Femi Oluwole clashes with This Morning's Eamonn Holmes and Nigel Farage over BBC proms racism row

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  • August 26, 2020
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Femi Oluwole clashed with This Morning host Eamonn Holmes and Nigel Farage who labelled the political activist an “extremist” for his views on the Rule Britannia song.

Reports that Rule Britannia could be axed from the Last Night of the Proms sparked a fierce row after The Sunday Times suggested there were concerns surrounding the songs’ perceived association with colonialism and slavery.

The broadcaster has since said that Land of Hope and Glory and Rule Britannia will be played but without lyrics.

Mr Oluwole told This Morning hosts Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford that the song itself was not the issue, but that wider concerns about racism in the country should be the focus.

Mr Holmes asked him to respond to the Prime Minister’s comments on the matter. Boris Johnson told reporters on Tuesday: “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 fight of self-recrimination and wetness”.

A file photo of the Last Night of the Proms (PA)

Mr Oluwole said Mr Johnson was trying to “provoke a culture war to distract from everything he’s done”.

He added that “most people don’t care” about the song as it’s rarely sung and that the lyrics were controversial for how they bragged about slavery.

“The idea that this represents the fight for racial equality is laughable,” said the activist.

When asked his views on the matter Mr Farage praised Mr Johnson for his comments and said the BBC had got the issue “helplessly wrong”.

“The song is about the fight for liberty,” he said. “We have always been about liberty.

Femi Oluwole said the Proms row was a distraction from other important issues on racism (Getty Images)

“I make this point to Femi – rather than constantly attacking everything this country had ever stood for, can we agree that it is a good thing that Britain did rule the waves, because for 50 years in the 1800s it was the British navy that got rid of the slave trade when all the other countries wanted to continue it.”

Eamonn then read out a line from the Northern Irish national anthem, and he asked Mr Oluwole if he had a problem with the word “slave” used in it.

Viewers weren’t impressed with Holmes’ treatment of the show’s guest, with many taking to social media to express their support for Mr Oluwole.

Social media users accused the This Morning hosts and Mr Farage of “ganging up” on the activist.

Another Twitter user took issue with what they described as Holmes’ “condescending” tone.

People also took issue with Mr Farage saying that Mr Oluwole represented a “tiny extremist minority”.

“How can you sit and allow Farage to call Femi an extremist on live tv but shut him down whenever he makes a very valid point?” wrote one social media user.

The national anthem will be sung at the event, which will air on BBC Radio 3 and on BBC One and feature soprano Golda Schultz and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

The BBC said: “The Proms will reinvent the Last Night in this extraordinary year so that it respects the traditions and spirit of the event whilst adapting to very different circumstances at this moment in time.

“With much reduced musical forces and no live audience, the Proms will curate a concert that includes familiar, patriotic elements such as Jerusalem and the national anthem, and bring in new moments capturing the mood of this unique time, including You’ll Never Walk Alone, presenting a poignant and inclusive event for 2020.”

Femi is an anti-Brexit camapigner and a co-founder of pro-European Union advocacy group Our Future Our Choice.

This isn’t the first time he clashed with Mr Farage. Last year Femi accused Mr Farage of unleashing “the racism of @LeaveEUOfficial & UKIP” and then abandoning both groups.

“His strategy has all the sophistication of a child thinking he’s invisible by covering his own eyes,” said Femi.