My heart leapt for joy when I saw that statue chucked into Bristol harbour

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Sunday’s event in Bristol was exceptional.

I am not going to be mealy-mouthed about it.

My heart leapt for joy when I saw that damned statue unceremoniously chucked into the harbour.

There was just something that felt emblematic and historical about it. It was a one-off. It happened on a Sunday afternoon, just like when Mandela walked free. The Colston-dunking felt up there with that.

It is very significant that the police let the event happen. Perhaps they were mindful of Bristol’s long history of riots. Superintendent Andy Bennett, in charge that afternoon, told the Bristol Post:

I know it was the right thing to do for the safety of everyone. No one got hurt and we had no arrests in the whole protest. That is 10,000 passionate people. Bristol should be proud of itself.

It is worth reading that excellent Bristol Post article in full. Superintendent Bennett is a superb example of British police staff, a man with acute local sensitivity. The finest.

I am torn in two here. The appropriate measures should be taken with those responsible for the act. The statue should have been taken down years ago. I don’t condone the Sunday action but, quite frankly, I celebrate it. I support purely non-violent protest in the best traditions laid down by Rev Martin Luther King Jr. I absolutely condemn violence. But I felt joy in my heart on Sunday afternoon. These are contradictory emotions. But being human inherently involves contradictions.

If that puts me down as implicitly advocating a slippery slope to anarchy – then so be it. I don’t think it does. I think this is an exceptional event. I don’t think it will kick off thousands of acts of criminal damage. I feel safer because of Sunday’s Bristolian event, not less safe.

And for those already preparing their keyboards for reams of “whataboutery” below the line – give it a rest.

There is something seminal going on here.

No matter who or what we are, let us all stand, hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder, with our Black/BAME brothers and sisters, and take whatever actions are needed to move real equality forward.

None of us are free of things we have done, or supported, or condoned, or failed to take action against, in the past that we should be ashamed of. But we can all resolve to show humility – to listen, learn and act going forward.

…no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.

Black Lives Matter.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist and member of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • Chris Bertram 10th Jun '20 - 10:29am

    Yes to giving all members of society equal rights, equal opportunities, equal esteem.

    No to mob rule – and make no mistake, this event was mob rule.

    You’re ok with it *on this occasion* because you approved of the outcome. But the next occasion may be something of which you really don’t approve – and allowing this instance enables those to whom you are fundamentally opposed to say “but it was ok for them …”, and what then?

    It’s the start of a slippery slope, and this is really dangerous. As Liberals, we surely believe in the rule of law as much as we believe in anything. Letting that go even slightly disturbs me, and I don’t for a moment think that I’m alone in this.

  • Great article, Paul

  • Absolutely how I feel, thanks for writing it Paul. The wave of statues being reconsidered since only goes to underline the effectiveness of it as a piece of civil disobedience.

  • If we don’t stop this stupidity now it will soon be Frances Drake, Churchill and even Shakespeare statues going into the sea. With idiots attacking our police, defacing our statues and public buildings this is going to far more divisive than Brexit.

  • I couldn’t disagree more with this posting. I found the whole thing disgusting. If our response to the nasty populism of Donald Trump is to reach for his playbook and respond in kind, with more nasty populist acts like this, then political life will only get more polarised and unpleasant.

    We already hear that the response to this act is to mobilise hard-right groups to ‘defend’ monuments. But what happens when they start defacing and tearing down the symbols of which you *do* approve? It’s not “whataboutery”; it’s the natural corollary of what you are promoting, and it will continue to ramp up. None of this helps to improve people’s lives.

    Liberals are better than this.

