Thursday 17 September 2015

Still angry about demands that we sing what we don't believe in....

(I wrote this on a comments thread at the Guardian when someone asked me what Jeremy Corbyn meant when he said that in future at ceremonies and public occasions he would 'participate fully' or some such. I said I don't know.)

"I'm not in the Labour Party, I'm not Jeremy Corbyn. All I can say is that I look a bit like him but that gives me no access to his thinking. As it happens I think it is an absolute outrage that Labour MPs and the liberal press couldn't defend the principle of freedom of conscience, that none of them could rise above the matter of whether they thought it was 'advisable' that he sing the anthem and defend the right of someone who is an atheist and a republican to not sing about a god who should 'save' a 'Queen'.

When I think of all the screeds of guff that are written about 'British values' and 'tolerance' and our wonderful freedoms and yet, when it comes to a moment when one of those freedoms is tested (freedom of conscience) a great baying and lynching takes place where people demand that someone should pretend to identify with ideas that he doesn't believe in.

And this is the country that explains about how brave Ridley and Latimer were, how we fought for our freedoms in WW2 etc etc etc. I can say, when I heard that Tory MP on the World at One going on about how 'disgraceful' it was of Corbyn to not sing the anthem, I found myself wondering just how safe that leaves us all. 

And as for the grovelling Labour MPs who can't even defend Corbyn against that kind of attack - pathetic. Either we have freedom of conscience or we don't. You can't have a sort of or a kind of a bit of a freedom of conscience. We're not talking about taking up arms here. We're just talking about a particular kind of public ceremony. And even diverging from that makes a certain kind of person call that 'disgraceful'."