Man standing up and being quiet in top button shocker

What passes for news at the moment is pretty lamentable. Actually, it’s not just at the moment. The tabloid news agenda has its own way of taking our focus off what really matters in this world. Any responsible press would be highlighting the even greater hardship and poverty faced by those households whose tax credits are being slashed by the Government. Also this week trade unions face unfair and illogical restrictions which, if applied to the rest of our democracy, would mean we couldn’t have a legitimate government. Both those changes will make lives really difficult for the least powerful people in our society both at home and at work.

With all that going on, I can’t quite put into words how much I am struggling to give a nano-hoot, let alone two, to caring whether the Leader of the Opposition sings the National Anthem or not. As a liberal, I’m uneasy about enslaving anyone by conformity. Had he been playing Candy Crush (does that still exist?), I might have felt that was inappropriate behaviour for the circumstances, but if he doesn’t want to sing, why force him? Respectful silence is fine by me.  Of course, we do live in a world where Jeremy Corbyn can do no right, so if he had sung, the right wing tabloid press would have had a go at him for singing God save the Queen when he believes in neither a God nor a monarchy. Even less important is whether his top button was tied.  Maybe I should be pleased that a man has his appearance criticised for a change, but it is vacuous.

I quite like it when people don’t conform to traditions that they aren’t comfortable with. The Palace of Westminster is one of the most pompous and stuffiest institutions on the planet and I have quite admired the SNP’s occasional puncturing of the pomposity. I might have drawn the line at one of their MPs actually swearing in the Chamber the other day, but I’m all for traditions evolving and would happily do away with this “honourable gentleman” and “member for Upyourself East” manner of communication which is more appropriate for a 19th century novel than a modern democracy.

If we want authentic politicians, we have to accept that they will sometimes not behave in accordance with time-honoured tradition. This is not a bad thing.

I don’t expect the Corbyn feeding frenzy to stop anytime soon. It is probably too much to hope that people’s actually start to twig about the behaviour of the tabloid press. I include the Telegraph in that description, by the way. If it walks like a duck, etc. After all, four years after phone hacking, people still by the Sun. However, Corbyn has just had a very successful debut Prime Minister’s Questions where he used crowd sourced questions (not a new idea, Julian Huppert used to do it all the time) on issues which will resonate with many people. He talked about housing, mental health and tax credits. Not a bit of revolutionary socialist dogma in sight. If Corbyn keeps that up, maybe voters will start to see a big difference between the man in the papers and the man on the telly. That wouldn’t be a bad thing, either, because then they might start to doubt the rest of the nonsense these publications spout. I won’t hold my breath, though.

Don’t get me wrong, Corbyn has not covered himself in glory in his first few days, and he still has to tell us all what he’s going to do on Europe. There will be plenty to challenge him on in terms of policy. The priority of the right wing press is  to distract us from the injustices the appalling right wing government is enacting. We would do well to remember that.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Good post, Caron. Completely agree. Over the last however many years style has triumphed over substance…… and it is clear that JC is consciously challenging that….. no more Blair shirt sleeves, mugs, perma-tan grins.

    The 90% offshore owned media have been over mighty, and whipping up a frenzy over JC – remember what they did to Kinnock… and to Ming ? People are beginning to see through this….. and of course we should never forget that the Murdoch’s, Desmonds, Barclays and Rothermeres are hand in glove with a Tory Party which always looks after its mates. Good article by Chris Mullin in the Guardian yesterday though worth a chuckle : “Prime minister Jeremy Corbyn: the first 100 days” well worth a read……. Labour, SNP. Lib Dem. Green coalition with JC as PM in 2020.

    On the National Anthem a) It’s a Hanoverian dirge b) Getting rid of the last verse would be politic, viz

    Lord grant that Marshal Wade….
    May by thy mighty aid, Victory bring.
    May he sedition hush,
    And like a torrent rush,
    Rebellious Scots to crush.
    God save the Queen !

  • Eddie Sammon 16th Sep '15 - 1:50pm

    I don’t agree that the Telegraph belongs in the tabloid press (but the Guardian doesn’t). Anyway, people seem quite strongly divided on this. I’m on the side of those who think there was more important stories than whether Corbyn, a committed Republican, sung along to the national anthem.

    However on the Sky News paper review a Daily Mirror columnist (yes Mirror) seemed genuinely offended by Corbyn’s actions and said a lot of Labour voters would feel the same.

    However I actually think the press, and I include affluent class leftists in this as well, are acting like common bullies towards Corbyn. The thing that seems to annoy them most is that he isn’t playing along to their game so they are going to try to bully him to doing so. Not for the good of the country, but to make themselves feel better, like common bullies.

  • John Tilley 16th Sep '15 - 1:51pm

    “……Respectful silence is fine by me.  Of course, we do live in a world where Jeremy Corbyn can do no right, so if he had sung, the right wing tabloid press would have had a go at him for singing God save the Queen when he believes in neither a God nor a monarchy”

    Well put. Caron.

    And very restrained of you to hold back from mentioning that verse in the national anthem that boils down to -“[email protected]@@er Scotland and all who live there”.

    I know the establishment like to pretend that verse does not exist. But we know the truth, don’t we?

    ‘God Save the King/Queen’ was written when the entire Royal family could only speak German and wearing Tartan was a criminal offence.

    As for Cameron banging on in today’s PMQs about The Battle of Britain Memorial Service and claiming that “Britain stood alone” in 1940 ~~~
    he seems to have forgotten all those Polish pilots who flew in The Battle of Britain, not to mention those pilots with brown skins who came from The Empire to defend this country.

