Bring down racist Clive statue in Shrewsbury Square

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Robert Clive, otherwise known as Clive of India, is celebrated on a plinth in the main square of Shrewsbury, Shropshire. 

But if we are to start to address and destroy everyday racism in the UK today, we must confront the racism this statue embodies and bring it down. 

Clive played a central role in seizing control of a large swathe of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and other parts of Southeast Asia. He was responsible for looting the wealth and resources of those places, and established colonial control by force over millions of people, as a leading agent of the East India Company (EIC).

Clive conspired to secure the EIC's trade interests by overthrowing the Ruler of Bengal, the richest state in India. Back in England, he used his loot from India to amass a huge personal fortune, which made him one of the richest men in Europe, and secure a seat for himself in Parliament representing the Whigs in Shrewsbury, Shropshire.

His actions resulted in the theft of Indian treasures and also in famines caused by policies disastrous to local Indian farm production. The historian William Dalrymple has called Clive an "unstable sociopath" due to these policies and his actions leading to famines and other atrocities towards native populations in Bengal.

During the occupation of Bengal, locals were tortured to disclose their treasures, while cities, towns and villages were ransacked.

We’re not trying to rewrite history, or hold him to a modern, ‘liberal’ worldview. Members of Parliament scrutinised him at the time in Parliament for bribery, and the brutal and corrupt behaviour of some of the EIC’s activity that he was responsible for. 

The founder of modern conservatism, Edmund Burke, was an outspoken critic of the EIC and its actions on the grounds of misrule and corruption.

All we ask now is that the authorities responsible for The Square in Shrewsbury, predominantly Shropshire Council and Shrewsbury Town Council, bring down this celebration to his crimes. 

While this statue is not anti-black racism, it goes some way to illustrate how embedded racism is in the UK. 

This statue commemorates Clive, and by so doing embodies the racist and inhumane nature of his actions. If we are not comfortable with a statue of Joseph Stalin or Genghis Khan, how can we be comfortable with a statue of Clive.

Instead, it could be replaced by notable other Salopians, such as Wilfred Owen or Mary Webb, who do not embody the racist ideals of empire, colonisation and subjugation of races.