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Rule, Britannia! and the manufacturing of culture wars - podcast | News

This Saturday will be the annual Last Night of the Proms. The classical music event has been in the headlines recently with reports that the BBC were discussing ditching Rule, Britannia! in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement. Apparently organisers were concerned about a backlash because of the perceived connection to colonialism and slavery.

But, says Guardian columnist Nesrine Malik, the story was not actually true. There was only going to be an orchestral version because of the pandemic and the fact there will be no audience to sing along. She tells Anushka Asthana why she thinks it wasn’t an innocent misunderstanding, but the result of a desire to exaggerate the threat to “our culture” from the unnamed vandals set on destroying it. Culture war skirmishes, Malik believes, are how rightwing electoral prospects are now advanced: not through policies or promises of a better life, but by fostering a sense of threat, a fantasy that something profoundly pure and British is constantly at risk of extinction.

The Last Night of the Proms

Photograph: Graham Wiltshire/REX/Shutterstock

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