132 comments posted · 1 followers · following 4

2 weeks ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Marx, Engels and what ... · 1 reply · +1 points

We stop at the point where the people we are celebrating still have achievements that we laud. Drake, Nelson, Churchill, Baden-Powell et al were all great men who achieved things that we are still proud of (despite having, in contemporary terms, some ghastly views or activities) and want to commemorate and I think that we should still do so.

Someone like Colston, however, who is celebrated only for being wealthy enough, having profited from the enslavement and misery of others, to have ensured that he had a statute standing to celebrate him is a different matter entirely.

There needs to be some nuance in this debate.

2 weeks ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Marx, Engels and what ... · 0 replies · +1 points

Nonsense. An illiterate ruler of an Illiterate nation he employed Han Chinese, Trans-Oxianians, Tibetans, Persians and others to build and run the empire he had created. Yes, he was one of the greatest murderers of all time but not remotely racist – he would happily slaughter anyone who resisted him, whatever their race or religion.

2 weeks ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Marx, Engels and what ... · 0 replies · +1 points

I agree again that modern slavery should be the most important matter. I love our country enormously and am hugely proud of most of our history (and have spent my academic years studying it) but I don’t think that it is wrong or unpatriotic to accept that we did do some awful things. They weren’t viewed as such at the time and that doesn’t mean that we should be crippled with guilt about them now but we should, I think, acknowledge them and (as with Colston) see them as events in our past that we shouldn’t really be celebrating or commemorating today.

2 weeks ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Marx, Engels and what ... · 2 replies · +1 points

Sadly you are right and it is also true that some (a very, very small number at the beginning) of the people who were taken by slave traders from North West Africa were sold to them by local rulers who had enslaved them as prisoners of war. I don’t think, however, that CMD is leading us astray here. We are, after all, talking about Colston and he dealt, exclusively, in the enslavement of black people for his own profit.

There’s plenty to be said around slavery in the UK – the Normans abolished personal slavery in English Law (although it is hard to see all that much difference between serfdom and slavery in the Middle Ages) and there are many judgments (I think the Earl of Halsbury’s is considered the definitive one) that said that no man or woman was a slave whilst they were on British soil. There was, however, a massive gulf between the theory and being, exclusively again as a black man or woman in GB in the 18th Century, able to flee your ‘master’, support yourself and have the resources to challenge any attempt at law to stop you from being free. Black people were still sold as slaves in our country (including Bristol) as well as conveniently far away from our shores.

I don’t think that we are in any way responsible personally for that but I don’t think that we should sweep it under the carpet either.

I acquit CMD completely – in fact I thank him for clarifying for me what itdoesntaddup was getting at, which I had honestly assumed he couldn’t possibly mean.

3 weeks ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Marx, Engels and what ... · 1 reply · +1 points

Oh, I see. I am sorry, I genuinely misunderstood your post. I did not imagine that you were seriously suggesting that slavery would be erased from our collective history if statues of people that stand purely because they made a great deal of money out of the suffering of their fellow human beings were consigned to museums.

3 weeks ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Marx, Engels and what ... · 0 replies · +1 points

You don’t have to agree with dulce et decorum est pro patria mori to revere such a monument. Such sacrifice deserves memorial, even if I believe that war, although sadly sometimes necessary, is never glorious.

I don’t quite see the connection between that and the public display of the statue of a man who just happened to be rich thanks to his exploitation and peddling of human flesh.

Perhaps you could enlighten me?

3 weeks ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Marx, Engels and what ... · 4 replies · +1 points

I would hope so and my apologies if (having read it back) my sarcastic post implied that I was surprised that you did; that was not my intention. We don't have to agree or disagree on most of what HMG does or doesn’t do to loathe racism and see why the retention of that particular statue was so offensive.

3 weeks ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Marx, Engels and what ... · 6 replies · +1 points

I am oddly pleased CMD/1TT/Rosie that we actually agree on something at last.

3 weeks ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Marx, Engels and what ... · 14 replies · +1 points

I do believe that the statues which are displayed in the public realm (much more so than a gallery or a library or a scholarship or even a street named after someone) do say, in effect, this was a great man or woman who did something admirable that we wish to commemorate.

Yes, a Churchill or a Baden-Powell held or articulated some views that the vast majority of people these days – but not then – would view as deeply objectionable and yes, Drake did make his fortune from slavery and piracy but they were also great men who achieved much that we do still admire and give thanks for.

I cannot mount such a defence for a Colston, whose only claim to fame is that, being heirless and having amassed a fortune from the enslavery, exploitation and murder of countless thousands of his fellow human beings, chose to spend that fortune philanthropically. I'm not judging him as a man - these actions were largely accepted by his contemporaries - but that doesn’t mean that we should continue to laud him with a statue plonk in the middle of the largest city in the West Country.

I absolutely do not condone vandalism in any way and I strongly object to judging the actions of people in the past by the standards of the present but we should, I think, still bear in mind that in leaving a statue proudly on its plinth (rather than in a museum) we are, even if only by omission, implying that we approve of at least some aspect or achievement of that individual.

3 weeks ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Conservative MPs must ... · 0 replies · +1 points

As a communicant member of the Church of England it saddens me to have to agree with some of the foregoing posts. Moral leadership from the top has been appalling during lockdown. I have many friends who are clergy or work directly for dioceses and there has been deep unease and, in many quarters, outrage at the managerial messaging (and lack thereof in moral leadership). Clergy have not even been permitted to access their own churches, let alone enable private prayer. I am particularly shocked that many who wanted and should have been entitled to receive extreme unction when the time came have been denied it.

There are many clergy who have been doing wonderful things for their communities – organising voluntary food deliveries for those vulnerable or shielding and food banks for those left unemployed and without any hope of new employment in the current conditions – but I fear that the Church has never been or seemed more irrelevant to the majority of people than it is now. It breaks my heart but, I am sorry to say, it is true.

I shall not criticise John Sentamu on the day of his retirement, not least because he has been shielding himself and (although it is many years ago now) when I met him when he was still Bishop of Stepney he struck me as an extraordinary, inspiring, kind and good man – exactly the sort of chap I wanted as an Archbishop, albeit that I am much higher in my churchmanship than he is. Justin Welby, however, may be an excellent CEO and manager but his silence throughout this national emergency has been profound and pathetic.

None of this, I accept, is really germane to the question of whether we should keep Sunday special – I would prefer to but I recognise the force of the argument from those for whom it has no religious meaning – it is, I fear, more of a Crie de Coeur as an institution which I love and for which I shall still fight slides further into irrelevance. I appreciate that many will be unmoved or even welcome that but, in my view, it is a tragedy and, which is much worse, an entirely avoidable one.