December 1, 2020

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British Library adds Poet Laureate Ted Hughes to a dossier linking him to slavery and colonialism 

The celebrated poet Ted Hughes has been added to a dossier linking him to slavery and colonialism by the British Library.

The former Poet Laureate, who came from humble origins in Yorkshire, was found to be a descendant of Nicholas Ferrar who was involved in the slave trade some 300 years before Hughes was born.

Ferrar, born in 1592, and his family, were ‘deeply involved’ with the London Virginia Company, which sought to establish colonies in North America.

The celebrated poet Ted Hughes has been added to a dossier linking him to slavery and colonialism by the British Library

The celebrated poet Ted Hughes has been added to a dossier linking him to slavery and colonialism by the British Library

The celebrated poet Ted Hughes has been added to a dossier linking him to slavery and colonialism by the British Library

The research is being conducted to find evidence of 'connections to slavery, profits from slavery or from colonialism'

The research is being conducted to find evidence of 'connections to slavery, profits from slavery or from colonialism'

The research is being conducted to find evidence of ‘connections to slavery, profits from slavery or from colonialism’

The research is being conducted to find evidence of ‘connections to slavery, profits from slavery or from colonialism’, The Telegraph reported. 

Hughes was born in 1930 in the village of Mytholmroyd in West Yorkshire where his father worked as a joiner before running a newsagent’s and a tobacconist’s.

He attended Cambridge University on a scholarship where he met his future wife Sylvia Plath.

Along with Hughes, who died in 1998, the British Library has identified Lord Byron, Oscar Wilde and George Orwell as benefits of slavery through distant relatives.

Lord Byron, who died in 1824, has been identified as a beneficiary of slavery because of his great-grandfather's and uncle's involvement in the trade

Lord Byron, who died in 1824, has been identified as a beneficiary of slavery because of his great-grandfather's and uncle's involvement in the trade

Lord Byron, who died in 1824, has been identified as a beneficiary of slavery because of his great-grandfather’s and uncle’s involvement in the trade

Oscar Wilde was included because of his uncle's interest in the slave trade, even though the research noted there was no evidence the acclaimed Irish writer inherited any of the money

Oscar Wilde was included because of his uncle's interest in the slave trade, even though the research noted there was no evidence the acclaimed Irish writer inherited any of the money

Oscar Wilde was included because of his uncle’s interest in the slave trade, even though the research noted there was no evidence the acclaimed Irish writer inherited any of the money

It is part of the institution’s plans to become ‘actively anti-racist’ by providing context to the remembrance of historical figures.

It comes in the wake of this year’s Black Lives Matter movement which led to a reassessment of a number of people and institutions from our past.

But the tenuous link between Hughes and Ferrar, who he is related to through his mother’s side, has prompted ire among experts of the great writer.

His biographer Sir Jonathan Bate said: ‘It’s ridiculous to tar Hughes with a slave trade connection. And it’s not a helpful way to think about writers.

‘Why on earth would you judge the quality of an artist’s work on the basis of distant ancestors?’

He added that Ferrar was better known as a priest and a scholar who founded the religious community Little Gidding.

George Orwell, who was born Eric Blair in India, had a great-grandfather who was a wealthy slave owner in Jamaica

George Orwell, who was born Eric Blair in India, had a great-grandfather who was a wealthy slave owner in Jamaica

George Orwell, who was born Eric Blair in India, had a great-grandfather who was a wealthy slave owner in Jamaica

Romantic poet Lord Byron was added to this list because his great-grandfather was a merchant who owned an estate in Grenada.

His uncle through marriage also owned a plantation in St Kitts.

Oscar Wilde was included because of his uncle’s interest in the slave trade, even though the research noted there was no evidence the acclaimed Irish writer inherited any of the money through the practice.

Britons erase their past: The ‘racist’ road names and controversial plaques torn down and renamed

The move to rename De Montfort University comes after the statue of slave trader Edward Colston was pushed into Bristol Harbour in June, sparking a wider debate about the historical links to institutions around the country. 

The bronze memorial to the 17th century slave merchant was pulled down during a Black Lives Matter protest on June 7, amid growing tensions about Britain’s colonial past, sparked by global outcry following the death of George Floyd who died in police custody in Minnesota on May 25.

