Stroud’s MP has warned that removing a controversial ‘Blackboy Clock’ in the town would be counter-productive in the long term.
Anti-racism campaigners have called for the figurine to be removed, calling it racist and dehumanising and a public consultation is underway on what its future should be.
But MP Siobhan Baillie said the figurine provided context to the journey the country had been on with regards to equal rights.
The MP’s full statement
“Removing this statue or any other will not end the scourge of racism and its disappearance from our community into a museum could be counterproductive in the longer term.
“We might run the risk of future generations not understanding the journey this country has made when it comes to equal rights.
“We will always need a context – good and bad – to that journey in our public spaces if we are to understand our history, our progress and our mistakes, then reconcile to it.
“I am also concerned that a certain minority of people with loud voices have an unquenchable desire to be constantly finding things to be outraged at.
“This can never be a way forward in my view. It is divisive, and division never solved a single issue.
“I think the best way to really get people to understand our history is to leave all statues in place and commission others to reflect our country’s journey in the 20th and 21st centuries toward equality.
“It is a journey we are still making and there is some way to go. I understand and share the anger about racism, but effectively banning past prejudice by making it physically disappear from our parks, buildings and roads is not valid in a mature democracy.
“I accept that an improved context of certain historical statues might sometimes be helpful.
“Adding factual information about this statue and the origins of its imagery rather than removing it may, I believe, serve a much greater educational purpose, encourage debate and be a compromise.
“On a practical level, I would welcome people supporting my work to tackle the racism that is happening right now.
“I am working with organisations like Kick it Out and the Football Association to tackle anonymous abuse online with a verification campaign to stop the hate.”