Delingpole: Woke National Trust Chairman Comes Out for Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images

Idiot of the week — in a crowded field — is Tim Parker. Parker, chairman of Britain’s largest heritage charity the National Trust, has just come out in defence of Black Lives Matter.

In a letter to one of the National Trust’s many disappointed members, Parker writes:

We are committed to anti-racism and to creating a diverse, inclusive and welcoming environment by everyone and we understand Black Lives Matter currently is a worldwide human rights movement with no party political affiliations in the UK.

Parker was writing in response to a letter complaining about the National Trust’s increasingly woke policies, such as its recent decision to compile a list of shame, naming all those of its properties with historical connections with “colonialism and slavery”. The BLM-style shame list even included Sir Winston Churchill’s former home, Chartwell. According to an essay by one of the Trust’s woke curators, Churchill belongs on the naughty step because he was “Prime Minister during the devastating Bengal Famine of 1943, the British response to which has been heavily criticised.”

I can only imagine how irritating Parker’s smug, sanctimonious letter must have been to that member. It is, after all, a perfectly reasonable point to make that the National Trust should not be engaging in identity politics.

The National Trust has one job: looking after Britain’s historic buildings and landscapes.

Founded in 1895, the National Trust was established to “promote the permanent preservation for the benefit of the Nation of lands and tenements (including buildings) of beauty or historic interest”.

In the years since it has become one of Britain’s biggest private landowners — 612,000+ acres — plus the guardian of many the country’s most magnificent or historically distinguished stately homes. It sits on £1.3 billion in financial reserves.

But this year it has been dire financial trouble, sacking 1,200 employees to plug a £200 million hole in its finances.

Naturally, it blamed the Chinese coronavirus for the shortfall. But the real problem is its woke agenda, which is anathema to many of its 5.6 million predominantly white, middle-class members.

As a former National Trust member myself — I stopped supporting it when it banned fox hunting on its land; if I hadn’t resigned on that occasion, I would have resigned in protest at its subsequent decision to promote LGBTQ issues at its properties — I think I understand pretty well the nature of its appeal.

The National Trust is — or used to be — loved because it celebrates and preserves arguably Britain’s greatest cultural expression — the country house — and its most magnificent feature — the countryside.

That’s why so many people join: to see beautiful old architecture in landscaped parkland, stuffed full of fascinating artefacts, rich with history (which the often elderly volunteers are more than happy to enlarge upon), and then go for some scones in the jolly nice tea room. They do not go to have their consciousness raised, nor to celebrate gay rights nor to fight racism: National Trust properties are a refuge from all that trendy woke nonsense.

Or at least they ought to be.

But idiots like Tim Parker don’t get this. Parker made his millions in business and may be a capable administrator. It’s clear, though, that one of the main reasons he got the job is because he is in tune with the woke agenda, and wants to remake the National Trust anew on politically correct lines.

He is a classic example of the Cultural Marxist ‘Long March through the Institutions’ – in which even organisations which ought to have nothing whatsoever to do with politics end up being subverted and controlled by left-wing activists or compliant useful idiots like Parker.

This is why according to the Telegraph, the charity regulator is examining whether, by engaging in identity politics, the National Trust has strayed from its ‘clear, simple purpose’ to preserve historic buildings.

The National Trust is also under attack from a group of 50 Conservative MPs known as the Commonsense group. In a rare fit of soundness highly unusual within the Conservative government these days, they are calling for public funding of the charity to be withdrawn.

Sir John Hayes, their leader, is quoted in the Telegraph as saying that the Trust is run by an “out of touch, bourgeois elite” which “bears no relationship to the sentiments of the members.”

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