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Cameron would choose 'Jerusalem' as national anthem for England's sports teams


David Cameron has revealed he would be tempted to choose the classic hymn Jerusalem as a national anthem for England's sports teams.

The Prime Minister told a group of young Tory activists at Downing Street that he understood why people felt that England should have its own tune, as Scotland and Wales do.

A campaign for the country to have its own anthem at sporting events was launched by the think tank British Future earlier this year.

Mr Cameron joked that Sir Hubert Parry's song may be interpreted as a left-wing rallying call because of its mention of "dark satanic mills" - thought to refer to the Industrial Revolution.

However the Conservative leader said he disagreed and that it should belong to everyone.

The off-the-cuff remarks were made during a reception for the Conservative Future group last month, a Downing Street spokeswoman confirmed.

Currently, most England teams line up to God Save The Queen, as the country's footballers did before matches in last month's European Championships in Ukraine.

Teams representing Scotland and Wales, however, sing national verses such as Flower Of Scotland or Land Of My Fathers.

Until 2010, Land Of Hope And Glory was used as the anthem when English athletes won gold medals at Commonwealth Games.

But this was switched to Jerusalem for the 2010 games in New Delhi after the hymn was chosen in a poll launched by the Commonwealth Games Council for England.

Liberal Democrat MP Greg Mulholland has now tabled a parliamentary motion arguing that the anthem campaign can be won in time for the 2014 football World Cup in Brazil.

Meanwhile, British Future director Sunder Katwala wrote to Mr Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Labour leader Ed Miliband, urging them to encourage a public debate on the issue.

According to the British Future website, tourism minister John Penrose responded to the letter and wrote: "Officially, God Save The Queen is the royal and national anthem of the United Kingdom and the royal anthem of all four of the constituent countries.

"In addition, each country within the United Kingdom may quite properly have national songs, but none is an official national anthem.

"So playing favourite national songs, at sporting and other events, is a matter solely for the governing body of the sport or public entertainment concerned, or the owners of the premises."

Pete Wishart, Scottish National Party MP and former member of folk band Runrig, said: "It is about time England had its own sporting national anthem but it should emerge from the people rather than the Prime Minister.

"It will be difficult to find a song that attracts general approval. Why not have a competition putting the old anthems up against new songs, even put it to a public vote through a show like X Factor and give everyone in England the opportunity to select their favourite choice?"