BBC theme tune strikes wrong note with Scots
By Auslan Cramb Scottish Correspondent
(Filed: 10/05/2006)

Battle of Culloden 1746 - Bonnie Prince Charlie's Jacobite Army was defeated by the Duke of Cumberland's Royal Army. The last battle on British soil.

The run-up to any World Cup in which England are playing and Scotland are not - that is to say, most world cups - is a touchy time north of the border.

The foot soldiers of the Tartan Army are already grimacing every time a television pundit suggests England are about to win again.

So someone was bound to take offence when the BBC chose as their World Cup theme tune a piece of classical music that celebrates the man responsible for one of the most infamous massacres on Scottish soil.

Judas Maccabeus, Handel's stirring oratorio, includes a tribute to the Duke of Cumberland - See the Conquering Hero Comes - who inflicted a crushing defeat on the Jacobite army of Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden.

The origin of the piece may be a mystery to most Scots, but a Nationalist politician has nevertheless accused the corporation of insensitivity.

Rob Gibson, a Scottish National Party member of the Scottish Parliament, said: "How can they possibly encourage people [in Scotland] to support England when we are exposed to symbols of oppression like this?

"At a time when multi-culturalism is being celebrated, I can't understand how they can be so insensitive. It's an Anglo-centric view of the world and of music."

Mr Gibson added that the end of the Jacobite rebellion ushered in an era of "repression" in the Highlands that nearly destroyed Gaelic culture. Angus MacNeil, a Nationalist MP and the party's culture spokesman at Westminster, regretted the fact that the BBC's choice could give posthumous publicity to Butcher Cumberland, as he was nicknamed in Scotland.

Hamish Husband, for the Tartan Army, said: "Normally it takes a few minutes after England kick off for a commentator to start talking about 1966 before I start going off England. This time they've done it five weeks early."

Prof Ted Cowan, professor of Scottish history at Glasgow University, said the choice of music was tactless, but pointed out that Culloden was often mistakenly described as a battle between England and Scotland. In fact, there were MORE Scots fighting for the Government forces, led by Cumberland, than for the Jacobite cause.

About 1,000 of the 5,000 troops loyal to Charles Edward Stuart, Bonnie Prince Charlie, were slaughtered by the 9,000 troops of the Duke of Cumberland in only 40 minutes on bleak moorland near Inverness on April 16, 1746.

The battle ended the Jacobite dream of restoring the Stuart dynasty to the British throne.

"Culloden was not actually a battle between Scotland and England. There were Scots and English on both sides," said Prof Cowan. "But the authorities in London hijacked the victory and portrayed it as beating the rebellious Scots."

The BBC said it had selected Handel because he was German and the tournament was being played in Germany, and because he became a British citizen.


The Jacobites

* Jacobitism was (and, to a very limited extent, still is) the political movement dedicated to the restoration of the Stuart kings to the thrones of England and Scotland. The movement took its name from the Latin form Jacobus of the name of King James II and VII.

* It started when King James II of England and VII of Scotland (a Stuart and a Catholic) gave up the Throne and fled abroad as Catholics were unpopular in Britain at that time. The Hanoverian, William III (Prince of Orange), a Protestant, took to the Throne. He came over from Holland in 1688, and many people expected his "invasion" would have been militarily. However, most people in Britain supported him, and so a military "invasion" was not needed. This was known as "The Glorious Revolution."

* Bonnie Prince Charlie, James II's grandson, attempted to place himself onto the Throne with the help of his Jacobite supporters in the 1740s. The Jacobites fought many battles against the supporters of the Monarch, King William III - the Williamites.

* The Jacobites failed in their attempt to have a Monarch of the Stuart dynasty back on the Throne as Britain had a Hanoverian Monarch all the way until Queen Victoria died.