    Perhaps they just did not teach history at Eton when he was there ?
    Or maybe he was too posh to pay attention.

    Still if Cameron has insulted everyone in Scotland, Polish people, BME people, atheists, agnostics, republicans and historians all in one answer at PMQs that is a victory for Corbyn.

    Not that The Red Tops will report that story. Because they are owned by people who live abroad or have non-dom status and are so “patriotic” that they avoid paying UK taxes.
    With the money they salt away in The Cayman Islands or other “Tax Havens” they can afford to pay every member of The Mormon Tabernacle Choir to sing the national anthem for them every morning

  • Sir Norfolk Passmore 16th Sep '15 - 2:08pm

    Not singing doesn’t make Corbyn a bad person. It’s just bad politics.

    Corbyn’s problem at the moment – leaving aside the policy problems discussed elsewhere and the fact he can’t unite his party in Parliament or even his shadow cabinet – is that he’s refusing to give interviews or really engage with the media in any form. So there’s a vacuum into which negative news, trivia, and other people’s agenda rushes. It is really just a bizarre way to conduct himself which is killing his leadership before it’s begun. You can characterise it as not being enslaved by conformity if you like. But it’s actually just being AWOL when it comes to a major part of his job.

    The 99% of the population who don’t muck about on Twitter and blogs, and don’t go to public meetings in Islington, are having Corbyn defined by others in his absence. That’s cruel and it’s hard not to feel human sympathy – but the solution does actually lie in his own hands.

  • Nick Collins 16th Sep '15 - 2:20pm

    Well said, Caron

    I’m actually rather glad that I’m not a front-line politician. If I were, perhaps I would need to be on my guard lest one of the “reptiles” photographed me not singing “Jerusalem” prior to the begiinning of a day’s play in a test match.

  • Tony Dawson 16th Sep '15 - 2:23pm

    Let no one underestimate the impact of a quiet man?


  • As an former serviceman my issue would be more the standard of his dress. Is it really beyond someone on an MP’s wage to ensure they have a suitable suit to wear to an event commemorating those who saved this country in it’s time of need?

    I can appreciate that you would have sympathy for those that do not wish to conform, however in the same way I would remove my shoes in a Mosque because of those who adhere to the religion sensitivities, I do not think it too much to ask for people in positions of authority attending such services to consider the sensitivities of others.

    In the past I have had the great privilege of attending a great many such services and spending time with veterans from both World Wars and other conflicts. I have watched people struggle to their feet from wheelchairs to sing the anthem, I have seen bent backs straighten as they march past the Queen at the Cenotaph and the one constant is the pride in appearance of those that have served.

    So whilst I’m sure someone has told him it adds to his folksy charm to me the scruffiness at such an event is just showing a total lack of sensitivity to those the event commemorates.

  • George Kendall 16th Sep '15 - 2:36pm

    @Ian MacFadyen
    You’ve already had two articles published, why don’t you submit more on something else? I just did.

  • @John Tilley
    My understanding is that the Marshall Wade verse was used briefly and unofficially in the mid 1700’s and never as an official anthem.

  • As a liberal, I’m uneasy about enslaving anyone by conformity

    But the vast majority of the population, and most likely all those who are attacking Corbyn, are not liberals.

    Why on Earth would you expect people who aren’t liberals to acts as liberals would act, or condemn them for not acting as liberals would act?

    Corbyn did something a lot of people disagreed with, and some were indeed offended by. The fact that he did it ‘authentically’ doesn’t mean they shouldn’t point out that they disagree with and were offended by him, does it?

  • Ruth Bright 16th Sep '15 - 2:42pm

    The vast majority of those who fought in the Second World War were conscripts; they were not a homogenous groups of conservative folk, they came in all shapes, sizes and beliefs. My Dad was in the RAF during the war but he didn’t do God and thought the Queen Mother was a useless old bat. Rarely did I incur his derision more than when he found my secret Princess Diana scrapbook circa 1981! Ta very much Jeremy Corbyn for honouring my old Dad.

  • And very restrained of you to hold back from mentioning that verse in the national anthem that boils down to -“[email protected]@@er Scotland and all who live there”.

    It’s only about crushing rebellious Scots, not loyal ones. And remember than in the battle that verse is actually about, more Scots fought on the loyal side, alongside the English, than with the rebellion.

  • Simon McGrath 16th Sep '15 - 2:59pm

    When you say the ‘right wing press’ you mean paper like the Mirror whose front page story this is today ?

    It might be a bit more convincing that this was a matter of deep principal if the Labour Party had not announced that he would be singing from now on.

  • Nick Collins 16th Sep '15 - 2:59pm

    ‘@ David Raw. Are you sure you’ve got that verse quite right; I don’t think “Queen ” rhymes with “bring”?

    @ Ruth Bright. My Dad was informed by his employer that if he volunteered he would be deemed to have left the firm whereas if he waited to be conscripted, there might be a job for him to return to when hostilities were over. I think it was called “our finest hour”.

  • Peter Watson 16th Sep '15 - 3:09pm

    Considering how much grief anybody gets from Lib Dems on this site if they admit to having religious faith, particularly if they are Christians, it seems hypocritical to criticise a non-believer for not wanting to sing God save the Queen.

