Contentious statues

The statue debate continues, with Prime Ministerial content adding to the coverage. So let me today explore the issues concerning a prominent statue in York. For me it is central that the future of statues is settled by peaceful and democratic means, and not by criminal damage to them. A town or county or nation has to find a way to be at peace with its past so the factions with differing views can accept the decision.

In York near the Minster, with the throne of the Archbishop, rests a modern statue of Emperor Constantine. He has been selected because he spent time in York, and because he converted to Christianity.

There are a number of issues about his life and times which should give us pause before we celebrate his success in promoting Christianity or in uniting his vast empire. He was the Emperor who developed Constantinople as the new centre of the Roman colonial system.

We should ask how acceptable it is that he presided over a system based on slavery. Much of the hard work in building his cities and palaces, in providing for a sybaritic lifestyle for the grandees, and in carrying out the chores of urban living fell to the slaves. Slaves were often badly treated and traded.

We should remember that in York he worked with and through the large army barracks and fortified system, encouraging the army to keep the local population obedient to Roman law. Dissent was dealt with brutally.

We should bear in mind that he led armies against people the Romans called barbarians because they happened to disagree with Rome and wished to govern themselves, or were settled just beyond the edges of Roman military rule.

He supported a large barrier wall between England and Scotland, with military suppression of any worrying contact between the two places and peoples.

I myself would vote not to have statue to such a man close to one of our great cathedrals were I to have such a vote. It would be better off in a museum to Roman life somewhere.The very least that could be done is to place more explanatory text about this man prominently for all to read if they wish, to explain the good and the bad we now see in him.

There are similar issues with the statue of Trajan by the City of London.

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  1. Peter Wood
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 5:26 am | Permalink

    Good Morning,

    Sir John, are you ‘gaslighting’ us?

    This is not about statues, buildings, history or books; this is about HOPE.

    When one man loses hope, he may harm himself or withdraw. When a large group, or an appreciable proportion of society loses hope, then the fight is on to change the status quo.
    This is what we are seeing, a part of our society that feels so disenfranchised, possible owing to poor education or economic condition, that they believe that most of the things that they feel they should obtain are moving farther out of reach, and having no hope to recover.

    Address this and your statues and history will be safe.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 6:10 am | Permalink

      Where and why?
      The head of Ofsted chillingly announced that she wanted slavery taught in schools. Really? By whom? And with what purpose?
      At University, my grandson was in his first meeting of the politics course. Everyone was saying they voted Labour when they were asked which party they supported. He said UKIP. Horrified silence. At the end of the year, fed up with being indoctrinated, he changed to another course.
      Change the Education system into one where debating, questioning, research for its own sake are prized and you might get somewhere.

      • JoolsB
        Posted June 16, 2020 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

        It’s not the course Mike. My son is studying medicine at Cambridge and to my horror he has become what I would consider quite left wing. He is surrounded by peers many from very privileged backgrounds and public school educated, all doing many different courses and the one thing they have in common is the majority of them vote Labour.

      • Hope
        Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

        Edward Colston was not born until 1636!

        His statue was a grade II listed monument. It was put there for his giving to charity not links to slave trade. Remind me what the Barbary slaves gave or did for this country?

        All slavery was evil. Let us not pretend it was just one group of people against another.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:33 am | Permalink

      State education is equally available to all here in the UK. Some would argue it is too available to all comers. Out of that stems economic condition.

      The tougher call is cultural integration, and the tougher question is whether we’ve taken on more than we can chew in terms of immigration in the past 60 years.

      Either we remain British or we reset our history and become a totally new nation as the recent demonstrations and left wing commentators would seem to wish. Remain was put forward as a route to trying to get us to change our identity and take all-comers regardless of acceptability to the UK government, and that failed. Most people here vote to remain British, meaning new culture integrates with ours in the UK, not vice versa.

      • Mark B
        Posted June 18, 2020 at 4:18 am | Permalink

        What people seem to forget I’d that you cannot have MASS IMMIGRATION and a welfare state.

    • Robert McDonald
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:57 am | Permalink

      What about the many countries that currently either actively or less openly encourage slavery. Even the way certain European countries use migrant labour is bordering on such practices. Why don’t the virtues signallers take an active role in abolishing slavery TODAY instead of taking on pigeon perches. Better as suggested in this article to ensure each statue has the good and bad facts displayed for all to see and debate. Education is vital and is the only way for people to learn from past mistakes.

    • beresford
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      ….and why should ‘hope’ in this country be affected either way by the idiotic actions of American police officers on the other side of the globe? ‘BLM’ is a Marxist organisation recruiting youth bored by lockdown who want to play a glorious wide game. JR should occupy himself opposing the craven pandering to this group by police and politicians rather than compiling his own list of history to be erased.

    • Cliff. Wokingham
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      Peter I think you’re correct however, it was ironical that addressing this very issue on Sky News, they interviewed the Bishop of Dover, a black female then they had on our chancellor, an Asian male then our Home Secretary, an Asian female.
      I suspect there are those left behind in all communities but, I hope we still have a meritocracy in this country and that the cream will always rise to the top irrespective of their colour, creed or background.

    • ed2
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      Good Morning,

      Sir John, are you ‘gaslighting’ us?

      No, he is doing God’s Will.

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      The demonstraors are organized by the left wing rabble who can’t win at the ballot box. If you read the statement on BLM you will see their stated aim is to destroy capitalism and democracy, stripping everyone of property right. Taking direct action. It has nothing to do with racism its about losing the election and the Brexit vote.
      The leaders want to install a Momentum style government which the people roundly rejected in December.

    • Hope
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      How about stain d glass windows in churches? How about if you have strong views about another religion which you deem a force for evil and the building is used by those who promote that evil?

      How about those North African Barbary pirates who seized villages of white people in European countries like UK and Ireland for two hundred years, Captian Jack Sparrow was created on the image on one of them. Should Pirates of the Carrabean be banned from all screens?

      How about the Ashanti Kingdom, now Ghana, where black rulers ruthlessly captured Black slaves and sold them to European countries. Should all overseas aid be banned to Ghana? And overseas aid stopped to every country including the other West African countries who deliberately captured conquered tribes/people to enslave?

      UK could save a fortune in overseas aid if this rule was appplied. Same for EU contributions, Portugal, Holland and Spain participated in slavery trade. No money do them, you see it is a matter of principle.

      Oh Dear, another day another quangos announced by Johnson. How many quangos, task forces, czars has he appointed in the last three months?

    • Hope
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      Thomas Sowell (black academic) appears to be sound in all these issues. He articulates a reasoned cogent argument that dispels MSM on these types of issues. Unfortunately as he is not a left wing Marxist the media appear to be interested with informed educated people like him.

      He points out Barbary slave traders enslaved more white people than there were black slaves in America and the US colonies put together.

      • Dennis
        Posted June 16, 2020 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

        ‘He points out Barbary slave traders enslaved more white people than there were black slaves in America and the US colonies put together.’

        That is interesting if true (not saying it isn’t) but what has that got to do with whites enslaving blacks?

      • margaret howard
        Posted June 17, 2020 at 7:28 am | Permalink


        “He points out Barbary slave traders enslaved more white people than there were black slaves in America and the US colonies put together.”

        So you are quite happy to have the often honoured, christian citizens of our country compared to Barbary slave traders?

        • Hope
          Posted June 17, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

          Rediculous I’ll-informed comment, again, Margaret.

          Historic fact slavery has occurred across many races irrespective of colour for humdreds of years. It is a myth of MSM to think black people were the only ones to suffer at the hands of white people.

    • mancunius
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      Peter, you are right to draw attention to the neglect of the English working classes: it has long since been acknowledged, but governments have done little about it. Here is the New Statesman on the subject: ” among white boys the gap between how poor and middle-class pupils do is wider than for any other ethnic background. As Theresa May noted in her first speech as Prime Minister, “If you’re a white, working-class boy, you’re less likely than anybody else in Britain to go to university.”
      The Conservative Party was given a mandate of trust last December by white working class voters in the former industrial heartlands, disenchanted with Labour’s attempts to keep them poor and compliant. Yet so far, despite his promises, Johnson’s government has done little of practical use to repay that trust, merely reverted to its patronising, metro-liberal group-think.

