Reality of British empire should be taught in schools – Corbyn

Party leader Jeremy Corbyn © Toby Melville
British children should be taught about the violent expansionist excesses of British imperialism, according Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn told young Labour supporters on Monday that the national curriculum should include lessons on how the British Empire expanded “at the expense of people.

Perhaps we could do a little bit more about how history is taught in our schools,” said Corbyn, who is a lifelong anti-imperialist and peace campaigner.

He said that while “the history of European expansion is important” there are “two other things that need to be added to that.

One is the expansion of one empire at the expense of people where that empire is expanding. You need to get the story from the people where that empire is expanding into rather than those that came there to take control of it.

In July, Indian politician Shashi Tharoor made a passionate speech at the University of Oxford claiming his country was entitled to financial compensation after centuries of exploitation and foreign rule.

The video of Tharoor’s speech was viewed more than 1.5 million times on YouTube and reported on in the Indian press.

Britain’s rise for 200 years was financed by its depredations in India. We paid for our own oppression. It’s a bit rich to oppress, maim, kill, torture and repress and then celebrate democracy at the end of it,” Tharoor said in the debate.

READ MORE: Modi backs call for UK to pay India reparations for colonial-era damage 

He further said Indians had “paid for [their] own oppression” by buying British goods, arguing that by the turn of the 20th century they were the biggest buyers of British products in the world.

Corbyn also said young people should be taught about the history of trade unions and their contribution to modern Britain.