Early Day Motion 919 is calling for the revised history curriculum to retain material on the Crimean war heroine, nurse Mary Seacole. You know, like Florence Nightingale, but better, braver and blacker.
If you haven’t heard of Mary Seacole, Horrible Histories, as usual, will tell you everything you need to know.
Was Mary Seacole long ignored by history because of her race? There is a backlash from some quarters suggesting that she is now being over-promoted as an exercise in multiculturalism. But you don’t have to read very much to see how important a story hers is, and the racial dimension also has a lesson for us.
Meanwhile, Florence Nightingale’s contribution to the use of statistics as a descriptive and persuasive tool, including the “invention of the pie-chart” is surely more significant than anything she did as a nurse. Why was she cast by history as a nurse rather than a statistician? Something to do with gender-appropriate roles I guess.
The EDM, at the time of writing is supported by 64 MPs including 11 Liberal Democrats.
* Joe Otten is a councillor in Sheffield