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Starmer picks EU anthem as music that ‘sums up Labour Party’

24 Nov 2023 3 minute read
Keir Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer has picked the EU anthem as the piece of classical music that “sums up the Labour Party”.

The Opposition leader talked about the “sense of destiny” and “moving forward to a better place” in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, which includes the choral Ode to Joy, in a radio interview.

Asked what piece of classical music best sums up Labour, Sir Keir told Classic FM: “One of the pieces I’ve got is Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, the choral Ode to Joy.

“You’ve got the orchestra, you’ve got the voices, you’ve got this big combination. This is very sort of Labour.

“You’re getting everybody, Beethoven’s getting everybody on to the stage for this.

“I talk about a national mission for the next Labour government. 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 that sense of moving forward to a better place is incredibly powerful.”


Sir Keir has made clear that returning to the EU’s single market or customs union is a line Labour does not want to cross and the party said it would not put the UK in a position where it is a “rule-taker” if it wins power.

He has hinted he would seek a closer relationship with the bloc, saying co-operation is needed to tackle issues like the crisis of migrants making dangerous journeys across the English Channel in small boats from France.

Beethoven’s symphony is one of the most popular pieces of classical music and has been used at events including the BBC Proms as well as for the EU’s anthem since the 1970s.


Sir Keir, a former junior scholar at Guildhall who played the flute, piano and violin as a child, has spoken previously of listening to Beethoven more generally to help deal with the strains of work, describing classical music as a “great release” for him.

He has also highlighted the second movement of Beethoven’s 5th piano concerto, the Emperor Concerto, as a piece he listens to after a difficult day.

“There is that beautiful bit about a third of the way in where it’s just the piano, totally on its own to start with, sort of rolling down the notes, and it’s absolutely phenomenal,” he said.

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Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
6 months ago

Secretly Starmer is pro European but is afraid to let it be known as he fears losing votes. However, the vast majority of people in the country now believe Brexit to be an absolutely stupid idea. The quicker he realises this the quicker the country can once again benefit from being part of the Single Market and Customs Union.

6 months ago

I hope he is going to pull the EU rabbit out the hat if he wins next GE but by heck he seems to be doing everything to lose it. If he wants a slam dunk I would think a rejoin attitude would hoover up many a young vote.
If he continues with brexit self destruction, and enough of the Tory Party is left after the next GE, 6 years time we are done for as UK.

6 months ago

Shame he wasn’t a bit more vociferous about remaining in the EU at the time of the referendum and immediately afterwards in the decision re Article 50 then!

6 months ago
Reply to  Ann

Jeremy Corbyn was leader at the time. What did he do to stop Brexit? Not much, he’s a Lexiteer.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
6 months ago

Let’s all hope that we can join the EFTA, EEA and then the European Union as soon as possible; preferably as Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and England.

It is the only way forward.

Rhddwen y Sais
6 months ago

We voted to leave don’t ya know. We live in a democracy thankfully.

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