The furore over Jeremy Corbyn not singing the National Anthem is illiberal bullying


September 17, 2015 by Paul Goldsmith


Is it just me who is concerned about the dangerously illiberal reaction to Jeremy Corbyn not singing the national anthem at this week’s Battle of Britain Memorial service?

In case you missed it, during the National Antnem the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition stood silently, and respectfully with his mouth shut. This is as would be expected from an avowed anti-monarchist who has spent his life trying to be authentic in living his beliefs and principles.

Would it have been right for someone who has touched such a nerve with his straight talking and refusal to bow to spin to stand in public and sing “Long to reign over us” about someone whose inherited position in society’s hierarchy is a disgrace in his view the moment he gets into a position of power?

Are you telling me that the Daily Mail wouldn’t instead have carped at him for betraying his Republican principles and compromising as soon as he had a chance to? Of course they would, and so the best thing Corbyn could do was to stand there and do what he has always done when the National Anthem is played, which is to stand respectfully during it, but not sing.

The furore that followed it included a 95 year old Battle of Britain veteran calling Corbyn  “bigoted and small-minded” for his actions. Yet surely to make someone sing something they have spent their life not believing in is just a bigoted and small-minded.

Some have opined that these heroes didn’t fight in the Second World War for someone like Corbyn to not sing the National Anthem (which would be a very different one without our brave soldiers). Yes they did actually. They fought so that we would remain a liberal democracy in which freedom of speech is paramount.

Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t believe in the monarchy. We knew that before he got elected, and he hasn’t changed now. Nor should he. People are saying that he’s the Leader of a Her a Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, but he believes that Her Majesty should have nothing to do with the governing of this country, so that will hold little water with him.

Every year, my school holds a “Founder’s Day”, in which we give thanks for the creation of the school, which was originally aimed to educate eight poor boys. During the service, there is considerable Christian content, including the Lord’s Prayer. I don’t believe in Christianity, and so when we recite these prayers, I stand, respectfully, with my mouth shut. No problem.

I see Labour have caved in, and announced that Jeremy Corbyn will now sing the National Anthem. What a shame that he has been put in this position. In our democracy we may not like other peoples’ views. But many people sure as hell died so other people can have views.

Jeremy Corbyn is a thoroughly decent man who puts to bed the canard that all politicians are in it for themselves. He walks the walk as well as talks the talk and my deepest fear about his leadership is that someone who has put so much into public service over the last 40 years of his life will be personally destroyed by the experience. This won’t help.

6 thoughts on “The furore over Jeremy Corbyn not singing the National Anthem is illiberal bullying

  1. says:

    Agreed AND such a trivial matter compared to JC’s contribution to the benefits debate, the T U conference and the question of Europe.
    Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device


  2. Tristan Pahl says:

    A national anthem is not a symbol of any ideology in particular, rather a symbol of our nation. In choosing not to sing, Corbyn was seen as opposing Britain itself and those who have fallen. He had the right not to sing, but elements of the press in my opinion are justified in criticising this action, particularly at a time when Corbyn wants to demonstrate his effectiveness as a leader. An early blow


    • Even if it is about our nation, the words are clearly celebrating the monarchy rather than about our nation. If I were as committed a republican as Corbyn I would feel highly uncomfortable singing them. Criticism and questioning of his actions are one thing, but I felt what happened was bullying


  3. Conor says:

    What this really should provoke is that the National Anthem is an awful outdated dirge and ode to the Queen, rather than a nice tune with a touch of patriotism. Jerusalem to replace it surely.

    At least you don’t have to suffer the nationalistic rubbish in the Irish anthem or, even worse, the comically bad rugby anthem, Ireland’s Call. We should just get over ourselves and have the Riverdance theme.


  4. I’m inclined to agree with you. I’m a small government-favouring conservative/libertarian so many of Jeremy Corbyn’s views are antithetical to my own – and yet I have been feeling very uneasy by the way that Corbyn was essentially shamed and bullied for holding true to his beliefs.

    Yes, Corbyn occupies a formal constitutional role now, that of Leader of the Opposition. But I don’t see that standing respectfully rather than singing the national anthem is so gravely offensive that it warrants the current levels of hysteria.


  5. danielgoldsmith says:

    I totally agree with the sentiments. The problem is that everyone I work with thought he was disrespectful to the people who served in the war. I am not sure what the answer is.


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