Keir Starmer praises ‘hugely optimistic’ EU theme tune - and says it sums up Labour party

The Labour leader said Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, the EU’s anthem, ‘has a sense of destiny’ and is ‘very sort of Labour’

Archie Mitchell
Friday 24 November 2023 12:01
'We don't want to diverge' from EU rules, says Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer has praised the EU’s theme tune as “hugely optimistic”, adding that it is the classical song that “sums up the Labour Party”.

The Labour leader said Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, the choral Ode to Joy, “has a sense of destiny” and “moving forward to a better place”.

It was adopted as the "Anthem of Europe" by the Council of Europe in 1972 and the European Union officially adopted Ode to Joy as its anthem in 1985, saying it “expresses the European ideals of freedom, peace and solidarity”.

The song is played at official ceremonies involving the European Union and the bloc’s website says it is “not intended to replace the national anthems of the EU countries but rather to celebrate the values they share”.

In an interview with Classic FM, Sir Keir said Ode to Joy was “very sort of Labour”.

He added: “You’re getting everybody, Beethoven’s getting everybody onto the stage for this. I talk about a national mission for the next Labour government.

Sir Keir Starmer picked Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (Jacob King/PA)

“This is a sense of something. It has got a sense of destiny and is hugely optimistic. And so for me, that’s been hardwired in me for a long, long time.

“So I would go with that. There are many others that I could associate with the Labour Party, but it’s that sense of moving forward to a better place, is incredibly powerful.”

Tory chairman Richard Holden said Sir Keir’s song choice was “simultaneously totally naff and completely telling”. Mr Holden said: “Choose any in the world… A Wesleyan Hymn… some rousing Elgar… a modern American classic… a slice of Wagnerian Opera. And he alights on the EU Anthem.”

As well as being the EU’s anthem, Ode to Joy is also played at events including  the Last Night of the Proms.

Sir Keir, an ardent Remainer who served as shadow Brexit secretary under Jeremy Corbyn, has ruled out rejoining the single market or a customs union if Labour wins power.

But he has promised to push for an improved trading relationship with the EU if Labour were to form the next government.

Labour has said it will renegotiate a better deal for the UK with the EU. The current agreement, struck by Mr Johnson, comes up for review in 2025 – which could present and opportunity for changes.

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “Labour will seek a better deal for Britain. This does not involve any form of membership.”

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