'Complete rubbish' to brand Churchill racist, says grandson Sir Nicholas Soames

13 June 2020, 11:05

Sir Nicholas Soames on how Winston Churchill's legacy should be defended

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Sir Winston Churchill's grandson, Sir Nicholas Soames, has said those calling his grandfather a racist should "grow up" and read their history.

Sir Nicholas was speaking with LBC's Matt Frei following the news that the former prime minister's statue in London had been boarded up ahead of expected protests this weekend.

The former Conservative MP said he was "deeply shocked" to see his grandfather's memorial entombed in metal as he fought "for liberty and democracy" for all his life.

"You cannot deny our history," Sir Nicholas said.

"You can't censor it. You can only look at Churchill in the whole. You cannot look at just, 'Oh he said this about that'. Look at his career in the whole.

"I think most people will acknowledge that statue commemorates Churchill's war leadership, his saving of the western world as the leader of the western world and always his fight for liberty and democracy."

Read more: Cressida Dick urges people to 'stay away' from protests this weekend

Read more: Boris Johnson urges BLM protesters to stay away from demonstrations this weekend

Sir Nicholas Soames said he was deeply shocked to see his grandfather's statue boarded up
Sir Nicholas Soames said he was deeply shocked to see his grandfather's statue boarded up. Picture: PA

The 72-year-old acknowledged the importance of Black Lives Matter protests but warned they are being hijacked by "dreadful anarchists."

Sir Nicholas added it was "complete rubbish" to call his grandfather Sir Winston Churchill a racist and urged people to judge him on his victories rather than defining him by his flaws.

He said anyone who served for as long as Churchill was "bound to make mistakes and say things you regret" but that the idea of him being a fascist or a racist is a "lunatic representation” of his character.

"Some of his views judged today would be unacceptable, thank god those views aren’t the whole today,” Sir Nicholas said.

“I’m afraid the teaching of history in this country is abominable, we no longer take our history seriously and it's very sad and one of the by-results of that is you get this absolute lunatic representation of Churchill as a racist,” he added.

Lord Lamonte on Winston Churchill being clad amid protests

"When he was younger, he may have said things that we certainly wouldn't say today but he was an Edwardian soldier and politician so you have to take people in the whole."

The former MP then told people to “grow up” and read their history around Churchill.

Speaking about protests following the "unforgivable murder" of George Floyd in the US last month, he said: "I think people should listen very carefully to what these Black Lives Matter demonstrators think.

"It is true that this country has further to go even though it has made enormous strides in equality," he added.

"There are areas where we've got to do better and so we need to listen to these people.

"They have a good message and it's being hijacked by these perfectly dreadful people on the hard-left and the hard0-right and the idea that some hard-right anarchists are going to turn up to guard Churchill's statue - who spent his entire life fighting against people like that - is all very strange."

He said the statues should remain standing where they are as "people have to understand that these great, historical figures" should be taken in the context of the time they lived.

Cressida Dick urges protesters to "stay away" from London

He also said Bristol Council should have removed the statue of Edward Colston long before it was toppled by "a baying mob."

Meanwhile, police in London have told those attending protests this weekend that they must be off the streets by 5pm on Saturday.

The move comes after violent clashes with anti-racism demonstrators last week, during which 27 officers were injured.

Statues in the capital have been boarded up ahead of marches this weekend to prevent them being defaced or toppled, as was seen in Bristol last Sunday.

The Metropolitan Police have introduced new measures ahead of the marches, including a 5pm curfew and the need for protesters to stick to the planned march route, which runs from Hyde Park to Whitehall.