Skip to main content

Ethics and Empire: Further Developments

Thursday, 4 January 2018 - 10:00am

Following Nigel Biggar's extended response in The Times to the Open Letter criticising the "Ethics and Empire" project,  a number of influential figures have emerged to express their support for his proposed reappraisal of Britain's colonial legacy.  On 27 December, the former chair of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips, wrote a letter to The Times sharply criticising the claim that Prof. Biggar was asking 'the wrong questions, using the wrong terms.'  The letter formed the basis of a front-page article in that day's edition and was also discussed in articles featured in The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Mail

The following day's edition of The Times featured further support in the letters column from Dr. Alexander Morrison, a historian of empire and of colonial warfare and Tutorial Fellow in History at New College, Oxford, and Prof. Gillian Evans, Emeritus Professor of Medieval Theology and Intellectual History at the University of Cambridge.  The controversy was also discussed in an op-ed essay for The Daily Telegraph by the Conservative MEP, Daniel Hannan, and in an essay for The Daily Mail by the British businessman, Dr. Karter Lalvani. 

More recently, Dr James McDougall, Fellow and Tutor in Modern History at Trinity College, Oxford, and one of the organisers of the Open Letter, published an article in The Guardian developing some of its points.  The article was followed by an op-ed piece in The Guardian by one of its columnists, Ian Jack.  Finally, The Church Times published a comment piece by the Anglican priest and spiritual writer, Angela Tilby, which concluded by briefly considering the question of empire in the context of the New Testament, while Prof. Bernard Porter, a prolific historian of the British Empire and self-described 'socialist and active anti-imperial campaigner', contributed his thoughts on the controversy in a post on his personal blog.