The end of an auld song?

By Joel Sked and Magnus Huntly- Grant

Still Popular - Flower of Scotland
Still Popular - Flower of Scotland

Flower of Scotland remains the most popular suggestion for a Scottish national anthem, according to a poll conducted amongst journalism students on Dunedin Napier News.

The song recieved 41% of the vote, compared with 18% for Caledonia. God save the Queen and Scotland the Brave were both behind with 6%.

“To send them homeward tae think again”, “Land of my heart forever, Scotland the Brave”, “Doe a deer a female deer”, “You’ll take the high road and I’ll take the low Road” and “Let me tell me that I love you that I think about you all the time.”
They are all well-known lines from just a selection of songs which make the hairs on the back of many Scots’ necks stand proud. That is not the only thing they have in common. They also prompt much debate within the country as to which should be the national anthem.
Yet a recent survey run by London charity ScotsCare suggests that Flower of Scotland has fallen out of favour with public as it failed to make a five song shortlist for the nation’s favourite anthem along with other popular songs, The Proclaimers 500 Miles and Runrig’s version of Loch Lomond.
It now begs the question, is it time for a change of anthem? And more importantly is it time for Scotland to have its own recognised official anthem?
Elaine Begley, spokeswoman for ScotsCare, believes that although the song faired badly the survey is not a true reflection on what people want as their Scottish national anthem.
She said: “I think it is a bit unfair on the Flower of Scotland. I don’t think people are saying that they do not want it as their national anthem. Just that the public do not see it as a song they will listen to at a party for example.”
But as the official national anthem for Scotland is God Save the Queen she does think it is time Scotland have their own official anthem which they can reflect to.
“For a country that has their own sporting teams they really should have an anthem to go with them” she says. “Whether it is the Flower of Scotland, it is up to the public to decide in poll like we have done.”
Flower of Scotland was written back in 1967 by Roy Williamson but it was not until the start of the 90’s that it shot to prominence with the Scottish public as the national Rugby team used it in their important Five Nations clash with the Auld Enemy. From then it grew and grew with the Scottish football team adopting it as their pre-match anthem in 1997.
But the song still remains the ‘unofficial’ national anthem of Scotland something which the SNP is looking to change with the help of the public.
A spokesperson for SNP said: “Of course we think we should have our own official national anthem. If we are to be seen as one nation we need to have one national anthem. As you have seen over the last decade Flower of Scotland has really grown with the help of the Scottish national teams and most of the public has really taken to it and I still think it is our strongest candidate but that is only my opinion.
“Of course it won’t be down to us to decide. We hope sooner rather than later that we can get a poll for all of Scotland to vote in to decide what our – which was heavily emphasised – official national anthem should and hopefully will be.”
Amongst the public opinion is split with many sports fans keen on the Flower of Scotland to remain as it is what they know while others think it is time for a much needed change.
Rory Jack a Tartan Army foot soldier from Aberdeen believes Flower of Scotland is what people relate to especially those who follow either the national football or rugby team.
He says: “If you ask anyone from Scotland what the national anthem is they won’t say God Save the Queen, they’ll say Flower of Scotland. With both the rugby and football team using it has got more popular and the public relate to it as they back their country in these events.
“Of course there will be those who want to it as something else but I would like to think if there was a poll done it would be Flower of Scotland which comes out on top.”
Although apprentice engineer Robbie Coull feels it is time for a change and time to move away from the Flower of Scotland anthem.
Coull, 19, said: “I think we should look to go to a different anthem, possibly Scotland the Brave, as if you look at the words of the Flower of Scotland and the way it is sung by many it can be seen as racism towards the English.
“It is 2008. We really should be able to move away from the bitterness towards our neighbours to the south and have a song that focuses on Scotland and solely Scotland.”
The debate of which song is best suited for Scotland’s national anthem has raged for many years and no doubt it will continue to do so. But one thing is for sure the Scottish public want there own official national anthem. And with the SNP in charge at Holyrood they might well get their wish.