SCOTLAND should ditch the “backward-looking and depressing” Flower of Scotland and find a new national anthem in time for hosting the 2014 Commonwealth Games, a leading piper has said.
Donald Glass, who has led Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities Officers’ Training Corps to victory in the World Pipe Band Championships, called for an “uplifting” piece of music that reflected modern Scotland.
He was backed by other musicians and the principal of Scotland’s oldest piping institution, who branded Flower of Scotland “politically embarrassing”.
Scotland does not have its own national anthem but in 2004 lawyers ruled the national anthem was a devolved issue and that MSPs could legislate on the issue.
Flower of Scotland, the anthem of Scotland’s rugby and football teams, was written by Roy Williamson of folk group The Corries in 1967 about Robert the Bruce’s defeat of Edward the Second at Bannockburn in 1314.
God Save the Queen has often attracted criticism in Scotland, particularly for the line “rebellious Scots to crush”.
Mr Glass, who runs the Scottish Bagpipe Composition Company based in Boquhan, Stirlingshire, said: “In two years’ time we’ll be hosting the Commonwealth Games, which will mean a really high profile for the nation.
“A new anthem should be a quicker 4/4 march composed first and foremost on the pipe and have words that people can easily sing along to and have a melody which is easily remembered.”
Mr Glass, whose composition Scottish Rugby’s Tribute to Christchurch NZ 2011 raised almost £2,000 for the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal last year, added: “It should not have too much ‘lochs and glens’, should portray Scotland’s freedom of spirit, showing we’re descended from a hardy warlike tribe. It should also have elements in it acknowledging our industries such as oil and shipbuilding but be uplifting and looking to the future too.”
Robert Wallace, principal of the College of Piping in Glasgow, said he supported moves to find a new Scottish anthem.
“Flower of Scotland is politically embarrassing. In particular, the words ‘Proud Edward’s army’ have political overtones which are out of date.
“If we are to have a new anthem it has be a good tune with a rousing melody, played firstly on the bagpipes, Scotland’s national instrument.”
John Park, Labour MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said there was a precedent for a new anthem set up by countries such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand after calls to ditch God Save The Queen. “Flower of Scotland is pretty rousing at a Scotland game but is very negative. It is a relatively young song and there is precedent here for a challenge.
“The caveat would be that a new anthem would have to be something which made you proud to be Scottish and make you feel the hairs on the back of your neck standing up.
“Whatever happens in Scotland constitutionally in the future, the very fact that we’re talking about what we stand for, our place in the world, is positive and will get people looking at themselves. No new anthem will please everybody, but it is definitely time for a change.”
However, David McLetchie, Conservative MSP for the Lothians, said Scotland’s sporting teams should seek a new anthem but that God Save the Queen was the national anthem for the United Kingdom. “I don’t think we should get carried away,” he said. “There is only one official anthem which is God Save The Queen and we should keep it because we’re British.”
In the run-up to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, Scottish athletes voted overwhelmingly for Flower of Scotland, from a shortlist of four songs, to be their official national anthem.
Scotland the Brave had been used as the anthem for Scottish competitors who won gold medals at previous games.