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It seems we cannot campaign online to have Neil Oliver removed from his new post as president of the National Trust. The campaigning website 38 Degrees, whose petitions I have often signed, said:
‘We removed the petition from the 38 Degrees website as it calls for an individual to lose their job. Neil Oliver was appointed by members of the National Trust, not members of the public. Therefore, the petition breaks our Terms and Conditions.’
The National correctly described this as a ‘fudge’ because the petition to remove the Queen is still up there and it has allowed several other petitions calling for public figures to be removed from positions, including BBC’s Scots political editor Laura Kuenssberg and the former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson.
You’ll remember Oliver once described IndyRef2 as a ‘cancerous presence’ and is a vociferous opponent of Scottish independence. Kinder voices have described him as ‘divisive’ but he has compared Scotland’s pre-eminent historian, Professor Tom Devine, to a character in the muppets merely because he justifiably questioned Oliver’s academic credentials to present a history series.
I don’t really care I if he is president of the National Trust. I’ve got no time for the organisation in the first place. It largely preserves symbols of Britain’s disgustingly brutal and unequal past and in so doing helps to glamorise and thus justify greed, inequality, opulence and bad taste in the present.
I don’t visit stately homes. I don’t visit castles. I’d knock them down or at least let them crumble naturally and build children’s play-parks or memorial gardens where they stood. In maintaining them and facilitating working people to visit them we’re helping to celebrate historical suffering, brutal poverty and state violence. The stately homes were built often with money from the slave trade and by workers who lived in hovels, whose children died more often in infancy than they lived on to adulthood and who survived on near-starvation diets at times of the year. Often villages of the poor were cleared to avoid spoiling the views from these nauseating symbols of greed. As for the castles, they were, like Fort Apache, placed to keep down the natives. In this case, our Scots, Irish and Welsh ancestors. These were places of lifelong confinement without trial and of horrific torture. The Norman castles in Wales are brutal ugly monsters on the landscape. Fort Augustus and Fort George and the others are reminders of our subjugation and of ethnic cleansing. Nobody thinks its a good idea to preserve and celebrate the buildings associated with Nazism so why preserve these?
If you’ve got a National Trust subscription, cancel it and tell them why.