  • Innocent Bystander 10th Jun '20 - 11:12am

    This attitude is the reason I stayed a party member for only two years.
    Don’t dismiss the truth as “whataboutery”. You claim to ‘absolutely condemn violence”. There was no violence only because the police did not enforce the law. If they had tried and the situation had escalated where would you have stood then?
    What level of protestor violence would you condone to get the statue into the Avon?
    A little bit of pushing? A medium bit? Petrol bombs?
    Those who compare this act to toppling statues of Hussein or Stalin are utter!y misguided. There was, specifically, no democracy there. Bristol has one and it has been disrespected and its citizens disenfranchised.
    You either support democracy or you don’t. You support the rule of law or you don’t.
    These are binary. There is no grey.
    We will see what happens next. You want this to be exceptional. A one off symbol and not the slippery slope to anarchy. You may be proven wrong and those who have a real taste for this could be emboldened not satiated.
    May I pen your next piece?
    ” I never condoned anything like this!”
    “This is going too far and the police are at fault for not stopping it”
    “Peaceful protests have been hijacked”
    oh! and the best of all
    “We knew nothing”

  • Andrew Tampion 10th Jun '20 - 11:28am

    I agree with Chris Bertram this is a very dangerous step and condoming it is even more dangerous. Consider the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamyam by the Taliban. I have no doubt that the people who blew them up sincerely believed them to be idolatrous: does that sincere belief justify the act?

  • “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. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”

    ― George Orwell, 1984

  • John Marriott 10th Jun '20 - 12:15pm

    Pulling down statues is a bit like clapping for the NHS – a symbolic gesture undertaken by largely well meaning people; but only a gesture. What I would like to see is a major attempt to come to terms with the fact that a) racial discrimination, both overt and covert, has no place in a modern society and b) if you appreciate the NHS, then be prepared to more pay for it!

    Having said that, I do not feel guilty personally for the ‘sins’ of my forefathers. I’m sure that it must salve many peoples’ conscience to have a go at a few more statues, those of Cecil Rhodes and Churchill come to mind; but surely not poor old Gladstone? OK, I gather that he might have campaigned for his father to get compensation when slavery in the British Empire was abolished, but he himself never owned slaves, as far as I know. As many of us are descended from Brits whose ‘prosperity’, or what goes for prosperity in material terms, could in many instances be traced back to the age of slavery, perhaps we should all feel guilty. How far do you really want to go?

    Didn’t the British government tacitly support the Confederacy in the American Civil War, mainly because our northern mills needed its slave produced cotton? So, perhaps we should seek out any statues of Its cabinet members and pull them down too!

  • Next stop, toppling that statue of Gladstone in the National Liberal Club?

  • Innocent Bystander 10th Jun '20 - 12:35pm

    Rather, your piece showed your desire to have a foot in the law abiding camp but also a foot in the law breakers one.
    You can’t. You have to choose one or the other.
    Starmer condemned it, others condoned it. Your piece does both.

  • Steve Trevethan 10th Jun '20 - 12:59pm

    Moon of Alabama has an interesting article on the matter of contentious statues.
    It has the attributes of increasing knowledge and discussion, and not being socio-politically binary.

  • Peter Martin 10th Jun '20 - 1:24pm

    “The appropriate measures should be taken with those responsible for the act. ”

    Appropriate measures, according to the letter of the law, could involve jail tems for those involved. I’d expect the establishment to back away from any real confrontation but it’s possible they won’t.

    So are we going to support what ‘dunkers’ did, on the one hand, and stand by and do nothing to help, on the other? I’d have given them a hand if I could. So, I’m as “guilty” as any one of them.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 10th Jun '20 - 1:39pm

    Paul is fair and criticised for it. I donot cri ticise these views. I do, his comment to with regard to criticism, dismiss that as so called whataboutary, it might be justified or not, but he can and ought to do better than his comment, give it a rest!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Paul, views, decency, efforts, article, values, are worth far better .

    The measured tone otherwise in his piece reveals really why.

  • Paul Walter

    “Also, it is clear that many people (outside of LDV) who are getting het up about this seemed to have been remarkably silent about Dominic Cummings’ jiggerypokery”

    There is absolutely no comparison. If Cummings ever breaks the lockdown and starts going out with his mates pulling down statues like these people did, he would rightly be slaughtered from all sides.