  • Would have thought he would have loved at least part of this verse:

    Nor on this land alone,
    But be God’s mercies known
    From shore to shore:
    Lord make the nations see
    That men should brothers be,
    And form one family
    The wide world o’er

    However, I have to confess that I don’t really care if he sung the anthem or not. I do think (like Steve Way) that he should have made the effort to look smart. Although I suppose that is another lesson that he has had to learn on the difference between being the leader of the Party and Chief Rebel. I do note that his top button seemed to be done up at PMQs today.

  • Dave Orbison 16th Sep '15 - 3:18pm

    Caron – I have to say that your contribution here was one of the best I have read in the last 8 or so years I have been looking at LDV. In previous posts I have lamented what has happened to the Liberal – LibDem if you want, party of old. Preparing to stand up and be counted and not bullied by the Press to support a conservative agenda.
    [email protected] no doubt you found some Labour voters who may have been offended. I’d probably find some Tories who were not so what?
    The irony over the Corbyn anthem nonsense was that it was at a ceremony to commemorate those that died so that WE could be free. They fought a fascist Government. On that made trade unionists wear badges (amongst other state defined ‘undesirable groups’), attacked the disabled, attacked political opponents unmercilessly, insisted on absolute devote nationalism (you know singing the National Anthem and wearing a uniform and all that) not to mention swearing blind allegiance to the head of state. I suggest that there is a lack of perspective over this. That said I understand why people, whipped up by the media, may well unhappy about this.
    However, what is unforgivable are those in the political arena who are cynically using this to score political points. Even if they were absolutely sincere what right have they to deflect people’s attention from the solemn purpose service. It was a national, non- party political event. Standing respectfully in silence, shock horror with his top button undone would not have diverted anyone’s attention at all if it were not for those who have sought to hijack this for petty, grubby politics. Shame on them all.

  • @Ruth Bright
    Without denigrating your Father, the point is about neither God nor Queen when it comes to standard of dress.

    I spent many years in the Royal Marines Band and played for thousands of veterans of both Wars over that time. Being smart at a commemoration service for me is just good manners. There are pictures of Corbyn at Tony Benn’s funeral in a matching suit so he clearly can dress according to convention when he wishes. I’m not comparing the funeral of a friend to this particular service merely pointing out that it isn’t just how he always dresses. Nick Clegg always looked natural in an open neck shirt but when the situation dictated he dressed appropriately.

    On top of everything else if he really wants debate to be about policy he would be best advised to avoid this type of publicity.

  • John Tilley 16th Sep '15 - 3:38pm

    Anyone interested in the actual origins of “God Save the Queen” 
    might like to check out what Wiki has helpfully compiled on the subject.

    People who might be alarmed by the connection to the King of France’s Anal Fistula operation might want to avoid that section.

    I enjoyed the reference to “Old Grog” the vice-admiral who shot to fame after the War of Jenkins Ear, surely one of the finest moments in English colonial history.
    After all how many other countries have started a war over somebody’s ear?

    Liberal Democrat might be just as worried by the second verse as the Scots are by their verse.
    O Lord our God arise
    Scatter her enemies
    And make them fall
    Confound their politics
    Frustrate their knavish tricks
    On Thee our hopes we fix
    God save us all

    Anyone who has signed up to The Preamble to The Constitution of our party can only logically be included in those enemies who are to be “scattered”.
    It is our politics that the anthem wants confounded.
    It is our knavish tricks the anthem wants frustrated.
    And goodness knows what Her Majesty,the head of The Church  of England, would think of Norman Lamb’s recent stance of political atheism. How can she be saved if there is no god to save her?

  • Richard Underhill 16th Sep '15 - 3:41pm

    Caron Lindsay | Wed 16th September 2015 – 1:26 pm as my local party’s proofreader may i agree that “people still by the Sun.” partly because of the football coverage.
    Tories conflate patriotism with monarchy in the unwritten constitution.
    Imagine a large number of citizens of the Irish Republic serving in our armed forces during a major war.
    Remember that King Charles I was not executed for losing a civil war, he was executed for high treason for conspiring with the country’s enemies.

  • Once again I find myself in agreement with Caron Lindsay.

    For those of you commenting on ” looking smart” can I just point you to the Preamble ” none shall be enslaved by conformity”.

    {Heck, I’ˆm quoting the Preamble now, definitely spending too much time hanging out with Lib Dems!}

  • Peter Watson 16th Sep '15 - 3:49pm

    @Dave Orbison “The irony over the Corbyn anthem nonsense was that it was at a ceremony to commemorate those that died so that WE could be free. They fought a fascist Government.”
    I am struck also by the irony that historically this freedom had to be extracted forcefully from the monarchy, and before the second world war our royal family had an ambivalent attitude to what was happening in Germany.

  • Peter Watson 16th Sep '15 - 3:57pm

    I am also struck by the irony of Lib Dems calling for a politician to stand up and publicly declare something that he does not believe. Did the party learn nothing from Nick Clegg and tuition fees?
    Bet nobody thought we could get back to tuition fees on a thread like this!! 😉

  • Dave Orbison 16th Sep '15 - 4:25pm

    @ Peter Ouch!

  • Battle of Britain fighter pilots famously kept the top button of their tunic undone in 1940.

    @Steve Way
    The Royal British Legion doesn’t insist on a matching suit. There are pictures of veterans at the event wearing non-matching blazer and trousers. Is there a convention for what politicians should wear at a commemoration?

    A parachute regiment veteran stuck his tongue out at me whilst I photographed him marching in procession over Pegasus Bridge at the D-Day commemoration earlier this year. Should I have stuck my tongue out back at him? What’s the etiquette there?

