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Historian Tom Holland says Britons will see boarding up of Winston Churchill’s statue as ‘sinister’

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Popular historian and bestselling author Tom Holland said many Britons will regard the boarding up of Winston Churchill’s statue as ‘sinister’ after it was covered to protect it from further attacks.  

Mr Holland, 52, also claimed the sight of locals in Poole, Dorset, needing to defend the statue of founder of the Scouting movement Robert Baden-Powell ‘does not do anti-racism campaigners any favours.’

The statue of wartime leader Churchill was boarded up on Thursday ahead of further expected demonstrations on Saturday after it was sprayed with graffiti during Black Lives Matter protests earlier this week. 

And scouts from all around the country arrived to defend the statue of Baden-Powell after it was added to a ‘topple the racists’ list compiled by Black Lives Matter supporters.

Popular historian and bestselling author Tom Holland said many Britons will regard the boarding up of Winston Churchill's statue as 'sinister' after it was covered to protect it from further attacks

Popular historian and bestselling author Tom Holland said many Britons will regard the boarding up of Winston Churchill's statue as 'sinister' after it was covered to protect it from further attacks

Popular historian and bestselling author Tom Holland said many Britons will regard the boarding up of Winston Churchill’s statue as ‘sinister’ after it was covered to protect it from further attacks

Mr Holland, 52, also claimed the sight of locals in Poole, Dorset, needing to defend the statue of founder of the Scouting movement Robert Baden-Powell 'does not do anti-racism campaigners any favours'

Mr Holland, 52, also claimed the sight of locals in Poole, Dorset, needing to defend the statue of founder of the Scouting movement Robert Baden-Powell 'does not do anti-racism campaigners any favours'

Mr Holland, 52, also claimed the sight of locals in Poole, Dorset, needing to defend the statue of founder of the Scouting movement Robert Baden-Powell ‘does not do anti-racism campaigners any favours’

They claimed he had been enthusiastic about Nazism and an admirer of Hitler’s Mein Kampf and his Hitler Youth movement. 

Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, Mr Holland, who previously sparked controversy for questioning the origins of Islam in a documentary for Channel 4, said: ‘The sight of Churchill boarded up is to large numbers of Britons very sinister.

‘As is the sight of scouts defending Baden Powell, it doesn’t do anti-racism campaigners any favours. It will turn people against them.’

Mr Holland was speaking exclusively to MailOnline

Mr Holland was speaking exclusively to MailOnline

Mr Holland was speaking exclusively to MailOnline

The historian, who took no issue with the toppling of the statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol last week, added that protesters were at risk of looking ‘ridiculous’ if they widened their focus to too many British national figures. 

‘I think the danger is for anti-racism campaigners is that the Colston statue, as a one-off, as a bracing way of getting people to talk about slavery and the legacy, it reverberated profoundly, but as so often happens with tidal waves of moral outrage they end up turning either sinister or ridiculous.’

Since the toppling of the Colston statue on Sunday, a campaign has spread across the country targeting statues of other figures, including Lord Nelson, King James II, Charles I, Oliver Cromwell, Sir Francis Drake and Sir Robert Peel. 

On Friday, St Thomas’s Hospital said they would remove a statue of their founder Sir Thomas Guy after his links to the slave trade were highlighted. 

Outrage was also sparked when a protester sprayed the statue of Churchill in Parliament Square with graffiti which added ‘was a racist’ beneath his name. 

The unrest has led to the decision by London mayor Sadiq Khan to board up the Churchill statue as well as dozens of others. 

The statue of wartime leader Churchill was boarded up yesterday ahead of further expected demonstrations on Saturday after it was sprayed with graffiti during Black Lives Matter protests earlier this week

The statue of wartime leader Churchill was boarded up yesterday ahead of further expected demonstrations on Saturday after it was sprayed with graffiti during Black Lives Matter protests earlier this week

The statue of wartime leader Churchill was boarded up yesterday ahead of further expected demonstrations on Saturday after it was sprayed with graffiti during Black Lives Matter protests earlier this week

Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, Mr Holland, who previously sparked controversy for questioning the origins of Islam in a documentary for Channel 4, said: 'The sight of Churchill boarded up is to large numbers of Britons very sinister'

Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, Mr Holland, who previously sparked controversy for questioning the origins of Islam in a documentary for Channel 4, said: 'The sight of Churchill boarded up is to large numbers of Britons very sinister'

Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, Mr Holland, who previously sparked controversy for questioning the origins of Islam in a documentary for Channel 4, said: ‘The sight of Churchill boarded up is to large numbers of Britons very sinister’

The cenotaph in Whitehall was also covered after being targeted. 

But Mr Holland said anti-racism campaigners risked turning ordinary Britons against them by widening their focus to other statues and historical figures.

‘I am generally not enthused by the idea that groups of people should feel themselves empowered to defacing or vandalising statues willy nilly,’ he said. 

‘Purely on the level of strategy, people who want a debate about the inheritance of slavery and racism in Britain need to think tactically and strategically.

‘The way that this has spiralled out of control will play into the hands of people who don’t want to have a discussion about it.’

The historian highlighted the decision to remove the ‘Don’t Mention The War’ episode of Fawlty Towers to argue that some people may feel as though their identity is being ‘attacked’.

The historian highlighted the decision to remove the 'Don't Mention The War' episode of Fawlty Towers to argue that some people may feel as though their identity is being 'attacked'

The historian highlighted the decision to remove the 'Don't Mention The War' episode of Fawlty Towers to argue that some people may feel as though their identity is being 'attacked'

The historian highlighted the decision to remove the ‘Don’t Mention The War’ episode of Fawlty Towers to argue that some people may feel as though their identity is being ‘attacked’

‘The risk is that people feeling that the Scouts and Churchill and the Faulty Towers are being cancelled, people are going to feel that something pretty fundamental about their identity is being attacked,’ he said. 