    • Barry
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      “a part of our society that feels so disenfranchised, possible owing to poor education or economic condition”

      Or crime?

  2. GilesB
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    Without freedom of speech minority views can be suppressed by the majority. And in the age of the puppet court of social media, the views of the silent majority cab be suppressed by the braying of a small but vocal minority.

    Intolerance cannot be tolerated.

    And free speech needs to be enduring: it can’t be simply erased if it becomes inconvenient. The views of the citizens who raised the statute of Constantine should be respected. Their view was that his life should be commemorated. That view should be respected, and tolerated, not ignored and erased.

    • Andy
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:07 am | Permalink

      You appear to believe your view is the majority view. 42% voted Tory last year. 58% didn’t.

      It turns out that ‘majority view’ is not the view of the majority at all. Just the view of the biggest minority.

      And that is the problem.

      • Ian Wragg
        Posted June 16, 2020 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

        And a good deal less voted for the other rabble.
        It must be time for your medication.
        Have your kids applied for jobs yet I think the vibrant employment enclaves of Spain, Italy and Greece.

      • NickC
        Posted June 16, 2020 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

        And yet in the Referendum the majority in a free vote decided to Leave the EU and regain control of our borders, fish, law-making, courts, and money. Something you and other extreme Remains have never accepted. And that is the problem.

      • Edward2
        Posted June 16, 2020 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

        We know the rules for elections before we go into vote.
        Labour, the one Green and the Lib Dems did poorly.

        There wasn’t a rejection of the Conservative Party.
        They got a huge majority.

        If you add up all the votes of all the other parties they have nearly always been more than the winning party in every election in the UK.

        You just can’t accept you lost.

      • Fred H
        Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

        you still don’t get it do you? When a vote on anything doesn’t produce a >50% result in favour of one path – the next biggest minority rules, ok!
        It is not the problem, it is the SOLUTION.

      • Graham Wheatley
        Posted June 17, 2020 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

        Registered Electors : 46,500,001 (I take it you are the odd ‘1’ at the end?).
        Spoiled papers : 25,539
        Remain : 16,141,241.
        Leave : 17,410,742.

        I’ll help you with the maths Andy.
        1-(16,141,241/46,500,501) = 0.6529.

        i.e. 65.29 % of registered electors did NOT vote for the UK to REMAIN a member of the €U.

        If you’d like to verify those results for yourself then please take a look at

    • NickC
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      Giles B, Free speech is critical for the development of tolerance. Indeed it is a symbiosis. However, the roaming gangs of political agitators and criminals have no tolerance by definition: they impose their twisted self-serving world view on the rest of us by violence, vandalism, and intimidation.

    • Lexi Dick
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      Quite right. Views change. One thing is certain, our society will one day be judged and found wanting. I hope future generations are more tolerant of opinions that differ from their own.

    • Graham Wheatley
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      Tell that to John Major! (Ref: the ‘tyranny of the majority’ in a democratic vote).

  3. Nigl
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    ‘Let people without sin cast the first stone’

    Posted June 16, 2020 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    A most abhorrent and offensive article that reeks of appeasement and capitulation to violent, criminal intimidation or direct action as some call it

    Far easier for this PM and his party MPs to give way to fascists than to confront it for fear of damaging his party in the eyes of the media

    This is not about statues, this is about protecting the interests of the Conservative Party

    It won’t end here. They’ll keep asking and taking and taking and taking and taking and they won’t stop until they TAKEN EVERYTHING

    Farage was absolutely correct about the Conservative Party. It truly has become a most appalling slander on our nation.

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 6:10 am | Permalink


      • ed2
        Posted June 16, 2020 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

        You are all wrong, it was an excellent article.

      • Hope
        Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

        Barbary pirates of North Africa captured white slaves for over a hundred years.
        “…to the Fleece tavern to drink and there we spent till 4 a-clock telling stories of Algier and the manner of the life of Slaves there… those who have been slaves did make me full acquainted with their condition there. As, how they eat nothing but bread and water…. How they are beat upon the soles of the feet and bellies…”
        Samuel Pepys in his diary of 8 February 1661

        Edward Colston was not born 1636!

    • Ex-Tory
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:45 am | Permalink


    • beresford
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      For all his faults, Macron has given a lead in declaring that France’s history is the history of all its people, and its statues will not be torn down. This is leadership. France does these things so much better than we do, accepting that all French children must have a common secular education rather than divisive ‘multiculturalism’.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

        Have you seen the riots in Dijon over the last 3 days? Shooting in the air (bullets decent at the same velocity that they ascend) pipe bombs cars trashed – google it, the BBC seem to have missed it!

        • hefner
          Posted June 17, 2020 at 8:47 am | Permalink

          Are you sure? A bullet shot vertically will originally go upward at a speed governed by whatever push the weapon will have given it. Once it stops at the top and turns back it will fall only feeling the gravity of the Earth and will therefore not go down at the same velocity it had ascended plus it might be much more sensitive to whatever motions are induced by turbulence in the planetary boundary layer.
          To make a long story short: you are talking BS.
          But that has never preventing you from being a beloved contributor to this site.

          • NickC
            Posted June 18, 2020 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

            Hefner said: [the bullet] “will fall only feeling the gravity of the Earth and will therefore not go down at the same velocity it had ascended“. Not so. On Earth the velocity is limited by air resistance, not gravity as you claim. Without air resistance (eg on the Moon), the bullet would achieve the same final velocity upon return. The reason is that the force of gravity is the same on the way up as on the way down.

          • hefner
            Posted June 19, 2020 at 8:59 am | Permalink

            At least one point where I disagree and another where you offer only partial explanation:
            The bullet going up had its original acceleration and speed thanks to whatever the weapon uses to eject it. When the bullet stops at its highest point, it falls only because of gravity, so will not in any case get to the ground with the same speed it had left it (contrary to what Lynn said). And what you call air resistance is what is also included in turbulence (air resistance plus whatever upward, downward or sideway motions induced by the sensible heat flux originating from the earth surface).

          • NickC
            Posted June 20, 2020 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

            Hefner, You merely show you don’t understand physics. On an airless world a bullet fired vertically up will return to the gun at the same final velocity as the muzzle velocity. It is a simple double application of the school level formula: v = u + ft where v = velocity; u = initial velocity; f = acceleration due to gravity; t = time.

    • Jacqui
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      Here, here… well said..!!

    • Everhopeful
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      Isn’t it SOOO surprising that the oh-so-liberal tories have not yet learned this lesson??
      What was that saying about “feeding the crocodile”? Like you keep on feeding/appeasing it until eventually it eats YOU!
      Still, learn they won’t and they are taking us all down with them. Right down the rabbit hole!
      “Lend” my b vote ever again…..Not likely!
      “Get Brexit Done” and deliver you all up into an even worse nightmare. Oh dear.

    • Syd
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      I am dismayed that Sir John is able to offer us this piece.
      He clearly doesn’t see this as the thin end of the wedge, which will be driven further and further in – until it brings down Nelson, Churchill, Queen Victoria and all the statues and paintings that are part of our history and heritage.
      Very depressing.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        …until it enslaves the British people. That is the aim.

    • Enrico
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      Absolutely agree Dominic.All and I mean all statues have stood for many years without issues but suddenly a few thousand people want them removed.Why are we pandering to this minority?

    • Graham Wheatley
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      I hope that you are wrong but fear that you may be correct.

    • Jim Whitehead
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 3:31 pm | Permalink


    • Mark B
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 4:41 pm | Permalink


  5. SM
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    I don’t think there is a definitive answer to this issue. There is an extremely famous statue of Christ above Rio de Janeiro, known the world over – yet there have been innumerable atrocities committed in his name through the centuries. Should the statue be removed?

