Left-wing activists are “jealous” of the Holocaust and want to replace it with slavery, a leading historian has said.
In a speech to the National Conservatism conference in London, David Starkey claimed that groups such as Black Lives Matter were attempting to destroy “white culture” and “do exactly what was done to German culture because of Nazism and the Holocaust”.
He said: “The determination is to replace the Holocaust with slavery. In other words, this is why Jews are under such attack from the left, there’s jealousy, fundamentally. There is jealousy of the moral primacy of the Holocaust and a determination to replace it with slavery.”
The historian’s comments brought swift condemnation, with Daniel Sugarman, public affairs director at the Board of Deputies of British Jews, tweeting that they were “pathetic attempts to drive a wedge between communities” that “will not work”.
Dr Starkey, an expert on Tudor history, has previously been criticised for comments on slavery and the Black Lives Matter movement, including during coverage of the coronation on GB News when he was accused of racism for claiming that Rishi Sunak was “not fully grounded in our culture”.
He later denied his comments were racist, saying he was referring to the prime minister being a “typical international liberal” with no interest in British “values”.
To applause from the audience, he said: “Movements like critical race theory and Black Lives Matter are not what they pretend to be.
“They are attempts at destroying the entire legitimacy of the Western political and cultural tradition.
“The idea that they are there to defend black lives is a preposterous notion. They do not care about black lives, they only care about the symbolic destruction of white culture. We have to be absolutely clear about this.”
He added: “The narrative of Black Lives Matter is that Western culture and Anglo-American culture in particular are fundamentally morally defective, they are characterised by the mark of Cain and their strategy is to do exactly what was done to German culture because of Nazism and the Holocaust.”
“He wouldn’t agree with those comments but … with regard to the specific ministerial attendance, that would be a matter for them,” a No 10 spokesman said.
Joe Mulhall, director of research at anti-racism campaign group Hope Not Hate, said: “The National Conservatism conference has played host to a number of speakers who have made far right comments this week.
“David Starkey has a long history of reactionary and racist statements, his comments about the Holocaust and Black Lives Matter are ignorant and offensive.
“Starkey should stick to commenting on the historical periods he’s researched.
“This is an organisation willing to host Viktor Orban and Georgia Meloni and other far-right European politicians on their platform.”
During the conference’s morning session, the audience also heard from Nigel Biggar, a professor emeritus of theology at the University of Oxford, who argued that the British Empire had a “mixed” moral record and denied there was any reason to pay reparations to former colonies.
He said: “As a Christian, Burkean conservative I don’t expect perfection in any human affairs. Those who rule, just like those who are ruled, are creatures and sinners, finite and flawed.
“Even as I recognise the duty to repent and improve, I expect even the noblest of human efforts to be marred by limited power, moral obtuseness and culpable failure.
“And so I fear, indeed I loathe, the unforgiving, inhumane impatience of utopian perfectionists, whether they are Maoists or agents of Islamic State or progressive twittering social justice warriors.”
He added: “Much of what our forebears achieved was extraordinary. We need to remember it, we need to admire it, we need to conserve it, and we need to build on it.”
Prof Biggar also criticised Scottish nationalism as based on a false “Braveheart” version of history.
He said: “When too many Scots, in my view, align themselves with Scottish independence they do it, most of them, not because they’ve analysed policies.
“They do it in large part because they inhabit imaginatively a vision of the past that is false, a Braveheart past that excites unjustified nationalist indignation and resentment against the English and against Britain today.”