Eamonn Holmes and Nigel Farage clashed with black activist Femi Oluwole on This Morning - here’s what happened

Wednesday, 26th August 2020, 1:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 26th August 2020, 1:30 pm
Several viewers took to Twitter to criticise Eamonn Holmes’s line of questioning, and showed an outpouring of support for Oluwole. (Getty)

This Morning host Eamonn Holmes has clashed with political activist Femi Oluwole over the recent controversy surrounding songs with colonial references, such as Rule Britannia.

Nigel Farage also took part in the debate, which aired on Tuesday 25 August.

What started the controversy around the songs?

On Tuesday it was announced that orchestral versions of Rule Britannia and Land Of Hope And Glory will be performed at the BBC Proms, in order to adapt to the government's safety rules against public singing as part of the fight against coronavirus.

This came after The Sunday Times had speculated that the songs could face the axe this year, due to associations with colonialism and slavery.

What did Femi Oluwole say?

Speaking on the daytime show, This Morning, activist Femi Oluwole suggested the discussion around such songs in the Proms were being used to deflect from the wider issue of racism in the UK, and the racist comments Boris Johnson has made.

Oluwole said, "This narrative is being driven by the BBC, the same BBC that took two weeks to apologise for using the N-word on a live news broadcast.”

He condemned the focus upon the use of Rule Britannia and other songs with colonial links in the media saying, "The idea that this represents the fight for racial equality is laughable."

However, Holmes and his wife Ruth Langsford shut down Oluwole’s comments, telling him he had only been asked to appear on the show to talk specifically about the songs.

Holmes then read a line from the Northern Irish national anthem, before asking Oluwole if he took issue with the lyrics which contained the word ‘slave’. In response, Oluwole explained that he required the context in which the song uses the word in order to answer the question.

Undeterred, Holmes pressed Oluwole further, by listing other European national songs which feature the word ‘slave’ and asking Oluwole whether he took offence over such lyrics.

Former UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage also appeared on the programme to take part in the discussion, commenting that the UK should be proud of songs which are part of its national heritage.

During the show, Nigel Farage called Oluwole an "extremist" for his views.

How did viewers respond?

Several viewers took to Twitter to criticise Eamonn Holmes’s line of questioning, and showed an outpouring of support for Oluwole.

One tweeted, "#ThisMorning Eamonn Holmes is a racist this is excruciating, asking a black man why he takes issue with the word ‘slave’ ??? In that condescending tone too #ThisMorning."

Another said, "Very disappointed by @thismorning on their treatment of @Femi_Sorry today. Femi was articulate and knowledgeable but @EamonnHolmes tried to make him look foolish. Also, allowing #NigelFarage to call #Femi an extremist was uncalled for. #ThisMorning" added a third.

Meanwhile one wrote, "Oh my god. Did @EamonnHolmes ACTUALLY just ask @Femi_Sorry why he gets so offended by the word slave? And did Nigel Farage just call him an extremist?? #[email protected] That interview was disgusting to watch."