Labour’s Thangam Debbonaire Challenges Tradition of Rule, Britannia! at the Proms

Labour’s cultural spokesman, Thangam Debbonaire, has ignited a discussion on the patriotic anthem Rule, Britannia! Often viewed as a stirring ode to Britain’s history, Debbonaire suggests the song may feel ‘alienating’ to some.

The debate centers on the accessibility of culture and the role of traditional anthems in contemporary events.

Rule, Britannia!’s History and Controversies

Rule, Britannia! originated from the 1740 poem by Scottish poet James Thomson, set to music by English composer Thomas Arne.

Symbolic of the British Empire, the anthem has faced recent controversies due to its perceived excessive patriotism.

The debate was fueled by cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, proposing the inclusion of British folk music instead.

Thangam Debbonaire: Welcoming the Debate on Cultural Traditions

In an interview with The Spectator’s Women with Balls podcast, Thangam Debbonaire expressed her views on Rule, Britannia!, stating it’s not her favorite piece of music.

Acknowledging the Proms as a fantastic institution, she emphasized the importance of cultural decisions lying with event organizers rather than politicians.

Debbonaire sees the ongoing debate as an essential discourse on making culture accessible to everyone.

Tory Response and Rule, Britannia!’s Unifying Power

Tory deputy chairman Jack Lopresti criticized Labour’s stance, accusing them of disregarding national traditions.

The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, and former minister Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg emphasized the significance of preserving Rule, Britannia! as a unifying anthem that encapsulates Britain’s rich history.

The BBC U-Turn and National Pride

In 2020, the BBC faced criticism for planning to play an instrumental version of Rule, Britannia! at the Last Night of the Proms.

A subsequent U-turn brought back the singing of the anthem. Political figures assert that Rule, Britannia! should be sung proudly, emphasizing the nation’s pride in its history.

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