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Edward Colston: Bristol slave trader statue 'was an affront'

Discussion in 'off topic' started by ks.234, Jun 8, 2020.

  1. ks.234

    ks.234 pfm Member


    Every politician should be following the Mayor of Bristol’s example in condemning the statue of a prominent slave trader ever being allowed to stand. Marvin Rees has called the statue an affront.

    What a shame that Keir Starmer has chosen to side with the Priti Patel and the Tories in condemnIng the protesters who tore the statue down rather than support Rees
  2. Weekender

    Weekender pfm Member

    He didn't side with Patel.
    What he said was this:
    • Starmer said that, although the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol should have been removed years go, the manner in which it was pulled down was “completely wrong”. Asked for his reaction to what happened yesterday, Starmer said:
    It shouldn’t be done in that way. Completely wrong to pull a statue down like that.

    But, stepping back, that statue should have been taken down a long, long time ago. You can’t, in 21st-century Britain, have a slaver on a statue.

    A statue is there to honour people. And you can’t have that in 21st-century Britain. That statue should have been brought down properly with consent and put, I would say, in a museum.

    This was a man who was responsible for 100,000 people being moved from Africa to the Caribbean as slaves, including women and children who were branded on their chests with the name of the company that he ran. Of the 100,000, 20,000 died en route and they were chucked in the sea.

    • He defended the decision of the police in Bristol not to intervene. He said:
    I was very struck by Superintendent Andy Bennett, who was the police officer, the superintendent, on the ground who judged the situation. And he said he was really disappointed by the vandalism and the bringing down of the statue. But he didn’t think it was the right thing to intervene, because it might make the situation worse.
    2ManyBoxes, Ptah, Spike55 and 7 others like this.
  3. Seeker_UK

    Seeker_UK I had amnesia once or twice...

    You say condemn the protesters, I say take a measured stance on a very difficult / complex issue.

    The only thing I don't understand (because I don't understand how local politics works) is that if Marvin Rees has been Mayor since 2016, why hasn't he been able to get the statue (re)moved in his city.
    Big Tabs and Weekender like this.
  4. i.j.russell

    i.j.russell pfm Member

    Churchill was a racist, should we remove his statue? At what point do the good deeds outweigh the bad? Alan Turing saved millions of lives by shortening WWII but was still convicted of being a homosexual.
  5. foxwelljsly

    foxwelljsly Hawkwind and Fire

    I'd be happy to see every effort possible made to cease the lionisation of Winston Churchill - I suspect he'd see himself as an anachronism were he around today. However, there are people that very strongly disagree with me and I'm not sure that pulling down statues is the best way of winning these arguments, although in this case it was a very potent act.
  6. kensalriser

    kensalriser pfm Member

    But the discussion isn't about Churchill or Turing, it's about Colston's statue.
  7. calorgas

    calorgas Ratty bumpkin

    The whole Colston thing has been controversial in Bristol for years as there's stacks of things named after him. It caused ongoing upset to a lot of people, I enjoyed watching it go into the docks.

    They should eventually drag it out and stick in the museum, complete with dents and scratches, and a have board explaining why people saw fit to tear it down.
  8. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    History has largely corrected itself over that whole issue, arguably to the point Turing is now viewed as an icon on a level above his actual peers (Tommy Flowers etc) because he was driven to suicide by such a brutal and bigoted state. His story, like that of say Wilberforce, the Suffragettes, Mandela etc has now been written. It is no longer fluid, and no right-wing revisionsm will be able to undo it.
    Darmok, Darren L and Nick_G like this.
  9. i.j.russell

    i.j.russell pfm Member

    Today it is about Slave Trader Colston but tomorrow it could be about someone else. At what point do their good deeds outweigh the bad? Who is deemed worthy of having a statue and who isn't and who determines that?
    2ManyBoxes likes this.
  10. Seanm

    Seanm pfm Member

    You need to decode it. He's saying to the people who actually did it and to their supporters "You were completely wrong". Completely wrong! Beyond that he's saying "You should have left it to us." In the context of this particular struggle, which has been going on forever with no sign of resolution, that can only be read as "You should have accepted that nothing was ever going to be done about this." And of course given what the statue stands for, and what its removal stands for, that is a message about structural racism in general, which is itself standing in for a lot of other things right now.

    Of course Starmer thinks he's talking to a different audience, but they're not the only ones listening. Something is happening, a movement is emerging, and his message to that movement is "Stop, it's up to us to deal with this, and we're not going to. You are completely wrong." Absolute melter.
  11. Weekender

    Weekender pfm Member

    "That statue should have been brought down properly with consent and put, I would say, in a museum."
    JonR likes this.
  12. Bart

    Bart pfm Member

    Why not just stick it back on the plinth as it is, more people would see it that way.
    ks.234 likes this.
  13. Seanm

    Seanm pfm Member

    That's why people are scared: they're thinking, Where will it end?

    Hopefully with Britain growing the f__ up and accepting its actual past. Hopefully with the acceptance that the country is structurally racist and needs to be turned inside out and upside down to deal with it. So yes, that's going to have to go through Churchill, not just because he was a racist but because of all the racist stuff that he did and all the suffering that he caused. Don't see what Turing has to do with it.
  14. Seanm

    Seanm pfm Member

    They've been trying to do that for years and nothing's happened, as with racism in general!
    Monitor Gold 10 likes this.
  15. lutyens10

    lutyens10 pfm Member

    This is true but the issue is a slave trader, no matter how much money he gave away, supposed to have statue to venerate this deeds without it being clear what the deeds might be. It might be reasonable to assume that for many years that context was always there and people saw nothing wrong with it. Fortunately we now see such things in a different light and yes, the statue should have been removed. We recently had the same conversation about statues and leaders of apartheid in South Africa. People argued that the statues should stay then too. I imagine they will come down in due course. I imagine that Churchill and many others will also be seen in context in 'the future'. That may not lessen their good impact but at least the good will be seen in the context of the bad. The tipping point will be different in different cases.
  16. kevinrt

    kevinrt pfm Member

    I have wondered about this approach too. Rather than remove statues like this, re-label them with the alternative viewpoint, such that it shames the person represented rather than glorifies them.

    I’m sure there may be flaws in that idea somewhere as well.

  17. calorgas

    calorgas Ratty bumpkin

    Basically I think it would be better if it were put somewhere where people can go and look at it if they choose to, after all it is important history. That would be better than being on constant display in the city centre where people going about their business are unable to avoid seeing it even if they'd really rather not.
    sean99 likes this.
  18. RickyC6

    RickyC6 Infuriate the frog-men

  19. Seeker_UK

    Seeker_UK I had amnesia once or twice...

    Or you could just go with what he actually said.
    ciderglider and Weekender like this.
  20. Seanm

    Seanm pfm Member

    Aye: it’s completely wrong.

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