Should Statues From Britain's Colonial Past Be Removed?

Black Lives Matter Protests

Amidst the wave of Black Lives Matter that took place in recent days, the statue of Edward Colston was torn down, and thrown into the Bristol harbour. Protesters used ropes and grappling irons to bring down the statue in a matter of minutes.

Sadiq Khan has announced that 'The Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm' will be reviewing all of London's landmarks, including street names, murals, statues, and other memorials for potential removal.

Similarly, protesters are set to gather in Oxford today in order to call for the bringing down of the statue of Cecil Rhodes.

Who is Edward Colston?

Colston was a Conservative MP, who amassed vast wealth through his involvement in the slave trade during the 17th century. Having bequeathed his wealth to the city of Bristol many of the landmarks are named in his commemoration.


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The Reaction

The Home secretary Priti Patel described the action as ‘disgraceful’. This was a sentiment echoed by other Conservative MP’s and Ministers, some of whom sympathised with the cause, but condemned what they described as ‘vandalism’.

Sajid Javid pointed to a long record of opposing the cities association with Colston, and had in 2018 called for Colston Hall to be renamed. Though he insisted these changes must come about democratically.

The Labour Leader Keir Starmer appeared on LBC radio to describe the action as ‘wrong’. He expressed sympathy with the aims and sentiments of the protesters, but could and would not condone the forcible tearing down of the statue.

However, some Labour MP’s such as Nadia Whitthome have come out in support of the action. Whitthome tweeted her support, saying that she “celebrated these acts of resistance”

What Does The Public Think?

According to polling done by YouGov just 13% of respondents indicated they approved of the forcible tearing down of the statue. A further 40% said they agreed the statue ought to be removed, while 33% told YouGov it should stay.

Polling Via YouGov

Calls for further action

Since the fall of the Colston statue, some on social media have been calling for the removal of other statues from Britain’s past, including the statue of Winston Churchill. Protests are set to take place today in Oxford in order to call for the removal of the statue of Cecil Rhodes, and Sadiq Khan has commissioned a review of London landmarks for their suitability.

However, Tory MP's from the 'Blue Collar Group' have assembled in London to clean the Churchill statue (until they were replaced by a professional called Winston):

What Do You Think?

Have your say! Do you support the removal of historical monuments which have a dark past? Should they be forcibly removed, or democratically removed? Or do you think they are an integral part of British culture and History and should remain? Have your say and vote now in the Just Debate poll


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