Thursday, 24 Sep 2020

BBC attacked over ‘wokeness and the cancel culture’ as Brexiteer offers ultimatum

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Earlier this week, the BBC announced plans to scrap songs such as Rule Britannia! and Land of Hope and Glory from the annual Last Night of the Proms.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for an end to “self-recrimination and wetness” as the BBC’s chief said it was “right” to remove lyrics from some traditional anthems during this year’s performance.

The BBC has since confirmed the traditional anthems will be sung at next year’s Last Night Of The Proms.

However, Brexiteer Lord Digby Jones has lashed out at the BBC and demanded they put up the words so people can sing at home.

He wrote on Twitter: “If the BBC decision not to sing the words of Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory has nothing to do with wokeness and the cancel culture it won’t mind if we all singalong at home as they play the music will it.

“So please BBC, put up the words as subtitles in time to the tune? Or are you too frit? [sic]”

Lord Hall, the BBC’s outgoing director-general, said the decision to perform new, orchestral versions of the songs was a “creative” one.

But he confirmed the issue of dropping songs because of their association with Britain’s imperial history had been discussed.

A spokesman for the BBC said: “For the avoidance of any doubt, these songs will be sung next year.

“We obviously share the disappointment of everyone that the Proms will have to be different but believe this is the best solution in the circumstances and look forward to their traditional return next year.”

Rule Britannia! originates from a poem by James Thomson and became symbolic with the British Empire and Navy in 1745.

The song has been widely criticised for lines such as “Britons never, never, never shall be slaves”.

Nigel Farage also called for the BBC to be cancelled after it said it would scrap the words from the songs.

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BBC Proms director David Pickard said: “These are challenging times for our nation and the rest of the world, but they show that we need music and the creative industries more than ever.

“This year it is not going to be the Proms as we know them, but the Proms as we need them.

“We will provide a stimulating and enriching musical summer for both loyal Proms audiences and people discovering the riches we have to offer for the first time.”

This year, the event will be performed in front of an empty Royal Albert Hall.

Jan Younghusband, head of BBC music TV commissioning, said: “We have a lot of problems about how many instruments we can have.

“It is hard to know whether it is physically possible to do [Rule, Britannia].

“Some of the traditional tunes, like Jerusalem, are easier to perform… We also don’t know if we’ll be in a worse situation in two weeks’ time.”

In June, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) were considering banning the song, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, from their games for having connections to the slave trade.

The song was reportedly written by Wallace Willis, a Native American who was a slave in the Deep South before the American Civil War.

It’s believed a minister transcribed the words he heard Mr Wallis sing and the African American group, The Jubilee Singers, popularised it as they toured the world.

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