  • I dont really like the National Anthem. The tune is sh1t, and the words are silly and I dont believe them. But if I was leader of a national political party at a serious war memorial to publicly honour dead heroes who fought to keep me free I would fecking well sing literally whatever song was being sung.

    It’s really not difficult. It’s about having the respect and inner dignity to overcome your own discomfort in order to honour those you’re making an effort for. It’s the same reason as I put a cap on if I walk into a Jewish synagogue; I take my hat off if I walk into a Christian church; I cover my skin if I walk into a mosque. Even though all of them are bunk. It’s about respect at someone else’s place.

    Corbyn’s problem is that he has a history of doing and saying things that have suggested he doesnt much like the UK, its culture, its history, or a lot of its people. He has to diffuse that narrative, if he wants 40% of the country to support him. Doing what he did adds to the narrative. And he knows it, but doesnt care…because he has “principles” and wont compromise. Which is one of the many reasons he will lose.

  • @Mboy “He has to diffuse that narrative, if he wants 40% of the country to support him. Doing what he did adds to the narrative. And he knows it, but doesnt care…because he has “principles” and wont compromise. Which is one of the many reasons he will lose.”

    JC is not the Messiah – he’s a very naughty boy! 🙂

  • Corbyn’s problem is that he has a history of doing and saying things that have suggested he doesnt much like the UK, its culture, its history, or a lot of its people

    That’s the point. It’s not about him not singing the anthem, it’s about this being yet another in a series of things he has said and done that suggest that he is not entirely committed to the armed forces (cheering on the IRA when they were blowing soldiers up, for example, will give that impression), and indeed to Britain’s role as a leading world power.

    Not singing along with the national anthem isn’t much of a story. If, say, Tony Blair or Gordon Brown had been spotted not singing along with the national anthem at the Royal Variety Performance or something it wouldn’t have been a story, because everybody’s had times when the anthem is playing and their mind is on something else.

    But not singing along with the anthem at a memorial service after you have said you would like to abolish the army starts to look like you actually aren’t 100% committed to the armed forces. It starts to look like actually you’re a bit ashamed that Britain even has an army, let alone that they fight and die for their country. Like you’d rather Britain did disband, or at least scale back, its armed forces, and accept life as a globally insignificant little island.

    Each individual one can be explained away (maybe not the IRA one) but taken together, they give the impression that maybe, just maybe, this is what he really thinks.

  • Stephen Campbell 16th Sep '15 - 5:01pm

    Thank you, Caron, for this article. I agree with almost everything you’ve written.

    Over the past week or so, one could be forgiven for thinking the Lib Dems sole purpose in life is to attack the Labour party and its leader. I notice that there has been ONE blog on here about the awful, vindictive Trade Union Bill that is an attack on a fundamental human right. There have been no articles on the Tories’ cuts to Working Tax Credits which will hit many low paid people quite hard (and the so-called “National Living Wage” won’t make up all of the shortfall for most of these people).

    If one reads the Tory press, they’d get a picture that everything is rosy in this country. But everything is not rosy. Homelessness is seriously on the rise (I’ve never seen it so bad where I live). The benefits system is still harming people who are ill or disabled (especially the mentally ill); people are dying shortly after being found “fit for work” (which shows the assessment system is f***ed). We have a housing crisis, inequality is rising. The NHS is falling apart at the seams. And many people on this site seem more content to sneer at Corbyn.

    When are the Lib Dems going to start taking the fight to the Tories and standing up for the people in this nation who are suffering right now? As it stands, this site seems rather detached, insular and unconcerned with the troubles people are facing right now.

    Please, Lib Dems, start fighting for the vulnerable and stop acting like disinterested, comfortable technocrats who are more concerned with what Labour may or may not do and start telling us what YOU would do to help fix the mess the country is in.

  • Richard Underhill 16th Sep '15 - 5:03pm

    Dave Orbison 16th Sep ’15 – 3:18pm ” The irony over the Corbyn anthem nonsense was that it was at a ceremony to commemorate those that died so that WE could be free. They fought a fascist Government.”
    They fought a NAZI regime. Hitler’s actions were even worse than Mussolini’s. There was a change of policy when Germany invaded Italy, for instance for Jews. Hitler was Head of Government (HoG) and Head of State (HoS) rolled into one as Fuhrer (leader). Mussolini was only Head of Government and was sacked by the King of Italy.

  • @ Phyllis
    So you’d be happy for a politician to walk into a mosque with their shoes on, or a synagogue with their head uncovered as both would be ensuring they are not enslaved to conformity even though both would do so knowing (unless they were very unaware) that they were likely to upset the sensitivities of others. Once you decide to conform to the norm of attending such an event, like someone who agrees to visit a mosque or a synagogue, it really isn’t being enslaved to conformity to dress appropriately.

    I don’t particularly like wearing black tie, but if I agree to attend an event with “Dress: Black Tie” on the invite I’m not being enslaved to conformity, I’m choosing to attend an event which requires me to meet a social norm. He chose to attend the event, he could have made an effort. As it happens I tend to decide whether the pleasure of attending the event outweighs my dislike of dressing like a penguin, he just had to chose whether the importance of representing the Labour Party at the event was worth him dressing appropriately.

  • Dave Orbison 16th Sep '15 - 5:21pm

    Dav I follow your argument that Corbyn MUST conform to the norms expected of him. If he is a Republican he MUST set his personal views aside and conform to what everyone (apparently) including the LibDems on here are saying and criticising him for. Your collective position is crystal clear.

    Less clear is how this tallies with the LibDem preamble “… no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience “. Is there an opt-out of the preamble or do we mean it?