Mr Holland, whose most recent book Dominion traces the impact of Christianity on Western countries, said campaigners needed to recognise why statues were put up in the first place.

‘There is the category of people with problematic views, which would include Drake, Churchill perhaps, Nelson.

‘I think in that case if the statue has been put up to commemorate a particular feat that deserves to be commemorated – be it circumnavigating the world or saving Britain from Nazi conquest, or saving Britain from the French – that is what they are being celebrated for.’  

‘Not every statue is put up to celebrate civic virtue. I would use the example of Cromwell and Charles I. 

‘The fact is that you have the embodiment of the rival sides of the civil war at opposite sides to commemorate it.’

Mr Holland highlighted the example of the London statue of Celtic warrior Boudica, who led an uprising against the Romans when they invaded Britain.

Mr Holland, whose most recent book Dominion traces the impact of Christianity on Western countries, said campaigners needed to recognise why statues were put up in the first place

Mr Holland, whose most recent book Dominion traces the impact of Christianity on Western countries, said campaigners needed to recognise why statues were put up in the first place

Mr Holland, whose most recent book Dominion traces the impact of Christianity on Western countries, said campaigners needed to recognise why statues were put up in the first place

‘Boudica certainly did not celebrate diversity and immigration but that statue has a historical significance which transcends that,’ he said.   

But speaking of the tearing down of the Colston statue last week, Mr Holland said he had ‘no objection’ to what had happened.  

‘I have no objection to the statues coming down that cause upset or pain to British citizens.

‘I have no objection to the removal of a statue of a slaver which was put up in the 1890s after the abolition of slavery.

‘I can see that it was a standing provocation, I get the arguments against it.’

Mr Holland, who has also written bestselling books on classical and medieval history, was previously criticised in 2012 when he presented a documentary which investigated the origins of Islam. 

But speaking of the tearing down of the Colston statue last week, Mr Holland said he had 'no objection' to what had happened

But speaking of the tearing down of the Colston statue last week, Mr Holland said he had 'no objection' to what had happened

But speaking of the tearing down of the Colston statue last week, Mr Holland said he had ‘no objection’ to what had happened

He said there was little written contemporary evidence about the life of the Prophet Muhammad, and claimed that the Koran makes little or no reference to Islam’s holy city of Mecca.

The historian was threatened on Twitter but issued a defence of the programme, saying he went to ‘every effort’ to ensure the ‘moral and civilisational power of Islam was acknowledged’.

Mr Holland’s latest comments come after Mr Khan was accused of caving in to mob rule by covering up Churchill’s statue. 

Home Secretary Priti Patel called on Mr Khan to uncover the bronze sculpture immediately.

She told the Daily Mail: ‘We should free Churchill, a hero of our nation, who fought against fascism and racism in this country and Europe.’

‘He has given us the freedom to live our lives the way we do today.’ Churchill’s grandson, Nicholas Soames, said covering up his statue in Parliament Square was a national humiliation.’

Home Secretary Priti Patel called on Mr Khan to uncover the bronze sculpture immediately

Home Secretary Priti Patel called on Mr Khan to uncover the bronze sculpture immediately

Home Secretary Priti Patel called on Mr Khan to uncover the bronze sculpture immediately

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was ‘absurd and shameful’ that the monument required protection. 

The Met Police have imposed a curfew on Black Lives Matter in London and have vowed that any violence ‘will not be tolerated’ amid fears of clashes with pro-statue protesters.

BLM has already cancelled a planned march in Hyde Park tomorrow over fears it would be hijacked by far-right groups but the police said several protests are scheduled in the capital for Saturday. 

The police have placed conditions on Black Lives Matter and ‘right-wing and associated groups’ to keep them apart, and have placed a curfew on both groups of 5pm, after violent scenes last weekend.

BLM activists can only take a strict route that starts at Hyde Park and goes to Park Lane, Hyde Park Corner, Piccadilly, Piccadilly Circus, Haymarket, Cockspur Street, Trafalgar Square before finishing in Whitehall, north of the police barrier.

Right-wing groups will have to assemble in Parliament Square and Whitehall. Met Police commander Bas Javid warned that ‘violence’ and ‘criminal behaviour against our officers’  will ‘not be tolerated.’ 

In Poole, the council brought in 24-hour security to protect the seaside statue of Lord Baden-Powell dramatically abandoning plans to remove it.

In Poole, the council brought in 24-hour security to protect the seaside statue of Lord Baden-Powell dramatically abandoning plans to remove it

In Poole, the council brought in 24-hour security to protect the seaside statue of Lord Baden-Powell dramatically abandoning plans to remove it

In Poole, the council brought in 24-hour security to protect the seaside statue of Lord Baden-Powell dramatically abandoning plans to remove it

A war of words has broken out between Bournemouth, Christchurch and Police Council and local police, after the council claimed it had decided to remove the statue on the advice of Dorset constabulary.  

Former Scouts, some from more than 100 miles away, had rushed to Dorset and formed a ring of steel around the bronze monument fending off a disposal crew in Poole Quay at 7.30am. 

Former Queen’s Scout Len Bannister, 79, was among those guarding it and declared: ‘If they want to knock this down – they’ll have to knock me down first’. 

He told ITV News: ‘It’s absolutely crazy. Who’s it that actually wants to do it? I’ll fight them off. I’m actually very angry – and I’m not a protester. I’ve had a lot of enjoyment because of him in my life because of him’. 

Mr Bannister added: ‘He is the reason I am still here, the pleasure he gives to so many people, they shouldn’t take it down’.     

DailyMail Online


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