No event in the British summer calendar is more shamelessly jingoistic than the Last Night of the Proms.
This is the concert at the Royal Albert Hall when all the Union flags come out, when English composers like Elgar and Vaughan Williams are celebrated, when the patriotic revellers lustily bellow Land Of Hope and Glory without a trace of fashionable irony or politically correct embarrassment.
So, of course, it’s inevitable that the whiny losers who were outvoted 52 to 48 in the EU referendum are seeking to hijack it in order to vent their kill-joy Europhile spleen on the patriotic majority who love their country and are much happier now it has voted to quit being the vassal of a weird Euro superstate run by power-crazed, socialistic nonentities.
As Breitbart London reported, some rejected Europhiles are planning to try to overwhelm the Union flags with horrid blue-yellow-starred European ones.
Yes. That will be popular with the boisterous Last Night crowd, I’m sure. Short of getting Eddie Izzard on as the warm up man to explain in five different languages why Brexit was such a dreadful mistake, I can’t think of a move better guaranteed to test the revellers’ traditional good-natured tolerance.
Meanwhile in the Guardian, the former Proms director Nicholas Kenyon has written a piece provocatively titled:
The thrust of it is that if people use the Last Night of the Proms to celebrate Brexit then that will be a Bad Thing.
No it won’t. The Brexit victory in the EU referendum was probably the best thing to happen to the British people since VE day – and for much the same reason. It will make us freer, happier, safer, richer, more powerful, more influential. If you can’t use Last Night of the Proms to celebrate a moment of liberation like that – Britain’s Independence Day – then we might just as well have voted Remain.
What’s particularly tiresome about Kenyon’s dreary article is that, like a lot of his Remainer ilk, he will insist on fighting the battle he’s already lost, viz, the one to persuade us all that Britain is jolly European actually and that that’s why we should have stayed in the EU and why we’re going to bitterly regret leaving.
Here’s a sample: [Reader warning: have a stiff, double-shot of coffee before you essay this paragraph or you’ll never complete it]
What made Edward Elgar, the creator of Land of Hope and Glory, the outstanding composer of his time? It was not a narrow-minded English outlook, but his absorption in continental models. He found the provincial atmosphere in Worcester, where he grew up, stifling. He discovered Brahms, Liszt and Berlioz on his own. In the 1890s, on visits to Europe, he heard all of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, Parsifal, Tristan and Die Meistersinger. He incorporated Wagnerian traits in his early oratorios and, by 1902, when The Dream of Gerontius was performed in Düsseldorf, the German composer Richard Strauss praised Elgar as “the English progressivist”.
Or, as I’d summarise it:
Yadda yadda yadda.
Which is to say that we Brexiteers know and always have known that Britain has cultural connections with the European continent. We used to own half of France, for God’s sake. We were so closely involved in the port trade the Portuguese think of themselves as British. We invented the entire Swiss tourist industry. We borrowed the architecture of Palladio, the sonnets of Petrarch, the Decameron of Boccaccio. We helped the Germans out with some serious town planning alteration in the 1940s. And so on. We do not need to be lectured on history by some tofu-eating liberal-lefty Guardian-reading Quisling like Nicholas Kenyon – not least (I can’t verify this but I’ll bet you anything it’s true) that the people who voted Brexit have a better grasp of history than Remainers, because that’s one of the main reasons why we voted Brexit.
We British love and always have loved Europe and its culture. We just totally bloody hate the EU.
When are the Remainers going to understand this nuance? Never, ever, ever by the looks of it.