    There are ancient friezes in the Middle East depicting mighty emperors slaughtering and enslaving the conquered: should they be removed from any kind of public gaze?

    Had a statue been erected to Adolf Hitler in Berlin during WW2, would anyone but the most unhinged of National Socialists expect it to remain standing or even want to see it in a museum? Yet of course historians must be free to write about him, so that we can learn of and from the past.

    • Dave Andrews
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 6:42 am | Permalink

      Jesus said “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you”.
      Anyone committing atrocities isn’t a disciple of Jesus; they are motivated by evil in their own heart.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      You seem to have fallen into the trap, of the confusion engendered by John’s article, as I think that he intended you to do.

      Basically, it confuses de facto mythology with properly documented history.

      • NickC
        Posted June 16, 2020 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

        Martin, What is the “mythology” in what SM described?

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted June 17, 2020 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

          Statues from the Dark Ages and before, like those of figures such as King Arthur, those relating to the Classical Era, and biblical subjects, enjoy a mythological rather than historical standing.

          As such they are not *tributes*, and therefore do not need the scrutiny reserved for those.

          John’s piece fails to make that important distinction, which leads to unnecessary problems for people such as SM, apparently.

          • NickC
            Posted June 18, 2020 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

            So your “distinction” comes down only to your own blinkered, petty prejudices, Martin.

      • Edward2
        Posted June 16, 2020 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

        Give us your list of Chinese style Cultural Revolution.
        Come on Martin what do you want to destroy?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:12 am | Permalink

      Nearly all religion have committed many atrocities so clearly all such statues and places of worship must go by this mob rule logic. The logic that the BBC, the police, the left and much of government seem to be happily going along with.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

        Surely Saville is the BBCs very own cross upon which it should be crucified?

    • Abendrot
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      Hitler existed and was an important political and military figure in the 20th Century. Knowledge of him permits an explanation of European history since WW2 and of the development of the modern German State. The UN exists, in part, because of the deeds and impact of Hitler. Learning is about seeing as well reading and listening. Wilfully destroying any aspect of our past, good or bad, is an act of emotional Talibanism that taints the present and constrains the future.

    • rose
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      The best answer is from President Macron to his people:

      “I will be very clear tonight, compatriots: the Republic won’t erase any name from its history. It will forget none of its artworks, it won’t take down statues”.

      I say the best answer, not for the long term, but for now, during these artificially inflamed times.

      In Bristol, no-one was offended by the statue of Colston. They would have had to cross over several lanes of fast moving traffic to be offended. It was all nonsense about people having to walk past him on their way to work. Most people didn’t think about him, and those who did, thought of him as a successful merchant, trading with the Continent in wine, corn, and cloth etc. Also a financier and a very great philanthropist, the greatest Bristol has ever had. No-one thought of him having links with the slave trade until the agitators arrived and made it their business to start digging, and then exaggerating and embellishing.

      This could be done to any statue or building, any picture or bequest, as Sir John has shown us. Which is why President Macron is right to draw a very firm line, not to shilly shally like our politicians.

    • Ed M
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      ‘There is an extremely famous statue of Christ above Rio de Janeiro, known the world over – yet there have been innumerable atrocities committed in his name through the centuries’

      – That’s a fallacious argument. The fallacy of guilt-by-association (the point you make about Jesus) versus actual guilt of the statue guy in Bristol.

      Such a fallacious argument would be immediately dismissed in a court of law as it would be dismissed by a tutor at university marking an examination paper.

    • Richard1
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      it should be pulled down. He had 12 disciples and they were all men. Is any further debate needed?

  6. Anonymous
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    Misses the whole point.

    This is Marxist insurrection – using an event 4000 miles away – to hobble the Tory party and to get them tied up in debates over silly statues.

    Violence is the only thing that gets respect in this country, isn’t it.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

      Oh yes, the Rule of Law has gone and we now live under the rule of the jungle.

  7. Bryan Harris
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    When politicians tart talking about “Contentious statues” I fear we are truly lost.

    It should be clear to all who can differentiate between right and wrong, that the statues are being used as pawns, which we should not be willing to surrender.

    The paid terrorists on our streets have declared war on everything about our society, and we are being sympathetic with their perverted views.

    For the sake of everything that is still worth saving of our society, it is time the government took the vandals and thugs off our streets, and denied them their source of income.

    • bill brown
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      Bryan harros

      this is not how a democratic society work wake up or leave

      • Bryan Harris
        Posted June 17, 2020 at 5:51 am | Permalink

        bill brown – Do stop responding to comments – you make no sense and simply make vague statements

  8. Mark
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    “We want our rights” said the crowd , waving their clenched fists and kneeling on the pavement…

    OK – erm – which rights specifically are you currently being denied in our United Kingdom……?

    No platitudes please….let’s have a specific right that is being denied…..

    I suspect there are none. BLM, and their close cousins Antifa and possibly XR, are thinly veiled radical socialist groups…

    • Mark B
      Posted June 18, 2020 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      Which are well funded. Our government also panders to them

  9. Mike Stallard
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    ” It would be better off in a museum to Roman life somewhere.”

    Sir John, here in Wisbech, Cambs, we have the birthplace of Thomas Clarkson who did more than anyone else in the world – ever – to abolish the triangular slave trade. He it was who wrote the pamphlets and gave the countrywide speeches, complete with the famous slave ship picture, which tipped our country, which depended on slavery, into abolition.
    He was an Evangelical Christian and he worked with the countrywide Quakers to publicise and publish his work.

    I want to stress that he was the leader of the movement – the unique movement – to abolish slavery. As you point out, before 1790 it was world wide and universal throughout history. William Wilberforce, his friend, handled the parliamentary bit. And took the credit.

    Is there any chance that this could be made known? We – the only people in the world anywhere at any time – abolished slavery. And we are being blamed as racists and imperialists! In Africa certainly, including Cecil Rhodes, a lot of the motivation for Empire was to bring in the Pax Britannica and to abolish slave raids by African tribes like the Matabele and the Asante.

    I propose a museum of the anti slavery movement right here in Wisbech, Cambs. What do you think?

    • NickC
      Posted June 18, 2020 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      Mike S, I did not know of Thomas Clarkson – thank you for enlightening me.

  10. The Prangwizard
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    I agree. The Romans were brutal conquerors.

    We should also question why there are so many references to the tracing of history only to the Norman conquest. William was a brutal conqueror yet so often we read and hear that people are proud to be able to trace their history back to then and to be associated with the Normans. We have Norman castles, symbols of our servitude. It was centuries before the English began to re-establish themselves.

    The Normans stole all the land of England from the conquered and redistributed it. They ruined large parts of the northern lands and murdered tens of thousands in revenge for rebellion.

    There are families who still proudly sit on stolen land.

    • margaret howard
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

      The Prangwizard

      “The Normans stole all the land of England from the conquered and redistributed it.”

      Just like the ‘English’ Anglo-Saxons had done to the Romano-British population some 500 years before.

      What goes around comes around.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted June 17, 2020 at 9:14 am | Permalink

        Well, in this country we have what we call “The Dark Ages”. In many others they just have “history”.

        Maybe it is to draw a veil, over the perhaps ignoble foundation of the Anglo-Saxon nation?

        That is, the takeover by a bunch of germanic mercenaries, brought in by the Romans – by then lazy and corrupt – to keep down the Britons?

      • NickC
        Posted June 17, 2020 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

        Margaret H, The “Romano-British” didn’t own the land, the Romans did. By definition.

    • Mark B
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      To be fair, the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes stole it from the original Britain’s – the Welsh. Or at least, Welsh tribes.

      Someone somewhere had to come here first. Whoever that was, I would argue, is the rightful owner.

      • NickC
        Posted June 17, 2020 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

        Mark B, The people who came here first, as far as can be ascertained, are the ice-age settlers who arrived as the retreating ice finally melted, raising the sea levels, and creating the British Isles. Between about 70% and 90% of their DNA is still extant in the peoples of these islands.