  • Matthew Huntbach 16th Sep '15 - 5:38pm

    John Tilley

    And very restrained of you to hold back from mentioning that verse in the national anthem that boils down to -“[email protected]@@er Scotland and all who live there”.

    Er, no. The anthem was written when the British government was under the threat of the Jacobites, claiming that they were the legitimate rulers and the Hanoverians were not.

    The idea that it is anti-Scots is based on the common misassumption that all Scots were on the side of the Jacobites, which is not at all true. While they attempted to appeal to Scottish nationalist feeling, it was more a Catholic v. Protestant thing, and there were plenty of Scots on the Protestant side who were very much against the Jacobites. So actually, “[email protected]@@er the Catholics” would be closer (it isn’t even as simple as this, but …).

    Recall that it was thanks to the Hanoverians and their lack of interest/ability in Britain that the power of the monarchy dwindled and gave way to Parliament. Had the Jacobites been successful, they may well have pushed it back, recall how it was in France at that time.

    So perhaps anti-monarchists ought to be happy singing along to it …

  • Steve Way but I don’t think there is a dress code to the ceremony he attended so it’s a bit different. I mean would you criticise Mahatma Gandhi if he’d turned up yesterday in his loincloth? You’d not expect Gandhi to turn up wearing smart clothes would you? That wouldn’t be him.

  • Nick Collins 16th Sep '15 - 5:41pm

    Does anyone else remember going to Assemblies (for the youngsters, the Liberal Party called it’s annual gathering “The Assembly”, not “Conference”) in the 1960s? Attendees were usually treated to a ball or reception hosted by the Mayor of the seaside town in which it was taking place. This usually ended with the band playing the national anthem. That was often the signal for an unseemly game of “musical chairs” as rebellious Young Liberals rushed to sit through it. Obviously, this was frowned upon by the older members; apart from anything else it was discourteous to the host, but it happened. Oh, and did we not once vote to come out of NATO? Happy days!

  • @ Nick Collins – king/queen. – It’s called moderation – something we’ll known on this site!! @ Ruth Bright. – I think our Dads would have got on. RAF -flew Tiffys through Normandy to Germany pilots and ground crew on first name terms. – Post war – “I’ve had enough of that —-.won’t march with those b……. Flag Waggers. Unprintable views on the monarchy and Churchill……. not alone – see result of the 1945 election. Wore a suit and tie when he was paddling on the beach at Whitby though.

  • I think he has judged the public mood correctly in seeking a less confrontational PMQs. Otherwise he has not had a good start, with avoidance of the media and a poorly judged stance at the Battle of Britain service. In regard to the latter, he needs to understand that he is no longer a maverick backbench MP but Leader of the Opposition. He is of course entitled to his republican views and should not be regarded as unpatriotic for holding them. But many in his Party, and certainly many Labour Party supporters, will not share his sentiments and they would have looked to him to represent them on an occasion like this and will feel let down. He is by all accounts a nice and courteous man, but he appeared bad mannered. It should be a lesson learnt.

    My main comment about him so far is that there isn’t anything particularly radical about him. His old fashioned Socialist views are not rooted in a fundamental concern for individual liberty, which is why the left of the Labour Party can be every bit as authoritarian and intolerant as the Right. We also have the same tiresome double standards as the Right, with apparent sympathy for various tyrannies around the world, albeit of the left wing variety. So far at least he seems to stand with the Tories in defending our current electoral system and set up. If he seriously embraces major constitutional reform and the way the country is run then maybe I can accept he represents a difference.

  • In the 2012 Olympic football matches the Welsh players stayed respectfully silent during the national anthem. Against South Korea (played in Wales) one fan behind me shouted out “come on England”…..

    The UK is based on a sometimes complicated relationship between four proud nations. It should not be a massive political error to stay respectfully silent during an anthem that for far too many people represents only one part of our four nations.

  • Nah Simon Shaw, it seems to me it’s the act which has got Jeremy into trouble.

  • Matthew Huntbach 16th Sep '15 - 7:37pm

    John Tilley

    Liberal Democrat might be just as worried by the second verse as the Scots are by their verse.
    O Lord our God arise
    Scatter her enemies
    And make them fall
    Confound their politics
    Frustrate their knavish tricks
    On Thee our hopes we fix
    God save us all

    In the original version, it was “confound their popish tricks”.

    On the complexity of politics around that time (ok, actually a bit earlier), recall the Battle of the Boyne – the one which is centre to the Ulster Unionists and Orange Order’s celebration of their freedom from Catholicism. Whose side was the Pope on in the Battle of the Boyne? The same side whose victory the Ulster Unionists and Orange Order celebrate. William III had the blessing of the Pope, and the bells of the Vatican were rung in celebration of his victory.

    The reason was that this was seen as a minor part of a greater war in which the Papacy was against the domination of the Catholic world by Louis XIV. Earlier in the 17th century, the Papacy had backed the Protestant side in the Thirty Years war for similar reasons, that time against domination by the Holy Roman Emperor.

  • Matthew Huntbach 16th Sep '15 - 7:39pm

    Ian Morley

    So far at least he seems to stand with the Tories in defending our current electoral system and set up.

    The person he put in as Shadow Chancellor, however, has recently come out in favour of proportional representation.

  • Stephen Hesketh 16th Sep '15 - 8:27pm

    Simon Shaw 16th Sep ’15 – 7:17pm
    ” … I’m reminded of the warning that, in politics, it’s not the act which gets you into trouble so much as the attempted cover-up.”