Campaigners linked to the anti-racism movement have since called for 92 statues, roads or other monuments which they deem racist to be toppled – with a full list being compiled on the website www.toppletheracists.org.

A number of schools and buildings named after Colston subsequently launched consultations to be renamed.  

Paint was thrown at a statue of Admiral Lord Nelson at Deptford Town Hall in South East London, while the gravestone of music hall singer GH Elliott who sang in blackface was covered up in Rottingdean, East Sussex. 

Elsewhere, National Trust bosses said they will review a statue of a kneeling African figure clad in leaves carrying the sundial above his head which stands in front of Dunham Massey Hall in Altrincham, Greater Manchester.

And in South Wales, a plaque honouring the memory of 17th century slave trader Captain Thomas Phillips in Brecon was torn down.

Activists forced the removal of 18th Century slave dealer Robert Milligan from outside the Museum of London in West India Quay, Docklands in June. 

More than 130 councils have announced plans to review monuments in their authorities for ‘appropriateness’, and London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he would conduct his own review into statues and street names in the capital.

Mayor Anderson also announced that Liverpool Council will proceed with plans to fix signs describing Liverpool’s role in slavery to roads named after slave owners. Roads that could be included are Rodney Street, Parr Street and Earle Street in the city centre.

In September, Governors at Sir John Cass’s Foundation Primary School said its name was ‘incompatible’ with the school’s values. It will now become The Aldgate School. 

And in September hundreds of people signed a petition calling for James Gillespie’s High School in Edinburgh to be renamed.  Born in 1726, James Gillespie was a wealthy tobacco merchant in 18th-century Edinburgh and was one of the richest men in the Capital. 

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Meanwhile George Orwell, who was born Eric Blair in India, had a great-grandfather who was a wealthy slave owner in Jamaica.

But the Orwell Society said the money had long since disappeared before Orwell was even born. 

It was recently reported how the British Library was also ‘reviewing’ its Sir Hans Sloane manuscripts after activists targeted one of scores of London landmarks – including the famous Sloane Square – which are named after the pioneering doctor.

The move was revealed in a note on its website, and coincides with a wider review of Sloane’s legacy that saw the British Museum – which he founded – remove his bust from a pedestal and attach the label ‘slave owner’.

The 18th-century philanthropist partly funded his collection of 71,000 artefacts with money from his wife’s sugar plantation in Jamaica, which used slave labour. 

A statue of his likeness on Duke of York Square, off the Kings Road, has attracted the ire of protesters.

But the multi-million pound Cadogan Estate which manages the site on behalf of his descendant, the billionaire Earl Cadogan, resisted calls for the statue to be removed.

They pointed to his astonishing legacy, which included pioneering the smallpox vaccine and the use of quinine to treat malaria. He is also credited with inventing hot chocolate.

The questioning of his legacy could also see campaigns to rename the scores of streets that memorialise him – many of which are located on the Cadogan Estate.

As well as the British Museum, Sloane also founded the Natural History Museum and the Chelsea Physic Garden, and was a founding governor of the Foundling Hospital. All these sites include references to Sloane that could now come under threat.

Another target could be the famous Sloane Square and its well-heeled denizens… nicknamed Sloane Rangers, of which Princess Diana was considered to be an archetype.

Sloane’s descendant, Earl Cadogan, has a seat in the House of Lords and still owns swathes of some of the most exclusive real estate in London as part of his inheritance.

Much of this land is named after the eminent physician and collector, including Sloane Street, Sloane Avenue, Sloane Terrace, and a network of three streets bearing his first name, Hans.

There is also a statue of Sloane on Duke of York Square, an exclusive shopping, dining and residential complex off the Kings Road that sits at the heart of the 300-year-old Cadogan Estate.

The British Library now holds the Sloane manuscripts, which include works by the Elizabethan astronomer John Dee, medieval illuminated manuscripts and Henry VIII’s collection of medical recipes. 

The British Library said on its website: ‘Some items now at the British Library, previously owned by particular named figures cited on these pages, are associated with wealth obtained from enslaved people or through colonial violence. 

‘Curators in the Printed Heritage Collections team have undertaken some research to identify these, as part of ongoing work to interpret and document the provenance and history of the printed collections under our care.’ 

