For the past several weeks the United Kingdom has been filled with the chattering of newsprint about Jeremy Corbyn MP’s decision to postpone formal investiture into the Privy Council due to a prior personal commitment; a commitment he has now revealed. I’m uncertain whether or not the way he handled the disclosure was ideal, but his reason is one I feel even the most ardent Monarchist should support: he was taking a holiday in Scotland.
For those not aware of the story, the leader of the Opposition is traditionally invited to join the Privy Council, an ancient body of advisers to the Monarch. The Council does not actually do much so – apart from being briefed on certain confidential matters – the post doesn’t significantly alter his powers or responsibilities. However, the formal investiture (a step that is expected but not required) does require an oath to protect and serve the Monarch. As Corbyn MP is an ardent republican there were many opinion pieces on whether he would accept the invitation, and if so whether he would be formally invested or not. Once he had indicated he would join, the discussion moved to his announcement he wouldn’t be attending on the Monarch at the first opportunity offered. This continued for several days before he revealed his prior engagement.
Some have suggested that Corbyn MP should have revealed his reasons sooner so the story went away. Given the other matters that the media have batted back and forth since his selection as Labour leader, I have a less optimistic view on whether or not people would have stopped talking about his suitability or just found a different thing to argue about. Potentially releasing the information sooner would have been a better sign that he didn’t consider spinning it; but isn’t a sign he did.
However, I find the reason itself a sign of a commendable attitude to the nation. The investiture is not urgent: other members of the Council have delayed; and in the event he did need to be a member immediately, there are other methods. So he has taken the decision to go on holiday instead of do something that wasn’t urgent.
The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.
– Sydney J. Harris
Many people in the United Kingdom work unpaid overtime after work, on weekends, or on holidays because their employers expect them to? Occasional, working extra unpaid hours when something urgent comes up is something that good employees do, but to have an expectation they will put in unpaid overtime as a matter of course is an assault on the basis of employment contracts.
Corbyn MP not rearranging his holiday to do something that isn’t urgent sends a powerful message that workers with jobs less important than governing a country aren’t obliged to answer emails while on holiday.
Some employers already take the view that the stress-induced downsides of unpaid overtime outweigh any extra benefit, but more needs to be done to end the idea that working more than your hours is just something you do once you reach a certain level. I might not agree with Corbyn MP on everything, but I support his choice to put a well-rounded and healthy life ahead of appearance.