  • Sue Sutherland 10th Jun '20 - 1:57pm

    I’m totally relieved that the statue has gone and I disagree with people who claim this action is mob rule and the removal of the statue is violence. Civil disobedience has a proud history and if Rosa Parks had obeyed the law and left her bus seat there might still have been apartheid in the USA.
    Who was hurt in this apparent violence? No one. Where was the mob? 10,000 people protested peacefully. No one was hurt. The activists obviously came prepared with ropes and safely pulled down a statue and dragged it into Bristol Harbour. They will be dealt with according to the law. So why are members of the party reacting so emotionally?
    Do we really care if all the statues in all the cities disappear? Quite often they are of people no one has heard of but Colston is a well known name in Bristol and a symbol of the wealth created by the slave trade. This is a man who murdered black people, sold them into a cruel life for profit and who then took on the guise of a philanthropist.
    No Lib Dem should have an ounce of sympathy towards him or his statue. Bristol Lib Dems wanted the statue removed and it has been. Success. To me it’s very wrong to value property above peoples’ well being so can we please stop singing to this tune of privilege. Let’s all take a deep breath and look at what actually happened rather than what we fear might have happened.
    I hope that all Lib Dem councils will use their democratic power to consult their residents about what should happen to statues connected with the slave trade. They could be replaced with stone monuments explaining why the original statues have been removed and hopefully the statues will be placed in museums of slavery.
    We believe in a multi cultural community and in liberty, equality and community, so these statues should not be venerated. Gladstone’s father was a slave owner so we must face up to the fact that one of our Liberal heroes was tainted. Gladstone himself changed his mind about slavery later and I think there should be plaques attached to any of his statues explaining this.
    If we take action where we have the power to do so that will be a strong statement of our beliefs and of contrition towards those whose ancestors were slaves.

  • Paul Murray 10th Jun '20 - 1:59pm

    A statue of Christopher Columbus has been pulled down in Virginia and thrown in a lake. The treatment of native peoples by Columbus was nothing more or less than genocidal. And in Belgium a statue of Leopold II was pulled down – the record of Belgium in The Congo must surely rank among the very worst colonialism in recent history.

    Do the iconoclasts (or perhaps – to follow the lead of that Orwell quote – we should call them the palimpsesters) have a particular list of those who should be erased? Is there general agreement among them on the names on it?

  • When Harry Willcock deliberately broke the law and triggered the abolition of I.D. cards, he was rightly lauded as a hero by his contemporaries in the Liberal Party and by generations in the Liberal Party and then the Liberal Democrats since.

    Judging by some of the above commenters, they’d rather people had responded by demanding he be jailed.

  • Reading some posts it seems that the removal of this statue is the “beginning of the end of English history”…It isn’t..The idea that everyone from Richard 1 through Shakespear will be airbrushed out of history is nonsense..Mussolini made the trains run on time but I doubt a statue to him would be acceptable in the Roma Termini railway station. Had one stood there it would have been pulled down long ago and, like now, the world wouldn’t have ended.

    As for Colston’s statue.. much of this could have been prevented by a little forethought….Those who complained for years about the statue were willing to accept it’s remaining if a simple plaque, reminding viewers that his largesse was funded by the slave trade, was attached to the plinth…Those who supported keeping the statue refused to accept this compromise..

    To me, at least, it’s that refusal to accept his involvement with slavery that is the rewriting of history!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 10th Jun '20 - 2:40pm

    Paul, same as with you showing the other aspect of your piece, please note much of the tone of mine is to commend you, and I do again for your response to mine.

  • Andrew Melmoth 10th Jun '20 - 3:15pm

    The erection of the statue in 1895 was an intensely political act that enjoyed neither democratic consent nor popular support. It was an attempt to rewrite history, to cast a slave trader as a ‘moral saint’.

    A monument that symbolises and celebrates racism in its most vicious form does greater injury to democracy than a touch of high-spirited, civic-minded vandalism. If there is a moral fault here it lies with those who set themselves against the will of the majority and for years blocked the removal of the statue by more orthodox means.