  11. David L
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    The pyramids in Egypt are a testament to the enslavement of an entire people. Should we request their removal?

  12. Cheshire Girl
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    In my opinion, most of the people calling for the removal of our statues, have no idea who these people are, nor do they care. They are just following the mob.

    If they are accusing us of racism here in the UK, perhaps they should look further afield, to some of the countries some of them came from – and were glad to escape from.

    Are we to have no vestige of British history left untouched?

    Mayor Khan is a disgrace. He does not speak for me. I await with interest to see what names he has in mind to replace the ones he proposes to remove from the streets.

  13. agricola
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    A suggestion, why not create an Arboretum of unwanted statues that have fallen out of favour with the local population. It must be the local population with voting rights via a local referendum that decide on the retirement of any statue. Visitors in general can then go to said Arboretum and learn about their countries history, like it or not.

    One thing is for sure, we cannot have the matter decided by anarchic mobs or weak politicians. The mobs need to be dealt with by our courts with vigour. I suggest we introduce sentencing to labour gangs, tasked with maintaining our green and pleasant land.

    • agricola
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

      Obviously you don’t like original thinking.

    • rose
      Posted June 17, 2020 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      The very fact that you are thinking of statues falling out of favour with the local population shows how you have been influenced by the anarchic mob.

      Local populations have a habit the world over of not paying much attention to their statues. Having an anarchic mob coming in from outside and suddenly removing them does get noticed though, and it isn’t popular.

  14. Jan Maciag
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    We are finding the whole issue of historic slave ownership difficult to understand because we live in the unusual age of abolition. Slave owning is the normal human condition and per-eminent renewable energy source of almost all pre-industrial societies. It is, however, messy and the arrival of fossil fuels and industrialisation made it economically and morally redundant and repugnant.

    The arrival of Romans in Britain was to exploit natural resources and the capture of British slaves but few people in this land wander the streets shouting “Iceni Lives Matter”. History forgets and forgives.

    In August 1625 Barbary pirates raided Cornwall and captured 60 slaves. These Corsairs ravaged Europe’s coasts relentlessly (in what was known as the White slave trade) until they were destroyed by the US Navy (1815) and French conquest of Algeria in 1830.

    The 18/19th century Atlantic slave trade was fueled by African tribes capturing slaves from their neighbors (as they had always done) and selling them to Europeans. They also sold vastly more to Arab slave traders through Zanzibar. There is a gruesome reason why there are no African origin descendants in the middle East and no BLM protests in Mecca.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted June 17, 2020 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      You, like many people, confuse “commonplace” with normal.

      The two are utterly unconnected.

      • NickC
        Posted June 18, 2020 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

        Actually, Martin, Jan M is correct that before the British Empire stamped out slavery in many places throughout the world, slavery was normal. But you hate your own nation so much you cannot bring yourself to acknowledge that truth.

  15. Mark B
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    There is a statue erected to William Wallace (Braveheart) that bears a striking resemblance to a well known Hollywood actor. I too find it offensive as it glorifies violence. Can we please add that one to the list ? 😉

    If our kind host allows:

  16. Stred
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    I would like to see a statue of the young Chinese doctor who discovered the Batclap virus, was told to stop causing trouble, and later while treating many patients, died from the disease himself. It could be accompanied by little statues of the 300 care and hospital staff who died here and placed outside the Chinese embassy.

    • Mark B
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 4:52 pm | Permalink


      • Stred
        Posted June 17, 2020 at 8:24 am | Permalink

        Anthony Gormley is the obvious choice of sculptor. Someone should start crowd funding.

  17. Alan Jutson
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    Education and history is the key here, far too many people unaware of anything past the headlines.
    When so much information can be accessed via the click of a mouse, or the touch on a keyboard, it really does beggar belief.

    But then a headline sells newspapers, even if it is wrong, exaggerated, or misleading.
    Far too many students not even aware of much of the actions in World War one or Two, let alone hundreds of years before that.

  18. Lifelogic
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    For me too it is central that the future of statues is settled by peaceful and democratic means, and not by criminal damage to them. Criminal damage should not be egged on by left wing politicians, the BBC, the police’s inaction and dopes like Mathew Paris.

    Meanwhile we have a drunk man apparently with mental health issues sentenced to 14 days custody by The Senior Magistrate for having a pee near to (not on) a commemorative plaque of which he was unaware. The judge pathetically saying “she had no choice but to impose a custodial sentence”. Why no choice is she not the judge making doing the sentencing was she be forced into it by someone else? Why not impose the normal sentence which is nothing, a caution or a tiny fine. Clearly the sentence is for his perceived thoughts (which they did not even know). The sentence is an outrage and the woman should be fired for bringing the legal system into disrepute.

    I assume on this scale of sentencing people smashing statues will get 10 year except the police are not even looking for them it seems.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 6:41 am | Permalink

      Justice is blind, impartial and objective! Not it seem in the UK, it is overtly political.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      A first “offence” too. They do not even prosecute most shop lifters, pick pockets or even muggers. Plus he handed himself it and pleaded guilty.

  19. Nivek
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    Have you ever written these thoughts before? When I see a bust of Octavian, I remember that he was the first Roman Emperor, who took the name, “Augustus”. That’s it. History has an expiry date beyond which taking offence is just not credible. It is pretentious, even.

  20. Sharon Jagger
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    Oh for goodness sake!

    I don’t intend any disrespect to you Mr Redwood, But I’m really tired hearing about the pros and cons of statues and their suitability. Some of them have been in situ for hundreds of years. They were perfectly fine until the BLM jumped out the woodwork.

    We’ve all now become their ‘useful idiots’ in even having these discussions.

    We know their end goal is to destroy western society and culture….and we are ably aiding and abetting.

    • Jim Whitehead
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 3:34 pm | Permalink


  21. Roy Grainger
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    Similarly the memorial to Karl Marx in Highgate Cemetery needs to be removed – to be clear, it is not a gravestone or even located where his grave is, it is a commemoration of his life (as an anti-semite who inspired mass murder).

    • Mark B
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      Steady now, you don’t want to fall foul of the Hate Speech Police 😉

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

      As others have remarked, you might as well argue for the removal of all depictions of Christ on the same basis. After all, if not for him, then there would have been no Spanish Inquisition nor innumerable lives lost by other means in his name.

      Let’s confine our assessments to the actual deeds of the statues’ subjects.

      • NickC
        Posted June 17, 2020 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

        Martin, Indeed “Let’s confine our assessments to the actual deeds of the statues’ subjects”. You see, Christ did not institute the Spanish Inquisition.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:42 pm | Permalink


  22. Adam
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    Any representation of anyone, such as John Profumo, could be found at fault however much good they may have done later trying to overbalance earlier wrongdoing.

    Criticism may apply to any words or image, and statues to most folk are mere images. A few words attached to a picture via one phone can trigger a sudden copycat thrust against any one from activated sharers nationwide.

    It is strange contrast that a photo of a 20-year old prince at a fancy dress party with a military armband received newspaper coverage as a furore, when actors in lengthy films dressed as Adolf Hitler are revered as performing fine art.

    • Mark B
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      John Profumo did something wrong and spent the rest of his life doing good to recompense for it. Others have also done wrong. In fact, they have done worse. One PM even repeated a lie over one hundred time. And she is still taking an MP’s salary.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

      The demonstrators are not concerned with peccadilloes and minor character defects.

      They are drawing our attention to the terrible suffering of millions, inflicted by the subjects of some of these statues in their day, and often relatively recently.

      • NickC
        Posted June 17, 2020 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

        Martin, The “demonstrators” you refer to are far left thugs, roaming our streets inflicting vandalism and violence in bouts of mindless historical and cultural ignorance. They have no right to deface and damage our war memorials and statues.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted June 18, 2020 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

          Nearly all the Black Lives Matter demonstrations have been entirely peaceful.

