The City of London corporation has decided to remove two prominent statues in central London in the latest stage of what many are calling a woke war on British heritage.
The statues commemorate William Beckford, one of the most prominent politicians of the eighteenth century, and Sir John Cass, a prominent philanthropist and Tory MP.
Beckford was well known as a high-profile supporter of the radical reformer John Wilkes, who fought for the rights of voters against Parliament and campaigned for public transparency on parliamentary debate.
Sir John Cass was widely remembered for his generous giving in the field of education, and for the charitable fund named in his honour thirty years after his death – which went on to bankroll a number of seats of learning in London.
But the City of London corporation has opted to remove the statues over links that the figures had to the slave trade.
City corporation policy chairwoman Catherine McGuinness said that members decided “that removing and re-siting statues linked to slavery is an important milestone in our journey towards a more inclusive and diverse city.”
A number of institutions named after Sir John have already elected to change their names following the George Floyd riots last summer, including the former Sir John Cass’s Foundation and Redcoat School in Stepney Green. The governing body claimed that “the use of his name is incompatible with our pledge to support the black community and our active commitment to oppose racism in all of its forms.”
It follows in the wake of last summer’s controversy around Bristol philanthropist Edward Colston, whose statue was torn down unceremoniously by an unruly mob while the police watched on.
Colston, like Cass, was a noted philanthropist who was celebrated in the city for centuries for his immense generosity and urge towards social reform – until woke opinion forced an overnight re-evaluation.
Four of the Colston protesters are due in court on Monday, charged with criminal damage, while others got off with conditional cautions.