Category Archives: Slavery

Bristol council passes motion to make reparation for slavery. Tories oppose it

Over it goes: the toppling of the Colston statue, back in June.

Here’s yet another reason for This Writer to be proud of the city of my birth.

After making controversial history during the Black Lives Matter protests last year, when citizens of Bristol tore down a statue of the slaver Edward Colston and threw it in the docks, the city council has gone a step further.

It has passed a motion to make “reparations” – not just financial but also cultural – for the slave trade in which the city participated and its enduring impact.

As former Lord Mayor Cleo Lake stated, “The contribution of African civilisation, culture and people versus how we have been treated is one of the world’s great paradoxes.”

Bristol is also calling for the UK’s Tory government to set up an all-party parliamentary inquiry to examine how such reparations might be delivered.

This might be a challenging request as although the motion was passed with 47 votes in support, 12 Tory councillors voted against it.

Believe it or not, they said the motion to make amends for an abhorrent past “risks exacerbating some divisions by presenting a binary view of the world when the reality is much more complicated”.

That sounds like doubletalk to This Writer! That is, disapproving speech that is intended to confuse an issue.

I think these Tories simply don’t want to face the reality of Bristol’s – and the UK’s – slave-trading background, with all the harm it has done, or the racism that still pervades this nation as a result.

In opposing the motion, they also opposed community wealth creation strategies to produce more sustainable and equitable growth whilst alleviating systemic poverty, which acknowledges that a just economy is the only way to achieve racial justice.

Typical Tories, you might say.

Source: ‘History is made’ as Bristol passes slavery reparations motion

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‘Slave plantation’ MP Drax shamed over non-payment of minimum wage

Richard Drax.

Why do villains like this always get away with the harm they do?

Worse, why do they insult us by standing for Parliament – and why do we self-harm by voting them in?

It’s insanity.

So Richard Drax – allegedly the wealthiest landowner in the House of Commons – is a director of the Morden Estates Company and signed off on the underpayment of 43 workers there.

This has put his firm on a list of 139 businesses … in a government press release headed “Rogue employers named and shamed for failing to pay minimum wage”.

How did Drax’s family get so rich? From recent headlines it seems they profited from slavery:

He has recently been facing calls to pay reparations over the Drax Hall Plantation in Barbados. His ancestors had a slave workforce there for nearly 200 years.

Some people never change, it seems.

Drax himself has said

the “technical infringement” concerned “beaters” – people who drive game birds out of their cover at shooting events. He said they traditionally took part for enjoyment but had been paid a “modest sum”.

Nobody, it seems, has tracked down any of these beaters to ask if the MP’s information is correct. It seems that, because he is an MP, and a landowner, and an employer, he is automatically allotted the last word.

Note also that fellow Tory Richard Jenrick has recently launched a plan for legislation to protect monuments to historical slavers.

If those statues represent the ancestors of colleagues like Drax, the motivation seems clear.

Source: MP Richard Drax’s family business “shamed” over minimum wage | Bournemouth Echo

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Corrupted morals: men who allegedly toppled Colston statue to be punished but Priti Patel goes free

Over it goes: the toppling of the Colston statue, back in June. By a curious coincidence, nobod involved in pulling it down could be seen in this image.

People who toppled – and then sank – a statue glorifying slavery during the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the summer are to be offered a bizarre punishment.

The five, who pulled down the statue of slaver Edward Colston in Bristol, will have to pay a fine that would go to a charity supporting people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities in Bristol – which is more than Colston ever did.

They will also have to complete a questionnaire by Bristol City Council’s history commission, explaining their reasons for attacking an exploiter who considered black and minority ethnic people to be property during a week of protests against their mistreatment.

That’s going to be an uncomfortable read for these history commissioners.

This Writer would be unsurprised if every answer contained harsh criticism of them for even asking such a stupid question.

Worse still is the fact that four more people – three men and a woman – may face criminal charges over the incident:

Avon and Somerset police said its investigation had been completed.

