The Daily Telegraph
sir – The custodians of the parliamentary art collection need to make clear what has become of the “several hundred portraits of people linked to the slave trade” removed from the Palace of Westminster (report, October 1). Have they gone to some secret hall of shame?
Public shame apparently awaits three prime ministers: Liverpool, Gladstone and Peel. The special slave-trade plaques now planned for their portraits would seriously distort historical understanding.
The issue, which has become an overwhelming Left-wing obsession today, did not dominate their lives. They had many other pressing national concerns. Even during the limited time they gave to it, their attitudes did not remain constant.
In the 1790s, Liverpool resisted withdrawal from a trade that would be immediately taken over by our commercial rivals; by 1815 he had been persuaded of the case for abolition.
The young Gladstone argued that Britain should concentrate on improving the living conditions of slaves; later he became a founding member of the Society for the Extinction of the Slave Trade.
In the 1840s, Peel sent the Navy to the African coast to suppress the trade, as part of a sweeping programme of reform at home and abroad.
Plaques focusing unfairly on today’s obsession would dishonour the memory of our statesmen. MPS and peers must put a stop to the plan.
Lord Lexden (Con)
sir – If poor old Gladstone is to be labelled a slaver, should Lloyd George be identified as an adulterer?