Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Corbyn's silence

It has been fascinating, and very enjoyable, to watch Britain's political and media establishments melting down in response to the election of radical left-winger Jeremy Corbyn as Labour's leader.

Corbyn's only been running Labour for a couple of days, but he's already being damned to hell for a variety of offences, including his refusal to sing 'God Save the Queen' at a ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Corbyn released a statement before the ceremony praising the fight against fascism in World War Two, and remembering his own parents' role in that fight, but he didn't move his lips when the national anthem was played. 
The Daily Telegraph was upset by Corbyn's wardrobe, as well as his silence. The staunchly Tory paper complained that the Labour leader had insulted the queen and war veterans by wearing 'mismatched jacket and trousers' and a 'shirt unbuttoned at the top'.
Corbyn is an atheist and a republican, so if he had lustily sung along to 'God Save the Queen' he would surely have been accused of hypocrisy by papers like the Daily Telegraph.
Historically, demands that members of parliament acknowledge god and the queen have been ways to restrict democracy in Britain. In the late nineteenth century some of the first atheist MPs to win election were prevented from taking their seats in parliament, because they wouldn't swear an oath on the Bible. Many Irish republicans elected to Westminster have never taken their seats, partly because they refuse to swear allegiance to the queen. 'God Save the Queen' hasn't just alienated atheists and republicans: the song's call for the queen to 'crush' the 'rebellious Scots' doesn't go down well in Glasgow.
'God Save the Queen' was New Zealand's national anthem for many decades. Kiwis who went to a cinema for a night's entertainment had to stand and sing along to the dirge before they could watch a film or newsreel, and those who tried to remain in their seats risked being beaten up by members of the RSA. Pioneering republican Bruce Jesson became renowned for remaining mutely in his seat when the anthem was played, and suffering the attentions of drunken ex-servicemen.
I suspect that a lot of Britons will applaud Jeremy Corbyn's refusal to be bullied into performing a song whose theocratic sentiments he doesn't share.

[Posted by Scott Hamilton]


Blogger Ray said...

We can expect a lot more in this vein.
You missed the headlines about him and his Deputy swiping the lunch bags (2 for him) set out for volunteers and veterans which was more than a bit poor

12:03 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'You missed the headlines about him and his Deputy swiping the lunch bags (2 for him) set out for volunteers and veterans which was more than a bit poor'

Sounds improbable

9:09 pm  
Blogger Paul Janman said...

It's been interesting alright watching the 'extreme centre' imploding in their own vitriol. The monoculture of the mainstream press is so stark when they're confronted by real difference. Apparently Corbyn is an avid photographer of manhole covers - prized for their esoteric social and industrial history. Who would have thought we'd have an anti-traveller in Westminster eh Scott?

8:45 am  
Blogger Richard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:00 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

[Spelling errors etc]

Manholes are still used Paul, I've worked in a lot of them over time!

I remember standing up for the Queen at the flics. This reminded me!
That was in the 50s to mid 60s possibly.

I was young to mid teens I think. I think the practice stopped in the mid or late 60s to the early 70s. I am not sure what would have happened if I didn't but it didn't occur to me not to stand up.

In that respect Jesson had some courage for sure.

I am not an atheist or necessarily a Republican (I knew that Jesson was though....I met or saw him occasionally reading books on Marxism on the train from Otahuhu in about 1970 or so, and also when he was on the ACC once. He was an interesting fellow for sure). He put out a magazine of theory (I think it was called 'The Republican') on that which my friend in those days Frank Lane read assiduously.

My mother who was English was very keen on the Royal family and Royalty. I still think we need a Royalty although I can understand the Irish and Scottish reaction although the Scots are a dubious and dangerous lot to say the least.

Nor can I bring myself to like the sons when they participate in wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan etc or in the airforce in Argentina under Thatcher. I don't bother though to 'follow' the Royals. But the death of Diana I thought was a significant and tragic event in modern history.

I had heard of this fellow and it is good he is left wing and photographs manholes but he should not necessarily be disrespectful. But I think it is good news he doesn't go along with the herd.

What is our national anthem now? Do we have one? I recall singing 'God Save the Queen' as a boy.

[Re the flag, that is another issue, we should get rid of flags, NZ should be the first country to abandon the use of 1. A name for its country. 2. Flags. ]

10:11 pm  
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4:00 pm  

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