Yes campaigners have been active on Twitter this week encouraging people to download The Proclaimers’ Cap In Hand (sample lyric: “I can’t understand why we let someone else rule our land”). Unambiguous stuff. The No campaign on the other hand have been less forthcoming with campaign songs, so as a neutral in this debate, I’ve picked a few candidates for them:
Don’t Leave Me This Way – Communards
What better way to highlight the inclusive nature of British society than with a gay Scotsman? This song tugs at Scottish heartstrings using the screechingly-high vocals of one of their favourite sons, asking them not to abandon England to its fate.
Pros: Full of the ‘lovebombing’ messages that David Cameron has been so keen to promote – ‘My heart is full of love and desire for you‘, ‘I will surely miss your tender kiss‘. Also offers sweeping new powers for Scotland – ‘you don’t understand, I’m at your command‘ – that go beyond even Salmond’s wildest dreams.
Cons: I am not party to Jimmy Somerville’s thoughts on independence. He is, however, a massive socialist (The Communards second album was even called ‘Red’). There is probably more chance of independence for Berkshire than Jimmy lending his vocals to a campaign for Cameron and chums. Also the line ‘come satisfy me‘ does not need associating with David Cameron.
If You Go Away – Scott Walker
A more downbeat option. This English-language version of the Jacques Brel classic appeals to the undecided Scot on two fronts – a devastating ‘if you go away’ scenario portrays the damage Scotland would be doing to its English friends, while an ‘if you stay’ scenario makes big, bold promises for a united future.
Pros: Beautifully invokes the golden days of the Union – ‘The birds flew in the summer sky when our love was new and our hearts were high‘. A sure-fire winner with older Scots voters. Also pledges a sustainable, green future in which we’ll ‘talk to the trees, worship the wind‘. Music to the ears of the Scottish renewable energy sector.
Cons: This song is so inconsolably bleak, it will plunge the entire nation into bottomless despair. No work will be done, the economy will collapse. If there is one sure way for the United Kingdom to cease to exist, it is for everyone to sit around listening to this drinking absinthe.
Happy Together – The Turtles
A chorus as big as the sky. This could have them dancing in the streets of Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London after a ‘No’ vote. Young and old, black and white, gay and straight, man and woman, rich and poor. Union Jack bunting, fireworks, cupcakes. Wouldn’t that be pretty? Awww man, don’t you just love the 60s?
Pros: The Baby Boomers love the Turtles’ original, Gen X remembers the Jason Donovan cover – it works for everyone. ‘Imagine how the world could be – so very fine‘. What’s not to like about that message?
Cons: This song offers nothing! Just saying everything is fine doesn’t make it fine. Bloody hippies! Also, Scotland is likely to resort to a series of universally-understood hand gestures when invited by England to ‘say you belong to me’.
Stay Together – Suede
If the Union could guarantee tunes like this for evermore, with an extensive legislative programme that outlawed X-Factor, auto-tune and Lily Allen, even I would vote ‘No’. A sweeping, rousing call to arms. The brass outro on the extended version could make you vote for your own execution.
Pros: Acknowledges the depth of the British housing crisis – ‘there’s a time bomb in the high rise‘ – and commits to creating ‘a blue suburban dream‘. Shows humility and recognition of division in the UK with the plea ‘let’s stay in this broken down love‘.
Cons: Explicitness on Trident – ‘we can be together in the nuclear sky‘ – is contentious, as is flippancy about the environment – ‘we will dance in the poison rain‘. Also the promise of sleazy inner city sex with a foppish, androgynous Englishman will not play well with Calvinist Scotland.
The truth is, there isn’t really anything from the contemporary songbook that is appropriate for the Unionist side to use. My recommendation is they use something with a classical flavour, something that won’t risk antagonising the Scots. Maybe ‘Land of Hope and Glory‘, or ‘Jerusalem‘.