Edward Colston and the problem with the ‘right side of history’

There has been much anger after the Colston statue verdict this week, in which a jury cleared four protesters of criminal damage over the toppling of the monument in Bristol. It is an affront to many that vandalism can be exonerated on the grounds of supposedly righting the wrongs of the past, owing to Edward Colston’s role in the slave trade. Yet the most egregious aspect of the case was the plea, on the behalf of the defence, that the jury ‘be on the right side of history’ in reaching their decision. This ingratiating phrase has become popular among progressives in recent years. It’s not just annoying and absurd because

The Colston verdict is the triumph of values, not law

The verdict is in on the case of the Colston statue in Bristol. Not guilty. Every one of the accused is innocent. And I mean that: everyone is innocent until proven guilty. If found not guilty, they must — at all times — have retained their innocence. But something feels wrong. Eminent lawyers have described the verdict as both absurd and perverse. In the UK we ‘relate’ to law. We aren’t taught it in schools. Our parents, teachers, instead introduce it to us by osmosis. We have a feel for it, a grasp of it. We might have felt we knew what criminal damage was, and we might have felt that

Statue wars: what should we do with controversial monuments?

Robert Jenrick’s pledge to protect monuments and statues from mob iconoclasm with new laws and powers is very welcome. It’s an issue on which the Government has been quiet in terms of legislation, even if the Prime Minister made clear last summer that ‘we cannot try to edit or censor our past’. Now that the initial wave of Black Lives Matter activism has subsided, it’s essential to stop left-wing councils from renaming our streets, removing public monuments or, worse still, hanging a badge of opprobrium on them. There is more going on here than many realise: Policy Exchange’s History Matters Project, which is chaired by Trevor Phillips, has so far

Russell Brand’s brain fog over Edward Colston

Back in the day when celebrities didn’t pontificate on the news but kept their political opinions to themselves, Russell Brand used to be a stand-up comedian. These days, he’s known more for his radical politics (and his former squeeze Katy Perry) than he is for his comedy. Naturally, Brand had plenty to say about last week’s removal of Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol. Indeed, so informed was he on the subject that he had to remind himself of Colston’s name in his video lecture. Miss S was rather alarmed to hear that Brand appears to think Hitler and Churchill were as racist as each other and that he considers himself