Politics

Labour members sing national anthem and hold minute’s silence in patriotic opening to conference

Labour members held a minute’s silence for the Queen and sang the national anthem in a patriotic opening to the annual party conference.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also paid tribute to the late monarch, telling party members it “still feels impossible to imagine a Britain without her”.

He said: “For us, the late Queen has always been simply the Queen, the only Queen. Above all else, our Queen. And I am proud to lead our party’s tribute to her today.”

The Labour leadership joins in singing the national anthem at the party's conference in Liverpool
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The Labour conference opened with a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II and singing God Save The King

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The speech was followed by a well-observed minute’s silence, before members sang God Save The King.

There had been fears of disruption or boos from republican delegates, but none of that materialised.

Many people in the hall were seen singing along and applause was heard once it concluded.

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However, Labour did have to help people who didn’t know the words, as sheets of paper with the lyrics were handed out at the event in Liverpool.

It is the first time in recent history the national anthem has been sung at the annual party conference.

Labour said the party wanted to reflect recent events.

But party sources are pointing to the proceedings as evidence of how much the party has changed under Sir Keir.

Labour handed out sheets of paper with the lyrics to the national anthem
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Labour handed out sheets of paper with the lyrics to the national anthem

“Can you imagine that happening under Jeremy Corbyn?” one asked Sky News.

The former leader said on Saturday he found it “odd” that the conference was opening with the national anthem.

Mr Corbyn had been critical of the monarchy during his leadership, saying during the 2019 election that it needed “improvement”. He also faced a backlash when he did not sing the national anthem at a commemoration service in 2015.

Sir Keir has attempted to strike a more patriotic tone in his mission to win the keys to Number 10.

Earlier, he told the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme that he had picked Labour “up off the canvas” after the 2019 general election hammering which saw the Tories under Boris Johnson win an 80-seat majority.

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He said the hope of a Labour government has now turned into a belief and that switch “is worth its weight in gold”.

In the same interview, he confirmed he will reverse the cut in the higher rate of income tax if it wins power at the next election.

In the first announcements of the conference, Sir Keir will also set out plans to make the UK a world-leading clean energy superpower by 2030 as an urgent priority of a future Labour government and to bolster neighbourhood policing.

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