Yesterday, at the Battle of Britain memorial service, Jeremy Corbyn stood in tight lipped silence through the national anthem. I haven’t bothered to look at the right-wing tabloids yet this morning, but I can pretty much guarantee every one of them will have a picture of Corbyn looking as sullen as possible (they having gone through the roll looking for the one he looked most sullen in) while those around him are open mouthed (clearly showing their love of this country, says the Daily Whichever), accompanied overhead by a headline that’s a terrible pun involving Corbyn and the war.
Now, Jeremy’s antipathy towards “God Save the Queen” is perfectly understandable in many respects. My reservations about it are more musical than ideological. Because, let’s face it, melodically and harmonically speaking, it’s bloody awful. This is incredibly apparent any time Wales plays England at rugby. When the supernaturally rousing “Land of my Fathers” reverberates across the stadium as thousands of Welsh voices join in, you will see in any pub in England, Englishmen with no connection to Wales whatsoever saying to their mates, “Sorry lads, just got something in my eye”. Then it comes: “Gwuaaad Saaav…” monotony and the chance for at least 25% of those English people watching to turn to the person next to them to ask “why the hell isn’t “Jerusalem” the English national anthem?”
So we all get it a little. Only thing is, there’s a time and a place for everything in Britain, and maintaining a “respectful silence” through the anthem at a war commemoration (particularly given the place the Second World War plays within the national imagination) is just giving your enemies a free shot.
For most of Jeremy’s parliamentary career, he’s had to shout his head off about everything just to get heard every once in a while. But now that he’s the leader the opposition, he needs to absorb the fact that every single thing he does is going to be put under a microscope. As such, he needs to pick his battles from here on in. There will be plenty – he’s trying to convince a country that was terrified of the prospect of Ed Miliband being prime minister that his much more radical ideas are not just acceptable but necessary – so picking one about singing a song in a church was extremely ill-advised. And before everyone jumps on the “he’s authentic, he needs to express his every belief in every waking moment” bandwagon, let me remind you of the fact that Jeremy is an atheist. So what was he doing in the church at all then? Surely that’s propping up the notion of having a state religion, is it not? So if that much leeway is given to his worldview just by him being there at all, how hard would it have been to open his mouth and sing the goddamn song?
In conclusion, Jeremy Corbyn should have sung “God Save the Queen” yesterday. Not for the sake of those fallen dead in a war fought seventy-five years ago, but for himself.
Then again, I dont get shot down for not singing it. Hell, I know the Sex Pistols version better, and that doesn’t make me any less a citizen of this country.
The papers have to be filled, this is perfect fodder for them to fill column inches for the masses who can’t vote without the direction of Murdoch.
What Corbyn has done is to spark a fire back alight, a fire which hasn’t been burning since John Major’s party diminished politics in favour of regular doses of ‘leg over and chips’ MPs who only made the headlines by cheating on their partners, sleeze and boasting about how many times a night they could screw their ‘bit on the side’.
With the way the media are treating My Corbyn at the moment, i’m struggling to see how he could have sung it at an acceptable level on a metaphorical ‘spectrum of singing’
Would it have been more or less ‘unpatriotic’ to have lazily moved his lips up and down whilst quietly mumbling words that sound more or less like God Save the Queen, like an international footballer? Or should he have gone full Brian Blessed and yelled the whole thing at the top of his voice, before insisting they don’t just sing the second verse also, but keep singing the whole thing on repeat until the media are sufficiently placated.
I imagine he didn’t think the whole process would be quite this news-worthy, but after a few days in his post I quite think he’s beginning to realise just how much a small, seemingly insignificant instance, can develop into a sensationalised cluster-problem.
Hopefully he’ll perform well in PMQs today. It would be refreshing to see him get some deserved positive press. Which at the moment seems about as likely as the Australian media awarding Stuart Broad sportsman of the year.
It’s not just about not singing the national anthem, though, it’s about not singing the national anthem at a memorial event after expressing his wish to abolish the armed forces
It’s the cumulative effect which makes his commitment to the defence of the realm, and to the maintenance of Britain’s status as a world power, less than, shall we say, wholehearted.
Any single one, maybe two, can be explained away with hedges like, ‘Oh he was just saying that it would be nice to live in a world where armies are not necessary’, but when he keeps doing things that point in that direction it starts to look like that might be what he really thinks.
“It’s not just about not singing the national anthem, though, it’s about not singing the national anthem at a memorial event after expressing his wish to abolish the armed forces”
What on earth does republicanism have to do with abolishing the armed forces?
What on earth does republicanism have to do with abolishing the armed forces?
The fact he wasn’t willing to set aside his anti-monarchist principles in order to honour the memory of dead members of the armed forces adds to cumulative impression that he is not just anti-monarchist but anti-armed-forces as well.
As I wrote, and you just proved, you can come up with an excuse for each individual point: it’s that the general tenor of everything he says and does, from this all the way back to cheering on the IRA as they killed soldiers, does not exactly scream out, ‘I respect, admire, and fully support the British armed forces and I intend to do all I can to make sure they are strong and effective and maintain Britain as a powerful force in the world.’
Like most working-class people, and I’d imagine the entire population of Stoke-on-Trent North, I would have worn a suit and sung the anthem myself. I haven’t got much time for the political and theological (?) niceties of the argument, but it should be obvious that people in Nuneaton,. Tamworth, Cannock, Croydon etc will be even less patient than me. Tell me that Jezbollah isn’t butchered by Orwell (who else) here:
I’ve decided that Jezbollah is guilty of roughly half of what he’s accused of. That’s enough for me to not even consider supporting him (it’s Tim for me, naturally) but the fact that a lot of it is slurs and misrepresentations, what of it. You have to expect that in a country which consumes millions of Scums and Daily Hells. And if this “principled” no-compromise-with-reality stance has theoretical merits, you’d be laughed out of any pub in a marginal seat.
I thought Ed Miliband was unfairly treated, but really they should have known it would happen. Sad but true, rather.
Now imagine the “HYPOCRITE REPUBLUCAN CORBYN” headlines if he had sung it.
And I don’t remember Major and Blair being slagged off for having secret talks with the IRA, it was the result that mattered.
The fact that Corbyn was talking to them publicly and many years before just makes him more far sighted
It has been over 30 years since we had a truly genuine party leader; remember the duffel coat faux outrage over Michael Foot at the Cenotaph?
I am really hoping that Corbyn will prove to be able enough to rise above this crap – whether disgusted of stoke on Trent will is another matter
Corbyn is a republican and that’s fine by me. But why shoot yourself in the foot. He may not respect the Queen but the vast majority of the people who he will need to persuade to vote for him do. Silly old duffer.