Jeremy Corbyn blasts Keir Starmer’s plan to open Labour party conference by singing God Save The King as ‘very, very odd’
Jeremy Corbyn has condemned Labour leader Keir Starmer’s plans for the party to sing the national anthem at its annual conference.
Mr Corbyn said the plan for party members to sing God Save The King at the conference in Liverpool was ‘very, very odd’.
The former Labour Party leader suggested singing the anthem was ‘excessively nationalist’.
Keir Starmer and party bosses took the decision for the national anthem to be sung at the Labour conference for the first time in its history following the death of the Queen earlier this month, and the accession of King Charles III.
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn argued: ‘We don’t as a country routinely go around singing the national anthem at every single event we go to’
Labour leader Keir Starmer arrives at the Labour Party conference earlier today
Keir Starmer attended the Queen’s state funeral on Monday and paid tribute to Britain’s longest-serving monarch
However, Jeremy Corbyn argued the move was unnecessary. He said on Nick Robinson’s Political Thinking podcast: ‘They’ve never done it before, there’s never been any demand to do it.
‘We don’t as a country routinely go around singing the national anthem at every single event we go to.
‘We don’t sing in schools, we don’t have the raising of the flag as they do in the USA and other places.
‘We are not that sort of, what I would call, excessively nationalist.’
But last night, Starmer loyalists rounded on the former party leader, with one Shadow Minister saying: ‘Only Corbyn would try to wreck Sir Keir’s tribute to the late Queen. It’s because Corbyn was seen as unpatriotic that we’ve got to build bridges with so many former traditional Labour voters who deserted us while Left-wing ‘Jezza’ was wrecking our party.’
Other MPs recalled how Mr Corbyn was criticised for failing to sing the National Anthem at a Battle of Britain service at St Paul’s Cathedral in 2015 although he claimed he had been lost in reflection.
However, there were fears last night that Mr Corbyn’s intervention – in an interview on Nick Robinson’s Political Thinking podcast – will ‘give licence’ to Left-wing party republicans to jeer when the anthem is played later today.
Mr Corbyn’s comments come after The Mail on Sunday revealed last week that the National Anthem would be played at conference as part of tributes to the Queen but amid fears some republican delegates could heckle. That led one of Sir Keir’s key advisers to recommend that he start the four-day conference by appealing to members not to boo – advice dismissed as ‘ridiculous’ by a Shadow Minister.
Keir Starmer, pictured with his wife Victoria, has taken Labour in a different direction from his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn
Labour’s four-day annual conference begins today in Liverpool as party members gather together
Labour sources said last night that they disagreed with Mr Corbyn’s National Anthem remarks, adding: ‘Keir’s party is proudly patriotic.’
But in a further embarrassment last night, one of the first fringe meetings for the conference was set to be a Labour For A Republic meeting, entitled: ‘Beyond the Jubilee: What Future for the Monarchy?’
Last night, there were claims the event had originally been billed as ‘Beyond the Jubilee: Time to Close down the Monarchy’ but that this had had to be toned down at the last minute. In June after the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, Labour For A Republic said: ‘The Queen’s reign will soon be over and there is little chance of stopping the Crown passing to Charles, a less worthy successor.’
The campaign group added that now Jubilee ‘hysteria has subsided, there is more chance of having a reasoned debate on what should come next’.
Labour stressed last night it ‘is not responsible for the content of fringe meetings’ at party conference. The party conference opens with some Labour MPs daring to predict the party is on course to win the next Election in the wake of the Tories’ controversial programme of tax cuts.
As he arrived in Liverpool, Sir Keir said the Tories had shown their ‘true colours’, adding their ‘driving ideology’ was to ‘make the rich richer and do nothing for working people’.