  • Barry Lofty 10th Jun '20 - 3:19pm

    Sue Sutherland: Thanks for your post, I have been finding it difficult to put into words how I felt on this subject but you said it all. By the way having watched the BBC docudrama Sitting in Limbo recently it showed again man’s inhumanity to man with regard to the Windrush generation.

  • Sue Sutherland

    “people who claim […] the removal of the statue is violence”

    Who is that incidentally?

  • Innocent Bystander 10th Jun '20 - 5:19pm

    What we are seeing is just another step in the re-writing of English history. Relentlessly and little by little, we are being turned into a pariah nation responsible for an unbroken catalogue of crime and oppression against our neighbours and the entire world. The British Empire did not have a single redeeming feature ( unlike that of the Mongols or the Mughals, for example who acted like the Salvation Army) and our children will be told they are the spawn of Satan. Even “Their Finest Hour” was led by a rabid, racist war-monger.
    As an old person, close now to the shadows, it won’t affect me but you younger English people need to get used to a future of continual apology.

  • “And for those already preparing their keyboards for reams of “whataboutery” below the line – give it a rest.”
    Interesting take, makes me doubt the quality of the rest of the argument.

    “just like when Mandela walked free. The Colston-dunking felt up there with that.”
    Right…. I see why, you felt the need to get the “give it a rest” in.

    “I support purely non-violent protest in the best traditions laid down by Rev Martin Luther King Jr.”
    Presumably the use of MLK as the example now is he is not currently facing dismissal of his positive achievements (now that Ghandi’s monument has been targeted), but don’t worry give it time people always find fault:

    The Colston should have been removed legally by the council years ago, I understand that the society owning the statue were obstructive, but I do question how much effort was made. The reason for his removal is more the lack of positive reason for him to be there in the first place.

    But don’t worry now have Gandhi, Cromwell, Nelson, Robert Peel, Gladstone, Harold Wilson who are now have their memorials either being vandalised or demanded to be removed.

    I’m sure if we just number everything we can ensure that there is no reference to anyone who had ever done anything anyone could object too.

  • John Marriott 10th Jun '20 - 6:16pm

    @Mark Pack
    I really cannot understand this suspicion of and, for many, downright hostility towards ID cards. Most of our european neighbours appear to have them and don’t appear to feel oppressed. Quite frankly, they could solve an awful lot of problems, as well as admittedly causing a few new ones! On balance, why not? After all you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide.

  • Andrew Melmoth 10th Jun '20 - 6:21pm

    I don’t remember a similar furore from the right about the rule of law and the slippery slope to anarchy when Marx’s grave in Highgate cemetery was vandalised.

  • Harry Willcock and Rosa Parks were individuals, peacefully refusing to co-operate with unlawful/unconstitutional rules that they had no other means of overturning.

    The rule they broke was the same rule they objected to.

    This is in complete contrast with a large gathering vandalising public spaces that are subject to local democratic control. The law that prevents people from doing that is a just law.

    If Willcock was around today then he could presumably use judicial review to challenge the use of wartime powers in peacetime.

    I don’t think for one moment that looking at a statue of someone who was alive in the 1600’s breaches people’s rights in the way that segregation in the Deep South did. Saying otherwise minimises the struggle of Rosa Parks and other brave campaigners.

    However if people disagree and feel that the presence of a statue infringes their rights why not bring a human rights challenge in the courts?

  • Sue Sutherland

    “Do we really care if all the statues in all the cities disappear?”

    If the thugs attack statues of Churchill and other loved leaders again I think you will see how much people care. This is a very, very serious situation far worse than brexit.

  • Gwyn Griffiths 10th Jun '20 - 7:58pm

    I would point out to malc that Churchill was not universally liked, even to people who also contributed to winning WWII

  • Seems to me the main lesson to be learned from all this is simply to stop building statues, no doubt in centuries to come people will judge some of our monstrosities so offensive they are only worthy of demolition. Let us ban construction of the lot, it will save some raw materials.

