Tag Archives: history

Winston Churchill Maligned

There have recently been a number of attempts to smear the reputation of Winston Churchill. These have ranged from daubing his statue with graffiti accusing Churchill of being a “racist”, to a recent conference at Churchill College. During the latter event Churchill was, again maligned and the British empire was said to have been worse than that of the Nazis.

For a more balanced perspective on Churchill I would recommend a publication by Policy Exchange which points out the many inaccuracies in the view of Churchill promulgated by the conference at the college which bares his name.

This link deals with the decision of Churchill College to end the one-sided discussions during which Churchill’s reputation was maligned, https://policyexchange.org.uk/churchill-college-has-made-a-wise-decision-in-closing-down-the-working-group-on-churchill-race-and-empire/, whilst the second contains a link to a more balanced assessment of his reputation https://policyexchange.org.uk/publication/the-racial-consequences-of-mr-churchill-a-review/.

Listening to Mosley Speak

Listening to Mosley speak
I hear an apologist
For the Third Reich
“I was never an anti-Semite”
He said.
I shake my head.

“Sir, you lie
And those who glorify
You defame
Patriotisms name.
For they would like
To create a new Reich”.

(An interview with the late Sir Oswald Mosley on Thames Television, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNhF28fzN9I).

The Past

Perhaps one ought
Not to look back.
Yet I walk
That old, familiar track.

I pass the flats,
(Once a bustling, hustling pub).
And remember idle talk
Over Sunday grub.

Having passed the flats
I retrace my tracks.
For one can not go back,
To what is long since gone.

Empire

The wind is getting up.
Should I put
Kipling aside
For his pride
In empire?

Should I apologise
And lower my eyes
For seeing empire
In all it’s complexity?

The Romans to Britain came.
Should Italians apologise
And lower their eyes
With shame?

You may say
“The Roman Empire
Was not all bad”.
But you would be mad
To put your head above the parapit
And admit
The same
Of Britain’s imperial past.

A certain class
Would look aghast
And cry “shame”
And label you
With a name
Untrue.

Mud sticks
And many men
Seal their lips.
Whilst a brave few
Say what they
Believe to be true.

In Defense of Churchill

It appears to be the latest fashion to attack those who can no longer defend themselves, including the great Winston Churchill. I was recently involved in an event during which one of the participants labelled Churchill as a “war criminal”.

Whilst Churchill did, as with all of us possess faults, he was no “war criminal”, nor can one equate him with Hitler as some remarkably stupid people have done.

Below are a couple of interesting article which counteract some of the accusations leveled against Churchill:

https://winstonchurchill.hillsdale.edu/white-supremacy/. (An article about Churchill’s alleged white supremacist views).
https://openthemagazine.com/essay/churchill-a-war-criminal-get-your-history-right/. (An article by an Indian historian in which he argues that Churchill was no “war criminal”).
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/feb/17/eugenics-skeleton-rattles-loudest-closet-left. (An interesting article which mentions Churchill’s support for eugenics. However the main point of the article is to highlight the left’s (including the Fabian Society’s) support for eugenic measures. I find it interesting that those who criticise Churchill are (for the most part) silent on the advocacy by many Socialists of eugenics policies in the early part of the 20th century. Double standards?).

Statue of Black Actor and Poet Alfred Fagon Defaced in Bristol

On 9 June, I wrote a post entitled “In Defense of our Monuments”, (please see https://kmorrispoet.com/2020/06/09/in-defense-of-our-monuments/). In that article, I argued that people should be judged by the standards of their time, and condemned the actions of those who damage our monuments.

Last Sunday the statue of Edward Colsoun, a Bristol slaver, was thrown into the harbour. Now we hear that the statue of black actor and poet Alfred Fagon has been covered in a corrosive substance (possibly bleach) and an assessment is being made to determine whether it can be repaired, (please see https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-53011774).

The BBC reports that “Anton Phillips, an actor and friend of Mr Fagon, said following the “dumping” of the Colston statue it “doesn’t surprise me”.” Sadly it doesn’t surprise me either. Indeed, at the time of writing my post “In Defense of Our Monuments”, I was fearful that something of this nature would happen. However I took the decision not to mention my concern lest someone happening on my post took it into their heads to target monuments erected to non-whites.

