In stab City, the lawless moral cesspit that is the capital of Airstrip One, hapless Mayor Sadiq Khan has waded into the slavery row with predictable vigour.
A review is to be launched to consider which street names should be changed, which statues removed because they are associated with folks who have a “troubled history.” Of course the question is who will decide whose history is troubled? That task is made more difficult by the fact that almost no-one under the age of 50 has studied enough British History to be able to put anything into context.
Sharing some DNA with Wilberforce, a rarely mentioned figure in this slavery debate since we are all told that we Britishers all share a common guilt, I need no lessons on the evils of slavery. But this is not a black and white issue. Demonised Bristol merchant Colston made a fortune from slavery but then gave most of it away helping the poor and to the Church. He is a bad guy right?
The Gladstone family were the second biggest winners when the British state bought the freedom of all slaves in the empire. They were massive slave owners and it is on that basis that the family fortune was made. Gladstone was already a young man supporting the family business when his family won the lottery, a lottery funded by the British taxpayer which did not clear the costs of this exercise for almost 200 years.
Will academics now boycott the library at Hawarden built with this dirty money and decorated with numerous pictures and statues of Gladstone and his plantation owning father? Will we tear down statues of the greatest Liberal leader and will hapless Khan demand that Gladstone Street SE1 be renamed? Surely if Churchill is to be judged by today’s standards and deemed a racist, then Gladstone needs to be exposed too?
Of course this is nonsense but the direction of travel is all too clear. As ever, George Orwell predicted it all in 1984:
“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. History has stopped.”
Who is going to tell Khan that Orwell’s classic was a warning not a route map?