It said: “Following a review of the evidence, detectives will now approach the Crown Prosecution Service for a charging decision against four people – three men, aged 32, 25 and 21, and a 29-year-old woman.”

Meanwhile, the Home Office is reportedly resuming deportation of asylum-seekers after it was prevented from sending a flight to Spain a few weeks ago.

Lawyers for the deportees demonstrated that the government had rushed the flight in order to deny the refugees their right to appeal.

It’s a direct correlation with the attitude of slavers like Colston, who also refused to allow foreign people any rights.

So we have to ask ourselves:

Who should really be explaining their actions – the protesters who tore down a statue of a historic slaver, or Priti Patel, the home secretary who treats people like slaves today?

Source: Men allegedly involved in toppling of Colston statue offered cautions | UK news | The Guardian

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Toppled Colston statue in Bristol replaced by resin sculpture of Black Lives Matter activist

It makes This Writer proud to be Bristolian.

After the statue of slaver Edward Colston was toppled by protesters last month, artist Marc Quinn replaced it with a resin sculpture of a Black Lives Matter protester in a pre-dawn operation that caught authorities by surprise.

Now calls have been made for the city to keep the new statue standing on the formerly-vacant plinth.

The artist said he had based the statue on the moment activist Jen Reid stood on top of the empty plinth on June 7, raising her fist to the skies.

Authorities in Bristol are receiving calls for the statue to be kept, even though it was raised without permission. Mayor Marvin Rees has previously said any replacement would be decided democratically through consultation.

This is a big step forward against the attitude that said slavers should be celebrated, and against the right-wing loons who tried to protect statues like this after Colston’s was pulled down and dumped in the River Avon.

Source: Edward Colston statue in Bristol replaced by resin sculpture of Black Lives Matter protester | The Independent

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Racist historian dropped by publisher and university after shocking interview remarks

[This is one of three connected articles. This Site is also examining the responses of Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer to Black Lives Matter; none of them come out smelling of roses.]

Racist historian David Starkey has been dropped like a hot coal by his publisher and university after expressing “abhorrent” views in an interview on the far-right YouTube channel Reasoned.

HarperCollins will no longer publish the historian and Canterbury Christ Church University has terminated his role after he said “slavery was not genocide”.

Starkey told right-wing commentator Darren Grimes: “Slavery was not genocide, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain would there? You know, an awful lot of them survived.”

According to The Guardian:

HarperCollins UK said it would not be publishing any further books by Starkey.

“The views expressed by David Starkey in his recent interview are abhorrent and we unreservedly condemn them,” said the publisher. “Our last book with the author was in 2010, and we will not be publishing further books with him. We are reviewing his existing backlist in light of his comments and views.”

Starkey was signed by HarperCollins in a four-book deal in 2006, publishing titles including Monarchy: Behind the Royal Mask from the Tudors to the Present, and Henry: Virtuous Prince, the first in a planned two-part biography of Henry VIII. It is understood that the other two titles in the deal, which included the second part of Starkey’s biography, will no longer be published by HarperCollins. The book is currently listed online as coming out in September.

A spokesperson for Hodder & Stoughton, which published Starkey’s 2015 book Magna Carta, said it would also not publish him again: “We unequivocally condemn racism in any form. We published a book by David Starkey in 2015 as a one off project to mark the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta to coincide with a TV documentary. We will not be publishing any further books by him.”

We’ll come to Canterbury Christ Church presently.

If you haven’t seen Starkey’s interview, here’s the offending extract:

Now, for balance, take a look at Aaron Bastani’s criticism:

There are several pertinent points there, including this:

Probably more pertinent still is this, from Kerry-Anne Mendoza: “I’m descended from the indigenous people of the Caribbean: the Kalinago. You’ve likely not heard of us. We were virtually annihilated during the first waves of slavery, which is when the Slavers moved on to importing Black Africans to the Caribbean. So f*** you, David.”

