'We should do everything we can to learn from history': Poll on removal of Henry Dundas statue splits Edinburgh readers

Edinburgh Evening News readers have given mixed response to a poll which asked ‘should the Henry Dundas statue on Edinburgh's Melville Monument be taken down?’

Wednesday, 10th June 2020, 12:30 pm
Thousands have signed a petition for the statue to be removed from atop the monument
Thousands have signed a petition for the statue to be removed from atop the monument

Thousands of Scots have signed a petition calling for the removal of the Melville Monument in St Andrew Square, which was erected in memory of Dundas, best known for delaying the abolition of slavery during the 18th century.

The original petition has amassed over 7,000 signatures in support but the Evening News poll reveals that readers are split on the decision to remove the statue.

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On Wednesday, the poll stood at 49 per cent of responses calling for the statue to be removed, with 51 per cent saying it should remain in its place.

The poll heard a mixed response from reader comments, too.

Liz McEwan said: “You can’t rewrite history so pulling it down doesn’t erase anything. Slavery happened. Dundas was involved. Different times, different attitudes meant he had a statue erected. Maybe some sort of plaque on the plinth explaining his involvement would be the answer.”

Adam White wrote: “No, however a plaque detailing ties to slavery could be used at the base of the monument. I’ve visited Cape Coast Castle in Ghana on two occasions, which was one of the main slave depots in the transatlantic slave trade. It’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and thousands visit it every year to learn about its gruelling past. Its devastating, but unfortunately it happened and it is a very powerful experience. We should do everything we can to learn from history now and strive for a better tomorrow.”

Arran McKinley added: “Why are so many people rushing to defend the statue of a man, that a week ago they probably didn't even know who he was. The fact that so many are trying to justify having a 150 foot memorial in the middle of our city to a man who was instrumental in delaying the abolition of slavery is quite frankly sickening. And trying to vindicate your thinly veiled racism though the guise that you "care about history" just doesn't wash. I've never seen such rank displays of whatabouterry. If you can't see why this statue is a problem, then you ARE the problem.”

Kath Vass said: “Are we finally able to accept the iniquities of the past and put right a mistake in their glorification? Mr Dundas has to go. I was not aware of the history, now I am.”

Richard Wasp commented: “Yes, replace the statue. There are a hundred more deserving Scots from history.”

Nadine Piontek said: “Yes. A statue is for someone doing great things. A racist is the opposite of that.”

Ann Robb added: “No it should not be removed - I agree with Sir Geoff Palmer that the full history should be added to the monument so the full facts are on display.”

At the time of writing, the poll had received 2,783 responses, after being posted 24 hours ago. It can viewed here.