Sheffield student starts petition to remove ‘racist’ Winston Churchill from bank notes

But others say it is ‘unfair’ to judge

A student from the University of Sheffield has started a petition to remove the ‘racist’ former PM, Winson Churchill, from the new £5 notes.

The campaign states: “To have Churchill as an icon in modern Britain is basically living in denial and passively encouraging the roots of racism in British society.

“A racist leader who has as much blood on his hands as Adolf Hitler, he should be removed from all popular iconography and the truth about him should be taught in British schools.

“British racism is one of the worst in the world as the British society lives in denial of the massive institutional racism that exists precisely because we celebrate the legacy of racists and white supremacists in this country.

“Let the removal of Churchill’s image from the banknotes be a first symbolic step towards dealing with the deep-rooted racism in British society.”


But others have disagreed and said that it’s unfair to judge somebody out of the context of their time.

Sheffield Young Conservatives said: “Winston Churchill was born in a different era with a different culture within society. All great leaders throughout history are complex characters with actions and views which some may disagree with when looking back.

“Churchill is no different. But he was the right leader at the right time. His presence on the £5 note is simply a recognition of his achievement in helping to defeat fascism. It is this achievement which has helped to give us our freedom today and so it is right that it has been recognised in such a manner.

“We should not attempt to re-write history on the basis of society’s changing values. Going down this path will mean we are continuously removing individuals’ images and statues for the reason that some of their views no longer fit with contemporary ideas.

“Is it really fair that an individual should be judged by times which they have not lived through? History must be interpreted with acknowledgement of attitudes at the time in question. It would be unreasonable to judge contemporary events with the values of society 200 years from now.

“It also takes time to fully understand what change is needed in society. If we were to re-write history (or worse, ignore it) following every progression our society makes, it would be impossible to make any sense of the past or commend achievements worthy of recognition.”

Related stories recommended by this writer:

• Sheffield Black Lives Matter protest to be held on Devonshire Green this weekend

Dear Sheffield students, this is how you can support Black Lives Matter

 PSA: Your performative activism and Instagram chains aren’t helping anyone

Featured image credit for BLM protest: SWNS

Featured image credit Winston Churchill: Yousuf Karsh labelled for reuse under the Creative Commons License