Why Jeremy Corbyn has no need to dodge Privy Council meeting with Queenie

A Privy Council, Library of Congress

There is much fluttering in the press this morning about the non-appearance of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn at a Privy Council meeting with old Queen Lizzie, at which he could be sworn into the obscure body.

It is not the first time the press has taken an interest in the republicanism of Corbyn, Fleet Street having had a shitfit over the fact he did not sing the national anthem at a Battle of Britain memorial but stood in, er, respectful silence.

Most controversial is the assertion that the Labour leader would have to take a knee before Lizzie Windsor in order to be sworn into the council, which mostly stamps rubber but also gives out secret briefings.

Folks at the Telegraph are reporting that Corbyn has dodged the meeting because of a “prior engagement”, quoting a (conveniently) anonymous sources attacking him for sedition etc.

Even the Beeb gets in on the act of quoting Tory MP Alan Duncan (Who? – Ed) who attacked the Labour leader for putting politics above the monarch, as if the needs of the citizenry were above those of the House of Windsor!

“This is not so much about snubs, insults or ceremonies: it’s more about whether Jeremy Corbyn wants to be a serious political figure or just a perpetual rebel,” Duncan told the Torygraph.

The national broadcaster does however point out that prime minister David Cameron took three months to get sworn in, and presumably wasn’t asked a battery of stupid questions about it.

Later in the Torygraph the reporters speculate that Corbyn might seek to use an Order in Council to be sworn in without bothering to meet Lizzie Windsor in the (rather aged) flesh.

Yet all this is rather pointless speculation, since there is already a convention in place by which Queenie accepts republicans into what journalist Christopher Hitchens correctly termed the “Secret Council” without the genuflection.

Last Wednesday our friends at Private Eye published the following story explaining how it all works, writing:

“There is a long-established custom for dealing with such circumstances: traditionally republicans simply feign a knee injury which prevents them assuming such an uncomfortable posture. The more theatrical have even been known to borrow a walking stick for the occasion.”

Copies of the magazine can and should be obtained at these things called “newsagents”. Try googling it.

Update: Rather embarrassingly Christopher Hope, one of the hacks behind the Torygraph story, is failing to admit that Cameron took three months before he was sworn in – rather damaging the “snub” spin on Hope’s piece.

Unfortunately the paperwork proves he is quite, quite wrong.

Image Credit – A Privy Council, Library of Congress

Jimmy Nicholls

Jimmy Nicholls

Writer on Westminster, free speech, religion and so forth. Contact jimmy.nicholls@rightdishonourable.com

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