Oxford Liberal Democrats welcome the clarity brought to the discussions around the issue of public monuments by the statement from Oriel College. We share the commitment of the Rhodes Must Fall and Black Lives Matter movements to addressing imbalances in how we view history and in inequalities today.
This is as a moment to look forward as well as back, at how our city might look in years to come. Over time, this approach might encompass new, positive monuments that mark progress and achievement in ending slavery and building a society based on equal rights, such as the one championed by our Liberal Democrat colleagues in Cambridge and installed in Wilberforce Road in 2007 (pictured below).
There is no blanket answer to resolve this, and before we make decisions as a city about anything in Oxford, we must ensure that all the voices within our diverse community are heard, acknowledged and acted upon, so that any consensus on how best to proceed is collaborative. The whole community, ensuring the inclusion of those who are most affected, should own this issue and be involved in decisions on how to move forward - a core part of our values as Liberal Democrats.
While this is an important approach to acknowledge the past inclusively, we do not want it to become a substitute for the modern challenges to ensure empowerment, equal life chances and life values for everyone, on which there remains much work to be done here, as well as in the US, on issues of health, employment, and justice.