I left the USSR in the 1980s. I've seen the perils of whitewashing history – even when it's ugly

Millions are not dying in labour camps or civil war in modern Britain, yet worrying echoes of the censorship and groupthink abound. Statues are pulled down and plaques are graffitied by people who will not rest until our public spaces are free of any reference to our complex history. In the eyes of Black Lives Matter protestors, Robert Peel and William Gladstone are no longer reforming liberal premiers, but villains through association with their slave-owning family. The pressure on individuals, organisations and brands to declare their support for a movement that aims to undermine British culture and history has been immense. The removal of potentially offensive episodes of the comedies like Fawlty Towers and Little Britain from streaming platforms also demonstrates the one eternal truth of revolutions – zealots lack a sense of humour. To admit the flaws in our public figures should not cover up the immense contributions people like Churchill and Gladstone have made and I have seen for myself the perils of whitewashing history. I fear that in the breakneck pursuit of equality and justice, some of what made Britain truly great will be lost.