          • NickC
            Posted June 18, 2020 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

            Rubbish revisionism, Martin.

      • Adam
        Posted June 17, 2020 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

        Might civilised folk in 2120 assess their predecessors with outrage for the trading of innocent animals, and those who cause such suffering to prevail by eating them in their millions daily.

        Drowning a Colonel Sanders statue in boiling fat achieves nothing sensible.

  23. Ginty
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    They’re not just after contentious statues, they’re after the Cenotaph too.

    How good it would have been for the Left to have said “Look what happened in Minneapolis. Aren’t we lucky to have the police we do ?”

    They’ve been hunting high and low for the UK version of George Floyd and the best they can find is a WPC trying to explain to a black couple why they are obliged by law to produce a driving licence when driving a car.

    For this we must surrender to Leftism.

    • margaret howard
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 3:26 pm | Permalink


      “a WPC trying to explain to a black couple why they are obliged by law to produce a driving licence when driving a car.”

      Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to carry your driving licence with you when you are driving. However, it is strongly recommended. A Police Officer can ask to see your licence at any time and if you do not produce it immediately, then you will have to produce it to a Police Station within 7 days. Aug 1 2019
      What should I legally carry in my car? | OSV

      • The Prangwizard
        Posted June 17, 2020 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

        As I understand it I am not obliged to carry my driving licence nor produce any identification, so I don’t and will not, whether the police or anyone else would like me to do so, for their convenience and the exercise of power.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

      Who are “they”?

      What is your evidence that it is the same people?

      • NickC
        Posted June 17, 2020 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

        Martin, The same people as what? Left wing thugs have been roaming our streets engaging in violence and damaging property. As well as arrogantly taking it upon themselves to make the decisions about our war memorials and statues. You may have missed the photographic evidence?

  24. Brian Cowling
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    What next after statues?

    Paintings? Literature? Place and street names or anything else that upsets the mob?

    • Mark B
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      Street names. Then they will demand that ALL BAME people be compensated. Mark my words, it’s coming.

  25. John G
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    Sir John, I totally agree the issue over controversial statues should be addressed by democratic means but would question whether you can compare an ancient figure such as Emperor Constantine with slave traders of more recent times. The point being, figures such as Colston or Robert Mulligan (Who had heard of him until recently?) are a symbol of a terrible past that will have influenced thought at the time, beyond and potentially right up to modern day. These figures do deserve serious examination as to their worthiness for public display but I am fervently against the unjustified irresponsible lawlessness that has taken place in recent weeks with statues attacked or torn down and at a time of such uncertainty and anxiety for so many, it is the last thing this Country needs.

    • Mark B
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      The Romans had far greater impact on this country than any other invader. Some good, some not so. So why should they be any different ?

  26. Dunc.
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    You have to remember John , that the current protests are nothing to do with racial equality , its just the latest move in the game by the Cultural Marxists.
    The PC brigade now not only tell you what you cant say but are trying to force you to say the things they want, under threat of being hounded out of your job.

    Western civilisation is the pinnacle of human existence so far and its loss of faith in itself is being used by the far left as a lever to hasten its decline, it should be remembered that barbarism is the alternative.

    • Mark B
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      You know that, I know that, and most of the sane (what’s left) of the population know that. But the left wing media have the government by the cojournes and our kind host does not want to be the first to be the first to be sacrificed by Tory HQ to appease the mob.

    • forthurst
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      There are striking similarities between the events here and the Cultural Revolution in China with the BLM activists performing the role of the Red Guards destroying the Four Olds (old customs, old culture, old habits, and old ideas). We know that Mao Zedong instigated the Cultural Revolution; who is orchestrating this?

  27. Glenn Vaughan
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:13 am | Permalink


    Once a mood of critical self-abasement is induced danger looms. Those who shout “Mea Culpa!” loudest today are frequently among the first to shout “Sieg Heil!” tomorrow.

  28. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    And indeed with other statues and monuments. So long as they are aesthetically acceptable, and attract tourists rather than repelling them, why not just place accompanying text there?
    Otherwise decide whether it can be justified to find museum space.

  29. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    History is written by winners. In that spirit, I look forward to seeing statues of Charles Darwin and Professor Richard Dawkins. I approve of the statue of Oliver Cromwell because he was progressive in his time.

    How many statues of Abraham Lincoln are there in the USA? Quite a few?

    If you put into your search engine “Was Abraham Lincoln a slave owner?” you get mixed answers; some say “Yes” and some say “No”. There are some facts that are beyond dispute. Lincoln’s main motive in recommending the abolition of slavery was to undermine the Confederacy and hold the Union together. Lincoln believed that in the long run whites and blacks could not easily co-exist and envisaged colonisation as a solution, advocating the creation of a ‘Liberia’ in South America.

    So if Americans remove statues of Robert E Lee, perhaps they should also remove those of Abraham Lincoln.

    For the avoidance of doubt, I am glad that the Confederates lost.

    • rose
      Posted June 17, 2020 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      It looks as if Lincoln is about to be sentenced in Boston. Columbus has already gone.

  30. Martin in Cardiff
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Statues do not all exist for the same reason.

    Some, e.g. depicting biblical or mythological characters, are works of art for their own sakes, and should be viewed much as are paintings, depicting all manner of things – some terrible – in galleries.

    Others are monuments to honour people who are eminent for some reason.

    It is the second category, of monuments, which require proper scrutiny, but John’s article confuses them with the first. This is intentional, I think, to undermine the confidence with which opinions are held, by those whom he perhaps would prefer to be silenced.

    • NickC
      Posted June 17, 2020 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      Martin, It is your opinion (only) that monuments – like the Cenotaph (defaced 6 June) – require “scrutiny”. My opinion is they don’t require scrutiny, and certainly not by your self-appointed, self-serving, far left thugs.

  31. Anonymous
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Yet again a BBC ‘news’ report with sad piano music over it. And then a snipe from Gary Lineker at the Tory Party.

    This is anti Tory propaganda, not news.

    • Andy
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      It is called scrutiny.

      Every government objects to scrutiny – Labour, Tory, coalition. They all complained.

      Brexiteers were not in government until May’s leadership.

      Your ideas, your policies, your performance were never properly scrutinised before then. They didn’t need to be – you were in opposition.

      Now you are in charge with a large majority. Everything you do will be properly scrutinised.

      It is amusing what snowflakes you have all turned out to be. Completely unable to handle criticism. Well, if you don’t like criticism you’d better buck up your ideas and so a better job – so there is nothing to criticise you all about. On current performance I’d suggest your chances are somewhere south of zero.

      • Edward2
        Posted June 17, 2020 at 7:55 am | Permalink

        You posted a similar rants before the last election about the Conservatives performance and they went on to get a huge majority of 80.

        There is a difference between scrutiny and propaganda.

      • NickC
        Posted June 17, 2020 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

        Andy, May was a self-admitted Remain. And May’s government certainly did not implement Brexit. In fact we haven’t got Brexit yet – come back in a decade, and we’ll see how our Brexit policy has done by then.

    • Mark B
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

      This government has granted itself wide ranging powers. It has, through the forcing people to wear ineffecting face masks, decided what people should be wearing. This may be seen as a means to protect the population but from a virus they allowed in the first place.

    • Fred H
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

      where would Britain be without Gary? – – -millions would not know where to turn to!

  32. Richard1
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Constantine must fall

    Let’s take down every statue of every person who might not have conformed to modern PC norms. Anyone whose attitudes to anything from votes for women, tolerance of gays, to colonialism must go. Churchill, Lloyd George, Attlee, Cromwell, Queen Victoria, Wellington, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I. Any of these people if they were brought back to life and opened their mouths would surely be arrested for ‘hate speech’.

    Then let’s pull down all the old buildings. After all if they weren’t built by slaves they were built either by indentured labour or by people on far below than an inflation adjusted legal minimum wage. Abroad, the Parthenon, the ruins of Ancient Rome and Greece, all the old castles (especially the crusader ones), all might trigger leftists so let’s bulldoze the lot.

