The 2019 BBC Proms season ended yesterday with the now traditional Last Night celebrations. In the second half of the concert at the Royal Albert Hall, we heard part of Henry Wood’s arrangement of the Fantasia on British Sea Songs, Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March #1, aka Land of Hope and Glory, Rule Britannia! and of course Elgar’s orchestration of Parry and Blake’s Jerusalem.
It was all good stirring stuff, added to which there was the overture to Jacques Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld - which includes the Can Can - and Percy Grainger’s Marching Song of Democracy. All who attended appeared to be having a grand time. But at the Northcliffe House and Baby Shard bunkers, there was deep disquiet at what the BBC was broadcasting. Because many Promenaders were waving EU flags.
Worse, some wore EU berets. It was all too much for the Mail, which proclaimed “BBC viewers slam anti-Brexit campaigners for hijacking Last Night of the Proms by waving EU flags”. The Sun concurred, telling its audience “FOOL BRITANNIA BBC viewers blast anti-Brexit campaigners for ‘hijacking’ Last Night of the Proms by waving EU flags”.
The Mail droned on “Viewers of the Last Night Of The Proms last night voiced their disgust that the concert had been hijacked by anti-Brexit campaigners waving EU flags … Those watching live on BBC1 took to social media to air their fury … One wrote on Twitter: 'The Remoaners have hijacked a British institution with all the EU flags at The Last Night Of the Proms’ … Another said: 'Just watched it now - full of EU flags and hats. I really want to know what motivates these EU fanatics. They must hate their country.’”
The Sun added “The flag stunt was organised by an anti-Brexit campaign group but many BBC viewers condemned what they claimed was the politicising of the traditional evening … Others took aim at the BBC with one tweeting: ‘Disgusted to see the Last Night of the Proms politicised by remainers - shame on them and the bbc.’”
And three things here. One, all those wearing EU berets and waving EU flags did so of their own volition: none of them were coerced into the act. Moreover, it’s not as if the Proms is some kind of elitist bash: the Prommers’ standing tickets, for most Proms, cost £5. So does standing up in the Gods. My seat in the Rausing Circle at an August prom cost all of £12.50. These are ordinary people making a voluntary choice.
Two, of the two Twitter accounts that the Mail article shows, one Retweets a lot of stuff from people whose bios contain the phrase “No surrender”, with the other Retweeting the Brexit Party and a lot of people whose bios contain the word “Patriot”. Of the millions who watched the broadcast, that’s not exactly the most representative sample.
And Three, just to show just how desperate our free and fearless press is to shut out reality, the Mail has even whined about the selection of music. Seriously. “There were also accusations of bias in the music selection, with some saying the inclusion of The Marching Song Of Democracy by Percy Grainger was pointedly political”. Oh what a giveaway!
The Mail says democracy is A Very Bad Thing! Someone’s 1930s slip is showing. But seriously, this is press panic at the realisation that Brexit is not as popular as they believe. Last night showed the tide has most definitely turned. I’ll just leave that one there.
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