  • @ Paul. Well, what about….. Innocent Bystander loitering with a bit of intent ?

  • George Kendall 10th Jun '20 - 9:45pm


    I hope you are right that this will be a one-off, and will not result in an escalating series of law-breaking acts, not just by the left, but the right.

    But that’ll only because there has been push-back, with politicians from all parties saying it is wrong to break the law, when there is a democratic alternative.

    However, maybe it won’t be a one-off. If so, I suspect one reason will be the praise that has been lavished on those who broke the law.

    This has been a bad week for democracy and the rule of law. Local councillors failed to act in a timely way to get rid of this offensive statue. Perhaps there were understandable reasons, but even if there were not, the democratic response should have been to make it a political issue, and demand councillors get rid of it quickly or face the electoral consequences.

    Instead, a few people took the law into their own hands, and now some who claim to believe in the rule of law are publicly expressing their joy at this lawbreaking.

    My advice to anyone who feels joy at this act, but doesn’t want to encourage further law-breaking, is to keep that joy to themselves.

  • Interesting to note some news in Scotland tonight :

    The Scottish Parliament has voted to support a Scottish Green Party proposal calling for the UK to stop the export of tear gas, rubber bullets and riot gear to US police forces. MSPs also backed the proposal for Scotland to have its own museum of slavery.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 10th Jun '20 - 11:00pm

    Cheers Paul!

  • Dilettante Eye 11th Jun '20 - 12:08am

    “I am clear that the people who did it should be subject to police action and they will be. “

    So you can’t see the obvious ’falling domino’ consequences of the heavy handed police force rounding up a dozen ‘people who did it’, more than likely means that the lawless mob you approve of will simply escalate the situation taking their whole Circus of Disobedience to deface the court buildings spraying the despised legal edifice with Free the Colston Martyrs ?

    Have you really thought this through?

  • Andrew Melmoth

    I do remember people on the right criticising vandalism, it tended to be irritating with some commentary about the funding for the maintenance as compared with Adam Smith’s memorial. I tend to see at least a few complain about any kind of vandalism.

    In news articles I only saw those who were responsible for the cemetery the grave or someone from a museum asked for comment. I understand it was done at night, I would expect for more criticism if it had been done openly by a group in view of teh police with no intervention.

    The police can’t really win in any situation (such as in Bristol) as intervention may escalate a situation but they are there to enforce the law.

    In terms of other other commentary from the right I have seen people mentioning that the Marx monument (remember it is not his original grave, it was moved) was absent from demands for removal in spite of his comments regarding slavery and Jews; in addition to the massive body count racked up in his name. Again I suspect those who disagree with mobs ripping down other statues would also disagree with a mob ripping down the Marx monument (again in spite of it’s current site not being the original grave as that was moved later to make it grander).

    I would go further and suggest that even by legal means the Marx monument should not be removed, he is a part of history and that needs to be seen in context. The difference with Colston, is that having a monument to Marx makes more sense in terms of impact in the world. Other posters have suggested that Colston was placed on site where a Burke statue had previously been, a substitution that doesn’t make sense.

  • Dilettante Eye

    Before you get too concerned about the “Free the Colston Martyrs” campaign, do you know the likely sentence for activity?

    Some people really enjoy the feeling of being in a mob and damaging things, especially if they can claim membership of a moral crusade against a great evil. If you are complaining that someone is doing 20 hours community service (as a purely speculative example). You may find it sprayed but I suspect it would be more as an alternative to 10 other slogans already attached to various property.

  • Paul Walter

    “The owner of the statue is Bristol City Council”

    Are you sure?

    That puts the LibDems who controlled the council from 2009-11 in a very different light. Others have claimed that it was owed by a local society, hence why there would have been some administrative burden in getting the statue moved to a museum.

  • Nonconformistradical 11th Jun '20 - 9:28am
  • Nonconformistradical 11th Jun '20 - 11:04am

    On the Gladstone issue see

    ..this is on the proposal to rename one of the halls of residence at the University of Liverpool.

