BRIDGWATER'S MP has criticised Avon and Somerset Police for 'standing by and doing nothing' as a statue of Edward Colston was torn down by Black Lives Matter protestors in Bristol on Saturday (June 6).

MP Ian Liddell-Grainger says while he hates the idea of slavery, the incident was still an act of vandalism and as such the minority of perpetrators deserve to be prosecuted.

He argues that there are better ways to protest racism, particularly during a global pandemic.

"Racism is illegal. So is criminal damage. Had he been alive today Edward Colston, Bristol’s infamous slave trader, would have been locked up," Mr Liddell-Grainger said.

"But knocking over his statue and chucking it in the river was an act of unnecessary, unlawful protest. Why did the police stand by and do nothing?"

The Conservative MP said he had already received dozens of letters and emails from his constituents on the matter.

"Nobody wants to see heavy-handed policing. But when peaceful protest becomes vandalism, the minority of perpetrators deserve to be prosecuted," Mr Liddell-Grainger said.

"Imagine an angry crowd in Bridgwater venting their fury on Admiral Blake.

"Blake worked for Oliver Cromwell and may have been an accessory to the slave traffic by fighting to secure trade routes at sea.

"He is still regarded as Father of the Royal Navy, and went on to become Bridgwater’s MP, but I’m quite sure some mindless nutcase would push him off his pedestal if they thought they could get away with it."

Mr Liddell-Grainger said similar arguments could made regarding the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who is renowned after writing some of his best known works in the area.

"What about Samuel Taylor Coleridge? On the quay at Watchet there is a fine statue of this famous English poet whose best-known work, the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, describes in horrific detail diseases which were rife on slave trade ships," Mr Liddell-Grainger said.

"Should his effigy meet the same fate at the hands of a mob?

"Our nation’s history was not always glorious. But life in 17th century Britain is not life today.

"I hate the very idea of slavery, I understand why people want to protest. But there are other ways, quieter ways, safer ways of registering opinion especially during a global pandemic.

"Racism kills. So does Covid 19. I hope all protestors stay safe and did not carry the silent killer home to vulnerable relatives.

"Surely no cause is greater than protecting life."