The polling carried out for the thinktank Policy Exchange comes as it launches its History Matters Project chaired by the broadcaster and former politician Trevor Phillips. The report and survey findings reveal a repudiation of British institutions like the Bank of England, Church of England, universities, councils and Parliament for their actions in recent weeks to remove statues and remove references to historical figures or apologise for actions centuries ago.
Instead the polling suggests that 69 per cent of British people are “proud” of their country’s history while 65 per cent believe it is wrong to “to make judgments about people in the past based on today’s values” and agree that “statues of people who were once celebrated should be allowed to stand.”
Meanwhile, 77 per cent agree “we should learn from history not rewrite it” and 75 per cent thought the police should have acted more robustly to protect the statues from leftwing mobs.
Only 20% agree that “we should question how we look at British history and no longer recognise success if it caused misery or suffering to some victims”
But 60 per cent said the history should be compulsory for GCSE students.
The report includes a damning dossier of 36 case studies of attempts in recent weeks to negate or rewrite British history in recent weeks by supporters of the Black Lives Matters protests.
Mr Phillips, who was one of Britain’s first black MPs and is a former chairman of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, has warned that “well meaning” but “unthinking” institutions are allowing large swathes of British heritage to be “rewritten or erased.”
The dossier of examples includes attacks on Winston Churchill’s statue in Parliament Square, which 80 per cent want to remain, and Robert Baden Powell’s statue in Poole which was only not removed after it was protected by a group of local pensioners and volunteers.
Among the other statues highlighted are Waterloo hero Sir Thomas Picton’s statue in Cardiff; the 17th and 18th century MP and merchant Sir John Cass at the University of East London which has benefited from his foundation; the Kneeling Slave statue at the National Trust property Dunham Massey; and Oliver Cromwell’s statue outside Parliament.
Meanwhile, the report notes that Parliament is reviewing its artwork collection; Hackney Council is reviewing its landmarks; Liverpool University is renaming its Gladstone Building; Imperial College has removed its motto; and Beckford Primary School in London named after a former Lord Mayor is holding a consultation on being renamed.
In the southwest buildings at South Moulton College named after Sir Francis Drake and his compatriots in defeating the Spanish Armada are being renamed while Plymouth is renaming the square named in honour of one of his fellow buccaneers Sir John Hawkins.
The Church of England has apologised for its role in perpetrating slavery centuries ago and the universities of Kent, De Montford in Leicester, Keele, Oxford Brookes, Balliol College Oxford, Goldsmith in London, Exeter, Westminster, Nottingham and Glasgow are discussing “decolonising” their curriculums.
The Director of the Botanical Gardens at Kew wants to decolonise the plant collections and Lloyds of London has apologised for its role in the slave trade in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Mr Phillips warned that the actions were distractions.
He said: “My worry too is that this new culture war risks distracting from us from the practical steps that need to be taken to make a real and lasting practical difference to the lives of BAME people in this country.”