  • Thank you Paul for the link to Superintendent Bennett’s comments; it demonstrates clearly that he chose to protect people from possible violence and keep people safe; that is what the police are for. He was brilliant.
    It is significant he chose to deal with the right-wingers also in a way that protected everyone and that he states his view that the police cannot decide which laws to enforce. So those who have broken the law now face the consequences. There is a practical lesson here that especially with so much on camera, it is sometimes better to deal with law breakers after an event (where harm to people is prevented) than at the event itself.
    Another aspect of law not mentioned in the above discussion is that in our system magistrates and judges have discretion as to what happens to law-breakers depending on circumstances. One of my fears is that in recent years conservatives (left as well as right) have wanted to reduce or even remove that discretion.

  • I recently saw comment on Twitter with 12K likes that said that those opposed to the destruction of the Colston statue would presumably have been outraged at the destruction of the Berlin Wall. This strikes me as being on the same level of categorical error to the argument put above about ID cards.

    The Colston statue is a symbol of an oppression – the Berlin Wall and ID cards were the actual instruments of it. They belong to different categories.

  • @Paul Walter. “I honestly don’t think there is going to be anymore () next.” Well you have already got that one wrong. As Mark Cox announced above, the Baden-Powell statue in Poole is now a target, not, I would imagine, of genuine BLM activists but of the left wing “usual suspects” who see this whole business as a great opportunity to cause a bit more havoc.
    I have little doubt where the average person in this country stands on the tearing down of statues and for us this is another acid test. Are we talking the language of the ordinary citizen or are we marginalising ourselves yet again ?

  • The Karl Marx memorial has been attacked and defaced many times; twice, in just one month, last year for example..Once with hammer and chisel and once just by paint…How many, condemning the attack on Colston’s statue, were upset by that?..…cQPx92LdEpawM:

    What is happening now has little to do with Floyd the man; he was just the catalyst in the far wider discontent and outright anger at a system that has treated those of a different colour as second class citizens..It’s like a dam bursting and a lot of damage will occur in the release of that anger..
    I don’t think there will be any guillotines but, like the French revolution, what has started out as being a legitimate grievance will take on a momentum of it’s own..

    Who/what do I blame? Those who for years have supported, or remained silent about, a system they knew was badly flawed!

  • Paul Barker 11th Jun '20 - 1:27pm

    If we are not always slightly ahead of our Voters then we are not doing our job. If we get too far ahead then we risk alienating people that we could bring with us. Its a difficult balance to strike & the balance is always shifting.

    Right now is a moment for moving forward, here & across the World.

    On Statues, most of them are on tall plinths, you have to look up at/to them, thats the point. One of my favourites is the Statue of Gandhi in London, he is seated on a low plinth so that we look down on him, one feels a natural wish to kneel, just to be on his level. That too is the point.

    Statues are not lectures on History, they are meant to take sides.

  • “The Colston statue is a symbol of an oppression – the Berlin Wall and ID cards were the actual instruments of it. ”

    Perfectly put. Bits of the Berlin Wall are still standing – to remember history not celebrate it.

    Given that many of the protesters wear Che Guevara t- shirts, Corbyn baseball caps etc they might be the ones who regret the wall falling.

  • Sue Sutherland 11th Jun '20 - 1:45pm

    I brought Rosa Parks into my comments for a reason. She used civil disobedience as a means of highlighting the conditions that black people were suffering from. These conditions were a direct consequence of the slave trade and the slavery which brought many black people to America.
    Colston made his money through the slave trade and his statue is symbolic of the way black people were treated by British slave traders and slave owners in the West Indies.
    We now treat slavery as a crime so why would we want to keep a statue that is a symbol of oppression to so many people?

  • John Marriott 11th Jun '20 - 2:12pm

    Apparently ‘Tommy Robinson’ and his mates are planning to ‘defend’ the Churchill statue at Westminster from further attack. They are probably planning to line up elsewhere too. That’s just what we need, iconoclastic fiddling while Covid-19 continues to rip through us and a no deal Brexit beckons. I give up!

