"We shouldn't eulogise them" Iain Dale's tense debate amid Cecil Rhodes statue removal

17 June 2020, 21:17 | Updated: 17 June 2020, 22:24

By Seán Hickey

News came through that Oriel College plan to remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes, to which Denise Headley thought it was about time.

Iain Dale was joined by Denise Headley to reflect on the news coming from Oxford that the statue of politician Cecil Rhodes will be removed after pressure from recent anti-racism protests.

Iain asked Ms Headley for her view on the matter, to which she insisted it was "a step in the right direction." She commended the work of young people in "leading the way in asking for things to be changed."

Cecil Rhodes has been viewed "as a symbol of oppression" according to the guest, and the removal of his statue is an indicator of how history is being slowly righted.

"History is articulated by the winners, they invariably expunge the losers and as a consequence of that you are not part of the conversation" she said.

"We shouldn't eulogise them and we shouldn't be putting them up there as bastions of goodness."

Cecil Rhodes loaned his name to the state of Rhodesia, now called Zimbabwe
Cecil Rhodes loaned his name to the state of Rhodesia, now called Zimbabwe. Picture: PA

Iain disagreed. He noted that following the fall of the Edward Colston statue was a point where he worried that it might begin a landslide in statues in the UK coming down and although he "didn't shed any tears when that was taken down" he didn't believe "that we should be censoring history in this way."

"You can't whitewash history, you can't take him out of the history of southern Africa" Iain argued and thought the decision to remove the statue was a bad one.

Denise Headley clapped back by asking him "who gets to decide what is memorialised, who gets to decide how public places are used" and argued that in the display of such oppressive figures is keeping black people away from the table and away from the British decision making process.

Iain suggested that "there will always be people who find arguments as to not put a statue up" and this argument will never have an overwhelming consensus either way.

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