POLITICS
16/09/2015 11:25 BST | Updated 16/09/2015 14:59 BST

Jeremy Corbyn Will Sing National Anthem In Future, Following Shadow Cabinet Criticism

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will sing the national anthem at future events, amid confusion over his position and criticism from his own shadow cabinet.

Yesterday Labour's new leader stayed silent as God Save the Queen was sung during the Battle of Britain memorial service in London.

Corbyn said today he would take a "full part" in future. Labour sources said this meant he would sing. "I am telling you now, as someone speaking for the party, that 'take part fully' includes singing," a spokesperson said.

In an interview with Sky News this morning, Corbyn defended his actions. "I was at the Battle of Britain memorial yesterday. I was there out of respect for that amazing moment in British history," he said.

"I was also thinking about my family, my mum and dad, who were there at that time in London and worked as air raid wardens during the Blitz.

"I was thinking about that. It was a respectful ceremony and I stood in respect throughout it. I am going to be at many events and I will take part fully in those events, I don't see a problem about this."

He added: "I will show respect in the proper way at all future events ... the proper way is to take a full part in them and I will take a full part."

There was confusion over Corbyn's position after a statement was issued this morning by the verified JeremyCorbyn4PM Twitter account.

It read: "Jeremy Corbyn is a republican and a non-believer, so it would be totally insincere of him to sing the national anthem."

However a Labour spokesperson said the account was not an "official" account and was not speaking behalf of the party. "The @JeremyCorbyn4PM, that's an unofficial Twitter account run by people who support Jeremy. But if you want the line please come to the press office and we will be happy to help," a spokesperson said.

jeremy corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn appeared to remain silent during the anthem

Senior Labour figures have lined up to criticise Corbyn for not singing the national anthem. His new shadow work and pensions secretary Owen Smith told BBC Newsnight on Tuesday evening that his leader should have sung.

"I would have advised him to sing it, yes. I would absolutely, irrespective of his views," he said. "I am not sure he didn’t sing it because he is a republican, he may well have been thinking of something else."

"He was about to do his big speech at the TUC, perhaps he was thinking about that. Or more likely, he was thinking about the people he was commemorating."

This morning shadow equalities minister Kate Green told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Corbyn will have "offended and hurt people" by not singing.

She said that while Corbyn did respect the service, "for many people the Monarchy, singing the national anthem, is a way of showing that respect".

"I think it would have been appropriate and right and respectful of people's feelings," she said.

Corbyn was also criticised moments later on the same programme by Lord West, the former First Sea Lord and Labour security minister under Gordon Brown.

Lord West said singing the anthem "expresses one loyalty to the UK and British people" and it was "extraordinary" that Labour's leader had not sung along.

He said: "That is what one expects from someone who hopes to, who aspires, to become prime minister."

Lord West also said he believed armed forces personnel would be "offended" by Corbyn, adding: "a large number of people in this country will be offended by it".

The Labour peer also hinted he could decide to leave the party over Corbyn's defence and foreign policy. "I have no intention to change at the moment, but I need to see, i haven't seen what policies have come out regarding defence," he said.

Jeremy Corbyn At Battle Of Britain Commemorations


A spokesman for the Labour leader said yesterday: “Jeremy attended today’s event to show respect for those who fought in conflicts for Britain.

“As he said in the words issued yesterday morning, the heroism of the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain is something to which we all owe an enormous debt of gratitude. He stood in respectful silence during the anthem.”

The commemorations marked the 75th anniversary of the battle - which took the lives of 3,242 aircrew and about 40,000 civilians.

Pictures taken of Corbyn showed the 66-year-old keeping his lips firmly sealed as God Save the Queen was played. The Labour leader looked solemn with his hands clasped in front of him.

His decision not to sing has been criticised by some, including Conservative MP Sir Nicholas Soames - the grandson of Winston Churchill - who said it was "very rude and very disrespectful".

In a statement released to mark the ceremony, Corbyn said: “My mum served as an air raid warden and my dad in the Home Guard.

“Like that whole generation, they showed tremendous courage and determination to defeat fascism. The heroism of the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain is something to which we all owe an enormous debt of gratitude.

“The loss of life - both civilian and military - should be commemorated so that we both honour their lives and do all that we can to ensure future generations are spared the horrors of war.”