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Critics slam ‘idiotic’ plan to debate Churchill’s views on empire and race at Cambridge 

Churchill race row… at Churchill College: Critics slam ‘idiotic’ plan to debate wartime leader’s views on empire and race at Cambridge

  • Churchill College Cambridge conducting ‘reassessment’ of Winston Churchill 
  • Academic debate will feature speakers including critics of the British Empire
  • Leader’s monument was defaced with the words ‘was a racist’ last June

Critics have condemned an academic debate about Winston Churchill’s views on empire and race which will be hosted by the Cambridge college named after him.

The event is billed as a ‘reassessment’ of the wartime leader and will feature a line-up of controversial speakers.

They include Professor Priya Gopal, a fellow at Churchill College Cambridge and staunch critic of the British Empire.

Another is Kehinde Andrews, a professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City University who last year attacked the singing of Rule, Britannia! at the Proms.

An academic debate is to be held about Winston Churchill’s views on empire and race at Churchill College Cambridge (pictured), named after him

The event is billed as a ¿reassessment¿ of Churchill (pictured) will feature a line-up of controversial speakers

The event is billed as a ‘reassessment’ of Churchill (pictured) will feature a line-up of controversial speakers

Critics last night warned the event risked legitimising attempts to rewrite British history. Churchill’s grandson, former Tory MP Sir Nicholas Soames, said: ‘It seems to me extremely unlikely young ladies and gentlemen will get a balanced view of Churchill’s life.

‘I would ask Churchill College to have speakers also there to… bring a sense of proportion to this idiotic debate that’s got out of control in all our universities.’

Frank Furedi, emeritus professor of sociology at Kent University, added: ‘This is about a plundering of history and a systematic attempt to recant the past.’

There has been renewed focus on Churchill’s legacy following the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Churchill monument in Parliament Square was defaced with the words ‘was a racist’ last June.

And the National Trust was criticised after the charity linked Chartwell, Churchill’s family home in Kent, to slavery.

Professor Priya Gopal, a fellow at Churchill College Cambridge and staunch critic of the British Empire is due to speak at the debate

Kehinde Andrews, a professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City University who last year attacked the singing of Rule, Britannia! at the Proms

Professor Priya Gopal, a fellow at Churchill College Cambridge and staunch critic of the British Empire, and Kehinde Andrews, a professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City University who last year attacked the singing of Rule, Britannia! at the Proms, are due to speak at the event

The Churchill monument in Parliament Square was defaced with the words ¿was a racist¿ last June

The Churchill monument in Parliament Square was defaced with the words ‘was a racist’ last June

Professor Gopal, who was born in India, sparked anger last summer after tweeting ‘White Lives Don’t Matter. As white lives’.

The university stood by her after she said the comments were ‘very clearly speaking to a structure and ideology, not about people’. She said that she had been misunderstood, and that she was clearly not attacking white people.

Professor Andrews has criticised the singing of Rule, Britannia! and Land of Hope and Glory at the Last Night of the Proms. He said: ‘Some of those songs, particularly those two, are racist propaganda. They celebrate the British Empire which killed tens of millions of people.’ 

Journalist Dr Madhusree Mukerjee is also due to take part in the February 11 debate on Churchill, a free online event. Her books include Churchill’s Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India During World War II.

Churchill College’s website states the debate is part of a year-long programme of events about him.

Churchill College, Cambridge University and the academics were approached for comments.

Protection for our statues 

Historic statues are to be protected from removal ‘on a whim or at the behest of a baying mob’, the Communities Secretary has revealed.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick condemned attempts to pull down statues

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick condemned attempts to pull down statues

Robert Jenrick condemned attempts by ‘woke worthies’ to ‘erase’ elements of British history after a statue of 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston was pulled down during a Black Lives Matter protest in Bristol last year.

From March, new rules will mean councils have to go through a ‘proper process’ and consult local people before taking down statues, monuments or plaques.

The minister added: ‘We cannot – and should not – try to edit or censor our past.’

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