  • Dilettante Eye 11th Jun '20 - 5:01pm

    “There is a practical lesson here that especially with so much on camera, it is sometimes better to deal with law breakers after an event”

    Yes, and that also means dealing very robustly with rogue police officers, whose thuggish behavior happens to find its way onto social media thanks to smartphone tech.

    We need to stop assuming that those wearing a blue uniform are saints and above the law that the rest of us are obliged to obey?

  • Well some councils are removing statues
    Milligan may also lack the merit to bother having a statue, but is hard to see if there has been time given to it.

    “But hopefully action on increasing equality and decreasing injustice for BAME communities will be next.”

    Well we are a few days in and LDV has 6 articles on tearing down statues (this one you have written). Lots of emotion expressed in favour of mob activity. And how many about practical measures:

    I look forward to your article in the next few days, as this is not a matter of grand gestures distracting from proper consideration of what issues exist and what steps can be taken to address them.

  • expats
    “The Karl Marx memorial has been attacked and defaced many times; twice, in just one month, last year for example..Once with hammer and chisel and once just by paint…How many, condemning the attack on Colston’s statue, were upset by that?”

    I suspect most or all, the principle stands that things should not be dealt with criminally, there are legal routes to deal with them. I would say some of us would say more so in the Marx example as Coulston didn’t seem to have much of a reason to be there in the first place (there seemed to be a few more political considerations to adding him), a legal route to remove made sense.

    Marx had a significant impact on our world and in spite of how some may wish to count the bodies of that impact removing his memorial would be erasing a significant figure of history.

  • David Evans 12th Jun '20 - 5:52pm

    Sadly my heart sank when I saw the headline for this article. While the removal of slave trader Colston’s statue was well overdue, applauding the manner of its removal and regarding it as a one-off is sadly very misguided, especially for an experienced liberal.

    Looking at the photographs and film of its toppling and subsequent dragging and rolling to the quay where it was tipped off the quay, it is rather noticeable that the substantial majority were what can best be described as angry young men, almost certainly of the hard left Momentum persuasion, some of whom had come prepared for the event, with for example rope and wearing a motorbike helmet to avoid identification.

    Now one thing that over half a century of being a liberal is that many young men are convinced of their superiority (moral or other) over previous generations, if only because the mess that previous generations have made is clear by history while their own is not yet set out. In addition a number seek some statement of their rite of passage, a clear indication of their superiority, strength and manhood. Destroying something that isn’t protected and can’t fight back is an easy option.

    Unfortunately, the effect of seeing this and hearing people sing its praises, only emboldens the perpetrators who develop even more absurd demands and weakens the position of those in positions of authority – e.g. the demand, which Liverpool University has already caved in to of removing Gladstone’s name from a Hall of Residence. I doubt there would have been such demands if he had been the Leader of a Labour government. In addition, it also emboldens copy-cat activity and ultimately gives an excuse for acts of simple vandalism.

    Liberals should always be very careful if they are tempted to support actions of the hard left. They don’t do it to build a free, open and fair society.

  • Richard Underhill 13th Jun '20 - 6:17pm

    Paul Walter 11th Jun ’20 – 8:20am
    The (Labour) mayor of Bristol has been on BBC News. repeatedly.

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    @Mel Borthwaite, This is essentially the same criticism I made of GBI before the conference in response to Kevin Langford's article in LDV
  • Jason Connor
    Does financial incentives mean bribes? I hope not. Cycling units have been installed on council estates and blocks near me and are barely used. Perhaps because ...
  • Sam Barratt
    It is great to read your experience Luke! I hope it encourages those who are able to consider donating to the access fund to do so (
  • Thomas Prince
    @Mark Johnston - I think that Guardian article is a good reflection of the positives and negatives of the speech. Some good lines; some topics tackled; but litt...
  • Thomas Prince
    @James Belchamber: I've written an alternative speech that doesn't shy away from Europe and includes Swinson's most famous slogan (epitaph?). But I think the to...