by Colin Campbell
I’VE never watched The Last Night of the Proms, and know very little about it. If it’s the Last Night, how many “Nights of the Proms” have preceded it, and where have they been held? As I say, when it comes to this annual BBC showpiece, I’m pretty clueless.
The only reason I ever come across it is because it’s always on before Saturday night’s Match off the Day, and usually runs over its time, so before Gary Lineker and co appear the TV screen is filled with an enthusiastic crowd packed into the Royal Albert Hall waving Union Jacks and singing Rule Britannia to round things off. They seem to be having a very good time.
Now the BBC has decided that this year’s event will be an orchestral delivery without any accompanying singing.
Various reasons have been batted around for this but by far the most convincing is that what once was our national broadcaster and in fact still is, even though so few people now watch it, has caved into pressure from protesters who insist that the lyrics “Britons never ever shall be slaves” is offensive and racist in this day and age.
The obvious interpretation to be taken from these words is that they are a celebration of the fact that Britain has never been overrun by a foreign power – Germany in the early 1940s springs readily to mind – who put us in shackles and forced us into round the clock factory work with no guaranteed overtime and the clear prospect of being executed by firing squad if you were considered to be skiving on the job. In addition to devoting the rest of our time to cleaning their toilets.
But none of that matters to the BBC, now largely run by weaklings and weirdos who are at the forefront of those who insist on detecting “racist”, “sexist”, “homophobic” or “transphobic” offence anywhere and everywhere.
So the mere mention of the word “slaves” in any context is enough to get this spirited old song banned from the airwaves, even if it is only belted out once a year.
Not so much the affectionately dubbed “Auntie” as an alien organisation which is so at odds with the views of those who fund it that there is a wholly justified groundswell of support for refusing to pay the licence fee, regardless of the consequences.
Down south in a way they’re lucky. Up here we have the double whammy of nationalists who loathe and detest everything “British” and who seem to regard the Union Jack as about as inflammatory and hateful as the Swastika.
The opinion pages of the vile National newspaper is a prime forum for these people. They are to be found crawling all over social media as well.
Oppression, colonialism, exploitation, brutality, these are the vices they associate with Britain, going back centuries.
Not even the defeat of the Nazis will temper their view of the odious and hateful history of “the British State”.
Wiping out a televised rendition of Rule Britannia plays right into their hands and their warped outlook on our national history.
Not to worry, even when the BBC panders to their agenda – as it increasingly does on BBC Scotland – they can still dredge up grievances against it.
Even with Nicola Sturgeon still being given her regular coronavirus party political broadcasts, they’ll still besiege if with demented accusations of “pro-Union” bias.
So in England we have the fruitcakes who succeed in getting Rule Britannia banned from the airwaves because it’s racist and in Scotland we have the fanatics and zealots who hate “the British state” to the core of their being. There’s no possibility of any meeting of minds or reasoned argument any longer with these people. That ship, maybe the Ark Royal, sailed long ago.
This is a viciously divided society and likely to become more so.
Hatred of all things British among a large and growing element of nationalists has poisoned relations to the point where it seems there’s no going back.
The BBC caving in to extremists on “Rule Britannia” may be a one-week wonder.
In Scotland the sheer loathing by a growing number of extreme nationalists of all things “British” and the inevitable backlash it will provoke is stirring up rancour and conflict with ugly consequences that are impossible to predict. The only certainty is that this is no “one week wonder”. It will go on for years ahead.