Boris Johnson slams BBC for ‘wetness’ over Proms song stance
Lord Frost has raised fears that the Last Night of the Proms is not “safe in the BBC’s hands”.
The Conservative peer claimed the corporation “doesn’t really like the core of the event at all”.
He highlighted how in 1969 the BBC attempted to drop British patriotic song Land of Hope and Glory before U-turning on the move.
But Lord Frost said over the past decade “the sensitivities have grown faster and faster”.
He pointed to the broadcaster planning to play the music without the words to Land of Hope and Glory and Rule, Britannia! in 2020 due to concerns over their associations with slavery and British colonialism before being “ridiculed out of it” by then-prime minister Boris Johnson.
Meanwhile, cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason – who is playing in this year’s event – said he does not understand why Rule, Britannia! “is so important to people” and that he would prefer folk songs.
Writing in his Telegraph column, Lord Frost said: “It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the spirit of the age is unsympathetic to the Last Night and that the BBC would like to change it if it could get away with it.”
But the Tory politician warned against changing the biggest musical party of the year as it could lead to other traditions coming under threat.
He said: “When the new cultural forces feel strong enough to scrap it, or turn it into the usual modern mush of celebrating diversity and inclusion, then we will know we have lost the culture war. At the moment they don’t feel strong enough. Let’s keep it that way. “
Lord Frost’s comments come as the Last Night of the Proms has been at the centre of controversy in recent years.
When the BBC was set to ditch the lyrics to Land of Hope and Glory and Rule, Britannia! three years ago, Mr Johnson said: “I do think this country is going through an orgy of national embarrassment about some of the things that other people around the world love most about us. People love our traditions and our history with all its imperfections.
“It’s crazy for us to go around trying to censor it. It’s absolutely absurd and I think we should speak out loud and proud for the UK and our history.”
The BBC was contacted for comment.
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