The statue debate shows the patriot divide

Before Edward Colston took a dip in Bristol harbour the prospect of problematic statues being removed in Britain was a mere glint in Afua Hirsch’s eye. Horatio Nelson, the one-armed, fornicating hero of Trafalgar, was her preferred target for his defence of slavery, but any old white man would probably have sufficed.

That at least seems to be the conclusion of other would-be iconoclasts, who are now compiling a map to “topple the racists”. Nelson features on it several times, naturally, along with Clive of India, Captain Cook, and Robert Peel. As well as removing statues the activists want to rename street names and buildings, including such oddities as the Horniman Museum round my way.

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Iconoclasts against Edward Colston and democratic process

In a competitive field, few political topics are as unsexy as arguments about process. The rules over who speaks, in what order, and within what confines are often arcane, fusty, and dull. That Jacob Rees-Mogg, fairly derided as the parliamentarian for centuries past, is the posterboy for such wrangling only emphasises this.

But as the many reports on late-night parliamentary sessions over Brexit proved, such processes are the essence of democracy. The rules can give citizens a genuine input into how things are run, hamstring mighty administrations, or baffle the observer with technicalities. Sometimes all three.

The toppling of the statue of Edward Colston, a merchant involved in slave trading, over the weekend was the opposite of such rules. Campaigners’ removed the statue from Bristol’s town centre after years of being frustrated by local politicians, the historic listing process, and the Society of Merchant Venturers. (A lack of clear popular support for it is something we’ll come to.)

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Podcast Ep. 158: The One with the Livestreaming

This episode of the Right Dishonourable podcast was recorded live last weekend, looking at the Black Lives Matter protests, China’s anti-sedition law in Hong Kong, and Twitter’s cheeky fact-checking of the Trumpster.

You can listen to this via the usual podcast channels or on the YouTube video below. Audio quality is not what it might be, but we hope you’ll enjoy this nonetheless. Keep an eye on our various feeds for details of the next one.

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The woke tipping point

Among the reasons that Britain’s vote to leave the European Union upset people was the realisation of many that morning that even if you aren’t interested in politics, it is interested in you.

The irony won’t have been lost on journalists, politicians, and activists, most of whom live like an obscure, ambitious musician in the pained knowledge that nobody is paying them much heed. Campaigners largely live and die on the sidelines of public life, but at least people thought the referendum mattered.

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Dominic Cummings is still anti-establishment

One less acknowledged irony of the musical Hamilton is that the eponymous hero Alexander takes pains to obscure his origins as a poor bastard who spent his early years struggling in the Caribbean. Had he been born 200 years later his humble background would have been a political asset that money couldn’t buy, even if his whiteness is a sin that could not be atoned for.

That the founding father is also the discarded son of landed gentry, and that this element is not dwelt on in Hamilton at any length, could form many an unread undergraduate thesis. But it is enough for this piece to note that if a Briton had written the musical it would have dwelt on little else, as evinced by the response to one political advisor exposed last weekend for breaking lockdown rules.

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