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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 March 2006, 17:07 GMT
McConnell calls for anthem debate
Jack McConnell
Mr McConnell said the anthem issue should be discussed
The first minister has stepped into the debate on Scotland's national anthem.

Jack McConnell said the question of which song to adopt for sporting and other events may have to be resolved to strengthen Scotland's global brand.

He said his own favourite Scottish tune was Highland Cathedral, but said that politicians should not lead the debate.

At the Commonwealth Games, Scots medal winners have ascended the rostrum to Scotland the Brave. Flower of Scotland is played at rugby and football games.

The first minister acknowledged some difficulties with the presentation of Flower Of Scotland at Hampden.

He said: "Flower Of Scotland works at Murrayfield, for example, where it is very stirring and it lifts the crowd, lifts the team and I'm sure, to some extent intimidates the opposition.

'Different settings'

"But I can also see how in the Commonwealth Games the athletes chose Scotland The Brave, which is an athletes' choice because to some extent a national anthem that's played at an international games like that is played more for the tune than the words.

"I think if we played the tune of Flower Of Scotland in the Australian swimming arena, it might not have had the same impact as playing Scotland The Brave."

Mr McConnell said there should be a national debate on the issue.

"If you're trying to choose a national anthem then it has to work in a whole variety of different settings and I think that's the challenge," he said.

"There are those who say Auld Lang Syne, but Auld Lang Syne is a song for the end of an evening rather than the beginning of the evening so I'm not sure that would work."

Scotland wins gold at the Commonwealth Games
Winning Scots athletes have heard Scotland the Brave at the Games

At first minister's questions, the SNP's Holyrood leader Nicola Sturgeon called for the Scottish Parliament to take the lead in deciding the national anthem.

She said: "Every Scot is proud of our athletes' success in the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

"But many people are confused as to why organisations like the SFA (Scottish Football Association) and SRU (Scottish Rugby Union) use Flower of Scotland as our national anthem, while the Commonwealth Games committee have chosen Scotland the Brave.

"Both are great Scottish songs, but a growing number of people think it's time to adopt an official national anthem for all Scots."

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