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Park in honour of ex-PM Gladstone should be renamed after Diane Abbott, schoolkids say
17 April 2022, 08:35 | Updated: 21 April 2022, 14:50
A London park named after four-time prime minister William Gladstone could be rebranded in honour of Labour MP Diane Abbott.
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Gladstone Park, in the Dollis Hill area of north-west London, was named after Mr Gladstone in 1898, a year after the prime minister's death.
Brent Borough Council has enlisted schoolchildren to suggest a suitable new name for the park, with pupils as young as five supposedly suggesting that the green space be named after Ms Abbot, the Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP.
The project is being run to address "injustice, prejudice and racism" in the community following the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020.
Pupils were first briefed on "systematic racism" and the "tragic killing of George Floyd" by a race expert, The Telegraph reports.
A Brent Council spokesperson denied plans to change the name of Gladstone Park
A spokesman said: “There are no plans to change the name of Gladstone Park.”
Other suggestions by schoolchildren for the Dollis Hill park included “Rainbow Park”, "BAME Park" and "Diversity Fields".
William Gladstone, who is the only person to have been prime minister on four separate occasions, spoke out against abolition in Parliament because his family had slaves on plantations in the Caribbean.
Although he went on to call slavery the “foulest crime” in history, he was named in a council-commissioned dossier of “historical figures whose views, in association with the slave trade, are inappropriate”.
He is described as having "ultra-conservative" views and used his maiden speech in the House of Commons to support his father's interests, arguing against abolition.
While that argument failed, his finances did not - when slavery was abolished in the 1830s, the Gladstones received more than £90,000, about £9.5m in today's terms, as compensation for the slaves they were forced to free.
Brent Council's Tory representatives have slammed the attempts to "rewrite history", and branded efforts to change the park's name as "indoctrination".
Councillor Michael Maurice told the Telegraph: "We seem to be living in a society where the innocence of children is being slowly taken away. This seems just one more bite at it.
"This is yet another example of left-wing infiltration into our everyday lives. The choices given to the children are all politically motivated and leaning quite heavily to them left of the political spectrum.
"To my mind this could be considered at best political indoctrination and at worst brainwashing.
"History must never be re-written, what happened in the past should be used to understand what and why it happened and to make sure it doesn’t happen again."