No place for ‘Taliban’ Cromwell next to Parliament, says historian
A BITTER row has broken out between historians after calls for the statue of Oliver Cromwell in front of the Houses of Parliament to be taken down.
Jeremy Crick, a social historian from Staffordshire, compared Cromwell – who led the parliamentary forces against the king in the English Civil War – to the Taliban in Afghanistan for his anti-religious zeal and said there should be no place for him outside the Palace of Westminster.
His call follows numerous campaigns to remove and replace statues of figures with problematic pasts, notably by students at Oxford to have a statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College taken down for his part in the white colonisa- tion and exploitation of southern Africa. Mr Crick, who specialises in the history of notable families in Staffordshire, said Cromwell was responsible for the wholesale destruction by Parliamentarian troops of many religious and church buildings during the civil war of 1642 to 1651.
He backed calls for such “unloved statues” to be removed to one central point for future display. Mr Crick said: “As to who we should send there, might I suggest we make a start with the statue of Oliver Cromwell that is sited next to the Palace of Westminster?
“Its banishment would be poetic justice for his Taliban-like destruction of so many of England’s cultural and religious artefacts carried out by his fanatical Puritan followers.” But the Cromwell Association described Crick’s suggestion as “folly” and tempting to rewrite history”.
John Goldsmith, the group’s chairman, said: “It was inevitable in the present debate about the removal of statues that the figure of Oliver Cromwell outside the Palace of Westminster would become a target.” He added: “[Sir William Hamo] Thorneycroft’s magnificent representation of Cromwell is evidence of 19th-century opinion and part of the historiography of a figure who many believe is still worth celebrating.”
Mr Goldsmith told The Sunday Telegraph: “Cromwell is regarded by many, perhaps more in the late 19th century than today, as a defender of parliament against external pressure, in his case of course the monarchy.”