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Corbyn should have put his political problems to one side and realised this was a time for respectful remembrance

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 02/07/2016

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn yesterday
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn yesterday

The Somme centenary commemorations have been very moving, and due respect has been paid to those who died in or survived one of bloodiest battles in history.

Everyone who attended the commemoration ceremonies played their part nobly, but, unfortunately, the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn appeared to hit the wrong note at the Ulster Tower at Thiepval.

According to some observers, Mr Corby arrived uninvited. He was also late, left early, and used his mobile phone outside the gates of the tower, which cannot be deemed respectful to the tens of thousands of brave soldiers who gave up their lives 100 years ago.

However, it can be said in his defence that he took the trouble to join in the service of commemoration.

Such acts of remembrance are inherently solemn and reverential occasions, and people attending them must do so in the proper manner. Any failure to do this might be interpreted as a lack of respect. This in turn can create embarrassment for all concerned.

Mr Corbyn, however, has much going through his mind at this time. He is currently engulfed in a political storm over the power struggle within the Labour Party.

He was not the only politician at Thiepval yesterday who is currently facing a political crisis. Also there was David Cameron, who is still dealing with the aftermath of public's decision to leave the European Union.

In any case, whatever the storms that are buffeting Mr Corbyn, he should have had the good sense to set them aside while paying respects to the Fallen and the wounded of the Somme.

If he had been able to forget his immediate preoccupations, he might have created a space to place things in perspective, and he might have found such reflections therapeutic.

Political leaders come and go, but a century's reflection on mass slaughter in Europe still weighs heavily on all of us. That deserves the utmost respect.

Belfast Telegraph

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