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Labour MP blasts ‘fat old racists’ amid row over BBC move to use orchestral version of Rule Britannia at the Proms

The BBC has come under fire over the Proms decision. (PA)

3 min read

A Labour MP has launched a furious attack on “fat old racists” in the wake of a row over the BBC’s decision to play an orchestral version of Rule Britannia at this year’s Last Night of the Proms.

Bermondsey and Old Southwark MP Neil Coyle hit out at “absolute sh*tbag racist w*nkers” amid criticism of the broadcaster from Boris Johnson and other Cabinet ministers over plans for “a poignant and inclusive” rethink of the annual event in a time of coronavirus restrictions.

The BBC has promised to include “familiar, patriotic elements” in this year’s musical line-up, but said it will to adapt the event “so that it respects the traditions and spirit of the event whilst adapting to very different circumstances at this moment in time”.

Wordless versions of both Land of Hope and Glory and Rule Britannia will be played, with the September 12 Last Night taking place without an audience in light of the Covid-19 curbs.

But move has prompted some conservatives to accuse the BBC of censoring the songs amid a focus on racial injustice sparked by the Black Lives Matter movement.

Wading into the row on Tuesday, Mr Johnson said: “I think it's time we stopped our cringing embarrassment about our history, about our traditions, and about our culture, and we stopped this general bout of self-recrimination and wetness."

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg meanwhile said: “Britons must never be enslaved by political correctness.”

But that prompted an angry reaction from Mr Coyle, whose frontbench Labour colleague David Lammy has accused the Prime Minister of trying to "start a culture war" to distract from its coronavirus response.

Mr Coyle tweeted: “I have spent years warning local people that these fat old racists won’t stop blaming the EU when their sh*t hits the fan. 

“Here they come blaming others. Absolute sh*tbag racist w*nkers.”

And, responding to a video of Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage singing Rule Britannia, the Labour MP said: “If you didn’t hate it before, feel free to hate the song now. I’ve never known anyone but sh*tlickers like it tbh [to be honest].”


North West Durham MP Richard Holden was among the Tory backbenchers to take aim at the BBC over the Proms decision, saying: “At every turn the BBC just dig the hole they’re in a bit deeper.

"They need to stop with this attempt to appease the woke morons.”

The spat marks the latest clash between the Conservatives and the broadcaster this year after a row over the decision to end free TV licenses for the over-75s.

In its statement confirming the orchestral versions would be used, the BBC pointed out that conductor Henry Wood had made a similar move in 1905.

The full versions are also slated to return in future years, BBC director general Tony Hall has suggested.

Defending the Proms move on Tuesday morning, Lord Hall said the corporation had "come to the right conclusion" in the wake of of coronavirus restrictions which curb normal live performances.

The outgoing BBC director general told the Today programme: "It is there in a medley of instrumentals playing around sea shanties and all of that, and I suspect it will be back next year."

And he added: "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.

"And to have things where the whole audience normally sing along, it's quite hard creatively, artistically to make that work"

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