Starkey doesn’t stop there. Take a look at this:

Yes indeed. But it seems times are changing.

Lefty columnist Owen Jones tweeted: “This is gratuitous, unashamed racism. It is uttered by one of the most famous historians in the country, a regular on panel shows. It is nodded at by a prominent Tory commentator.”

Here‘s Twitter’s Tom London: “The scandal about this odious, vile man is that he is given airtime and space in newspapers and treated with respect by the Establishment.”

Well, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge – which is about as ‘Establishment’ as one can be, has had enough:

The decision to ditch Starkey has been greeted with applause:

Canterbury Christ Church University didn’t even offer him the chance to resign, it seems. Here’s that organisation’s tweet, with appropriate comment by Ms Mendoza:

Even Darren Grimes, the rising star of the right-wing media, has tried to distance himself from the storm he help to whip up – unsuccessfully, in the light of his own comments.

For example, after Grimes tweeted this about the interview…

… the following apology seemed to lack sincerity:

He stated: “Hand on heart, I wasn’t engaged enough in this interview as I should’ve been. It goes without saying that Reasoned UK does not support or condone Dr David Starkey’s words.

“I am very new to being the interviewer rather than the interviewee and I should have robustly questioned Dr Starkey about his comments.

“However, whether it’s on the BBC, ITV, Sky News or on YouTube, no interviewer is responsible for the views expressed by their guests.

“At Reasoned UK you’ll always find unfiltered opinions, allowing the audience to make up their own minds – that said, in future – I can promise that there will be a host who is much more willing to challenge those opinions.”

Responses mocked Grimes:

They also pointed out that he played a far greater role in getting the offending words out to the public than just being the interviewer.

As Lewis Parker tweeted: “You didn’t just interview a racist. You interviewed him, nodded your head in agreement, edited the video, posted the video, and then promoted it. Also, the video is still up on your YouTube channel. What a sad sad excuse.”

There’s this, too:

Note that Grimes hasn’t lost his job.

Still, public opinion seems to believe Starkey still has one port of refuge in this storm – the BBC:

Jackie Walker, the anti-racism campaigner who has often spoken about the genocide of black people caused by the US/Caribbean slave trade tweeted: “Just let what he’s saying sink in, then ask how come the BBC/media allow this man to comment on history.”

This Site’s friend Cornish Damo added: “He’s one of the most hate-filled, bile-inducing blowhards the BBC continue to employ. Now he can add massive racist to this extremely selective ‘historian’. What say you Beeb & anyone else who uses him? Will you stop wheeling this white supremacist out to lecture us now?”

The BBC has been aware that Starkey’s views are poison for many years – former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted his shock at Newsnight broadcasting his racist views, way back in 2011:

Here’s the reason he got away with it, courtesy of another David – Schneider: “Never mind the ignorance about genocide, that “damn blacks” isn’t just a shocking indictment of Starkey. It shows a confidence that you can say that because every time you have done in the past the people you’re with nod along in agreement.”

Craig Murray agrees:

So what will the Corporation do? Will it follow this advice…

… or will it adhere to form?

Of course, there is an alternative, should the BBC wish to take it:

I have no idea about the rest of Ms Lipscomb’s politics but if she isn’t a racist, at least that’s one step out of the cesspit.

Source: David Starkey dropped by publisher and university after racist remarks | Culture | The Guardian

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Bristol ‘Black Lives Matter’ protesters tear down statue of slaver Colston – and about time, too!

Over it goes: could there be any more clear ‘down with racism’ demand than the toppling of the statue to slaver Edward Colston in Bristol?

Having been born in Bristol, This Writer is aware of the unsavoury slaver history of Edward Colston, and the reverence in which he has been held has confused me for years.

But, being part of a Bristol family, it was hard to criticise him directly. Many of us have historical links with slavery and until earlier this week, I had believed that my family had such links.

