THE toppling of a statue might raise a cheer among the crowd but the instigators should be aware of the likely consequence. Such joyous iconoclasm can lead to a false sense that the problem of racism, or colonialism, or whatever has been solved, whereas in fact it can only be exacerbated, because such action hardens existing attitudes and risks alienating previously neutral observers who see these acts a mere vandalism. The result is even deeper polarisation of society.

Some have suggested relocating statues to museums. The problem with that is relatively few people visit museums. If we are to learn anything from these monuments we need to know much more about the persons depicted.

So in the interest of better understanding, let the statues remain in place, with information boards at the foot telling the story of the subject as well as the context of the statue’s erection in an unbiased way, so we can all make informed judgements.

Better that a statue be revealed as a shameful icon than erased from the historical record.

Paul Spence, Brancepeth.