The Culture Secretary has written to all Conservative MPs saying that:

  • “Removing statues and renaming streets does harm rather than good.”
  • “The Government itself does not propose to remove statues or memorials on its property.”
  • “Historic England, as the Government’s adviser on the historic environment, are against removing so-called “contested heritage”.
  • “As Secretary of State, I have spoken to Historic England to ensure that this approach remains the case.”
  • “Historic England encourages contemporary responses to contested heritage that do not lead to removal or significant alteration of protected historical sites or monuments.”
  • “Many memorials are listed and may not be removed without planning permission, which is a quasi-judicial process.”
  • “Street names should not be changed without the formal consent of two-thirds of local taxpayers who reside in the street.”
  • “When change is proposed, consultation – and listening to the whole community rather than just street protestors – is an important part of due process.
  • “We should all respect due process and fair hearing, rather than tolerate criminal acts and mob rule.”
  • “We should not support or indulge those who break the law, or attack the police, or descecrate public monuments.”

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Most of the above is within Dowden’s purview.  Chief Constables who won’t enforce the law and statues for which others have responsibility aren’t.  It’s up to Boris Johnson to take the lead overall.  He needs to be similarly robust.