Everyone is concerned today that those who have been sent to actual wars, engaged in combat and watched their friends die might be caused serious psychological damage by the Labour leader failing to sing along to the national anthem. A slight fly in the ointment was war veteran Harry Leslie Smith clarifying that “as a RAF veteran of WW2 I’m not offended by Corbyn not singing [the] national anthem but I am offended by politicians who sell guns to tyrants.” But we’re not talking about the huge London arms fair that opens in London this week and will be selling weaponry to the countries with the worst human rights records, Harry. Stay on subject, please.
Many ex-servicemen have complained
that they have been pushed to the breadline after being judged fit for work by the Department for Work and Pensions. Severely wounded veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan probably weren’t that impressed by the patriotism of David Cameron when degrading back-to-work welfare assessments stripped them of their benefits - but that’s not what really matters. Back to the song.
People who have pointed out that MPs backed government plans to slash spending on tax credits yesterday – and that that conspicuously didn’t make the front pages as Tories whipped up a storm about Corbyn and a song about the Queen – are apparently really missing the point. During a debate in the Commons, it was claimed by the opposition that three million of the poorest families now face losing an average of £1,000 per year from next April as people in work who have very low salaries are further penalised by the Conservative government. The SNP said that if these families lose £100 per month, they will end up facing difficult choices between heating and food. What about all these loony lefties turning a blind eye to the real issues?
Of course Jeremy Corbyn is known to be an atheist and a republican, and would have been immediately called out as a hypocrite if he had joined in with a song that asked a god he didn't believe in to save the Queen he doesn’t support. And of course he had already made the bigger, more important concession of agreeing to kneel before that same Queen and kiss her hand in order to join the Privy Council yesterday, so that he’d be able to attend national security and intelligence briefings.
Exercising his right to act with his conscience in the smallest of ways – by keeping his mouth shut, rather than going full-on Kanye West, as the media frenzy might have had you believe – should have been a safe bet. But for the Tories at the moment, gleefully rubbing their hands and watching as Blairite MPs desert the new shadow cabinet and openly and publicly criticise their new leader’s choices, this was a win-win situation. Corbyn sings? The so-called man of principle has compromised his values as soon as he’s reached a position of power. Corbyn stays silent? He hates the war dead and everything everyone in Britain has stood for, ever.
Despite having spoken movingly before the service commemorating war dead yesterday about his mother (an air raid warden) and his father (a member of the Home Guard), the “heroism of the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain”, the importance of commemorating such a loss of life in order that “future generations are spared the horrors of war”, Corbyn missed out the really important bit where you sing a song about a millionaire pensioner who lives in a palace. Everyone saw this for what it really was: an implicit admission that Corbyn is a communist terrorist Isis-supporter whose dad hates Britain. Or was that Ed Miliband? Whatever.
One of the reasons Corbyn became leader in a landslide victory over the weekend was because people have tired of mindless conformity, Westminster elitism and the old boys’ club in politics. Cameron once promised to try and restrain the ‘Punch and Judy’ aspect of Prime Minister’s Questions precisely because of these public concerns, but he failed. It will be interesting to see how he fares against Corbyn, a man who has caused so much controversy with his conscience, later on today. I know I’d rather back the man who caused a ruckus by acting in accordance with his principles than the man at the head of policies which have caused tangible suffering to thousands of families - including war veterans - over a much longer period of time.
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