’s daylight saving time ends and the clocks go back one hour, there are calls to end the practice, Instead, some people want to keep summertime all year while others want to go to double summertime which would make British time equal with most of mainland Europe.

Supporters of such a move talk of the danger to children returning home from school in the dark. They are saying that there are more accidents at that time of day at this time of year. Maybe that’s true but have they considered the alternative? And by that I mean the risk of children suffering accidents on their way to school in the morning murkiness.

Then, of course, there are those who live further north. The days in winter are shorter in Scotland, for example, than in the south of England, so they notice the dark winter mornings more there; and David Cameron’s government does have to think about all the UK as it is still one country.

Of course, there is nothing new in the idea of not putting the clocks back. In fact, it has been tried before. From 1981 to 1971, the UK kept its daylight saving British Summertime all year round. It was ditched after the figures showed an increase in the number of people killed or seriously injured.

More recently, in 2011, a Conservative MP put forward a proposal to bring in permanent daylight saving time but it was dropped for lack of parliamentary time. An opinion poll that year found that 53% of Britons supported moving clocks forward an hour permanently while 32% opposed the proposed change.

As I suggested earlier, the idea was not welcomed by the Scots with Scottish Nationalist Party MP Angus MacNeil saying that any change would have “massive implications for the safety and wellbeing of everyone living north of Manchester”.

At this point, we all need to consider the farming community both in Scotland and elsewhere.

From personal knowledge of looking after farm animals all year through, I well remember the feeling of relief when the clocks went back to lighten the mornings. And that was in North Wales not in parts of Scotland where the sun wouldn’t rise until 10am. Even ignoring the risk of there being more deaths and injuries from accidents, I have to feel for dairy farmers, who wake up before 5am and would have to work even longer in the dark. Then there are other workers who need sunlight to carry out their jobs. They’d have to work later into the evening.

Perhaps, if some people are desperate to see an end to daylight saving time, to satisfy those north of the border, the UK should have a different time in Scotland to the rest of the UK. The Scots could have an independent time. That could be the first step along the rocky path leading towards the break-up of the supposedly ‘United’ Kingdom.