Robert Jenrick, planning permission and statues

Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick understands his responsibilities to oiling the Tory corruption machine.  In 2020 Tory supporter and former owner of the Express newspaper Richard Desmond saved £45,000,000 by avoiding Tower Hamlets council’s Community Infrastructure Levy because Jenrick fast-tracked Desmond’s planning application for property development on the Isle Of Dogs; the planning permission was granted by Jenrick just twenty-four hours before the levy was applicable.  Two weeks later Desmond made a £12,000 donation to the Tory party.  When exposed, Jenrick reversed his decision but tried to hide any documentation or details of communication about the corruption.  He was forced to release the details.

(Update: On March 17th 2021, two days after Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government approved a planning decision in favour of Bloor Homes to build hundreds of homes on rural land in Hertfordshire, Bloor donated £150,000 to the Tory party.)

A few months before 2019 general election Jenrick ensured the Towns Fund was allocated to marginal constituencies and to predominantly Leave-voting areas as a bribe to voters.  His own constituency received money from the Towns Fund.

In January 2021, via a salaried article in tax-dodging Telegraph newspaper, Jenrick stated the government’s intent to protect outdoor statues.  Over the last year statues in public places of racists, colonialists, imperialists and slave traders were defaced, damaged, toppled and, in the case of Edward Colston, thrown into the river.  Destruction of statues is driven by similar but opposite intent as erection of statues.  In any epoch, prevailing political philosophy demands either the construction of an idol of (usually) an historical figure symbolising victory or dominance or its destruction to indicate rejection of the subject of the idol’s symbolism.  Coherent anti-racism in Britain in 2020 encouraged direct confrontation with symbolism of many existing statues. 

Edward Colston in the river

Jenrick’s piece in the Telegraph was worthy of a Guido or Breitbart commentary or a UKIP press release.  Screaming extreme-right Gits such as Laurence Fox, Darren Grimes or Julia Hartley-Brewer would be proud to have written it.  His second sentence included a Soviet Union reference; his argument descended intellectually from that point. 

He lied about who, in previous centuries, decided to erect political statues – he said they were “erected by public subscription.”  Non-political statues were often erected in response to public demand, but almost all political statues in Britain were built and placed in public locations by governments or councils.

Jenrick claimed “previous generations” had “different understandings of right and wrong.”  The erectors of statues of mass-murdering racists and colonialists knew the objects of their idolisation were genocidal criminals with no regard for human life.  Governments, councils and business societies who commissioned statues such as that of slave trader Colston were fully aware that what his type did was “wrong.”  Equally, opposition to the people being honoured with a statue and to the erection of their statue was driven by similar anti-racist, anti-imperialist and humane philosophy as today.  Jenrick’s “previous generations,” on boths sides of the political divide, understood what was “right” and what was “wrong.”  Jenrick’s epoch-dependent claim typified conservative excuses for tolerance of prejudice and racism. 

It is illegal to vandalise, damage, remove or destroy a statue whether the statue is publicly owned or privately owned.  Prosecutions are in progress (January 2021) regarding the dumping of Colston’s statue in the river Avon in Bristol.  That is, laws exist to deal with direct action against statues.  Jenrick’s proposed change to the law would prevent elected councils from making decisions on whether any statue should be removed from public view.  He wants councils to seek planning permission to remove a publicly-owned statue from a public place.  By imposing the requirement for planning permission the government will be able to override any decision by a council.  Jenrick’s record revealed he is the last person to be trusted on assessment of planning decisions.

Jenrick wrote lazy abusive terminology as an alternative to considered argument.  His opponents were called a “flash mob,” “town hall militants,” “a baying mob” and “woke worthies.”  On the other hand, centuries of colonialist destruction and mass murder were dismissed as a “deep, rich, fascinating and yes, often complex, past” and “uniquely rich history.”  Statues of perpetrators were described as “historic monuments” and “heritage assets.”

A deceptive theme Jenrick used was a deliberately false argument that removing statues hides history: “We should not try to edit or censor our past” and “we won’t allow people to censor our past or pretend we have a different history to the one we have.”  He pretended he was concerned about erasure of knowledge of bad British history and claimed removal of statues (and re-naming of buildings and streets) would assist that erasure.  “[Removal of statues would] distort our past rather than educate, inform and unite people.”  The hollowness of the veracity of his argument was obvious.

Jenrick doesn’t care about statues.  His announcement of action to combat automatonophobia was partly to indulge in the basest mode of pseudo-patriotic claptrap as a tool of division and partly to usurp the authority of elected councils as well as general time-wasting of news space to lessen coverage of Tories’ dual calamities of Brexit and Covid-19 pandemic management.  He is another performing clown and is as corrupt as he can get away with.  He is crass.

Recommended reading
Gillian Darley
Dr. Charlotte Lydia Ridley

Related blog
Edward Colston dumped in the river

Robert Jenrick, planning permission and statues

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