Andrew Levy, Daily Mail, February 11, 2021
The British Empire was branded ‘far worse than the Nazis’ during a controversial debate about Sir Winston Churchill’s legacy last night.
The wartime prime minister was also described by an academic as a ‘white supremacist’ who benefited from Britain’s ‘heavily skewed national story’.
The online discussion – held by Churchill College, Cambridge – on ‘The Racial Consequences of Mr Churchill’ looked at his ‘backward’ views on empire and race and was held as part of a year-long ‘inclusivity’ review.
Contributor Kehinde Andrews, a professor of black studies at Birmingham City University, said: ‘The British Empire was far worse than the Nazis. They lasted longer and killed many more people.’
On Churchill, he added: ‘There is no debate. His white supremacy is pretty much on record and the question here is why does Churchill still hold the level of popularity that he does? It’s almost like he’s been beatified – a saintly figure beyond reproach.’ Professor Andrews has previously accused Britain of being ‘built on racism’ and called RAF airmen who bombed Nazi Germany war criminals.
Last night he also belittled the former PM’s contribution to the country. He said: ‘Was it Churchill out there fighting the war? I’m pretty sure it wasn’t. I’m pretty sure he was at home.
‘I’m pretty sure that if Churchill wasn’t in the war it would have ended the same way.’
The comments at the debate held at the college, named in honour of Churchill, were condemned as ‘execrable’ by the former leader’s grandson, Sir Nicholas Soames. The former Tory MP said: ‘I think Sir Winston’s reputation will withstand, with some ease, this sort of rant.
‘I do think it’s terribly disappointing that views like this are advanced at Churchill College.
‘While there is every justification for historians examining the Churchill story, it’s extraordinary that it should be seen in this way by a very limited audience.
‘I’m afraid to say I have nothing but contempt for what these people have said.’
Frank Furedi, emeritus professor of sociology at Kent University, also criticised the comments, saying: ‘The use of the Nazi metaphor is particularly squalid because [it suggests] what is seen as a moment of human evil that was quite unique in character is not as bad as what Britain had done in the past. It is a way of demeaning Britain’s past.
‘It is almost like you’ve got to come for Churchill because if you can destroy his reputation then the whole of Britain’s past can be undermined.’
The college’s website says Churchill ‘must not be mythologised as a man without significant flaws’ as ‘on race he was backward even in his day’.
Professor Priya Gopal, a fellow at the college, was chairman at yesterday’s meeting.
She accused Britain of a ‘national silence’, saying the debate was ‘precisely to bring a long-overdue balance to a heavily skewed national story that has preferred untrammelled glorification to a balanced assessment in the round’. She added: ‘Historians and scholars who don’t think history should be treated as a comfort blanket or a warm bath with candles have to constantly negotiate weaponised fragility and, quite frankly, a degree of cowardice.’