The British Library was contacted for comment.

Tory MPs urge Boris to go to war on BBC and National Trust wokery: PM told to speak out for Britain’s patriotic silent majority against ‘elitist bourgeois liberals’ at institutions

By Glen Owen and Brendan Carlin for the Mail on Sunday

Tory MPs are to demand that Boris Johnson launch a fightback against the politically correct ‘woke’ agenda of institutions including the BBC and the National Trust, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

The Prime Minister will be urged to speak out for Britain’s ‘patriotic’ silent majority and take a stand against bids by ‘elitist bourgeois liberals’ to rewrite or denigrate the nation’s history.

More than 25 Tory MPs will write to Mr Johnson this week, warning him that ‘Britain’s heritage is under attack – ironically from those missioned to guard it’.

The appeal, led by senior backbencher and ex-Minister Sir John Hayes, will call for drastic action including decriminalising the BBC licence fee and potentially stripping the National Trust of its charitable status. In a stern warning last night, Sir John said: ‘Those responsible for our heritage must stand with us or stand aside.’

The group of Tory MPs and peers also take issue with the BBC’s move to ‘censor’ The Pogues’ song Fairytale Of New York over its use of the word ‘faggot’

The group of Tory MPs and peers also take issue with the BBC’s move to ‘censor’ The Pogues’ song Fairytale Of New York over its use of the word ‘faggot’

The group of Tory MPs and peers also take issue with the BBC’s move to ‘censor’ The Pogues’ song Fairytale Of New York over its use of the word ‘faggot’

Oxford college drops benefactor’s name from its famous library

Oxford’s most elite college has dropped the name of a slave-owning benefactor from its famous library – but decided to keep his statue standing.

All Souls said that it will cease to refer to the ‘Codrington Library’, named after Christopher Codrington, who endowed the college with £10,000 to build a collection when he died in 1710.

He is just one of many historical benefactors British philanthropists who have had their legacies – and involvement in slavery – reassessed in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement and renewed interest in colonialism.

In Bristol the statue of Edward Colston, a slave-trader who endowed schools in the city. was pulled down by a mob in June, while at least once school named after him changed its name.

In Oxford, the highest-profile campaign has been against Cecil Rhodes.The future of his statue at Oriel College is currently being decided by an ‘independent commission’.

But All Souls, which takes no undergraduates and is famous for taking a handful of new students each year who pass ‘the hardest exam in the world’, said it would not be removing its controversial statue.

The college said that while it would cease to use the name ‘Codrington Library’, ‘further forms of memorialisation and contextualisation’ would be added to explain the sculpture.

These additions will ‘draw attention to the presence of enslaved people on the Codrington plantations, and will express the College’s abhorrence of slavery’, the college said.

While many have hailed the recent campaigns to reassess British colonialism and its consequences, others have expressed caution at ‘rewriting’ the past.

PM Boris Johnson himself has said people should not ‘edit our national CV to make it look more politically correct’.

 

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Their letter, seen by this newspaper, calls for a panel of ‘patriots’ to vet major public appointments, and shows their anger over the National Trust’s decision to ‘commission a review of its properties’ links with colonialism’ – including Churchill’s home, Chartwell.

And it rebukes ‘unheroic characters at the National Maritime Museum’ for ‘re-evaluating Nelson’s heroic status’.

The appeal for the ‘patriotic’ fightback is being organised by the Common Sense group of 60 Tory MPs and peers. Sir John, its chairman, said: ‘It’s time to defend British traditions and values… to stand against the senseless woke whingers and the soulless militants who despise the best of Britain.’

They also take issue with the BBC’s move to ‘censor’ The Pogues’ song Fairytale Of New York over its use of the word ‘faggot’. 

They write: ‘In light of the BBC’s repeated refusal to address its organisation’s undoubted liberal bias, illustrated most recently by its bizarre decision to censor a well-known Christmas song, (perhaps, similarly, the whole canon of popular music is to be reviewed by a highly paid zealot!), we believe it is now time to decriminalise the licence fee, so enabling ordinary Britons to choose whether or not to pay for the BBC’s content.’ 

