Jeremy Corbyn attacked for showing too much respect to the dead
It's got to the stage now where Jeremy Corbyn can literally do no right. Yesterday the Labour leader appeared at the Cenotaph to pay his respects to the fallen victims of war. Dressed appropriately, with a red poppy on, Corbyn bowed his head and left a wreath.
Job done you might think. You would be wrong.
Following his totally unremarkable appearance, the Sun today splashed with a front page claiming Corbyn had "refused" to bow in a "snub on Poppy Day."
This, bearing in mind Jeremy Corbyn did actually bow, is the most absurd front page I've seen in a very long time. pic.twitter.com/HBsTDK8s5M
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— Jamie Ross (@JamieRoss7) November 8, 2015
This is quite simply false. Corbyn did bow his head as footage from the event quite clearly shows. To claim otherwise is to deliberately mislead people. In fact let's not mince our words. To claim otherwise is a straightforward lie.
Even those papers which admitted that Corbyn did bow claimed he did not bow quite enough. According to the Telegraph: "The Labour leader came under fire for only slightly moving his head after laying a traditional wreath of poppies."
It's hard to know exactly how far the Labour leader was meant to bend his neck before he won the Telegraph's approval. Perhaps somewhere in their offices there's a chart setting out the exact degree one must incline forwards on these occasions, with anything beyond that angle marking you out as a true patriot and anything short of it marking you as an abominable traitor to your country.
In search of the right angle, the paper went to "etiquette expert" William Hanson, who told them "Mr Corbyn's 'slight tip forward' was not really appropriate for the occasion. "Protocol dictates that while his bow did not necessarily have to be deep, like a theatrical bow and scrape, it should have gone down around 45 degrees from the waist."
However, inevitably it wasn't just the angle of Corbyn's head as he laid his wreath that annoyed the paper, but the message he left on it.
In what must be one of the most ludicrous passages ever to appear in a front page news story, they explained:
"Mr Corbyn, an outspoken pacifist, was also criticised for… laying a wreath including a message that paid tribute to the victims of all wars, rather than just Britain's war dead."
So not only didn't he bow his head quite far enough, but he also showed concern for people who die in wars other than our own. Not only isn't he showing enough respect to war victims, but he's also showing too much as well.
"Mr Corbyn was also criticised for a message that paid tribute to the victims of all wars, rather than just Britain's." The bastard.
— Adam Bienkov (@AdamBienkov) November 9, 2015
But of course even if Corbyn had included a message which told the victims of non-British wars to go to hell, he still would have faced criticism. Elsewhere in the Telegraph, Charles Moore wrote that while Corbyn's behaviour at the Cenotaph was just about acceptable to his eyes, there was "a different, more worrying interpretation."
He went on: "Could it be that Mr Corbyn, or those advising him, are wilier than they have been given credit for? They may have realised that any serious Left-wing takeover of this country through the ballot-box can be achieved only by outward deference to common norms."
So while outwardly the Labour leader is paying his respects, inwardly he's secretly plotting to overthrow the monarchy and sell our war graves to the Russians. You've got to laugh or you might cry.
Of course while it's easy to mock the coverage in today's papers, there is a far more serious point to be made. While the criticisms of Corbyn's Cenotaph appearance are ludicrous they form part of a much wider attack on the Labour leader.
When Corbyn is criticised for not bending his head far enough, or being reluctant to kiss the Queen's ring, it is part of a wider establishment attack on him for simply refusing to join them. Whether it's his opinions on nuclear weapons, foreign wars, or the monarchy, Corbyn has placed himself well outside of a consensus that has presided over Britain for decades. It is that, rather than any incline of his head, which has really caused offence.
In reality it is not the war dead to whom Corbyn has shown disrespect, but the establishment who have been behind those wars. And until Corbyn fully prostrates himself on the pavement in front of them, he can expect many more similar attacks to come.