The fight for British heritage, and the symbols of it, rages on with the recent creation of London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s diversity taskforce which is set to review landmarks and street names in our capital. The team is not made up of qualified historians or intelligent academics, instead it is a mixture of political activists and academics that have an incredibly one-sided view of history and culture on these islands. They are not elected, they do not operate by democratic consent – they are a quango created by a Mayor who thinks he can make long-lasting changes to London without any accountability. This puppet commission, dubbed ‘the Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm’, has decided even a statue of Queen Elizabeth I should be considered for review.
Usually, actions like this would be carried out by a local council with democratic consent in the form of public consultations as opposed to arrogant commissions. However, even those that do operate at a council level have wielded no greater public say over our precious heritage. Numerous examples have occurred in which the local population has made clear they do not want removals or one-sided ‘contextualisation’s, but the council goes on with it anyway. Just one of many examples is that of Exeter Council who recently voted to add a new plaque to place on a statue of the famous General Buller, putting the monument into ‘context’ which means condemning the said historical figure in an ideological game. This is despite the fact that the public consultation voted with a 77% margin to take no action in regard to the statue, and this isn’t even the most egregious of offences against the will of the people.
Thanks to campaigners like Save Our Statues , there has been some victories in the constant battle to preserve British heritage, but action is needed now. In a ray of hope, the Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick announced legislation to stop this trend. This would give central government a final say in the instance a Heritage sector body opposes the moves of a local council to pull down a statue. In an outcry that illustrates the battle we are in, journalists and activists poured onto social media to condemn this legislation as unimportant while we fight the pandemic. This is merely an excuse, a way to blanket their true support of these ‘baying mobs’ that seek to resign our history to their own political whims. With Khan’s review rushing ahead, as well as other councils across the country taking similar steps, it is absolutely crucial that Jenrick’s legislation be passed swiftly. It is rather amusing to see those who claim this is not an important issue fall silent when the London Mayor decides a pandemic is a good time to alter our capital’s heritage. Don’t be fooled, the urgency is there, we all have a part to play in fighting back this woke tide.