The Prime Minister has said that it is time to stop “our cringing embarrassment” about British history after the controversy surrounding BBC’s Last Night Of The Proms
Press reports had claimed that the annual celebration of classical music was considering removing the so called “patriotic” songs Land Of Hope And Glory and Rule Britannia! from the set-list due to their perceived association with Imperial colonialism, as well as slavery.
“If it is correct… I think it’s time we stopped our cringing embarrassment about our history, about our traditions and about our culture, and we stop this general bout of self-recrimination and wetness,” Boris Johnson said to reporters.
This comes after the government is reportedly in the “final stages” of consultations with teachers and councils about having students wear face coverings throughout Scottish schools while moving between classrooms.
Revealing to the press that he had been advised against speaking out on the matter, Mr Johnson added: “I wanted to get that off my chest.”
The broadcaster has now said that the orchestral versions of the songs will be performed and the event, which will be going ahead without an audience, will supposedly include “familiar, patriotic elements”.
The Sunday Times had initially reported that the BBC had been discussing dropping several of the traditional songs as the Finnish conductor of the show, Dalia Stasevska, was “keen to modernise the evening’s repertoire and reduce the patriotic elements”.
The newspaper had said that the BBC was “yet to agree” on the final programme but they were was aware of the “ongoing debates over race equality” following recent protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The song Rule Britannia! includes the line referring to slavery: “Rule, Britannia! Britannia rules the waves; Britons never, never, never, shall be slaves.”
Some senior British politicians have raised concerns about the reported change, with Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, tweeting that he has raised his concerns with the BBC.
The UK’s B0usiness Secretary, Alok Sharma, has said that he would like to hear the lyrics sung.
“BBC should put lyrics on screen so we can sing”
“I think what’s really important is, if you’re looking at this sort of stuff, is that you should be looking to tackle the substance of problems, rather than symbols,” he said.
“I think that’s a point the prime minister has made very well.”
This comes after thirteen to fourteen-year-olds were less anxious during the nation-wide COVID-19 lockdown than they had been in October of last year, according to a survey from the University of Bristol.
Outgoing BBC director general Lord Hall said he backed the decision over the Proms – but suspected the lyrics would return at some point.
“The whole thing has been discussed by David (Pickard, the director) and his colleagues of course it has,” he told BBC Radio 4.
“The point is they’ve come to the right conclusion, which is it’s very, very hard in an Albert Hall that takes over 5,000 people to have the atmosphere of the Last Night Of The Proms.”