    Then let’s have a book burning.

    Then let’s…perhaps we better stop there.

  33. James McCubbin
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    So unexpected, Sir John, and not at all reassuring.
    The solid ground and refuge of has suddenly become a disconcerting and unbalancing wavering jelly.

  34. BOF
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    ‘Friends, Romans and countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to bury Ceasar, not to praise him. The evil men do lives after them while the good is oft entered with their bones’.

    Sir John, MP’s should, instead of hand wringing about whether or not remove statues, be asking why there is such poor understanding of history. They should be demanding that it is taught in schools, right up final years.

    After statues will come portraits, then books.

    Churchill knew where appeasement led!

    • glen cullen
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      wise words

  35. BJC
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Off topic, are we likely to hear from Mr Johnson as to why he has reneged on his promise (Feb 2020) to move his resources to prepare for WTO if a “broad outline” of a deal with the EU “capable of being rapidly finalised by September” isn’t agreed by 30 June? Considering the sorry state of negotiations, the non-existent record of EU compromise and 4 l-o-n-g years of wide-reaching UK concessions; presumably, to encourage the EU to modify its stance, Mr Johnson’s further capitulation simply to talk around an unchanged EU mandate is………interesting.

  36. Peter Aldersley
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    The church recognises Constantine as a saint. Now you are talking about taking something fundamental to Christianity away. That does not get my vote.

    • Ed M
      Posted June 17, 2020 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      One of the great things is that Christianity believes in a very forgiving God (as long as people ask for it and try and try and improve themselves). Every single person commentator on this website and his good self, Sir John, can all be saints – we can all be saints!

      And being a saint isn’t about how marvellous we are. But simply living lives as fulfilling and joyful as possible according to the will of God (The God Who created this amazing universe and all the beauty and power in it, who is was behind the great music of Bach and Mozart, who inspires people to be heroes like St Joan of Arc and so many of those brave British soldiers of WW2 and so on ..).

      Lastly, don’ think ever think you can’t change for whatever things you’ve failed in morally and ashamed of. Don’t ever think your life can’t suddenly be changed and filled with great happiness. Don’t forget how St Matthew was a really corrupt tax collector before his conversion. Look at God’s forgiveness and joy of the father in The Prodigal Son (brilliantly depicted by Rembrandt).

      Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a brilliant modern take on The Prodigal Son (and The Good Samaritan).

      ‘“I don’t know what to do!” cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laocoön of himself with his stockings. “I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man.’ – Scrooge

      • Ed M
        Posted June 17, 2020 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

        ‘And being a saint isn’t about how marvellous we are’ – and being a saint isn’t about how thinking how marvellous we are, I meant.

  37. Peter Richmond
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    The nations entire collection of statues should be declared to be an open air sculpture park. A group of museum curators and academic historians commissioned to write short accounts of each person. These can be located by individual statues and a linked web site. This would be a great national and educational asset

  38. NickC
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    JR, Erecting and keeping monuments is a matter of national democratic consent, not a decision for roaming gangs of violent vandals, criminals and thugs. If not, where will it end? – losers in a democratic vote holding the nation to ransom by preventing the majority outcome for years?

  39. M Brandreth- Jones
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    The flow of opinion and change is ever expanding and decreasing. What is important is that violence or the representation of such is highlighted in our quest to become civilised as a whole globe. There are many countries and occurrences which continue today which in the future will be targeted as abhorrent in the future . Those despots killing and maiming thousands will have to rethink their types of culture and placing them into their present day in the future for violence such as this cannot go on.
    History is full of violence, power strikes, enemies and territory acclamation and representative objects are in museums , so yes John I agree….to the museum.

    • M Brandreth- Jones
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      my Spanish lessons and tenses are showing up here.

  40. Chris Dark
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    It is impossible to put up a statue to a “perfect” human. If that became the default, there would be no commemoratives or statues of any kind. Each one represents an event in our history. Removing them means we are denying our history, just because
    some jumped-up bunch of troublemakers doesn’t agree with certain elements of the person’s character or behaviour during their particular lifetime. Virtually all countries have evil periods in their history and evil characters. It is the way of things.
    By blanching our history to utter purity, there would be nothing for children to learn. Britain would simply be a sanitised blank sheet, ripe for manipulation by whatever force came into power. And that is the endgame here. Unless people
    stand up and be counted.

  41. Sam Vara
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Is there anyone who genuinely feels uncomfortable about the wrongs done to those who opposed the Roman Empire? Is there anyone who is upset by the mere concept of “slavery”?

    If not a parody, this looks like a clumsy attempt to “feed the alligator”; to offer something to the mob so they look for prey elsewhere. But this is such a poor dried-out tidbit that the alligator is unlikely to be satisfied for long.

    • Mark B
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 5:14 pm | Permalink


  42. ukretired123
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    It is good for you Sir John to point out the British themselves were slaves for centuries and why our language is a mixture of Latin and our laws based of the Roman occupation too, adversarial but now using debate not violence.

    It was not until very recently that just Rich and Poor (slaves essentially) changed after the Industrial Revolution and then it took 200 years for Britain. Spain for example was still Rich or Poor in the mid 1960s.

    It took most western countries centuries to develop into having some sort of middle income folks with more equal opportunities. It doesn’t happen with revolution as even Cuba didn’t work out but ended in accepting the world international order.

    Those calling for statues removal need to visit Cuba who keeps its Spanish past history as do many similar countries because without them they remind them of the immense history that was built up by the poor people that created it before. “Unless you respect history you will be forced to repeat it”. Controversial statues should be debated and moved to museums but the CV19 and regeneration of business are twin top priorities now.

  43. Caterpillar
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    I would suggest a plaque that very simply explains the purpose of the statue (e.g. Constantine’s support of Christianity had a large effect on the history of Europe) and a QR code that links to a (secure) museum maintained biographical website.

  44. Richard416
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Why are our police and justice system harder on our own people than on foreigners. It is very obvious and unfair. I cannot understand why our government appeases people who hate us whilst doing their best to alienate their core support.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

      …and our tax system. Our CGT calculated from 1984, theirs from 2019!

  45. glen cullen
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    It is not for us to remove statues

    It is for us to create statues

    • Fred H
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

      It is for us to (be worthy of the) creat(ion) of statues.

  46. Pat
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Irrespective of ones view of the pros and cons of particular statues, it is refreshing to see open and reasoned debate on this blog of a rather vexed topic.

    Here on the Isle of Man, a long standing and popular journalist , Stu Peters, was last week removed from air and his career, without notice, for declining to agree with a particular viewpoint from a caller regarding BLM.

    This would appear to contravene the right to freedom of expression enshrined by the UN, and it certainly removes the discussion from the public forum.

    Manx radio is a BBC station and Manx residents are subject to the same coercive BBC funding regime as the UK.

    The monolithic viewpoint and utter lack of diversity of the UK broadcast media does not allow us to be informed on many issues, let alone engage in debate.

    How can we encourage more diversity in mainstream media?

  47. Everhopeful
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Statue choice was always pragmatic rather than ideological, chosen for relevance. Civic pride etc. Constantine proclaimed emperor by his troops while in York I believe.
    My home town…John Hampton statue very prominent. He was a local MP and owned land. Statue not put up for political reasons ( not an indication of support for regicide) but for historical pride/interest/ local connection.
    Statues really only belong in a homogeneous society. Shared knowledge and love of one’s history.
    Relentless “divide and rule”by govts. and mass immigration. And no requirement to respect host culture.
    How can statues work any more?

    Anyway…no worries…demos are now banned. Riots and NO police action have succeeded. More rights taken away.

  48. NigelE
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    If we are to revaluate our history, perhaps we should also consider the ediface that stands next to the statue of Constantine in York and the organisation that built it? The Church of England (and Wales) was created at the whim of a man, a serial abuser of women, because the Church of Rome would not grant him a divorce. The C of E persecuted Catholics in the countries that became the UK for centuaries. It attempted (with much success) to export its brand of Christianity to many countries, often imposing its will with violence and becoming rich at the expense of its congregations. Perhaps it is this more recent organisation and its crimes that should be investigated?

