HENRY Schneider, one of the people who helped make Barrow-in-Furness what it is today, was twice an MP.

While representing Lancaster he was disqualified after he was found to have bribed voters in return for their support. His statue sits proudly in Schneider Square at the centre of Barrow.

I make this point to highlight that people are complicated and can be both heroes and villains to different people, and at different points in their lives.

Henry Schneider was an inspirational figure. He was also a cheat.

It is possible to be both, and for your life to be considered, remembered, and learned from.

Winston Churchill was voted the ‘greatest Briton’ in 2002, taking the crown by some large margin. A man of sometimes violent contrasts, he captured the British spirit when it was at its lowest and guided our nation through the Second World War, defeating apathy, the Nazis and preventing our enslavement while doing so.

Each of us owe our lives and freedom to him in a very real way.

This weekend, his statue in Parliament Square was boxed up from a braying mob whose intent was to capitalise on a legitimate protest and turn it violent.

The image of that indomitable man being encased in plywood to protect against the worst thugs in our society is sobering.

Quite rightly, the Black Lives Matters protestors pulled their demonstration when Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (again using his stage name of Tommy Robinson) called on his supporters to head to the capital.

I write this on Saturday and the TV is currently showing scenes of far-right thugs chucking broken bottles and bricks at the police.

As is often the case, a legitimate protest has been diverted by those with vested interests.

Far from being about the legitimate grievances of black citizens tired of injustice, the debate has turned into one about our history, and been hijacked by those who just want to fight.

Re-writing history is dangerous and wrong-headed. Currently under attack is seemingly anyone who has the audacity to not live up to 21st century values, despite many of those facing criticism having not been born into them by several hundred years.

I’d suggest that when the Scout movement - which has done far more in Furness than many organisations to transform the lives of thousands of young people - is under attack, we have moved from rational arguments to the unthinking settling of grudges.

This all began with a statue of Edward Colston being pulled down in Bristol.

I have no desire to see statues of slavers at the centre of our towns and cities, but nor should we allow mobs to tear them down.

There is a stark difference between the tearing down of a dictator’s statue when they are overthrown, and how a thriving democracy under the rule of law should consider and handle issues like this.

There should be local conversations about what to do about statues of controversial figures rather than mob rule.

We may not like some of our past, but it stands as a reminder of who we were, and who we are now.

A culture that loses sight of that is poorer for it.

Sometimes we have to look backwards to go forwards.

We should learn from our past, not hide from it.

The challenges of the future require it, otherwise we will be damned to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.