Statues of ‘old white men’ now face being hidden or destroyed
Wellington and Nelson latest heroes at risk of Labour wokery
STATUES of ‘old white men’ such as the Duke of Wellington and Admiral Lord Nelson could be hidden or even destroyed to tackle ‘racist colonial myths’.
Depictions of historical figures now seen as ‘aggressors who conquered peoples to expand the British Empire’ may be ‘offensive’ to the modern public, according to Welsh government guidance.
In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests it says local councils and other public bodies should consider ‘discreetly’ boxing monuments, ‘creatively’ enclosing them in new artworks or even removing them altogether.
According to the draft guidance – announced by the Labour administration in Cardiff – the changes are needed in order to set the ‘right historical narrative’. However critics yesterday branded the woke proposals an ‘antiBritish’ and ‘Orwellian’ attempt to make public bodies rewrite history.
Figures potentially in the firing line include Lord Nelson – whose statue overlooks the Menai Straits between
‘All in the name of virtue signalling’
Anglesey and the Welsh mainland – and the Duke of Wellington, immortalised in stone in the mid-Wales town of Brecon. Both have been accused of supporting the slave trade.
A life-sized statue of Victorian adventurer Henry Morton in Denbigh, the town of his birth in northern Wales, could also be affected.
In 2021 its fate was put to a public vote over his treatment of African slaves – but locals chose to keep it in place by 471 votes to 121.
Statues of once-respected national heroes have been under the spotlight since the toppling of one of slaver Edward Colston by Black Lives Matter protesters in Bristol in 2020.
A statue of 19th-century slave trader Sir Thomas Picton – known as the ‘tyrant of Trinidad’ for his spell as the Caribbean island’s governor – which had stood in Cardiff City Hall for a century was removed after a vote by councillors in 2020.
Entitled ‘ Public commemoration in Wales: guidance for public bodies’, the document suggests authorities could ‘conceal commemorations’ and ‘discreetly box monuments or enclose them creatively in new artworks’. Alternatively, ‘offensive or unwanted items’ could be relocated or destroyed, although it highlights the expense and need for public consultation.
Existing monuments ‘ can be offensive to people today who see them in a different light’, including as ‘aggressors who conquered peoples to expand the British Empire’, according to the draft guidance, expected to be finalised this month.
They give the ‘perception that the achievements that society considers noteworthy are those of powerful, older, able-bodied white men’. Street and building names could also be changed.
It follows a Welsh governmentbacked ‘audit of commemoration’ in 2021 which covered hundreds of statues, plaques, buildings and street names linked to ‘the slave trade and British Empire’. The Welsh government says the advice is not mandatory. But the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, accused Labour of being ‘intent on rewriting our history here in Wales’. He told The Sunday Telegraph: ‘Labour have been captured by a hardLeft, anti-British mob who want to topple our statues... all in the name of virtue signalling.’