Along with many other monuments, the Sir Winston Churchill statue in Woodford Green was vandalised in June. Extremists are seeking to hijack Black Lives Matter for their own agenda, says Councillor Clark Vasey
Shocking images of George Floyd’s final moments on the streets of Minnesota have echoed around the world, and rightly sparked calls for action to address inequality on both sides of the Atlantic.
Fortunately, we don’t have the same issues with our police as they do in some parts of the US, and we can be proud of how our police serve all of our communities. However, there is more we must do to ensure everyone has the same chance to get on in life.
As we unite against racism and examine what needs to be done to improve the life chances of black citizens, this timely debate has been hijacked by extremists hell-bent on tearing down statues. They are not concerned about improving anyone’s life chances but care about furthering their extreme political agenda by controlling the past. It’s been helped along by virtue signalling politicians, like London’s mayor, for whom it’s a handy distraction from his city mismanagement.
I agree with President Macron when he said he would not erase French history. Indeed, few countries’ histories would come off well through the prism of today’s values. We should be honest about our history, but what matters most is the history we make now. This is where we can make a difference.
Statues across the country are being targeted to further an extreme agenda through undemocratic means. Tellingly, the bloodstained memorials to Marx and Engels are not on the list. The hit list is a mix of statues with vile links to the slave trade and a century’s worth of politicians they don’t like, but most bizarre to any normal person is the inclusion of the man who led the defeat of fascism, Winston Churchill.
While the country has been disgusted by the defacing of the Churchill statue in Parliament Square, residents of Woodford have worried about our own iconic statue, which has not been immune from thugs who ought to read some history rather than deface it. The statue in Churchfields ward was recently vandalised with spray paint, which was quickly removed. However, you only have to delve into the murky world of left-wing Twitter to see that a threat to the statue remains. Churchfields residents who have contacted me are right to be concerned. We have a brilliant Safer Neighbourhoods Team here, but we must all remain vigilant.
When commenting on the vandalism, Council Leader Jas Athwal seemed to lump Churchill into a wider review of the appropriateness of statues in Redbridge. Churchill is the man who led the defeat of the most racist regime in history. We should be proud to have one of the greatest Britons recognised in our area, and pride is exactly what residents feel.