What Jeremy Corbyn should have said about the Privy Council

If I were Jeremy Corbyn, here’s what I would have said when asked about joining the Privy Council:

I know the invitation has been extended to me with the best of intentions, but with respect, it is not for me.

It’s not required to do the job of Leader of the Opposition. There is no need to be a Privy Counsellor to have a confidential briefing from time to time from the government.

My GP is not a Privy Counsellor, but I trust my GP to keep confidential information secret. Many fantastic volunteers work for the Samaritans and I would always trust their ability to keep something confidential too.

It’s a bizarre backhanded insult to millions of other people who keep secrets day after day to think that you have to be a Privy Counsellor to be trusted with confidential information.

What being a Privy Counsellor is, is simply a symbol. There are many symbols I love and cherish – but symbols should only be loved and cherished when they symbolise something right and good.

The problem with the Privy Council is that baked into its very rules is treatment of Roman Catholics and Muslims as third class. The very order in which people are asked to line up for introduction to the Privy Council isn’t based on your surname, your age or any other passably decent way form of ordering. The rules are that if you’re a Muslim or a Roman Catholic you are bumped down the queue.

That is symbolic of a religiously bigoted past we should have long since abandoned. It’s only a small matter of symbolism, perhaps, but then membership of the Privy Council is only a small practical matter too. And it’s one whose symbolism is all wrong.

Cameron and Osborne may be happy to ride along with a system that is locked into old fashioned hatreds and dislike of Muslims. Me? I’m not happy to join a queue when I know someone else will have been sent to the back for being of a different religion.

So thank you, but no – I won’t be taking up the invitation to becomeĀ a member of the Privy Council.

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