Did he kneel? How can we know whether Jeremy Corbyn is fit to make decisions about interest rates and dealing with Isis unless we know whether he knelt in front of Her Majesty?
It looks as if he didn’t – but even if he did, I bet he did it in an ungainly fashion, creaking down like someone looking under the settee to find the remote control while groaning ‘ooh me back’, because he’s a traitor.
If he was a real Englishman he’d have glided to the ground and begged the Queen’s forgiveness for not being able to get any lower, then sawed through the floorboards so he could crawl under the joists and live behind a cobweb for a month to demonstrate how unworthy he was to be on the same level as the monarch.
Any potential Prime Minister must, after all, be capable of meeting the challenges of the modern world: following etiquette such as lightly brushing the hairs of his forearm across the left knee of the Queen while kissing her right buttock with his lower lip, then dragging a thistle across her neck and whistling into a cheese grater with his toenail clippings wrapped in an order of the garter dipped in stag droppings and signed by Princess Anne. It proves he takes Britain seriously.
The kneeling catastrophe follows an earlier disgrace this week, when The Sun reported Corbyn’s bow at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day was not at the correct angle, bending about 20 degrees rather than the approved “45 degrees from the waist.” He might as well have dropped his trousers, wiped his arse on the Union Jack, dug up the corpse of Churchill and smeared the skidmarks over his skeleton.
Ex-defence minister Gerald Howarth said of the bow: “The Leader of the Opposition needs to understand you cannot compromise on respect for our fallen. He has got to try harder and grow up.” The grown-up way to behave is, after all, to make statements to the press that you’re deeply offended by the angle at which someone has leaned forward. Only when you’re mature enough to do that are you truly a man.
You can understand why The Sun in particular is sensitive on this issue, because the Murdoch press has gone to vast lengths to show respect for our fallen soldiers, even going to the trouble of hacking into their phones. Their families must appreciate that gesture – it’s truly a mark of respect, placing their loved ones on an equal footing with celebrities such as Hugh Grant and Sienna Miller.
It’s a wonder someone as adamant about honouring the fallen as Gerald Howarth didn’t commend The Sun for this behaviour while he was talking to them. Howarth – like The Sun, and many of those attacking Corbyn for his bowing technique – was an enthusiastic supporter of the Iraq war. Jeremy Corbyn opposed the war, and now we know why. He wants to stop disastrous wars because he can’t be bothered to bow properly when asked to respect the people who are killed in them. It’s just ‘me, me, me’ with some people, isn’t it?
To ensure the bowing scandal never happens again, a cricket umpire will from now on be ordered to stand at the Cenotaph for the Remembrance parade. Because they’re used to judging whether a bowler has bent their arm beyond an agreed angle as they bowl each ball, so the umpire will decide whether a bow has reached the requisite point. If not, they must shout “no bow”, and it has to be done again.
Yet, even then, the treacherous behaviour is likely to go on. Next will be outrage: “Corbyn is set to offend the Queen by refusing to stroke the royal centipede on her birthday, a tradition that dates back to the Divine Right of Majestic Bugs established by Henry II following his victory at the Battle of Grimsby, after the monarch was inspired by a dream in which a giant centipede trod over the rebellious troops of Norman the Bipolar.”
The continuous speculation over whether he plans to sing, bow, kneel or wear a poppy at the next state event, must be confusing for a man who’s spent his life quietly pursuing causes with little media interest. He wants to campaign over issues such as the cuts in tax credits, but instead every interview begins with him being asked “Mr Corbyn, when you attend the Lord Mayor’s Banquet, will you or will you not abide by tradition and dress up as a goose? Will you compromise and just wear the beak? Will you refuse to squawk? Isn’t it a snub to the Lord Mayor if you don’t stick on any feathers?”
It’s vital these questions are answered, because these are the issues that affect most people.
Next year, for example, when tax credits are cut and more families are forced to use foodbanks, children will ask: “Why are you crying, mummy?” And they’ll get the answer: “I’m sorry, but Her Majesty’s Leader of the Opposition only bends at 20 degrees instead of bowing to an acceptable geometrical standard, darling. Try not to worry, we’ll muddle through.”
The irony of all this is the Queen probably loves him for it. When Corbyn accepted the nomination into the Privy Council with a shake of the hand, I expect she responded by saying: “Thank God someone’s got some balls at last and doesn’t go through that rigmarole of brushing my sodding knee with their cheek. Cameron, you could learn from this instead of grovelling you sycophantic arse. And then she’d turn to Corbyn: “I don’t suppose you’ve got any fags on you have you? Only I’m not allowed to smoke inside and if I nip out for one in the doorway, I’ll be surrounded by poxy tourists. But if you light one up I can have a quick drag and if the smoke alarm goes off I’ll blame it on Philip.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies