‘Don’t hide our history away’: Museums and universities should keep statues of controversial figures, says Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden
- Culture Sec. told Tory conference universities and museums should keep statues
- Oliver Dowden said it was a sign of weakness to seek to ‘eradicate’ history
- ‘Keep your monuments in place and use them to explain our history, don’t hide it away’
Universities and museums should keep statues of controversial figures, the Culture Secretary told the conference.
Oliver Dowden called on Britons to be proud of the nation’s history rather than ‘trashing’ it, saying it was a sign of weakness to seek to ‘eradicate’ history.
He said of cultural institutions: ‘Of course they should be talking about their history, I always say “keep stuff in place, keep your monuments in place and use them to explain our history, don’t hide it away”.’
Mr Dowden added: ‘We should stand up for our cultural values.
A bronze memorial to Edward Colston in Bristol was pulled down during a Black Lives Matter protest on June 7, before being dumped in Bristol Harbour
‘Why on earth should we feel shame about singing Rule, Britannia! and Land Of Hope And Glory at the Proms?’
His comments follow protests targeting monuments to people linked to slavery.
Mr Dowden acknowledged there were ‘dark moments’ in the history of the UK but people should also celebrate its strength.
He added: ‘Clearly slavery was a terrible stain on the British Empire, but it is equally true that we abolished slavery – we were one of the first nations to abolish slavery – and actually it is the case that the Royal Navy spent huge amounts of our national wealth, according to some estimates up to 2 per cent of our national wealth every year, patrolling the North Atlantic to stop the evils of the slave trade.
In June, the governing body of Oxford University’s Oriel College said it wanted to remove the controversial statue of Cecil Rhodes (pictured)
‘If you look at our values, like the rule of law, like a free and open press, they defined the Enlightenment and made our lives as rich as they are now.’
Mr Dowden said the BBC needed to stand up for the ‘values of impartiality’ across its output.
He said: ‘The BBC is a fantastic institution and is known around the world.
‘But the BBC needs to represent the whole of the UK and everyone.
Audience members wave flags at the Last Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in West London on September 8, 2018
‘It can’t just be in thrall to a narrow outlook that reflects the values of people who live in the centre of big cities like London, Manchester, Bristol and Brighton.
‘I think they have got it wrong in the past because they have allowed themselves to be driven by those values instead of the values of the entire country.
‘We saw that with the extraordinary situation of not being able to sing Rule, Britannia! and Land Of Hope And Glory at the Proms.
‘Any normal person thinks that’s a complete outrage.’