POLITICS ACROSS THE POND—MP Andrew Bridgen weighs in on the vandalization of the statue of Winston Churchill outside the British Parliament and the desecration of the Cenotaph. He asks when will the BBC take down the portrait and bust of a known Nazi sympathizer Lord Reith?

Once again this week the political waves from the US hit the UK and the rest of the world, not just as fast as it could travel through the transatlantic cable, actually it was more like a tsunami.

The week  had started well for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) campaign, following the huge outpouring of anti-racist sentiment at the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. It is estimated that over 130 000 people had attended marches across the UK in support. The protests were mostly peaceful and although social distancing was clearly breached they gained almost universal positive reporting from the UK media and even if not complete public support at least a nod of understanding and sympathy.
However this week the leaders of the BLM campaign, no doubt buoyed by their “popular and media acclaim ” overplayed their hand when they decided to explain what they really wanted to do with this groundswell of public support and their moment in the media spotlight. 
The next phase of the BLM campaign started with them choosing to “takedown” an easy target, the statue of a 17th century, a former slave trader in Bristol, a city which, to our collective shame was built and rose to economic prominence literally “on the back of the slave trade” some 400 years ago.

 I would respectfully suggest that very few people outside the city of Bristol had ever heard of Edward Colston before he burst onto every news channel and every newspaper, as his statue was publically toppled from its plinth and rolled into the City’s harbor to cheers from the attending crowd.

Colston was a soft target and a controversial figure and despite the fact that he gave much of his fortune to help build the city, it does not erase the source of much of the wealth which funded his benevolence.

However as always, this was just the thin end of the wedge and we have to remember as painful as is it is that Edward Colston was a man of his time and his business activities were lawful while he practiced them and he would no doubt, during his lifetime, have been considered a “Merchant Adventurer” however we might regard him today.

It should also be brought to mind that Bristol has been politically under the control of the left for many years and the local council could have brought forward a motion to remove Mr. Colston’s bronze likeness at any time, democratically.

However, the actions of the BLM supporters in removing his statue, however well-intentioned, was and is against the law and it’s this which is a legitimate concern to the overwhelming majority of our citizens. Even more so when it was clear that the local police force (Somerset and Avon) had deliberately decided not to intervene, in case there was a riot. The concern of the majority law-abiding UK Public was not due to any sentimental attachment to a long-dead former slave trader, but for the rule of law.

Many people quickly and rightly questioned that; if a mob with apparent popular support decided that they didn’t like their house, their family or their activities and turned up in force to seek retribution, would the police also give them tacit permission to “make the law and enact citizens justice” by not attending?

You have to remember that we are not really given to revolution in Britain, unlike our colonial cousins or French neighbors, and have even been known to stick with monarchs who were declared mad, so the events in Bristol worried the public and support for the BLM campaign started to fall. It fell further when a BLM spokesman announced that that they wanted to “defund and disband the police service” and later a list of statues of historic figures who they intended to topple was produced and widely reproduced.

The contents of that list coupled with the vandalization of the statue of Winston Churchill outside Parliament and the desecration of the Cenotaph horrified most fair-minded people almost as much as the death of George Floyd and the leaking away of public support for BLM turned into a torrent. Many of those who had supported or had sympathy with the BLM cause had a bad case of “buyer’s remorse”.

 The list of statues included many of our great historic figures Churchill, Nelson, Cook, and has triggered a backlash from residents who have declared that they will protect their antiquarian figures. The situation further escalated this weekend with the left-wing Labour Mayor of London Sadiq Kahn ordering many famous statues in our capital to be boarded up “ for their protection”. I and many others see this as a capitulation to lawlessness. It will not be lost on the public that if Winston Churchill the nemesis of Adolf Hitler and his Nazis is now not safe then no one is. The list of statues “removed from public view for their own protection “ is very wide from Churchill to Nelson, yes both of them, Mandela and Horatio!
My current fear is that the hijacking of the tragic death of George Floyd by extremist elements of the left or the right will actually increase community division and damage racial cohesion and let’s be clear that’s really what the extremists want. For the sake of all our children and the huge progress, we have made we cannot allow them to prevail.

Hypocrisy of BBC

People in glass houses should not throw stones and the BBC is particularly vulnerable given its founding director-general was a well known Nazi sympathizer who revered Adolf Hitler.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) appears to have been the main cheerleaders in the campaign to pull down statues and they have even taken programs off their streaming services, which have suddenly been deemed inappropriate.

People in glass houses should not throw stones and the BBC is particularly vulnerable given its founding director-general was a well known Nazi sympathizer who revered Adolf Hitler. So when will the BBC take down the portrait and bust of Lord Reith and rename the lectures given each year in his honor? This just highlights both how ludicrous the witch-hunt against British history is and how hypocritical the BBC has been.
 This game of statues needs to stop as it’s a game no one will win, indeed it’s likely we all will lose.

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Andrew Bridgen

Andrew Bridgen is a Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire.

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