Govt goes to WAR on ‘woke’ Sadiq Khan’s bid to tear down London statues

Ann Widdecombe calls on government to stand up to 'wokerati'

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Housing minister Christopher Pincher has written to Mr Khan to express concern that he is using £250,000 of taxpayers money on a statues commission made up of 15 leftwing activists at a time when he claims he is putting up Londoners’ council tax bills. He pointed out that Labour has backed the destruction of British history and heritage with the party leader Sir Keir Starmer backing the removal of Sir Edward Colston’s statue by a mob of leftwing Black Lives Matter activists in Bristol and the Labour group on the Local Government Association wants Labour councils to pull down landmarks.

Demanding that the controversial statues commission is “disbanded”, Mr Pincher said: “Putting some of London’s most important pieces of history into the hands of 15 activists, the majority of whom are not historians is a regrettable decision. On top of the enormous costs, some very troubling statements by your panelists, such as praising the “guerrilla style” removal of statues, have been made public. These will not command public confidence or support.

“As London Mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey has said, this commission will neither heal divisions nor promote inclusivity.”

The letter is part of a wider front on the government’s war on woke opening up this week with culture secretary Oliver Dowden set to have a showdown with heritage bodies on Tuesday over their attempts to besmirch British history linking properties to slavery and colonialism.

A source close to Mr Dowden told the Sunday Express that he will tell the bodies, which are part funded by the taxpayer, that they have a duty to “acclaim” British heritage not just “maintain and explain”.

Meanwhile, Sir John Hayes, the chairman of the powerful Common Sense group of MPs, is set to have a meeting with Michael Gove where he will present the group’s demand that the Cabinet Office issues an edict that the Union Jack is flown on all government  and taxpayer funded agency buildings with councils and schools also urged to follow suit.

The move comes after Scottish nationalist First Minister Nicola Sturgeon banned the Union Jack from Scottish Government buildings and replaced it with the EU flag.

“We need the Union Jack to fly right across our great island in all corners to encourage patriotism and act as a reminder of what unites us,” said Sir John.

LETTER:

On 30 January, my Department also published proposed amendments to the National Planning Policy Framework which will incorporate this change to planning policy into the Framework, to ensure greater clarity for planners.

Such a policy position reflects that taken by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, which is the lead department for heritage. This was outlined by DCMS Ministers in Parliament on 25 September 2020. 

Ministers explained: ‘This country has a long and well-established tradition of commemorating its national and local dignitaries with statues… the back story of some of those individuals and their place in history is ridden with moral complexity. Statues and other historical objects were created or obtained by generations with different perspectives and different understandings of right and wrong… the Government want organisations to retain and explain, not remove, our heritage.’

Historic England has provided advice on how local authorities should make decisions on so-called ‘contested heritage.’

As they assert: “Our stance on historic statues and sites which have become contested is to retain and explain them; to provide thoughtful, long lasting and powerful reinterpretation that responds to their contested history and tells the full story.”

These principles similarly apply not just to statues, but other aspects of our heritage, including street names. 

Unfortunately, the Labour Party has consistently supported the removal of such statues and memorials in recent months. In June 2020, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer backed the removal of the Edward Colston statue in Bristol, saying “that statue should have been taken down a long, long time ago… That statue should have been brought down properly.” 

The Local Government Association Labour Group has also called on all Labour councils to push to remove such statues and memorials.

They have said: “LGA Labour have consulted with all Labour council leaders, and there is overwhelming agreement from all Labour councils that they will listen to and work with their local communities to review the appropriateness of local monuments and statues on public land and council property.” Steve Reed MP, Labour’s Shadow Communities Secretary, also appears to endorse this “demolish and deny” approach.

Worryingly, it appears that council tax is being raised to pay for Labour town halls’ plans to tear down statues and wipe out historic street names. It has been reported that the ‘Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm’, which you established last summer, will cost Londoners over £250,000.

Putting some of London’s most important pieces of history into the hands of 15 activists, the majority of whom are not historians is a regrettable decision. On top of the enormous costs, some very troubling statements by your panellists, such as praising the “guerrilla style” removal of statues, have been made public. These will not command public confidence or support.

As London Mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey has said, this commission will neither heal divisions nor promote inclusivity.

I strongly encourage you to disband this commission without delay and put a stop to efforts to strip London of its history.  It is in the city’s own interests – and that of future generations – that heritage and tradition is given robust protection and not airbrushed away.  I believe you have a duty to provide that protection.

Your sincerely, 

Christopher Pincher MP

Minister of State for Housing

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