Excellent letters in The Guardian today:
I don’t think Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to sing the national anthem is a sign of disloyalty to the country or disrespect to those who served in the war (Silence for God Save the Queen, 16 September). I have two insurmountable problems with God Save the Queen. As far as I know, very few – if any – democracies have an anthem that celebrates a head of state rather than the country itself. (Even North Korea’s anthem avoids any mention of a “glorious leader” etc.) As a republican I, like Mr Corbyn, would be a hypocrite to sing this. I am also an atheist. If I don’t believe in a god – and I am assuming here that all gods favour Queen Elizabeth, an assumption that might make for an interesting theological debate – how can I appeal to that god to save my Queen?Jeremy Corbyn puts voters' questions to David Cameron at PMQs - Politics liveRolling coverage of all the day’s political developments as they happen, including Jeremy Corbyn’s first PMQs as Labour leaderRead moreGreat emphasis has been placed on the Churchill/second world war connection. The Battle of Britain was about a dire need to save the nation from the immediate threat of invasion, an act of desperate and courageous heroism. But, more broadly, it was also about defeating Hitler and his totalitarian state. No doubt all Germans under Hitler were expected to sing Deutschland, Deutschland Uber Alles on pain of public criticism if they did not. I would have thought that part of the democracy the soldiers, sailors and airforce personnel fought for was the freedom not to be forced to sing our anthem – an irony that seems lost on Nicholas Soames, his friends in the media and, sadly, some of Mr Corbyn’s colleagues.
Also, in terms of the people who served in the war, many were atheists or republicans, or both. If they did not sing the national anthem with the required gusto would Mr Soames castigate them?There are lots of politicians and people in public life who would always sing the anthem. Some have fiddled expenses, lied in court, abused children, broken promises, failed to pay taxes on huge incomes. But they always sang the anthem. Mr Corbyn wanted to be true to himself – what a nice change in a leading politician. Perhaps he should have mimed it?
Alex Wood Northampton
• People are dying as a result of being sanctioned by the Department for Work and Pensions, the government has executed two British citizens by drone without trial, cuts to tax credits mean the poor are getting poorer and the rich richer, unions are being attacked, the government wants to repeal the Human Rights Act, there’s a GP recruitment crisis, there’s a teacher recruitment crisis, there’s a massive shortage of school places, there’s a crisis in A&E, magistrates are resigning at the injustice of the justice system, lawyers are on strike over cuts to legal aid, a disabled man is forced to bath in a paddling pool due to the bedroom tax, we have the lowest housebuilding starts since the second world war, manufacturing is declining, exports are declining, billions are being wasted on HS2 and free schools. And yet we allow ourselves to be sucked into faux outrage by rightwing newspaper owners who avoid paying millions in tax over whether who did or did not sing the national anthem.
Simon GosdenRayleigh, Essex