    I use this agrument simply to demonstrate the absurdity of examining historical times through the high resolution microscope of modern values. We should seek to understand the past in the context of the mores of that time, and where appropriate, reject – or emulate – the way peoples went about their lives. But attempting to change history or use historical perspective in a narrow way to further modern views is ill-advised.

  49. percy openshaw
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    I assume, Sir John, that this is a satire? You know as well as anyone that to criticise a Roman Emperor for immorality and arrogance is like complaining that water is wet. So my next guess would be that you are hinting at that very point and applying it to Colston, Clive and Stanley. If so, well done. They did come from a different moral universe and to “judge” them by current standards or fashions is insane. On the other hand, so deadpan is your tone that one might think you were serious in your criticisms of Constantine, but the approach you imply to dealing with his statue and by inference all the others is open to terrible abuse. It smacks of the “cahiers de doleance” by which the hapless Louis XVI strove to contain popular protest; by encouraging complaint and giving it official sanction, he further weakened his regime. If this oblique, cautious, concessionary and perhaps ironic offering is all that our representatives can find to say on this matter, we are deeper trouble than people know – although, believe me, they suspect it.

    • Mark B
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

      I recoginised our host use of the Romans. And I did something similar in my own post which, included a link.

      Many thanks Sir John for allowing it. 🙂

  50. Irene
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Gaslighting? Or distraction technique?

    JR, you wrote ” … were I to have such a vote … “. Therein lies the rub, as I said in one of your earlier posts. Which of us has ever been consulted about the erection of any statues / memorials in our time?

    The question you and your colleagues should be asking is ‘why’? Bubbles are surfacing at the moment, so leave your protective bubbles for once and take yourselves off to talk and to listen to the people who live in some of the most deprived areas of the country, Ask them how they feel about the injustices they see each and every day of their lives. Talk to them about the lack of opportunities they experience. Listen to their pleas for support and – dare I say it – equality of hope and aspiration. But make sure you listen. Don’t just hear what they say – but listen.

  51. Christine
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    People in this country are living in one of the richest and freest societies in the world. This is why so many risk their lives to get here. These protests are nothing to do with George Floyd or statues. If protests were really about slavery then people would protest outside the embassies of countries where modern slavery still exists. If protests were about climate change they would protest outside embassies of the most polluting countries. These protesters are just useful fools for another agenda. Follow the money and you will see where it leads back to. Please don’t get side-tracked by this storm in a teacup that will soon fizzle out. Concentrate on the fact we are starting to lose our freedom of speech and expression. I never thought that in my lifetime I would see people losing their jobs just because they refused to share an opinion or people like JK Rowling vilified for a perfectly reasonable comment. Our education system and quangos have become infested with people who wield great power but are accountable to no-one. This is where your energy needs to focus. Boris is making a huge mistake by trying to appease a minority who shout the loudest.

  52. Fedupsoutherner
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Does anyone seriously want to go shopping after seeing the complete disregard for social distancing yesterday?

    • DennisA
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      There have been no surges in cases or mortality since the beach and countryside incursions of a few weeks ago. It is clearly safe to ignore social distancing at a demonstration, if you support the right cause. The social distancing rule should go. Shops and business cannot function at a sustainable level if it remains in place.

  53. ed2
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    In York near the Minster, with the throne of the Archbishop, rests a modern statue of Emperor Constantine. He has been selected because he spent time in York, and because he converted to Christianity.

    Constantine was a liar
    God does not give people visions of crosses with words about conquering enemies. Constantine corrupted the Gospel and added the words “father, son and Holy Spirit” when the original test just said, “in My Name…”. He did this to make Christianity more like the pagan religion. His Christian conversion was a political ploy.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:49 pm | Permalink


  54. ed2
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    God does not give people visions of crosses with words about conquering enemies.

    Visions are real, I had one when I was 10, but the political elite on hearing how people had visions themselves decided to PRETEND to have visions, usually to justify some violent war.

  55. Ed M
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    For me the real crime of the protesters wasn’t the pulling down of the statue of the slave trader but of risking passing on the coronavirus. When we have to focus on controlling and defeating this virus – and the fear it causes – so that it doesn’t negatively affect our economy for years to come.

    That for me was the real crime of these protesters (and of course when they got nasty with the police – the police are great and need our full sympathy – but the right-wing extremists have also been nasty to our police as well).

    Getting our economy back on track should be the main focus of everything right now.

  56. ed2
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Constantine wrote the Trinity doctrine into your Bibles.
    There is One God – Lord Jesus, who is both the Father and Son and the Holy Spirit (roles not persons), the closet to this is Modelism.

    • Ed M
      Posted June 17, 2020 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      Constantine did no such thing!

      The doctrine of The Trinity is taken from both the Bible and Sacred Tradition, mainly thanks to the theological work of famous Doctors of The Church – and was only approved under the supervision of the bishops, with the Bishop of Rome being the most preeminent of them.

      Constantine was neither a theologian or a bishop. Constantine facilitated councils to discuss doctrine – but that was only from a practical POV – nothing more than that (I assure you!).

      • russ
        Posted June 19, 2020 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

        God is one person (Yahweh/Jesus) and one concept (Love/mind), both exist in one person. John 4:24, 1 John 4:8. The Holy Spirit is a personification of thousands of angels/holy spirits who are “fellow servants” Revelation 22:9, although they also manifest the same mind/spirit which is Love and have the same purpose so in that sense you could say there is a tri-unity.

        • Ed M
          Posted June 20, 2020 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

          Catholics, Protestants (C of E, Lutherans, Reformed, and so on) , Orthodox, Copts – all believe in The Blessed Trinity.

          • Ed M
            Posted June 20, 2020 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

            And that The Holy Spirit is A Divine Person, part of The Blessed Trinity – Three Divine Persons / One God

  57. Ed M
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    @Sir John,

    I don’t mean to flatter you but we need politicians like you helping us get our economy back on track. I completely listen to people like you (and Rishi Sunak) about how to do this. This for me is easily our main concern right now with the coronavirus. I want my nieces leaving school to have a strong economy for the future, where they can afford to get married and buy houses and all that.

    God bless you, sir.

  58. Ed M
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    ‘Completely listen to you’

    – I agree with lots you say but it’s also that your arguments are well-thought out and rationally-based.

  59. Archwald
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 11:03 am | Permalink


    Now of all times. After the most miserable winter, the COVID lockdown , mass unemployment with much MUCH more to come and they pick this time to start kicking off.

    It is now heresy to oppose. How long before the Inquisitions ? The biometric ducking stools to prove whether you’re a witch or not (a racist) ?

  60. Mark
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    I do not think we can have a sensible discussion about statues in the present febrile atmosphere. Therefore I would suggest there be a ban on removals, and even discussion of potential removals at any official level for a year.

    • rose
      Posted June 17, 2020 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      You are absolutely right. Unfortunately, the idiotic clergy in Bristol have now started on the stained glass. And without asking us. You couldn’t make it up. We are back to the 16th century – except that they probably don’t believe in any doctrine this time around.

  61. Julian
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    We may as well take them all down by this criteria!
    There are not many who’ve never done anything wrong.
    I disgree with some of the left-wing statues but they should be allowed alongside the “extreme right wing” ones such as Sir Robert Peel.

    • L Jones
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      And what a subjective word is ”wrong”.

  62. Helen Smith
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Leave the statues alone

    • ed2
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      Leave the statues alone

      what does the Bible say about graven images?
      I say pull them down.

      • NickC
        Posted June 17, 2020 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

        Ed2, The Bible condemns worshipping graven images. Leave the statues alone.

        • ed2
          Posted June 19, 2020 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

          to adore is to worship

  63. Javelin
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Where do you draw the line?

    – Which media? statues, painting books, surnames?

