Yesterday in the House of Commons there was a session called “Business of the House” which is an opportunity for MPs to raise questions with the Leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg. Now of course there are many challenges if one takes words too literally. Clearly the word House for example refers to the House of Commons and in that sense it is not being a House in a residential sense and whatever happens in it, is not a setting where very much business occurs although there are indications that the Prime Minister and some of his colleagues have been setting up business opportunities in a very inappropriate way for COVID-19. However back to what happened on Thursday, there were a series of questions and so called answers and one of the questions came from an MP called John Hayes. His question was deeply concerning on a number of levels
Britain’s heritage is under attack, ironically from those missioned to be the guardians of it. The National Trust, while losing money and sacking staff, has commissioned an expensive review of its properties’ links with colonialism, including Churchill’s Chartwell; unheroic characters at the National Maritime Museum are re-evaluating Nelson’s heroic status; and the custodians of the Churchill War Rooms are claiming that they need to look again at Churchill’s legacy. Can we have a debate on how these charitable organisations’ purpose is being perverted by political posturing, as they all seem to be in the thrall of the militant Black Lives Matter movement? Mr Deputy Speaker, defending our history and heritage is our era’s battle of Britain.
- For those of us, or our friends, or relatives, or people we have met who have been damaged by our nations historic approach, it is surely very important for us to get our history reviewed to ensure that the people who have been impacted are properly treated as victims or the relatives of victims?
- Any organisation that has lost money as a result of COVID and has had to end contracts or make redundancies, clearly needs to be very careful in terms of what tasks they carry out now. However to delay significant issues may not make things any easier and indeed now may be a good time to deal with some matters that could lead to changing the organisations infrastructure.
- To claim that historic analysis is political is deeply concerning, particularly coming from a publicly funded but independently acting politician who is directing a statement towards people who are directly accountable to their Trustees and members.
- To suggest that Black Lives Matter is a militant movement or that imposing John Hayes view of our nations history onto a significant group of credible historians is comparable to the Battle of Britain is very concerning as the Battle of Britain was a war being fought by a small group of very high risk and low rewarded people, many of whom died before their 25th Birthday and John Hayes is a very well paid 62 year old with a great deal of personal comfort and high profile.
The response which came from Jacob Rees-Mogg in several ways was even more concerning than the question. One of the reasons being his lack of a meaningful response to the appalling claim by John Hayes. Also the irony of his historic response in a political setting.
I would like to reiterate the points made in the letter sent by my right hon. Friend the Culture Secretary to museums recently that they are not political campaigning institutions and they should not be intruding into today’s politics. But
“Some talk of Alexander, and some of Hercules,
Of Hector and Lysander, and such great men as these
But of all the world’s brave heroes, there’s none that can compare
Boadicea, Alfred the Great, Richard the Lionheart, the Black Prince, Henry V, Francis Drake, Prince Rupert, Marlborough, Wolfe, Nelson, Moore, Wellington, Gordon and Montgomery, among others. These are great heroes and we should celebrate them, and I have not even mentioned—but I will now—Caractacus. Caractacus so impressed the Romans that, when they took him to Rome in chains, they freed him because they thought he was a fine and noble warrior. We should be proud of our history, and proud of Caractacus.
It is very disturbing that Jacob Rees-Mogg thinks that museums that are focusing on history which he claims to be an expert about, are intruding in the 2020 politics. Indeed it is very concerning that he implies that only party based politicians should be allowed to participate in today’s politics. Such attitudes need to be heavily challenged. It was also very concerning that he chose to ignore the question raised by John Hayes. Now of course his lack of response may be treated as a response but to raise his own views and not say very clearly what I would have thought was the right response was deeply mistaken. This would be my view of what his response should have been.