Monday 1 November 2021


Gerald Jones and Cuthbert Taylor

A Labour MP Gerald Jones has got behind a historical virtue signal from South Wales.  The frontbencher represents Merthyr Tydfil and has backed a call for a formal apology and Commons debate over something that happened almost one hundred years ago.

Merthyr-born boxer Cuthbert Taylor competed for Great Britain at the 1928 Olympics and turned professional later that same year.  However, due to his mixed racial heritage Taylor was barred from competing for British titles.  This 'colour bar' was abolished in 1948, by which time Taylor had retired.

As part of Black History Month a plaque was unveiled in Merthyr at the site where Taylor trained.  Jones himself did the unveiling and is named on the plaque, but unlike traditional plaques and memorials there is no mention of Mr Taylor's birth or death.  In fact the plaque is dedicated purely to the historical wrong.

For the record, Taylor was born in 1909 and died in 1977.  He was not black, as can clearly be seen from the photo at the top of this article.  However, as his father was of Jamaican descent this was enough to exclude Cuthbert under the colour bar.

By the virtues of 21st century equality this was, of course, a hideous policy.  But we cannot simply judge history by today's standards.  Where does this end?  The absurdity of it all was highlighted by several Twitter users in response to Jones, including the following comment: "My Aunt Fanny wasn’t allowed to vote in 1910 as she was female - I haven’t seen anyone apologising to her".  Of course Aunt Fanny passed away a long time ago.  What good is an apology to the dead from people who were not personally responsible for the policy anyway?

No-one alive today implemented the colour bar policy and everyone affected by it is long gone.  Likewise, there are no slaves or slave-makers still walking our streets and yet the likes of Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Dawn Butler and co are demanding 'reparations'.  For who?

It's called history for a reason.  Move on.