‘Progress comes from not just talking about change but actively bringing it’

Darren Lewis is critical of a new report which reckons decision-makers listen too much to pressure groups and activists

Slave trader Edward Colston’s statue is dumped in Bristol docks

EVENTUALLY, when elements of our society don’t change, the people most affected go ahead and change them anyway.

So there won’t be too many of the people who toppled the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol, for example, losing sleep over a new report criticising them for altering history “without due process”.

The report, written by broadcaster Trevor Phillips, has had backing from academics and Tory MPs keen on snuffing any attempt to change the status quo.

It reckons decision-makers listen too much to pressure groups and activists, instead of “the institutions that support them”, including donors and universities.

What about the people who no longer fancy, shock horror, having to stomach the policies, and people, behind so much pain? What about those who go through all the right channels to voice their opposition only to be ignored?

Colston was a slave trader believed to have sold around 100,000 West African people between 1672 and 1689.

After a sustained period of lobbying without success, protesters in Bristol took matters into their own hands last year, pushing Colston’s statue off its plinth and into the docks. Quite right too. It sparked a spree of statues being removed, school curricula being changed and streets renamed around the country. Again, bang on.

In the modern era, why would we want to celebrate characters who have played such an unseemly part in our country’s history?

The finger-wagging is from people who simply haven’t grasped the fact that progress comes from not just talking about change but actively working to physically bring it about.

Should the people who tore down the Berlin Wall have instead followed due process?

What about Rosa Parks, the first lady of civil rights in America? Should she have followed due process before her legendary bus boycott in 1955?

Bureaucracy doesn’t recognise your or my personal struggles. Just as the kind of academic backing this latest report tends not live in the real world. Change needs courage and the will to bypass the gatekeepers who would have us stuck in a holding pattern.

Otherwise you end up chasing cans being kicked down the road.

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