STUDENTS at the University of Liverpool will hold a referendum on removing four-time British Prime Minister William Gladstone from a halls of residence building.
Last week it was revealed that a group of students had started a campaign to rename the Roscoe and Gladstone Halls as they felt the Prime Minister’s name was tarnished by his alleged association with slavery.
The group accused Gladstone, who lived in Hawarden from 1849 until his death in 1898, of having a ‘racially marred legacy’, due to his failure to support the abolition of slavery and his campaign to win slave owners, including his father, compensation after the bill was passed.
With the halls currently being redeveloped, the students have suggested the building be renamed after university alumni such as poet Carol Ann Duffy or newsreader Jon Snow or that Gladstone’s name is dropped and only that of abolitionist William Roscoe is retained.
Now the Liverpool Guild of Students has agreed to hold a so-called ‘preferendum’, an online vote where people can vote on three or more possibilities.
All students can get involved but at least three per cent of University of Liverpool students must vote in order for the preferendum result to be valid.
Sean Turner, president of Liverpool Guild of Students, said: “A student recently made a suggestion that the Guild of Students should lobby the University to change the name of the Roscoe and Gladstone Halls of Residence.
“This suggestion was discussed at Guild Summit – a meeting made up of randomly selected and demographically representative students – and a consensus decision was made to hold an online preferendum.
“This decision will give the whole student body an opportunity to play an active role in deciding the outcome.
“The date of the preferendum will be decided in due course, and following this, the Guild will agree a plan of action around the preferred outcome students voted for.”
Gladstone’s great-great grandson, Charlie Gladstone, who still lives at Hawarden Castle, said the four-time Prime Minister was ‘against slavery’.
Peter Francis, warden of Gladstone Library in Hawarden, said Gladstone ‘never defended or supported slavery itself’ having told the House of Commons that the slave trade was ‘by far the foulest crime that taints the history of mankind in any Christian or pagan country’.
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