    – Which relationships? Slaver, married to a slaver, child of a slaver?

    – Reparations? Slaves, children of slaves? grand children of slaves?

    – Which country pays? Country where business was based? where slaver lives, where slaves worked? where slaves came from?

    – How national is this? What about British slaves taken by Barbary pirates, vikings or Romans, German or Japanese POWs?

    – Modern slavery? What about sex slaves, workers? Do modern slaves get anything?

  64. mancunius
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Sir John, I myself would gravely question the controversial siting of the statue of Alderman Jabez Foodbotham between the Stretchford gasworks and the railway sidings. What, one may well ask, did he ever do for either institution? How much more appropriate would be a statue of Sir Jim Gastropodi, who for sixty years led the Stretchford Municipal Orchestra to undreamt of heights with his performances of Mahler’s ‘Interminable’ and ‘In a Persian Market’. This matter is far too vitally important to be (cont. P.94)

  65. Graham Wheatley
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Playing Devil’s Advocate for just a moment……. what of the Statue of Nelson Mandela in Parliament Square? He was, at one time, labelled a terrorist.

    “Those who fail to learn from History are doomed to repeat it” (George Santayana, Winston Churchill [et al]).

    The past is the past, and we SHOULD learn from it and look to the future. But if we destroy all references to, and reminders of it – however unpalatable those may be – then we will be doomed to repeat those past mistakes.

    The Mace of Power, in the hands of the fanatic, becomes yet another weapon rather than a symbol of respected authority.

    • davies
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      spot on.

    • Fred H
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

      Supporters of Mandela usually appear to believe he was always pro non-violence. However, he was offered freedom several times on various conditions, including renouncing violence, but he refused. Just to put some balance to the history.

  66. Ken442
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear.

  67. a-tracy
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed reading your history lesson, John. To be honest I can’t say that I have noticed statues of notable men outside or paid them any interest in the past. I quite enjoy going to the museums in London when I get the opportunity.

    Protesters have already been severely injured tearing down and beheading statues one person is in a medically induced coma for treatment after being struck on the head with a Confederate statue that was being torn down in America. It’s very rash of people to have been encouraging this.

    I agree with Peter Wood’s statement “part of our society that feels so disenfranchised”. I don’t agree with his conclusion though “possible owing to poor education or economic condition”. This is what drove my family out of factories and menial work into wanting more for their children and encouraging them to do better at school, 100% attendance, adherence to homework, every free extracurricular club going, early bedtimes, hard work and endeavour.

    The pupil premium and increased spending on schools and teaching in poor inner-city schools has risen much more than for the poorest schools in Cheshire for example. The worst-performing primary school in our area bumped along the bottom of the league table for years with the fewest pupils per class until we got a Conservative councillor who really took his governorship of this school under his wing, the improvements are coming through for the poorest children.

    As for economic conditions, there are plenty of white families I know, four-five children, some who ended up a single parent because of hopeless fellas who disappeared, their children never got in trouble, didn’t get in gangs, all worked all their lives, all of their children did better again and on to grandchildren who are now going to the best universities.

    Everyone needs to take a long look in the mirror to see why they are disenfranchised when so many others have taken their opportunities to do well at school, work hard in their jobs, take on all extra training or go to university. Why in this modern society are so many feeling so hard done to, when they are schooled for free until 18, treated for free with our Health Service for life, the benefits, tax credits, housing benefits are very generous compared to other countries, how can the poorest children in Eastern Europe do so well at school, learn multiple languages, progress and prosper if this was just down to a lack of money?

    • mancunius
      Posted June 17, 2020 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      a-tracy, Education and health are important, but as a basis for self-reliance. The willing learner learns and surges ahead. A responsible citizen takes charge of his/her own health via sensible nutrition/exercise/clean living.
      Too much overarching state provision (benefits/automatic university entrance/subsidies) demotivates the individual – and so does a self-fulfilling narrative of ‘failure’ and ‘victimhood’.
      As you imply, we used to be actively brought up to banish self-pity and to aim high. How’s the opposite working out? Not very well, I’d suggest. And politicians are largely responsible, with their insistence on what Dr Johnson called ‘encumbering with help’.

  68. Ken442
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Or, autres temps, autres mores.

  69. DavidJ
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    History is both bad and good in varying degrees, so it is right that we know about it. A statue may remind us of good or evil in past society and it is right that we and those who will come after us know both sides of the story. So there is nothing wrong with a contemporary statue of a slave trader provided it that it is accompanied by a plaque with a brief description of his deeds whether good, evil or, as is often the case, a bit of both.

    No good will come of destroying them and history cannot be changed. It was never all peace and light whatever the country. Knowing the history of evil deeds is surely an aid to avoiding their repetition.

  70. Ex-Tory
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    If a small minority of the demonstrators hadn’t toppled a statue and defaced others, you wouldn’t have written an article about statues. Should they be given so much influence?

    • Edward2
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

      They are important ET.
      They give us link to our past and show us how much we have improved.

    • SM
      Posted June 16, 2020 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

      Well, you can bet that if our host had NOT written a post about it, there would have been sarcastic comments from some if not most of the usual suspects accusing him of ignoring important current issues!

  71. Stred
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Lunchtime BBC SE news. The church is boarding over old gravestones which have tributes to the deceased which might be offensive to BLM wokeys. They are contacting descendants to ask them to put up a new stone with appropriate wording.
    Some vicars must have a strange sense of humour.

    Constantine must be tipped into the river and the police should help.

  72. David Brown
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Statues are basically pieces of art, some art I like some I loathe. However I don’t suggest or subscribe to removing or destroying it.
    Statues have been around for years and are seen in most countries.
    I feel there probably is a need to provide some historical narrative to many of them so people can read and understand.
    I am of the opinion there are bigger more important issues to exercise all our minds right now than concerns about pieces of metal art that have been erected years ago.

  73. DennisA
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    I don’t agree with President Macron on many things, but I applaud his recent statement:

    “Amid calls for taking down statues tied to France’s slave trade or colonial wrongs, Mr. Macron said “the republic will not erase any trace, or any name, from its history … it will not take down any statue.”

    • zorro
      Posted June 17, 2020 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

      That is leadership which even our Dear Leader Kim Jong Son could learn from!


  74. davies
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    My view is very simple, any historical artefact was a thing of its time and should not be judged by today’s values. They are part of history, good and bad and should not be desecrated and pulled down due to the behaviour of a relatively small number of people.

    If we want to go down this route then there are Roman Colosseums, Egyptian Pyramids, German car manufacturers, Hugo Boss, cheap retail products imported from countries with questionable practice and so on.

    Far better to look at how things can be improved today – you are not going to improve anything for anyone by pulling down artefacts that you don’t like.

  75. Everhopeful
    Posted June 16, 2020 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    I suppose that putting up statues of Trajan ( by a vicar) and Constantine ( next to York Minster) might represent some sort of ghastly, liberal, religious mind set. Love thine enemy type thing… desperately searching out Emperors who were supposed to possess some Christian virtue. This would be in order to forgive the crucifixion.
    So now we have a church so fundamentally weakened it can not even provide spiritual support during a crisis.

  76. Stephen G Speakman
    Posted June 17, 2020 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Regarding the characters’ of past individuals’ of wealth and esteem they as we are like the Curate’s egg—good in parts and bad in others.Statues and Monuments are raised for various reasons’ usually because they (the person to whom the statue was raised)made some sizable contribution or excelled in some field or endeavour.
    All men will stand before God imperfect and with hidden secrets’ in their heart’s and it is to God and not BLM or Marxist organisations of various hues’ that these past entities need to answer.
    If we do not want a cultural desert to replace our rich tapestry of history these violent mobs and rabid Marxist elements must be dealt with and soon whilst we still have some pride and history and love for a great country and its sons left to us.
    I am in growing concern at our impotent Police and Authorities.

  77. Steve Hayes
    Posted June 17, 2020 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Is this satire?

    With so much madness, I am not sure I can tell anymore.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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