There was recently a scandal in Britain that for a few days at least, seemed the British media would just not be able to get over. Was it the ongoing levels of poverty in the world? The huge numbers of youth unemployment throughout Europe? Recent ‘anti-union’ legislation brought in by the Conservative Party? Or was the scandal and the uproar all about the new ‘gag’ law in Spain? A law restricting social movements and protests heavily, especially those demonstrating near the parliament, senate and regional parliaments, with fines of up to €600,000. Was this the cause for the media frenzy? No. It was in actual fact all because Jeremy Corbyn, the new leader of the Labour Party, ‘refused’ as the media put it, to sing the National Anthem when attending a recent Battle of Britain memorial. In a series of slightly awkward confrontations on the matter, where he was even asked the question, “Do you love the country?”, the Labour leader stated in his defence that he didn’t sing the anthem because he was deep in thought, reflecting on his “mum and dad” and their service during the Second World War. His mother as an air raid warden, his father as part of the home guard.
While I’m sure he was thinking of his parents, his position on the subject of the monarchy is quite well known and it’s very likely that he also made a decision, even if not a particularly conscious one, that he would out of principle not sing the anthem. He is after all, a long standing republican and anti-war campaigner. If he therefore made the decision to stand by his beliefs and not sing a national anthem worshiping the Queen and British imperialism, then I find it a sad state of affairs that he be hounded for this, when he should in fact be applauded.
We live in a world where according to UNICEF approximately 21 children die every minute, yet Jeremy Corbyn not singing the National Anthem is the kind of thing the majority of the UK media is most interested in. Those children are dying overwhelmingly because of their environment and the economic situations of the countries they were born in; for which British imperialism and if not the current monarchy then that of the past, bear a great deal of responsibility. Patriotism and love for one’s nation is something I just don’t understand. How can you be proud to be born in a certain country? Something you’ve had nothing to do with. You can’t be praised or commended for that. It’s not an achievement. It baffles me how one can be proud to be of a certain nationality. A man-made concept that along with borders seems unimaginable and absurd when Earth is viewed from space. Patriotism and blind irrational love for the colour of your skin or the land in which you were born, is one of the most destructive things in the world. It constantly for thousands of years has separated human beings. It drives a wedge between people and it is a poison to any chance we have of peaceful development and social evolution.
If we are to grow and move forward as a society, we really can’t have a monarchy. It’s a matter of principle. In May this year the Queen held a speech on the newly elected government’s legislative programme. I was stunned to hear her talk of how the nation needs to learn to live within its means, while she sat on a golden throne draped in jewels. Some say the monarchy is beneficial, good value and a necessary tourist attraction. I say this is nonsense. No one is suggesting Buckingham Palace be knocked down, we can have all the tourist benefits without a monarchy. Once again it’s a matter of principle. All the while they have not had to work even one day to put food on the table, they do not have the right to tell us we need to learn to “live within our means”. Here’s just a few of the benefits that come with being the Queen (apart from being paid millions each year by the tax payer):
- She is immune from prosecution (have a good think about that).
- She doesn’t require a drivers license nor license plates.
- She doesn’t have to pay tax (apparently she does but I guess we’ll just have to trust her and ‘Her Majesty's’ Revenue And Customs on that).
- And though we are often told she has no political power, the reality is senior Royals have the power to veto new laws and have exercised this power on many occasions. It can not be right in 2015 that an unelected official have such huge power and wealth simply because he or she was born into the ‘right’ family.
Some say it is “the way things are”, the “British way” and Jeremy Corbyn must accept this as leader of the opposition. Again this is a senseless argument. With that view there would never be any change in anything and we would still be living in caves. It’s “the way things are” is not an argument that anyone looking to bring about change accepts or respects.
And exactly this is what people want in politics. Only the establishment is fearful of it. They have the most to lose from change. The general public want a multitude of opinions, we want people with vision and passion and at least the chance for change and not simply empty promises, distractions and illusions.
Down with the monarchy, by far the country’s biggest benefit scroungers and with the money saved, build homes for the homeless. I’m sure someone will tell us however, that this is madness and that it’s not right to give money to the poor. Yes, I forgot, the receiving of ‘handouts’ and the theft of other people’s wealth is a pastime reserved for the already rich and elite. The ‘riff-raff’ and the poor should be stolen from, speak when spoken to and otherwise, stay unseen and die silently. The anthem has us singing, “Long to reign over us, God save the Queen. Thy choicest gifts in store, On her be pleased to pour…God save the Queen.” but I’m not so sure she needs much help from God. She seems to be doing alright. Where is the anthem for the 21 Children dying every minute? That’s what I’d like to know.
Written by Declan Galbraith
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