A question was asked in the House of Lords on 19 October about the future of our country’s historic statues. The Minister, who replied for the Government, stated that they “should not be removed but retained, with a fuller contextualisation on the background and history of those commemorated.”
Alistair Lexden, Conservative Party historian, strongly supported this policy in the short ensuing discussion. He said: “historical understanding is best assisted by the provision of full and unbiased information, rather than by the removal or knocking down of statues.”
A Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Wallace of Saltaire whose home is in Yorkshire, told the House that “we are having a local discussion about the appropriateness of a statue of Sir Robert Peel, with petition and counter-petition”. The issue is of course slavery, a wholly baseless smear on the reputation of a man, described by Lord Blake, the doyen of Conservative Party historians, as one of the two great prime ministers of the nineteenth century (Gladstone, in his view, being the other).
The historical record is absolutely clear, as Alistair Lexden pointed out: “he was a lifelong opponent of slavery and the slave trade and sent the British Navy to the coast of West Africa to help suppress them.”