Damage to monuments is wholly unacceptable irrespective of whether they celebrate the lives of white or non-white people. I unreservedly condemn the defacing of the Fagon statue (as I do that of Winston Churchill). To rephrase the old quotation, “vandalism begets vandalism”, a fact which those who defaced Churchill’s statue, and threw Colston’s into Bristol harbour, should have considered before embarking on their criminal damage.

Anyone who damages our monuments should be subject to the full force of the law. Heavily fined and/or imprisoned. Its simply not acceptable for thuggery of this nature to take place in the UK.

In Defense of our Monuments

(If you have not read this post, https://kmorrispoet.com/2020/06/08/thuggery/, you may wish to do so prior to reading the below).

Back in 2016, I composed my poem Rhodes, in response to the demands of Oxford students that the statue of Cecil Rhodes should be removed from Oxford University. A recording of me reading that poem can be found below. My apologies for the less than perfect quality of the recording.

The ongoing demonstrations by Black Lives Matter has led to renewed calls for the statue of Cecil Rhodes to be removed from the campus of Oriel College. And the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan has announced the establishment of a Commission to examine whether landmarks such as statues should be removed from the streets and squares of London. (See https://edition.cnn.com/style/article/uk-statues-protest-movement-scli-intl-gbr/index.html.

As reported by CNN (please see the above link), protesters daubed, “was a racist” on the statue of Winston Churchill, whilst others placed a plaque on the 18th-century Scottish philosopher, David Hume accusing him of racism.

Churchill was a product of his time and (as with many other men and women of all political parties and walks of life) undoubtedly held views which would now be considered racist. He did, however lead Britain through World War II and was an artist and author of some distinction. Consequently to mindlessly brand Churchill as “was a racist” shows the crass stupidity of whoever took it into their tiny head to vandalise the statue of a great war leader and prime minister. Churchill was much more than a “racist” and I’ve nothing but contempt for the person or persons who saw fit to deface his statue.

Turning to David Hume. Hume was one of the greatest thinkers of the Enlightenment. To single out his “racism” whilst disregarding his philosophical achievements beggers belief. As with Churchill, Hume was a product of his age and should be viewed in that light.

I wonder where all this will stop. In the city of my birth, Liverpool there have been calls (I suspect by a tiny minority) to have Penny Lane renamed due to it having gained it’s title from a merchant with interests in the slave trade, James Penny. The University of Liverpool has already bowed to student pressure and renamed Gladstone Hall, due to the association of the 19th-century prime Minister’s family with slavery, (see https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/liverpool-mayor-joe-anderson-responds-18391938).

Whatever their origin (ignoble or noble), street names, monuments etc become part of communities, interwoven into the fabric of society and we should be wary of simply removing them merely because a vociferous minority clamour for us to do so. Its often said that “he who shouts loudest gets heard”. This is, unfortunately often the case even when the person (or persons) shouting loudest are not representative of the wider community or of society.

Most inhabitants of these islands rightly admire Churchill and are attached to their locality (including street names and monuments). Unfortunately the vast majority do not tend to get heard, partly owing to the disinclination of many people to become actively involved in politics. Sadly this often means that the loud mouths (such as the person or persons who vandalised Churchill’s statue) get heard, whilst the silent majority do not.

The British Library and Legal Deposit

A few days ago, I received a receipt from the British Library, confirming that my “Selected Poems” has been added to their shelves/catalogue.

Under UK law a copy of every publication, published in the United Kingdom, (print and electronic), must be provided to the British Library, and to 5 other UK libraries on request.

The responsibility for furnishing copies rests with publishers which, (in the case of self-published authors) in effect means that they must provide their published works to the British Library and (if requested to do so) to the 5 other UK libraries.

The above system (which is known as Legal Deposit) helps to preserve the nation’s cultural heritage for the benefit of authors and readers alike.

You can read more about Legal Deposit here, https://kmorrispoet.com/2017/03/10/legal-deposit-for-self-published-and-other-authors/.

The paperback edition of my “Selected Poems“, (which is held by the British Library) is available from Amazon and can be found here, https://www.amazon.com/Selected-Poems-K-Morris/dp/1688049800