The historian and broadcaster David Starkey has been widely criticised after claiming that slavery was not genocide because of the survival of “so many damn blacks”.
The former chancellor Sajid Javid joined in the condemnation of Starkey’s remarks, made on an online show hosted by the rightwing commentator Darren Grimes.
Discussing the debate surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement, Starkey told Grimes: “Slavery was not genocide, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain would there? You know, an awful lot of them survived.”
Javid, who ran for the Conservative party leadership last year, has long defended Britain’s record on race but was nevertheless moved to criticise Starkey.
“We are the most successful multi-racial democracy in the world and have much to be proud of,” he tweeted. “But David Starkey’s racist comments (‘so many damn blacks’) are a reminder of the appalling views that still exist.”
Afzal Khan, the Labour MP for Manchester Gorton, described the remarks as “utterly atrocious”, while the Conservative MP for Wealden, Nus Ghani, said they showed “how much more there is to do [to tackle racism]”.
The broadcaster and historian David Olusoga said: “This is truly disgusting. And by the same ridiculous, twisted logic the Holocaust would not be counted as a genocide.”
The Liberal Democrats’ candidate for London mayor, Siobhan Benita, said: “Time and time again, black Britons have to fight to be heard or fairly represented. Yet people like David Starkey are freely given platforms to spew their racists views. It’s not OK. It has to stop.”
Nicholas Guyatt, who teaches history at Cambridge University, tweeted: “Can’t speak for my employer but as someone who teaches history at Cambridge I’m ashamed of our connections with David Starkey.” Guyatt urged the university and Fitzwilliam College to cut all remaining ties with Starkey.
Starkey, a Fitzwilliam alumnus, was dropped from a fundraising campaign for the college in 2015 after complaints from staff and students that he was “aggressively racist”.
The college issued a statement on Thursday saying Starkey’s honorary fellowship would be considered at a meeting of its governing body next Wednesday. “We support and promote freedom of speech in our academic community, but we have zero tolerance of racism. Dr David Starkey’s recent comments on slavery are indefensible.”
Appearing on BBC Newsnight after the summer riots of 2011, Starkey said: “A substantial amount of the chavs have become black. The whites have become black; a particular sort of violent destructive, nihilistic gangster culture has become the fashion.”
He also gave an interview to the Telegraph in which he said statistics “appeared” to show a black propensity to violence.
In a reference to the removal of old comedies from streaming platforms because of racism, the comedian, Omid Djalili, said: “The good news for David Starkey is you can still watch his stuff on the BBC - lucky for him that he’s not a comedian.”
Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive of Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said: “To suggest a genocide did not take place because some of those who were persecuted survived is dangerous, damaging and completely reprehensible. His words are abhorrent, and as an historian with a considerable platform and following, David Starkey’s irresponsible and racist views should be widely condemned.”