Remembrance debate: Is Jeremy Corbyn right or wrong over comments?


Jo Shone and David Humphreys

AS Britain prepares for the annual remembrance of its war dead, comments made by Jeremy Corbyn two years ago have been reignited and have sparked uproar.

The Labour leaders remarks suggests he does not agree with the First World War commemorations and the huge amount of money spent on them, but is he right? 

Leader features editor Joanne Shone and reporter David Humphreys take opposing sides...

  • Corbyn is sanctimonious and wrong in his views (By Joanne Shone)

LABOUR leader Jeremy Corbyn could not be more wrong about the significance of Remembrance of the First World War.

His self-righteous positively sanctimonious criticism of what he described as shedloads of spending on marking the 100th anniversary is so out of line with public opinion, he should not be surprised to find himself wandering in a political no-mans-land being shot at from all directions.

Corbyn did not mince his words and is steadfast in his opinion the money spent on the centenary of The Great War could have been better invested in dealing with social issues facing the nation today. 

Is Jeremy Corbyn right or wrong over this Remembrance comments?



As chairman of the Stop the War Coalition, he argues against glorifying war in any way, and asks coldly what there is to commemorate about the First World War “other than the mass slaughter of millions of young men and women – mainly men – in a war of declining empires”.

Well I’ll tell you what there is to commemorate Mr Corbyn. 

We commemorate the sacrifice of all those lives lost in the name of this country and all that stands for. We commemorate the suffering and the bravery of so many. 

We commemorate the patriotism of a generation that has almost gone.

Every one of those men and women whose lives were immortalised in the 888,246 ceramic poppies which poured out of the Tower of London last year was given because they believed they were fighting for their country, a country that still says thank you on the 11th of the 11th of the 11th each year.

Corbyn and supporters are being lambasted for questioning the public acknowledgement of their sacrifice and for allegedly turning their back on the poppy. 

But it is quite apparent from a photograph taken on Sunday in Scotland that Corbyn recognises shunning public Remembrance would be regarded as an insult to our armed forces and an insult to every life lost. 

It’s the tiniest poppy, but it is there for all to see.

I’m just glad we’re living in a country which allows everyone to say what they feel, and whatever the rights or wrongs of involvement in the First World War that conflict and every war since has shaped this nation into what it is today.

I would defend forever their right to their opinion and their right to voice it. Wars have been fought over less, but don’t let blinkered beliefs and politics shut out humanity and remembrance of the ultimate sacrifice.


  • Time to stop remembering Great War with such fanfare (by David Humphreys)

I’M WITH Corbyn on this one and to me it appears to be quite a simple issue.

Let’s look at the facts here; the First World War began more than a century ago and the world is a much more diverse and open environment now.

When you do a simple internet search on the causes of the First World War, you’re immediately told it was because of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914.

Germany and Austria are also suggested to have been players in the inception of war during that period, but there is no definitive answer as to why so many people lost their lives.

We’re remembering a war nobody really comprehends the causes of and most people, realistically, don’t understand or have any sound recollection of.

That does not for one second take away the sacrifice made by those who served during this four year conflict, but I don’t think it should be remembered with such fanfare any more, certainly during times of economic uncertainty.

It seems outdated and prehistoric to pump “shedloads” of public money into commemorating an event that isn’t fully understood anymore.

As Corbyn described it, it was a war of declining empires which led to the deaths of more than 880,000 British military personnel.

I don’t personally understand why we should have to continue to commemorate the mass bloodshed of millions of people anymore.

If I’m brutally honest, I fail to understand the relevance of highlighting what happened all those years ago.

I do understand the sacrifice that men and women made in giving their lives for this country, but times have moved on. 

We have paid our respects in spades and sometimes I think the issue of remembrance is something that people like to use as a stick to beat others with online – take Derry-born footballer James McClean and his refusal to wear a poppy, for example.

It’s easy to shout at Corbyn for questioning its relevance but honestly, when was the last time you sat back and really gave thought to what significance that bloodshed has on modern Britain?

I don’t want this for one second to come across as ungrateful to those who died for us, but I feel their memories should be laid to rest for good now and not brought up once a year for the sake of looking sympathetic.

I also disagree with remarks by Tory MPs that not remembering would be a betrayal of courage of those who served as I don’t honestly believe those who were involved in such horrendous conflict would want to be reminded of the horrors they experienced.

It is time to move on.

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