Apparently I was mistaken. A BBC documentary about former Mayor John Kerle Haberfield (a great-(many times)-uncle revealed that he had not been involved with the slave trade and nor were any other of my family on that side. It’s possible that other ancestors were, although I have no evidence to suspect it.

I attended St Mary Redcliffe & Temple School, where around a fifth of the pupils were members of Colston House, named after the slaver. The school changed the house name last year (2019) in favour of African-American female mathematician Katherine Johnson. I was a member of Francombe House, which was less controversially named after a former head teacher of the school.

Campaigners have been working to end the veneration of the slave trader Colston, who ran the Royal Africa Company that enslaved around 12,000 children, for many decades. My understanding is that calls to tear down the statue of Colston were taking place 40 years ago, at least.

Read more about him here:

(Historians may also find this interesting:)

Well, yesterday it finally happened.

Public feeling against racism boiled over during a “Black Lives Matter” demonstration prompted by the death of George Floyd in the United States, and after years of campaigning to get rid of the Grade II listed (why was it Grade II listed?) statue, people decided to tear it down themselves and throw it into the River Avon – in a manner reminiscent of the way Colston himself would throw unruly slaves – weighed down with chains – into the sea during slaving voyages.

Satirically, Google Maps sprang into action, providing at least one element of humour:

Police have said they are treating the incident as an act of criminal damage, which they are investigating. This has given some people another opportunity for satire:

How will the people of Bristol replace the statue? It seems some have ideas already:

Personally, I don’t think a statue to a Sheffield group, in Bristol, would particularly please the people of either city.

I really don’t think this would be appropriate, either:

Maybe in Islington.

Perhaps most revealing has been the reaction of different public figures to what is a clear act of vandalism, even if the reasoning behind it is supportable.

Priti Patel’s response should be shocking, considering her own racial background:

As should Sajid Javid’s:

And, indeed, some members of the Labour Party have questions to answer:

Others take a different view:

If you’re confused about “structural” racism:

Of course, it’s not unknown for statues to be torn down if people and/or their deeds fall out of favour with the public.

You won’t see a statue glorifying Nazism or anybody who supported that movement in Germany!

And in Russia and Iraq, statues of Communist leaders and Saddam Hussein (respectively) were torn down after those regimes were toppled.

Even yesterday, the toppling-in-effigy of Colston wasn’t unique:

And back in the UK, people are eyeing possible future candidates for the Colston treatment:

https://twitter.com/niall_nowhin/status/1269725946778714112

https://twitter.com/JordanGSmith25/status/1269664099652308997

And of course the situation has provided more opportunities for right-wing idiots to make fools of themselves:

We are left with the overwhelming impression that the removal of the Colston statue was right, no matter how it was achieved.

But we live in a country where somebody may go to prison for making it happen. If you don’t think that’s right, you need to be thinking about what you are going to do about it.

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New Tory chairman ‘owned’ over slavery howler

James Cleverly: Not the sharpest tool in the Tory box.

Is there anyone in the Conservative cabinet who hasn’t made themselves look foolish recently?

James Cleverly has – many times, as long-term readers of This Site will know.

But it is from Skwawkbox that we derive this example of imbecilic stupidity:

James Cleverly put out a tweet claiming that William Wilberforce, the MP responsible for the 1833 ‘Slavery Abolition Act’ was ‘a Tory MP from Yorkshire’ and an example of a Conservative having a positive impact on society:

In fact, Wilberforce was an independent MP who died just three days after hearing that the Act had been passed – and the Conservative party was only formed a year later. The ‘Tories’, the precursor to the Conservative party, did exist – but Wilberforce was not a member and Tories largely opposed the bill.

As you can see, the general public took umbrage, and responded in characteristic fashion.

For more examples of Cleverly takedowns, see: Cleverly ‘owned’ after trying to claim Tory credit for ending slavery | The SKWAWKBOX

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