To coincide with The Queen of England's Golden Jubilee in May - June 2002, Billy Bragg, the Bard of Barking, will release this song, taken from his 2002 album, England, Half English. On Monday 20th May, the single will be available in three formats. The wicked plan is that, whilst The Queen is celebrating amidst much fawning and flag waving, a republican song will be at the top of the charts. All profits from the sale of the single will be donated to the Living Wage Campaign. Billy Bragg almost certainly got his idea from the events of the Silver Jubilee in 1977. The Sex Pistols got to number one with God Save The Queen, a vicious attack on their beloved sovereign. At the time, however, their success was denied by the authorities. The song was also banned by the BBC. The fact that this has not happened with Bragg's balad suggests the much more mellow tone of this new republican anthem.

Take down the Union Jack, it clashes with the sunset
And put it in the attic with the emperor's old clothes
When did it fall apart? Sometime in the 80s
When the Great and the Good gave way to the greedy and the mean
Britain isn't cool you know, it's really not that great
It's not a proper country, it doesn't even have a patron saint
It's just an economic union that's past its sell-by date

Take down the Union Jack, it clashes with the sunset
And ask our Scottish neighbours if independence looks any good
'Cos they just might understand how to take an abstract notion
Of personal identity and turn it into nationhood
Is this the 19th century that I'm watching on tv?
The dear old Queen of England handing out those MBEs
Member of The British Empire - that doesn't sound too good to me

Gilbert & George are taking the piss aren't they?
Gilbert & George are taking the piss.
What could be more British than here's a picture of my bum?
Gilbert & George are taking the piss

Take down the Union Jack, it clashes with the sunset
And pile up all those history books, but don't throw them away
They just might have some clues about what it really means
To be an Anglo hyphen Saxon in

Update: 26th May 2002: Take Down The Union Jack enters the UK Top 40 at number twenty-two. Although this is somewhat below the position hoped-for, it is still a triumph for political pop, which has been totally absent from the charts for over a decade.

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