I REALLY do tire of politicians grossly misrepresenting their political opponents in their efforts to win popular support.

Chairman of Poole Conservatives, councillor Ann Stribley, in a still current posting on Poole Conservatives’ website – “We believe Baden-Powell should stay” – condemns the Lib Dem led Alliance planned removal of the statue three weeks ago.

The clear inference in the lengthy statement is that the Alliance had in mind removing the statue as a matter of disapproval of Baden-Power when the truth is the removal plan was to protect the statue, not in support of those wanting the statue taken down. In the end the statue was boarded up for protection.

There is no question that general Baden-Powell (1857-1941) did great work developing the world-wide scout movement. But for many the issue is not Baden-Powell per se, it is the matter of the UK coming to terms with British imperialism, colonialism, and slavery.

Britain led the colonial North Atlantic slave trade into the Caribbean and southern USA for two and a half centuries. The brutality against and suffering of millions of Africans kidnapped into slavery is immeasurable.

A classic case, all on record in University College London Legacy Slave Ownership archives, is John Sawbridge Ear-Drax who in 1833 was paid £4,293 when with the abolition of slavery he was forced to free 189 Barbados sugar plantation slaves.

That is then the Dorset Drax family, with his descendent Richard Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax - MP Richard Drax - the owner of 13,000 acre Charborough House estate to this day.

So the message to councillor Ann Stribley MBE – Member of the British Empire – yes Baden Powell made a great contribution to the development of young people but, in historical context, that contribution is eclipsed many millions of times by the brutality of British colonial imperialism.

This is the issue at stake, what we all need to come to terms with. As in white landowners, with wealth derived from slaving, paying reparation to legacy black families who lost whole lives for over two centuries.


Alder Road, Poole