The furore around Jeremy Corbyn really is quite incredible. So he didn’t sing the national anthem; and all of a sudden the media, and some Labour MPs are getting wound up about it. “Disrespectful” seems to be their common theme.
But why? What is so disresepectful about not singing the national anthem. Why should Corbyn or anyone else be obliged to sing it? Standing in silence breaks no law and hurts absolutely no one. I get that there are times when social convention means conforming to certain types of behaviour – Corbyn stood in silent contemplation – but singing….?
Let’s have some perspective. It was an event commemorating those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Battle of Britain. Corbyn said, “I was there out of respect for that amazing moment in British history. I was also thinking about my family, my mum and dad who were there at that time in London and who worked as air raid warnings during the Blitz. I was thinking about them. It was a respectful ceremony, and I stood in respect throughout it.”
In fact, looking at photographs taken at St. Pauls, it appears Jeremy Corbyn wasn’t the only person who didn’t sing the national anthem. I wasn’t there of course, but I don’t sing it either. I don’t believe in god, I’m not a royalist, and I don’t like the tune either. But that doesn’t make me any less British, or any less respectful.
Nor is remaining silent during the anthem anything new. How many times, for example, have we seen the same thing with members of the England football team lining up to play an international match. No one is saying they are disrespecting anyone.
As for the Labour Party MPs who have rounded on Corbyn, I refer you to the thoughts of Michael Rosen.