    You’re absolutely right Simon, he should just come out and say he wishes to honour those who fought for our nation’s freedom in his own way and not by singing some bloody ridiculous old song with dubious content, sentiment and provenance.

  • I suspect he is a genuinely courteous man and doesn’t want to give offence to ordinary people. I suspect he has only just realised that offence has been taken.

  • Alun Williams 16th Sep '15 - 9:35pm

    Corbyn’s treatment reinforces my conviction that I am a Liberal.

    I also find it very troubling that a republican is bullied into agreeing to sign the national anthem, which is similar to an atheist attending a rememberance service being forced to say the Lord’s prayer.

    I have also been horrified by the way that Labour figures have criticised him over the anthem, saying by failing to do so he “hurt and offended” many people.

    He was clearly respectful in his own way.

    We either have an open society or we do not.

  • Helen Tedcastle 16th Sep '15 - 9:39pm

    So Jeremy Corbyn stands to respect the anthem in silence and the tabloids come out in faux-outrage that a committed Republican doesn’t sing it with gusto. As an aside, God Save the Queen is a dreadful dirge and as Matthew Huntbach says it’s an anti-Catholic dirge.

    In reality, ‘Anthem-gate’ is a non-story about Corbyn but it tells us everything about our media. A non-story won’t stop the tabloids running with it in mock-outrage to add to their near-universal scorn for a left-winger elected with a huge mandate. Someone who wants to change the comfortable system has to be destroyed at all costs.

  • Mick Taylor 16th Sep '15 - 9:45pm

    Goodness me what a priggish lot we are. Who gives a toss for convention. We’re in politics to change to world not to kowtow to it. I may not be a Corbyn loving socialist, but I can respect and decent man when I see one. There are far too few of them in politics.
    Now can we please get on with saving Liberal Democracy?

  • A Social Liberal 16th Sep '15 - 9:46pm

    Steve Way
    I am a veteran who served for the best part of a decade. I am now with the RBL.

    Before every parade I bull my shoes or boots, I wash and shape my beret and sort out my rig. I am as smart as I can be when the Parade Marshal calls the parade to attention. However, we accept that not everyone is as anal as I am about dress and so we get veterans (yes, veterans) who do not even have polished shoes, never mind ‘highly polished’. We have veterans who wear the most gopping headwear and have dress which leaves much to be desired.

    The thing is, they tipped up. They remembered.

    Corbyn also turned up. He might not have been up to our standards but he did make an effort, wearing a tie even if he hasn’t had the practice to get it round his neck right. He even stood up when a ceremony he deeply disagrees with was played out.

    Incidentally, I was at a Battle of Britain parade on Sunday and marched. There were TWO ex RAF marching as veterans when I know of many many more in the town. Even if Corbyn was expected to attend he was at least there when some of our comrades couldn’t be bothered.

  • What a bizarre post Simon. Do you think all other parties/leaders should put out a statement fully explaining why they did or did not sing God Save The Queen? Or is it only those who don’t sing it who are capable of having devious or hypocritical motives and ought to explain themselves?

  • Stephen Hesketh 16th Sep '15 - 9:54pm

    Simon Shaw 16th Sep ’15 – 9:28pm

    Hi Simon, I find myself in agreement with you, but also very much with Alun Williams and Helen Tedcastle.

  • @Simon Shaw
    Nonsense. Corbyn himself explained his actions (though in my view he shouldn’t have even been asked). He said, among other things, that he was thinking about his mum and dad, who were air raid wardens during the blitz.

    Caron’s right – this whole thing is real gutter politics. I’m only surprised you haven’t parroted the Mail’s entirely made-up story about Corbyn supposedly pinching some veteran’s sandwiches.

  • Richard Underhill 16th Sep '15 - 11:27pm

    JC is taking advice on whether he needs to join the Privy Council. This was the Cabinet when the monarch was more powerful. The last comment i recall about it was that they met to approve the marriage of Charles and Diana.

  • Richard Underhill 16th Sep '15 - 11:29pm

    The second marriage depended on the Human Rights Act overriding the Royal Marriages Act.

  • Simon Shaw

    “According to the Labour Party this was that silence was more “respectful” for such a solemn occasion.”

    Do you have a source for this or are just making it up?

  • My Grandfather and a bunch of older now dead family members fought in WWII none of them ever sang the national anthem. And actually most of them never said anything good about Churchill either.

  • John Tilley 17th Sep '15 - 8:36am

    Mick Taylor makes a very good point.

    Mick Taylor 16th Sep ’15 – 9:45pm
    Goodness me what a priggish lot we are. Who gives a toss for convention. We’re in politics to change to world not to kowtow to it. I may not be a Corbyn loving socialist, but I can respect a decent man when I see one. There are far too few of them in politics.
    Now can we please get on with saving Liberal Democracy?

    On Mick’s last sentence, I think all the attention given to Jeremy Corbyn (even the ridiculous froth around the National Dirge) provides useful cover for Liberal Democrats to get on with rebuilding the party without the unhelpful and unwelcome interference from the media in our party.
    We got a huge amount of media attention between April 2010 and May 2015 and it did not result in a growth in vters supporting the party. 🙂

  • Simon Shaw

    All that says is that Corbyn stood in ‘respectful silence’. It doesn’t support your rather bizarre claim that the Labour party said his silence was “more” respectful. Did you mean to mislead or were you just mistaken? You like to badger other posters to apologise when they don’t substantiate their claims to your satisfaction . Are you going to apologise now?

