Sir John Hayes MP: 'Our national heroes are being belittled and slandered'
In his weekly Hayes in the House column, MP Sir John Hayes fights back against 'Wokes'
Joseph Chamberlain, one of my political heroes, said that “in great deeds, something abides.” As Britons, we are not short of heroism, achievements that echo throughout the ages, moving and inspiring us to this day.
The nature of such heroism is never unqualified, hero worship is almost as foolish as vilification of the past and those who inhabit it.
Nevertheless, a confident and forward-facing civilisation stands upon the shoulders of giants, honouring the memory of those who shaped it to inspire still greater triumphs.
In such a vein we ought to remember the extraordinary aspects of the United Kingdom’s remarkable past, not obsess over what was distasteful.
However, the vindictive moral crusade of the ‘woke’ left has made it a mission to not only slander and belittle our national icons, but to remove them from the public consciousness.
We have witnessed a baying mob throw a statue into Bristol harbour, the image of Robert Baden-Powell – founder of the noble Scouts movement – under such threat that scouts had to camp out to defend his memorial, and that opportunistic virtue-signaller, the London Mayor, spend over £1million on a statue-toppling ‘diversity’ commission.
Perhaps the most egregious of all has been the disgraceful campaign waged against two of the greatest Britons in our Island story, Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson and Sir Winston Churchill.
Both have the unique distinction of having played a part in saving the British nation from tyranny by defending our island against the warmongering forces of European despots.
At the Battle of Trafalgar, Lord Nelson secured the United Kingdom against the threat of invasion from Napoleonic France, and in the dark, daunting early days of the second world war Winston Churchill stood strong as an immovable rallying point for our nation against the might of Nazi Germany.
These heroes were not perfect, neither led an unblemished life free of sin, for all men have feet of clay. But the ‘woke’ mob use tenuous connections and ignorant accusations to justify the smears intended to undermine our nation by unpicking the fabric of past heroism. The great majority of Briton are disdainful of these ravings by self-loathing militants seeking fulfilment in their acts of national self-flagellation.
We need only look to last year’s assaults on war memorials and Churchill’s statue to see what their sense of ‘justice’ really entails.
Which is why it is pitiful that once great philanthropic institutions appear to be increasingly eager to brandish woke credentials at the expense of their founding missions. Though the Maritime Museum rowed back from a planned reassessment of Nelson’s “heroic status” after a mass public backlash, not all have learned the lesson with Goldsmith’s University considering removing the legendary Admiral’s “troubling” statue.
Still more shocking was the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust’s decision to airbrush its founder by removing his image from their website and renaming the charity “The Churchill Trust”.
It is hard to fathom whether the kind of people who plot such schemes are daft, deluded, dangerous or all three.
But, whatever the motivations of the perpetrators, their actions betray the core missions of charities and museums. Such iconoclastic fanaticism is far-removed from a nuanced consideration of heroism, a discussion that the British people are willing to have, but of which the subversive ‘wokes’ are afraid. A nation needs heroes. They stand as exemplars of ingenuity, integrity and courage. Just a few remarkable men and women, who, through what they do and the context in which they do it, show what heights the human spirit can reach.
We honour their extraordinary achievements because “in great deeds, something abides”. The treasured memory of past great deeds may yet give rise to greatness to come – surely, this alone is ample reason to defend the reputation of our national heroes.