David Starkey says losing his honorary university titles was an act of ‘crass vengeance’

David Starkey says losing his honorary university titles was an act of ‘crass vengeance’

David Starkey has claimed that universities dropping his honorary titles after he made controversial comments about slavery last year was an act of “crass vengeance”.

In a GB News interview with Nigel Farage, the controversial historian discussed his ‘cancellation’, in which he lost a book contract with HarperCollins and positions at two universities after making widely condemned comments last year, and said he didn’t want to be seen as a “victim”.

Speaking to right-wing commentator Darren Grimes last summer at the height of conversations about statues, the educational curriculum and the Black Lives Matter movement, he had attracted criticism when he said: “Slavery was not genocide, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain would there? An awful lot of them survived.”

He also claimed that the Black Lives Matter protests, following the death of George Floyd, had been characterised by “violence”, “victimhood” and the “deranged” pulling down of statues.

Sajid Javid condemned the comments as racist and “a reminder of the appalling views that still exist” in Britain, and a spokesperson for HarperCollins said they were “abhorrent.” Meanwhile, Starkey lost his honorary fellowship at Fitzwilliam College at Cambridge and Canterbury Christ Church University also terminated Starkey’s role as visiting professor.

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Speaking to Farage on Thursday night, Starkey admitted that his comments were “stupid”. But he slammed the universities for their decisions.

“The university appointments were merely honorary,” he said.

“If it can be taken away for a single word, what is the value of it? They are worthless.

“I learnt that the people conferring those distinctions have no right to do so. They represent nothing. If something that is supposedly given to you because you are a distinguished historian is taken away because of a single slip of the tongue, that is not justice, that is not reason, that is not the proper correction of behaviour, it is mere crass vengeance.

At the time a statement from Fitzwilliam College at Cambridge has said: “The Master has accepted Dr David Starkey’s resignation of his honorary fellowship with immediate effect.

“Fitzwilliam prides itself in leading the way in Cambridge in opening access to higher education for under-represented groups. Our student and academic bodies are diverse and welcoming to all. We do not tolerate racism.”

Meanwhile, Canterbury Christ Church University said his comments were “completely unacceptable”.

In a statement issued at the time Starkey apologised for his comments.

He said: “It was intended to emphasise, in hindsight with awful clumsiness, the numbers who survived the horrors of the slave trade. Instead, it came across as a term of racial abuse.

“This, in the present atmosphere, where passions are high and feelings raw, was deplorably inflammatory. It was a bad mistake.”

He added: “I am very sorry for it and I apologise unreservedly for the offence it caused.

“Moreover, this misunderstanding of my words in no way reflects my views or practice on race.

“I have lived and worked happily and without conflict in multicultural London for almost 50 years and I spent much of the podcast discussing bi-culturalism as a key to the success of Britain’s multicultural society.”

But to Farage last night, Starkey added that he did not respect the universities.

“I don’t respect them I treat them with the most absolute disdain and contempt,” he said.

“They are not worthy of shining my shoe that and I’m wearing suede.”

Seems like the universities are still firmly off Starkey’s Christmas card list, then.

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