A LABOUR MP has criticised the BBC’s decision to perform anthems at the Proms without the lyrics as “absurd”.

The broadcaster revealed details of the Last Night after reports that songs including Rule Britannia! and Land Of Hope And Glory could face the axe over associations with colonialism and slavery.

On Monday night the BBC issued a statement saying orchestral versions of the songs without vocals will be performed at the famous concert on September 12.

But Lloyd Russell-Moyle, the MP for Brighton Kemptown, was critical of the decision.

“It’s absurd that the BBC say they’re going to play the music and not have anyone singing when everyone in the country knows the words and the vast majority want to sing along.

“It would be a great shame if we tried to remove the lyrics without a deeper conversation.”

Rule Britannia! includes lyrics such as “Britons never will be slaves” and has drawn criticism over Britain’s role in the slave trade.

Kehinde Andrews, professor of black studies at Birmingham University, said the song represents “racist propaganda at a time when Britain was the leading slave trading nation in the world”.

Land Of Hope And Glory, meanwhile, includes lyrics such as “Thine Empire shall be strong” and “God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet”.

Mr Russell-Moyle welcomed discussion about changing the lyrics, but said: “We mustn’t over-react. We’ll end up creating some fabricated culture war when there doesn’t need to be one.”

He said he believes anthems can help “bind people together” and said he was “worried about anyone just trying to remove the lyrics without more positive conversation about what represents modern Britain”.

He added: “There are legitimate reasons why you would want to change them. I find God Save The Queen an absolute dirge to tell the truth.”

There will be no live audience at the Proms this year because of coronavirus.

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.

“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.”