Friday, 4 November 2016

Don't Bring Back the National Dirge

Andrew Rosindell, the MP for Romford, put down an early day motion this week in parliament calling on the BBC to bring back the old practice of playing the national anthem at the end of the day's broadcasting.

Now among my claims to fame is the fact that I was one of the last BBC announcers to play said national anthem at the end of the day. Have a look above. I know, it's not very good. But I was still a trainee. Nevertheless it does mean I have some expertise on this subject. And I have to tell Mr Rosindell that he is talking nonsense. The BBC did not stop playing the national dirge at the end of the day due to a lack of patriotism, and quite what bringing it back would have to do with Brexit is a mystery. The practice was abandoned for the simple reason that in 1997 the BBC stopped closing down at the end of the night. We started broadcasting what was then News 24 instead. In latter years, long after I was removed from the airwaves for being insufficiently Brummie, there came the sign zone and other programming meaning that the channel did not close down. It has never done so since.

MPs like Mr Rosindell are what give Tories a bad name. The national anthem does not equate to patriotism and neither does respect for the monarchy. I agree that we should respect the national anthem at national ceremonies as Chauncey famously failed to do last year and then learnt his lesson, but we ought to agree that it is a bloody awful tune. And the sentiment is one that very many people disagree with. That does not make you unpatriotic. I love my country, but despise the royal family and how it makes us look, in much the same way that I hate the fact we still, in 2016, have an unelected second chamber in parliament.

We are throwing off the shackles of the EU, but we remain undemocratic and lacking modernity in certain ways. Brexit is an opportunity to remake Britain, to forge a new path for ourselves. Bringing back the national anthem would be a sign that we really do want to turn the clock back and not in a good way.

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