Cambridge University Ends Critical Review of Founder Winston Churchill | Winston Churchill
Churchill College has interrupted a critical examination of its founder, Winston Churchill, by abruptly ending the role of a task force set up last year following the murder of George Floyd.
Originally conceived as a one-year program called “Churchill, Race and Empire”, Cambridge College ended the effort after a dispute between the college leadership and the task force, whose members had expected a resignation. massive over what he called interference with a planned event.
Professor Athene Donald, teacher of Churchill College, said she took “at face value” comments from members of the task force that it should disband over a dispute over the organization of a conference .
“Unfounded allegations are now being made both against the entire university community and against me personally. I would like to stress, however, that the college will continue to engage in debate, examining the actions of important historical figures, including Churchill himself, and working on difficult attitudes, ”Donald said.
The program sparked controversy in February after it was attacked by Sir Nicholas Soames, the former Tory MP and wartime grandson of the Prime Minister, after the group held an academic conference on Churchill and racism.
Professor Priyamvada Gopal, a member of Churchill College and a member of the task force, said that since then the program has been blocked by the college administration. On social media, she accused college leaders of “getting scared” after the backlash, which included an article by conservative historian Andrew Roberts, published by the right-wing think tank Policy Exchange.
Gopal tweeted: “Let me repeat: Under pressure from groups like Policy Exchange and some members of the Churchill family, Churchill College disbanded a group set up to critically engage with Churchill’s complicated legacy. Let it sink.
The college’s website describes the project as involving “difficult discussions around important historical figures that we will actively seek to facilitate.” Churchill, as a successful wartime leader, should not be mythologized as a man without significant flaws; in the race, he was late even in his time.
In his statement, Donald said that there had been contact from the Churchill family about the program, but that “they are not involved in the governance processes of the college, and the involvement made in some quarters that ‘them, Policy Exchange or the national press could have directed questions, is to misunderstand our modalities of governance.
Donald claimed that “at some point the task force seems to have changed direction,” which led to the dispute over a new scheduled conference.
“The [February] The event received a lot of, often hostile, attention as it touched on parts of his life that are often not examined in depth in the UK and that do not fit well with some of the standard views on his life. This hostility was also aimed at the participants, who were victims of unacceptable racist abuse, which the college totally deplores, ”added Donald.