The SNP has been accused of “denigrating” Scottish history after it announced plans to create a museum dedicated to highlighting the country’s role in empire, colonialism and historic slavery.
The SNP Government took the decision to commission the museum after a report from the Empire, Slavery and Scotland’s Museums steering group in 2022 made six recommendations.
One of these recommendations included the suggestion of putting £6 million towards a potential museum. But due to the tight SNP budget, the government decided to put just £200,000 towards the project.
Academic Dr Stuart Waiton claimed that the Scottish government is taking a “warped approach” which is “unbalanced”. But the group has said Scotland cannot “expect to resolve the racial inequalities that persist today without a better understanding of the history which brought us to this point.”
The SNP has been criticised for plans to spend £200,000 on a museum to highlight colonialism and slavery
A report from the Empire, Slavery and Scotland’s Museums steering group in 2022 made six recommendations
Edinburgh and Lothians Regional Equality Council
Waiton said: “The Scottish Government I imagine are only interested in denigrating Scottish history because the trend at the minute appears to be to try and find everything negative about the past and then to educate the public about this.
“For example, the Scottish Enlightenment is or at least has been understood to be one of the great world developments or achievements in history. Whereas today we’re more likely to hear about people like David Hume as being racist because of a few footnotes, written at a time when the world was very different.
“So unfortunately and depressingly this just seems to fit the mould of the people who run things in Scotland who have adopted to some extent what is called critical race theory where everything associated with being white is seen as negative and degraded.”
Jatin Haria, elected chair of the steering group and executive director at the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights, said: “We welcome the Scottish Government’s acceptance of all six of our recommendations, as well as the acknowledgement of all the previous work that has got us to where we are today.
“The Steering Group is determined to work with the wider museum sector to bring the recommendations to fruition.
“We understand that finances are tight, and although more will be needed, the money that the Scottish Government has committed will be useful to kick start a long-term process that will finally allow Scotland to properly tell its story of involvement in empire, slavery and colonialism in a coherent way.
“We can’t expect to resolve the racial inequalities that persist today without a better understanding of the history which brought us to this point.”
Culture minister Christina McKelvie said: “I warmly welcome the steering group’s report and recommendations”
Culture minister Christina McKelvie said: “I warmly welcome the steering group’s report and recommendations, which we have considered very carefully. Following in-depth discussion with the steering group, I am pleased to confirm the Scottish government fully accepts all six recommendations, including the creation of a dedicated space to address Scotland’s role in empire, colonialism and historic slavery.
“While budgetary pressures mean we are not currently able to commit to the group’s suggestion of £5 million for this work, the Scottish government has provided funding of £200,000 in 2023/24 to enable the steering group and Museums Galleries Scotland to begin work addressing the recommendations, including scoping out the format of a new organisation to progress the creation of a dedicated space and national guidance around the repatriation of objects from Scottish institutions.”