The Welsh Government has found £170,000, in these times of austerity, to spunk on a report into statues, buildings, and street names that are linked to slavery or are racist in other ways. Naturally, folks like Sir Francis Drake, Nelson and Wellington are all in the firing line because their tangential or fairly minor connections to the slave trade must completely overshadow matters such as saving the nation from invasion and foreign domination. But it is my local town of Wrexham which shows up the monumental stupidity of this exercise, masterminded by the certifiably insane first minister Mark Drakeford and rubber stamped by the grossly overpaid pygmies of the Sennedd, in greatest detail.
There is a street in Wrexham called Peel Street and this is included in the report because the industrialist and MP Sir Robert Peel, one of ten British millionaires before 1800, was a supporter of slavery. In many ways, Sir Robert was also a figure we should praise. He pushed through legislation to protect the rights and enhance the condition of child labourers. At the time that was a radical move. But it is also irrelevant as the street is not named after him. He is a fairly minor political figure.
It is named after his son, also called Sir Robert Peel who was not only an MP but also the Prime Minister. The clue is in the names of neighbouring streets: Bright, Cobden and Villiers. What links the most famous men with those names and Peel? All were politicians in the nineteenth century and were the most important men in the abolition of the Corn Laws. Pushing through their abolition cost Peel his career since most in his party supported the Laws. But Peel knew it was the right thing to do to alleviate misery and starvation among the poor of this land. It is surely right to honour all four men for their good works on this matter.
Clearly Peel Street is named after the younger, and far more celebrated, Robert Peel who also created the unarmed Police force. Surely no-one wishes to tar him with the actions of some rogue and armed US cops for creating the British force in the way he did in 1829. For Peel’s mantra was that the police are citizens and the citizens are the police, therefore the police should be unarmed. Who can argue with that way of viewing policing or try to link that to the murder of George Floyd?
The Younger Peel argued massively with his father on one big issue: slavery. The younger Peel was a lifelong abolitionist. In 1818, Peel was a member of the Earl of Liverpool government that signed treaties with Spain, Portugal and The Netherlands abolishing the slave trade. Peel supported the abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire in 1834. When Peel was prime minister, 1841 – 46, his government made treaties with South American countries such as Mexico, Uruguay, Bolivia and Chile in 1843 abolishing the slave trade. In 1845, Peel authorised the establishment of the Anti-Slavery squadron with thirty-six ships, which made it one of the largest fleets in the world. Its role was to stamp out slavers sending poor folks to America.
It is clear that Peel Street in Wrexham is most certainly named after a man who not only fought slavery throughout his life but actually drove that agenda with success. And he also saved hundreds of thousands of poor folks back in Britain and Ireland from starvation.
Gaynor Legall, Leader of the task and finish group who led the audit, said: “This a piece of work that I am immensely proud of because it gives a very thorough, factual account of Wales’ involvement in the Slave Trade and expands our knowledge of the history of Wales. It will hopefully lead to children learning the complete history, warts and all.”
Or perhaps not. Gaynor and her master Mark Drakeford score a straight fail on Peel Street in Wrexham and as a result will be teaching the kids around here a good dose of fake history. And thanks to folks like Nelson and Wellington, those lessons will not be in French.
And since the entire Welsh political and media cadre is either too stupid or too afraid of being seen as a defender of racism, no-one dares challenge this hit job on one of Britain’s greatest Prime Ministers and a thoroughly good man.