The lunchtime News is on and I’m keen to find out what’s happening in the country and the greater World beyond. Headlining is PMQ’s, that weekly parliamentary slanging match during which we hope our bloke gets one over on theirs. For as long as I can remember Prime Ministers Questions has been long on competition and short on illumination. Todays was different. Today was the Jeremy Corbyn’s first chance to score points against David Cameron in front of the order paper waving Labour benches. I’ll leave it to others to decide the victor, if there was one, but almost as prominent in the news schedule was Mr. Corbyn’s failure to sing the National Anthem at the recent Battle of Britain memorial ceremony.
Commentators of all political colours have roundly condemned the new Labour leader’s lack of choral conformity as if it brought into question his patriotism. A slap in the face for those heroic fighter pilots and their unquestioned courage. Standing in silent respect, by a man who’s parents were both air raid wardens during the Blitz, is being interpreted as disloyalty. So let’s remind ourselves what our Jezzer didn’t sing.
God save our gracious Queen. God save our noble Queen. God save our Queen.
So far so good. When it comes to Republicanism v The Monarchy I’m a fence sitter. It would be hard to question Queeny’s suitability for, or commitment to, her job, Gawd bless ‘er.
Send her victorious. Happy and glorious. Long to reign over us. God save the Queen
Yes, the point has been made. The Queen’s a good egg.
But hang on a sec. Is that it?
Call me disingenuous but there’s no mention of my nation and all the ‘glories’ therein. Nothing about justice, freedom or equality and how Britain’s have, and will for ever, champion and defend this virtuous triad. Nothing about our deeply ingrained and largely institutionalised charity or compassion. Nothing about our courageous forebears. No commitment to protect rights or liberties to the bitter end and, at the risk of being accused of secular pettiness, what’s God got to do with it anyway?
The truth is that the National Anthem will be sung far more enthusiastically by rugby fans at Twickenham in the next few weeks than it ever is by the good and great at national memorial services.
I’m neither a Labour voter nor a Rule-Brittania-ist, but Corbyn supporters best resign themselves to the new Labour leader being beaten with every stick the Establishment can lay its hands to. Their strategy should be to keep plugging away for a progressive policy agenda. Never was there more urgency to counter business as usual Conservatism. Humanity’s fate, both Corbynite and Cameronite, hangs on it.
If there’s mud to be slung then there’s a whole swamp-full coming Jeremy Corbyn’s way. The occasional discordant rendition of God Save the Queen is the least of his worries.