  • Matt (Bristol) 17th Sep '15 - 12:42pm

    Late arising comment due to my computer being knocked out by a virus over the last few days.

    I am a Christian and a (contitutional) monarchist, so I have no problem with singing the National Anthem personally.

    But actually, one of my personal idiosyncratic wishes is that country ditch it asap for something entirely new as it is no longer a unifying symbol (if it ever was) and have nothing to say about the sort of nation we want to be. Ditto Jerusalem. And I’m not sure about the Union Jack, either. And I dress scruffily and have a beard.

    In the unlikely event that I ever made it to leader of a political party I think the tabloid press would hate me, and I’m not really caricaturable a loonly lefty socialist. Is there anyone they would actually like, if everyone was themselves and stopped pretending to conform?

  • Malcolm Todd 17th Sep '15 - 12:47pm

    Well, I’ve read the whole article, Simon, and I can’t see anything that supports your claim. For those of us without your forensic skills, care to give us a bit of a clue?

  • John Tilley – I agree we should ditch GSTQ and replace it with Jerusalem.

  • Malcolm Todd 17th Sep ’15 – 12:47pm……………Well, I’ve read the whole article, Simon, and I can’t see anything that supports your claim. For those of us without your forensic skills, care to give us a bit of a clue?…..

    Don’t hold your breath…Simon has a history of erroneous ‘facts’ and then disappearing when proved wrong….Still, there’s always a first time , So, maybe, just maybe”

  • From the ‘Telegraph…..”Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott were lovers in the 1970s”….

    I believe the next thing will be about JC ‘exposing’ his legs as, I gather as a young boy, he actually wore short trousers…

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 17th Sep '15 - 2:35pm

    @Tabman: Jerusalem? ENGLAND’s green and pleasant land”? I think not.

  • James Murray 17th Sep '15 - 2:47pm

    On the National Anthem, I do wonder if Corbyn’s next action will be to put it about that he will want it changed to “Land of Hope and Glory”

    It must be much more apposite than the present dirge ordering God to “save the Queen” – from what and for what?

  • Stephen Hesketh 17th Sep '15 - 3:02pm

    Caron Lindsay17th Sep ’15 – 2:35pm
    “@Tabman: Jerusalem? ENGLAND’s green and pleasant land”? I think not.”

    Also Caron, ” … ’til we have built Jerusalem … ” Hardly secular.

  • Caron Lindsay – the Scots have an anthem, do they not? Why not the English? The Union is as good as over in any case.

  • Tabman & James Murray – I like the twisted sense of humour. 🙂

    But seriously, I think Phyllis has her finger in the right place “I suspect he has only just realised that offence has been taken.” I think that one of the reasons why the LibDems are taking such an interest in Jeremy Corbyn is because this time they can stand on the sidelines and watch, unlike 2010 when it was the LibDems caught in the media spotlight and likewise having to move rapidly and very publicly from relative obscurity to the front benches…

  • Paul in Wokingham 17th Sep '15 - 3:25pm

    I agree that the British/Lichtenstein anthem is dreary but am I courting controversy by saying that I have always found both the words and music of the USA anthem to be stirring and uplifting?

  • Malcolm Todd 17th Sep '15 - 3:46pm

    Hang on, Simon. You’re basing your argument on the word “Why” in the headline. That’s nothing to do with Corbyn or his team. You try to cover your tracks by referring to “the Labour Party (and their media mouth-piece, the Daily Mirror)” (which is contentious nonsense, of course). But what you said above was: “According to the Labour Party this was that silence was more “respectful” for such a solemn occasion.” (16th Sep ’15 – 7:17pm; emphasis added) and “I don’t think the Labour Party should have put out the hypocritical rubbish that they did.” (16th Sep ’15 – 9:59pm).
    Even if one accepted that you could include a Daily Mirror subeditor as part of the Labour Party’s official press team (truly arrant nonsense) it takes a desperate predetermination to twist that one word “Why” in the headline to give the interpretation that you do.

    This isn’t forensics at all; it’s simple confabulation. Seems to me it’s not the Labour Party that’s engaged in a “cover-up” here…

  • Simon Shaw 17th Sep ’15 – 3:30pm ….

    Sorry; I’m still looking for the bit that says his silence was “MORE” respectful than singing….

  • Nick Collins 17th Sep '15 - 3:49pm

    @ Caron: “Jerusalem” was the answer to a “starter for ten” in a round of last year’s “University Challenge” . The students were asked to identify a song the answers to whose first two stanzas should be “No, no, no & no ” and “fetch them yourself”. None of the students got it. It’s a stirring tune, but the words are tripe and, as you point out, might, at a pinch, pass muster as an anthem for England, but not for the UK

    Since 2005, it has become traditional for someone (notably not most of the crowd) to sing “Jerusalem” as England’s cricketers take the field for the beginning of the day’s play in a test match in England: and in Wales, even. When the Rugby World Cup kicks off tomorrow, I think we shall find that England’s Rugby Union fans tend to prefer “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”!

    @ James: Please confirm that you are joking.

  • Malcolm Todd 17th Sep '15 - 4:04pm

    I want to row back from the tone of my last comment, if I may. This sort of thing doesn’t help anyone.
    I think a likelier explanation, Simon, is that you simply misread the piece, resulting in the interpretation that you gave it; which isn’t actually supported by the evidence when you look at it closely.

    Can you accept that that is what happened? I don’t want to get distracted by making silly demands that you acknowledge nefarious motives – anyone can make a mistake. But will you accept that the claim you made about what the Labour Party or Labour spin doctors said was an error?