Members of the group – which includes many so-called Red Wall Tories who won seats from Labour last year – are understood to have had a ‘positive’ response from Mr Johnson when they met him this year.

‘We know that the Prime Minister, because of his learning and thoughtfulness about this, recognises that history can neither be sanitised nor rewritten,’ said Sir John. ‘So, we believe he is on the right side of this argument.’

Signatory Tom Hunt said: ‘The vast majority of people in this country are patriotic. They realise that in history there are occasions when we haven’t always got it right.

‘But they realise that by and large this country has been a force for good and are proud of being British. They find it incredibly frustrating and infuriating when very high-profile public organisations – in some cases charitable ones supported by the taxpayer – are promoting divisive political agendas.’

The letter comes amid growing concern within the party over the influence of the Prime Minister’s fiancee, Carrie Symonds, identified by many Tories as the guiding force behind Mr Johnson’s new focus on the ‘green’ agenda.

The Common Sense Tories make a direct threat to the funding of the National Trust, telling Mr Johnson: ‘As long as the purpose of these charitable organisations is perverted by political posturing, we request that you ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to review all outstanding funding applications from [bodies] that pursue political causes.’

They want the Charity Commission to consider ‘the withdrawal of charitable status of guilty parties, notably the National Trust’.

The group's letter rebukes ‘unheroic characters at the National Maritime Museum’ for ‘re-evaluating Nelson’s heroic status’ (pictured: the Lord Nelson statue at top of Nelson's column)

The group's letter rebukes ‘unheroic characters at the National Maritime Museum’ for ‘re-evaluating Nelson’s heroic status’ (pictured: the Lord Nelson statue at top of Nelson's column)

The group’s letter rebukes ‘unheroic characters at the National Maritime Museum’ for ‘re-evaluating Nelson’s heroic status’ (pictured: the Lord Nelson statue at top of Nelson’s column)

On public appointments, they say: ‘It is vital that those appointed reflect public perceptions of what’s just and right, rather than parroting the preoccupations of the liberal Left. To which end, perhaps all appointments should be overseen by a “people’s panel” of patriots.’

The BBC said Fairytale Of New York would be played with its full lyrics on some stations, but not Radio 1, whose young listeners are particularly sensitive to derogatory terms for gender and sexuality.

The National Trust said that ‘exploring and sharing the history of places we look after’ was ‘completely within our charitable objectives’.

More than a QUARTER of students ‘self-censor’ their opinions because they fear their university’s woke cancel culture – and 40% are afraid their careers will be ruined if they speak out

By Max Aitchison for the Mail on Sunday 

More than a quarter of students ‘self-censor’ because they fear their views will clash with the ‘woke’ values promoted by their university, according to a shocking new survey.

In the latest evidence of the free speech crisis engulfing campuses across the country, 27 per cent of students said they have actively ‘hidden’ their opinions when they are at odds with those of their peers and tutors.

More than half of those who ‘self-censored’ did so because of their political views. A further 40 per cent withheld their opinions on ethical or religious matters for fear of being judged.

In a chilling indication that those with ‘unfashionable’ views fear speaking out will have long-term consequences, almost 40 per cent of those polled said they believed their career would be adversely affected if they expressed their true opinions at university.

In the latest evidence of the free speech crisis engulfing campuses across the country, 27 per cent of students said they have actively 'hidden' their opinions when they are at odds with those of their peers and tutors

In the latest evidence of the free speech crisis engulfing campuses across the country, 27 per cent of students said they have actively 'hidden' their opinions when they are at odds with those of their peers and tutors

In the latest evidence of the free speech crisis engulfing campuses across the country, 27 per cent of students said they have actively ‘hidden’ their opinions when they are at odds with those of their peers and tutors 

Free speech campaigners last night likened some campuses to ‘Maoist re-education camps’ dominated by ‘woke orthodoxy’ where only the most liberal and Left-wing views are tolerated.

Matthew Goodwin, Professor of Politics at the University of Kent, said: ‘We need to keep our world-leading universities as free as possible and we need students and the people teaching them to feel that they can debate, discuss and exchange ideas and perspectives from different angles.

‘If we lose that, we’re going to lose what it is that makes our universities great in the first place. Freedom of speech is a fundamental aspect of our national identity.’

