God Save The Queen
I don’t know about you but the other week I had a Sex Pistols earworm for several days; “God save the queen, The fascist regime…” which was, of course due to the perpetual news coverage on Jeremy Corbyn refraining from singing the national anthem at a St Paul’s Cathedral war memorial ceremony.
The episode reminded me of attending a friend’s wedding several years ago in a small, idyllic church located in the Cornish countryside, where I suddenly and unexpectedly, found myself being directed, with the other guests, to recite aloud psalms and prayers; “We ask this through Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.”
I was quite taken aback having not been to a church wedding in years, and as an agnostic bordering on atheist, I had to look around to see if I was the only person not reciting these odes on principle knowing full well I wasn’t the only non-believer in the congregation. It did appear that I was alone in my little act of rebellion.
For Corbyn, a politician behaving as someone with principles, shock horror, to have sung God Save the Queen (not the Sex Pistol’s version), an anthem born solely to uphold an archaic class system, would have been capricious at best, having publicly celebrated his Labour leadership victory with a rendition of the socialist anthem, The Red Flag two days earlier.
Yet, last week the media set their sights on taking him down for this apparent slight to Queen and country. Meanwhile, in parliament, MPs voted to reduce tax credits up to £1000 a year for 3 million working families which seemed to go unreported that morning. This perverse spin tactic, presumably advocated by old ‘New Labour’, the Conservatives, and an unsurprisingly complicit media, should raise our awareness not to Corbyn’s lack of love for his country (clearly inaccurate), but to the public school bullyish culture that oppresses democracy in England (and this all before #piggate but after the Westminster paedophile rings have come to light).
Histrionic parliamentary debates create diversions from underlying agendas and the lining of pockets, spun while MPs bugger the British people over. Within hours of being elected leader, the bullies gathered together, led by David Cameron, in the playground, jostling about, finger pointing and calling Corbyn a “threat to national security”. An anonymous senior serving General has, in The Sunday Times this week, basically threatened a coup and stated that the military will deal with Corbyn if he were to become PM in 2020 by “whatever means possible, fair or foul ” if there are any moves to downsize the armed force or scrap Trident. Immediately images of weapons expert David Kelly and former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook flash through my mind. If this public school boy bullying isn’t the behaviour of a ‘fascist regime’ I don’t know what is. What’s more disturbing is the pre-existing general public passivity that creates the space for the intimidation and abuse, which is accompanied by the acceptance of the language and ceremony, in my case psalms, in Corbyn’s case the anthem, of the current paradigm.
There was no media coverage deriding my own silent, self empowering stance at that wedding and I’m quite certain none of the congregation noticed, but then I am not, as an individual, a threat to the status quo. Or am I? If we accept the Orwellian notion of thought corruption through language “from the gentlemen’s clubs, and all the frantic fascist captains”, we can equally reverse this as Slavoj Žižek puts it, “words are never ‘only words’; they matter because they define the contours of what we can do.” It seems a new song is long overdue to vanquish the antagonists and I’d be inclined to knock down the public schools and plant allotments to replace the playgrounds while we’re at it.