Labour MP Claudia Webbe ridiculed online after claim about ‘hidden’ 1884 map of African colonies
A suspended Labour MP has been left red-faced after claiming a map of colonial Africa ‘has been hidden from you all your life’ – despite it being taught in schools.
Claudia Webbe triggered a Twitter storm when she posted a shot of the continent carved up between European empires in the 19th century.
The Leicester East MP, who is due to face trial for allegedly threatening a woman, claimed people had never been shown the image.
But social media users slammed the ‘ignorant’ tweet, pointing out the scramble for Africa is taught in secondary schools at Key Stage Three.
In the 18th and 19th century European nations vied for strategic superiority on the continent by invading as fast as they could.
Britain and France quickly became the two main players in the race to conquer the area.
France seized most of West and northern Africa, with British enclaves carved out in Nigeria and Egypt.
Britain’s influence spanned from the Mediterranean to the Cape in South Africa with the acquisition of Sudan, Kenya and Tanzania.
Other powers included Belgium, which took the Belgian Congo in the centre of the continent, and Germany which had colonies in the east and west.
Claudia Webbe triggered a Twitter storm when she posted a shot of the continent carved up between European empires in the 19th century
Ms Webbe entered the House of Commons in December 2019 and was a supporter of former leader Jeremy Corbyn (pictured together)
Claudia Webbe: 2019-intake Corbynite who slammed her phone on the floor of the Commons when it started ringing
Claudia Webbe hit the headlines in July when she threw her mobile phone to the floor of the House of Commons in frustration after it started ringing while she was speaking. The De Montfort University graduate entered the Commons after the December 2019 general election, winning the seat formerly held by Keith Vaz.
Labour veteran Mr Vaz retired from Parliament in the wake of a scandal after receiving a six-month Commons suspension for causing ‘significant damage’ to the reputation of the House. This came after the standards committee found he expressed a willingness to purchase cocaine for others during an encounter with male sex workers.
Webbe won the constituency with a majority over the Conservatives of 6,019, down from Mr Vaz’s majority of 22,428 in 2017. She is on the left of the party and has been a vocal supporter of former leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Before Leicester, she was a councillor in Islington, North London, between 2010 and 2018 and was a member of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee. Earlier in her career, she was a political adviser to then-London mayor Ken Livingstone. She was suspended by Labour in September over her trial.
Ms Webbe had last night shared the map of African colonies after the Berlin Conference in 1884.
She wrote: ‘This map has been hidden from you all your life. This is how they carved up Africa.’
Ms Webbe was quickly corrected for her ‘uneducated’ comments, with historians and politicians weighing in.
Dr Katherine Schofield, a historian at King’s College London, wrote: ‘If you didn’t do colonialism in Africa directly, surely you studied the ”scramble for Africa” when you studied the causes of WWI? We did.’
King’s College London classics PhD student David Wilson put: ‘Claudia Webbe, once a really dreadful councillor at @IslingtonBC, now crashes on idiotically.’
He added: ‘We were all taught about the ”scramble for Africa”. As ever, she wasn’t listening.’
Coronation Street actor Charlie Lawson posted: ‘Wasn’t hidden from me. We studied history.’
Tory MP Ben Bradley said: ‘Hidden away, seen by nobody, deep in the pages on the National Curriculum for Key Stage 3 – taught in basically every secondary school in the land.’
Oxford-educated Dr Chris Parry, a former Royal Navy Rear Admiral, wrote: ‘Not hidden from me. I had an education, for which I am grateful.’
Sharing a map of Britain, he added: ‘By the way, this is how the Angles, Jutes and Saxons carved up this country. What’s your point?’
Save Our Status, a Twitter page dedicated to defending monuments, commented: ‘We keep hearing of ”hidden history” from those who want to plaster our statues with propaganda plaques.
‘So next time you hear that, just remember this ridiculous tweet. There’s no such thing as ”hidden history”, just ignorance.’
In Key Stage Three the National Curriculum teaches students about the colonisation of the continent.
Chapter 4 of The Victorian Empire by Collins focuses on The Scramble for Africa between 1876 and 1914.
In the teachers’ guide to the book, it says students should ‘study a map of Africa in 1900, with all of the different European possessions shaded and labelled’.
It adds: ‘Onto this map, pupils could label information about the different stages of European colonisation.
‘Gaining Cape Colony in 1814; invading Egypt in 1882; colonising parts of western Africa through the United African Company, and parts of eastern Africa through the Imperial British East Africa Company, and so on.’
Chapter 4 of The Victorian Empire by Collins focuses on The Scramble for Africa
Britain fought several costly wars to ensure predominance in the continent, including the famous Anglo-Zulu war of 1879.
With the development of the machine gun, among other military innovations, colonising powers were easily able to take over.
In a single day’s battle for Sudan, 10,800 Sudanese were killed, compared with 48 British soldiers.
British rule in Africa continued for over a hundred years, mostly by using ‘indirect’ puppet governments to put down rebellions.
Ms Webbe was due to stand trial on March 16 amid allegations she harassed a woman.
The 56-year-old was accused of making a series of phone calls to Michelle Merritt and threatening her on two occasions between September 2018 and April last year.
The prosecution alleges that Ms Webbe made numerous unwanted telephone calls to Ms Merritt and made threats on at least two occasions.
Ms Webbe, who lives in Islington, north London, acknowledges calls were made but disputes the content.
She pleaded not guilty to one charge of harassment in November last year.