The Last Night of the Proms has become a “study in middle-class neurosis”, says Tim Stanley in The Daily Telegraph. The music at the Royal Festival Hall on Saturday was “sublime” as always, but our cultural establishment just cannot resist crowbarring in “The Speech”. You know the one. It’s always about the same issues: environment, race, and the like. On this occasion, conductor Marin Alsop told the audience the classical scene had “made strides towards a more inclusive experience”, but that we still “live in a world where in some places women are denied an education [and] basic human rights”. Eh? Yes, there is a tragic lack of women’s rights in some countries. But what does Alsop want us to do about it? “Arm the BBC Symphony Orchestra and invade Afghanistan?”
After The Speech, the audience sang Jerusalem, and “out came the European flags”. Apparently, activists handed them out to audience members as they arrived, “which explains how they got there, but not why any sane individual would wave them”. Why can’t we have a moment of “mindless patriotism” without it being compromised by the “fixations of the overeducated”? It’s a sad kind of groupthink that forces elites to see everything through a “narrow lens of contemporary obsession”. And it’s always such a stretch. The history of art isn’t exactly a “celebration of equality and diversity” – I’m not sure Wagner was very interested in “how many transvestites there were in his brass section”. There is “neither logic nor comfort” in this liberal guilt. It is the “bottomless panic of people who have lost confidence in themselves and their society”.