The event was the second in a series examining Churchill’s legacyJames Eades/Unsplash

The grandson of former wartime Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, has criticised Churchill College for allowing discussion of ‘The Racial Consequences of Mr Churchill’ to “smear [Churchill] unchallenged.”

In a statement published last week (25/02), the College emphasised that the event was intended “to highlight different critical perspectives and to pose questions for further discussion, research and debate”. More broadly, the College added that the institution “encourages a plurality of views but as an institution it exists to convene and facilitate discussion, not to censor or endorse.”

Sir Nicholas Soames stated that “peusdo-academic” contributors, who participated in the event last month, made “many factually incorrect, deeply offensive and ignorant remarks.”

The panel of academics was chaired by Professor Priya Gopal, alongside Professor Kehinde Andrews, Dr Madhusree Mukerjee and Dr Onyeka Nubia. Andrews, Professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City University, argued that Churchill was “the perfect embodiment of white supremacy.”

Sir Nicholas’ criticisms were published in a foreword of a research paper examining remarks made by the panelists, which was co-authored by Churchill biographer Andrew Roberts and published by the centre-right think tank Policy Exchange.

Among these criticisms, Sir Nicholas stated that the College “should be defending [Churchill’s] remarkable legacy,” and that “one would hope and expect [that the College] would give Churchill a full and fair hearing”.

He added: “The college benefits enormously from Churchill’s name. If they traduce it, should they be able to have their cake and eat it?”

Roberts’ discussion in the paper considers the content of the event to be “factually incorrect and profoundly offensive,” with “just one side of an argument” being presented. He continues to accuse the College of “premeditated malice and character assassination” of Churchill.

In advance of the discussion, Soames had previously told the Daily Mail: “It seems to me extremely unlikely [that] young ladies and gentlemen will get a balanced view of Churchill’s life”.

The College statement noted that the event series was arranged in response to the Black Lives Matter protests of the summer of 2020 as a “counterpoint” to the College’s “celebratory events,” adding that such discussions were “never going to be easy or definitive.”


Mountain View

Churchill College panel discusses the ‘racial consequences’ of Winston Churchill

“Churchill College has always staged a wide range of events about the life and legacy of its founder and will continue to do so.”

Both Churchill’s legacy and wider racial issues in British society have come under renewed scrutiny since the Black Lives Matter protests last summer. At one of these protests, a statue of the wartime Prime Minister on Parliament Square was daubed with the phrase “was a racist.”

Responding to the Black Lives Matter protests, a statement released by Churchill College in June said that they “welcome[d] an honest and critical engagement with history in all its fullness.”

The first discussion in the series, entitled ‘Churchill, Empire and Race: Opening the Conversation’, took place in October 2020, and featured discussion from Professor Priya Gopal and Professor Richard Toye from Exeter University.