For those who have seen the article about the Blackboy clock recently published in the Stroud News & Journal, I am very disappointed that they were so selective in the quotes used, picking and choosing short parts of my statement after asking for my comment.
This is an example of poor journalism, taking comments out of context and manipulating public perception.
Please find the full statement below.
Removing this statue or any other will not end the scourge of racism, and its disappearance from our community into a museum could be counterproductive in the longer term.
We might run the risk of future generations not understanding the journey this country has made when it comes to equal rights. We will always need context - good and bad - to that journey in our public spaces if we are to understand our history, our progress and our mistakes, then reconcile it.
I am also concerned that a certain minority of people with loud voices have an unquenchable desire to be constantly finding things to be outraged at. This can never be a way forward in my view. It is divisive, and division never solved a single issue.
I think the best way to really get people to understand our history is to leave all statues in place and commission others to reflect our country's journey in the 20th and 21st centuries toward equality. It is a journey we are still making and there is some way to go.
I understand and share the anger about racism, but effectively banning past prejudice by making it physically disappear from our parks, buildings and roads is not valid in a mature democracy.
I accept that an improved context of certain historical statues might sometimes be helpful. Adding factual information about this statue and the origins of its imagery rather than removing it may, I believe, serve a much greater educational purpose, encourage debate and be a compromise.
On a practical level, I would welcome people supporting my work to tackle the racism that is happening right now. I am working with organisations like Kick it Out and the Football Association to tackle anonymous abuse online with a verification campaign to stop the hate.