Outside groups pitch alternatives for next £50 note
- Published: Jan 7, 2019, 2 AM
The statement by the Bank of England that a scientist should be featured on the next £50 note has not deterred interest groups from arguing otherwise, with one group starting a campaign for endangered animals, and another asserting that people from ethnic minority backgrounds should be featured.
The animals are an idea proposed by Quick Quid, a well-known online lender in the United Kingdom. A spokesman said: “It’s fine to celebrate the achievements of the past but what about the future that we need to protect? Instead of celebrating great humans that we’ve lost, these banknote concepts honor animals that soon could go extinct in the UK.”
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The firm is working with the marketing agency, NeoMam Studios, to propose a series of bank note concepts that feature eight different species from across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland that are at risk of extinction. Winston Churchill would be replaced by a red squirrel on England’s £5 note, the firm states. A turtle dove would supplant Jane Austen on the £10 note if the recommendations were to be carried out, and a loggerhead turtle would replace J.M.W. Turner on the next £20 note. Instead of a scientist, the new £50 note would have a pine marten, of which less than 3,600 remain in the UK, mostly in Wales.
Multiple media outlets simultaneously reported on a campaign calling for people from ethnic minority backgrounds, who now comprise 14 percent of the population, to be featured on the new £50 note. A letter in The Times from more than 200 Britons, including members of Parliament, argued for the next two people featured on the note to be from an ethnic minority background, since no such individual has yet been so honored. The letter said, “We do not lack candidates, and arguably their achievements were the greater for having been made at a time when many careers were effectively closed to them through colonial rules, racism or the legacy of slavery.”
A recently launched campaign led by political commentator Patrick Vernon and humanitarian Zehra Zaidi, proposed several candidates, including the Crimean War nurse Mary Seacole, who was from Jamaica; the World War II heroine Noor Inayat Khan, a Muslim Indian princess and British agent who was executed at Dachau concentration camp; Nigerian writer and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano (1745 to 1797), who was enslaved as a child in the Caribbean and later Virginia, but was able to buy his freedom and become an icon of the abolitionist movement; and suffragist Sophie Duleep Singh, the daughter of the last maharaja of the Sikh Empire who forsook a life of luxury for her cause.
Zaidi states that the Bank of England inadvertently selected a category for the £50 note that makes it difficult for a person of color to be included. Nominations closed on Dec. 12 with 227,229 nominations, producing 991 people who met the bank’s criteria. A decision will be announced this summer.
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