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Explaining the BBC’s reference to flags at the last Night of the Proms to a shocked father

Tom Winnifrith
Wednesday 26 August 2020

My father is a lifelong Guardian reader but is now gleaning real news from a one-day-old copy of the Daily Mail provided by his enlightened carer E. There is talk of cancelling his subscription to the loss-making publication, founded on the profits of slavery, and while this may threaten the funding of latest restoration works on Polly Toynbee’s Tuscan castle, it would surely be a good thing. But despite this move out of the shadows, my father still has a touching faith in the Guardian’s broadcast sibling, the frightful BBC. But maybe even this has now been tested.

The BBC was reporting on the controversy over its attempts to scrap Rule Britannia from the last night of the Proms. Oozing a smug self-congratulatory sense of sanctimony, it suggested that its compromise of not having any singing of the words – which it had claimed might be offensive in light of Black Lives matter – was a good one. Methinks that this, again, just shows how out of touch it has become and my father and E agreed.

As I demonstrated earlier, Rule Britannia has nothing to do with slavery and imperialism which the BBC might have realised if someone there could be bothered to read the lyrics!

But the BBC said that the music was a chance to wave flags of all sorts and showed someone waving an LGBT flag. Next time you are singing a patriotic song about what is great about your country, thinking back to the Japanese surrender in Singapore when Rule Britannia was sung out loud, what do you think of that makes it great? Yes! Pride month! Of course.  It is that which puts the Great into Britain!

“Hell’s teeth”, I said. E seemed to agree. “What do you mean?” said my father, at which point I had to explain what the flag being waved on screen represented.  The sigh of resignation said it all.

There is a time and a place for everything. But in the eyes of the BBC, certain issues have to be front and centre at all times. As someone who marched against Clause 28, I shall take no lectures at all from anyone on the importance of equality for the gay community but this utterly pointless and increasingly tedious virtual signalling by the BBC is winning it no friends. Indeed, in deepest Shipston, I sense one lifelong Guardian reader might be about to “come out” as a new supporter of the #DefundtheBBC movement.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
[email protected]
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