  • John Tilley 17th Sep '15 - 4:46pm

    Billy Connolly’s idea was that the UK Anthem should be the theme tune to ‘The Archers’ with that unforgettable tune and those inspiring words —

    “Dumdee, Dumdee, Dumdee, Dum —
    Dumdee, Dumdee, Dumdee, Dum, Dum”. Etc

    For the posher folk reading this, Mr Billy Connolly is a former welder/boilermaker and banjo player, aged 72. He comes originally from Scotland.

  • Slightly off topic (but still to do with the Labour party), I thought readers might be interested in having their attention drawn to the facts that the BBC have cleverly hidden at the end of this article…

    It says, “Perversely, when Labour gained votes from former Lib Dems they helped the Tories win seats.
    In total Labour votes won from Lib Dems alone secured seven seats for the Tories.”

    Not only did voting Labour instead of Lib Dem in the tory-leaning seats outside Scotland let the Tories in, it did so in seven seats. The vile tories have a majority of 12 at Westminster. Take seven seats from them and move them to opposition and the tory majority disappears! Voting Labour last May in places they couldn’t win, lead to a Tory majority government! Did you forget to tell voters in those places that it was a two horse race and Labour couldn’t win there?

    And what would have happened next? Would this only have lead to Clegg and Cameron in the rose garden again or would the tories have pressed on with a minority government with occasional support from Northern Irish MPs?

  • Agree that Simon’s misquoting of the Mirror article was an unfortunate mistake on his part.

    I do however think that Simon ought to apologise for his bogus accusations of “hypocrisy” and a “cover-up”, because that seems more wilful than accidental.

    The fact is that only Jeremy Corbyn knows what was going through his mind when he stood there during the anthem. In the absence of psychic powers, Simon does not know. Corbyn gave his own version of events, which I summarised (from a video interview I saw on the Daily Mail website).

    Either Simon accepts Corbyn’s explanation, in which case all his accusations fall apart; or he is calling Corbyn a liar, despite having no proof, which would be rotten form. Which is it, Simon?

  • Malcolm

    it’s jus pointless arguing with Simon. In an earlier post he admitted the daily mail made stuff up so undermines his case and then somewhat bizarrely tried to imply that they made more stuff up about the Tories and the Lib Dems. No doubt he will quote this back at me to which I shrug and move on.
    Personally, I don’t care if Corbyn sang the national anthem, he looked quite dignified not singing it and in the same photo there is a least one other person not singing it. Maybe he is making an anti monarchy statement , maybe he doesn’t know the words(I know the first (lot’s of people only know the first line or so and de di dum dum the rest of it or ), maybe he felt self conscious with a cameras pointed at him or maybe he can’t sing. It’s a storm in a teacup or a mountain out of a mole hill. Whatever it is amounts to nothing very much worth bothering about because it’s tittle tattle pretending to be news.

  • Good posts Malcolm Todd.

    Simon Shaw it’s time for you to issue a graceful and gracious apology.

  • @John Tilley
    “For the posher folk reading this, Mr Billy Connolly is a former welder/boilermaker and banjo player, aged 72. He comes originally from Scotland.”

    The really posh folk may be familiar with Connolly, since he socialises with royalty these days.

  • @Simon –
    “In other words, by trying to shift the Labour Party to their own Hard Left position, Corbyn and McDonnell open up a whole lot of the political spectrum leaving us as the only logical choice for many people.”

    Well whilst I agree that the LibDems should gain from a Labour party lurch to the left, a big question mark is over the abilities and desires of David Cameron and Nick Osborne! Both of whom are regarded as being on the moderate side of the party and are reputed to be admirers of what Tony Blair achieved in the Labour party in moving it to the centre and thus making it electable. So the question in my mind is whether David and Nick have the political ability to rein in the hardliner’s and pull the Conservative party into the centre and make themselves attractive to voters who supported Blair in 1997; potentially increasing their chances of an outright majority in 2020…

  • @Simon
    “I’ve no idea that Corbyn gave any explanation”

    Funny, because I already told you about it. You even quoted what I said about it back to me!

    The video is easily found on the Daily Mail website. Do you accept his explanation, or not?

  • …………….But a spokeswoman said he would “take part fully” if it is played at other events he’s attending……………

    So, an unnamed source speaks out…I’ve lost count of the number of threads on LDV bemoaning ‘unnamed spokespersons’ for giving unaccountable quotes…As I’ve said before, “Let’s wait and see”..

    As for…….Note to Malcolm: Sorry if I’m being a bit critical of the Labour Party (and their mouthpiece, the Daily Mirror); I realise that is something that’s discouraged on Liberal Democrat Voice, which is primarily intended to allow all and sundry to criticise the Liberal Democrat Party)…

    That is just silly…By far the majority of LDV threads/posts are anti-Labour. Criticism of the party over the last few years has been justified…the loss of hardworking local councillors, MEPs and MPs has shown all but the most diehard that our ‘flirtation’ with the Tories has been a complete disaster….Early in the coalition Nick admitted that we seen by the electorate as being ‘Torylite’ but did little to change that view…

    I make no excuse for believing that our traditional position of being closer to Labour than the Tories is the correct thing.. Trying to find common ground with them has left us where we are.. We are again in opposition so let us try and find common ground with Corbyn, rather than denounce everything he says/does (and most of what he hasn’t said/ done), to remove the Tories….

  • Dave Orbison 18th Sep '15 - 3:21pm

    @ Simon Have you heard of the word perspective?

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