A decorated army veteran, who led British troops in Afghanistan, has labelled singer Lily Allen as an “ill-informed virtue signaller” after she took a public stance against the Transport for London staff.
She’s not been shy of getting herself in the headlines recently, and the singer has done so again, this time as she shared a video of a worker wiping off a Tube station message detailing the battle of Rorke’s Drift.
The board, which was situated at Dorris Hill Underground station in Brent, West London, had an “on this day in history” message on it, which highlighted the battle of Rorke’s Drift, in which 150 British and colonial troops defended their position against 4,000 Zulu warriors.
But her tweet prompted a furious backlash from retired Colonel Richard Kemp who hit back as he said: “Maybe she should head to South Africa & tear down the Rorke’s Drift Museum.”
On January 11th 1879, a British force that was commanded by Lieutenant-General Lord Chelmsford invaded Zululand, and from 22nd to the 23rd of January, on the bank of the Buffalo River in Natal Province, South Africa, a 150-strong British garrison successfully defended the Rorke’s Drift mission station from 4,000 Zulu warriors, who were commanded by Prince Dabulamanzi kaMapande.
For 12 hours, the British and colonial soldiers defended their position against fearsome Zulu warriors that were well adept at hand-to-hand combat and long range attacks with spears.
However the Zulus were eventually left with no choice other than to retreat from the battle, with 350 of their numbers killed – and only 17 of the British and colonial troops losing their lives.
The defensive British force was rewarded by Queen Victoria’s government with no fewer than 11 Victoria Crosses.
The battle was part of the wider Anglo-Zulu war took place during 1879.
The message on the TfL board read: “On this day in history: On the 22-23 of January 1879 in Natal South Africa, a small British garrison named Rorke’s Drift was attack [sic] by 4,000 Zulu warriors.
“The garrison was successfully defended by just over 150 British and colonial troops. Following the battle, eleven men were awarded the Victoria Cross.”
The 32-year-old millionaire singer shared a video of a member of staff wiping the sign off the board, alongside the caption: “too right.”
In the background of the video a woman’s voice can be heard saying: “That [the notice board] is supposed to be for uplifting comments, not for celebrating colonialism, so I’m glad you’re wiping it off.”
However, Colonel Richard Kemp, a former senior Army officer who served in Northern Ireland, Iraq, the Balkans and Afghanistan, hit back saying at Allen, saying: “I have no idea who “Lily Allen” is but quite clearly she is an ill-informed virtue signaller.
“It is quite right that we remember the heroic actions of our soldiers in history. Maybe she should head to South Africa & tear down the Rorke’s Drift Museum.”
A Twitter user also got involved in the argument, as many on social media were quick to slam her comments, saying: “Get over yourself……that wasn’t celebrating anything just relaying factual history.
“Also that serves as a great metaphor….you would like to see history erased and never discused, educate…don’t deny. [sic]”
TfL later apologised for what it called a “clearly ill-judged”’ tweet, as they added: “We are speaking with our staff to remind them of what is and isn’t acceptable.”
But a tube worker who wrote the message on the board spoke to the Telegraph regarding Lily Allen’s comments about the message and said: “It was only fact, it was just what had happened. There was no opinion in there, so when someone said they weren’t happy with it, in line with what TFL tell us to do if someone complains and that we should avoid a conflict situation I just wiped it off.
“People had been going through all day taking pictures of it and no one had complained, not one person said anything about it for hours – it had been up since 7am and it was after lunch that this one person said something.
“I’ve got quite an interest in military history and the battle of Rorke’s Drift is quite an important day in British military history so I put it up there.
“I think I will keep doing historical quotes even though this happened. I never meant to offend anyone but I thought people might be interested that’s all.
“But everyone uses the underground system and it’s quite easy to offend anybody really so if someone’s got their own opinion on it, it wasn’t my intention to put it up there promoting anything apart from commemorating 150 brave men who stood against 4,000.”
Allen hasn’t been shy when it comes to wading in on social media debates regarding the issues of the day, as recently the singer sparked anger and controversy when she suggested that the victims of grooming gangs would have been “raped or abused by somebody else at some point”.
The singer’s comments came after one of her followers quizzed her about gangs of British South Asian Muslim men that were charged with grooming underage girls, asking if the victims would have been raped “if the attackers had not been allowed into the UK”.
She replied: “Actually, there’s a strong possibility they would have been raped and abused by somebody else at some point.
“That’s kind of the issue.”
Only a few hours later, on the 9th of January, she then got involved in a row over sexism and equal pay for women when she said that women should in fact be paid more than men because of, what she said, was a “shelf life” of women on television, and that it is shorter than their male counterparts.
She tweeted: “Women working on screen sadly have a shelf life not dissimilar to that of a premiership footballers (happy to be proven wrong) till that changes, their pay should reflect that.
“They should get more than their male counterparts, or men should get less than them, rather.”
Last week the singer had to issue an apology for spreading a piece of fake news about cabinet ministers indulging in a hefty and lavish lunch at the same time as the Monarch Airline collapse.
The singer tweeted a picture of the former chancellor George Osbourne dining alongside transport secretary Chris Grayling at the exclusive Ivy restaurant which is situated in Central London.
She wrote: “#tbt to when I saw Chris Grayling and Osborne having lunch at the Ivy on the day Monarch went under. #Carrillion #ladddida.”
However, Mr Grayling was not in London that day and was in fact visiting Monarch customers at Manchester Airport.