More than half of those who 'self-censored' did so because of their political views. A further 40 per cent withheld their opinions on ethical or religious matters for fear of being judged

More than half of those who 'self-censored' did so because of their political views. A further 40 per cent withheld their opinions on ethical or religious matters for fear of being judged

More than half of those who ‘self-censored’ did so because of their political views. A further 40 per cent withheld their opinions on ethical or religious matters for fear of being judged

Mural of Winston Churchill attracts complaints from ‘woke brigade’ 

A mural of Winston Churchill wearing stockings and suspenders and giving the ‘V’ sign has attracted complaints from locals who claim the hand gesture is ‘offensive’.

The mural of the wartime leader wearing lingerie was painted on a side wall of the Sandpiper guest house in Brighton by an illusive local artist who goes by the name Horace. 

Guest house owner Mr Phillips – who only provided his last name – received a call from Brighton and Hove City Council who told him they had received complaints about the mural. 

Mr Phillips – who was given three days to alter the image – called Horace as he feared local authorities would ‘ruin the painting’.

But the council made a u-turn at the eleventh hour, claiming the ‘decision had been overturned’, and the mural would not need to be changed because the gesture was ‘historically authentic’. 

Churchill gave the iconic ‘V for victory’ salute during World War Two. 

A mural of Winston Churchill wearing stockings and suspenders and giving the V sign (pictured) has attracted complaints from locals who claim the hand gesture is 'offensive'

A mural of Winston Churchill wearing stockings and suspenders and giving the V sign (pictured) has attracted complaints from locals who claim the hand gesture is 'offensive'

A mural of Winston Churchill wearing stockings and suspenders and giving the V sign (pictured) has attracted complaints from locals who claim the hand gesture is ‘offensive’

Churchill giving the iconic 'V for victory' salute on November 10, 1942, during World War Two

Churchill giving the iconic 'V for victory' salute on November 10, 1942, during World War Two

Churchill giving the iconic ‘V for victory’ salute on November 10, 1942, during World War Two

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The survey – conducted by Survation on behalf of ADF International, a faith-based legal advocacy organisation – found that more than a third (36 per cent) of students hold views that are legal to express but that would be considered ‘unacceptable’ by their student union.

Ryan Christopher, Director of ADF International UK, said: ‘Of all places, university is where students should be free to debate and explore ideas – especially those with which they disagree.

‘Institutional policies and practices can suggest that even mainstream views are beyond the pale.

‘Today’s censorship on campus can easily become cancel culture in the public square.’

The poll, which received responses from 1,028 current university students and recent graduates across the country, discovered that 44 per cent believed lecturers would treat them differently if they publicly expressed views important to them.

Two-fifths of those questioned said so-called ‘no platforming’ – where events are cancelled due to the views held by speakers – had become more frequent at their university. 

Earlier this year, the former home secretary Amber Rudd was ‘no-platformed’ only 30 minutes before she was due to give a speech at Oxford University about how to encourage women into politics.

The UN Women Oxford UK society withdrew its invitation after Left-wing students complained about her role in the Windrush immigration scandal. In response, Oxford barred the society.

Toby Young, who created The Free Speech Union in February, said his organisation is inundated with students ‘begging for help’.

‘They thought they’d applied to a university, but they’ve ended up in a Maoist re-education camp,’ he added.

‘If they say anything that challenges the prevailing woke orthodoxy – if they dispute the idea that trans-women are women, for instance – a complaint is made to the authorities and they find themselves being put through dubious, quasi-legal procedures that resemble struggle sessions during the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

‘If they don’t throw themselves at the feet of their inquisitors and denounce their white privilege, they’re liable to be kicked out and reported to the police for ‘hate speech’.’

During last year’s general election, the Tory manifesto pledged to ‘strengthen academic freedom and free speech in universities’.

In July, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson that said struggling universities would only qualify for emergency loans if they could ‘demonstrate their commitment to academic freedom and free speech’.

J. K. Rowling, Margaret Atwood, Martin Amis and Sir Salman Rushdie were among 150 leading writers, academics and thinkers who signed an open letter this summer condemning ‘cancel culture’ for stifling freedom of expression in higher education, journalism, philanthropy and the arts.