Restore Trust has slammed the NT’s use of the Quick Vote system as “anti-democratic” and has warned like-minded members not to use it.
The group has found five distinguished and knowledgeable candidates willing to rebel against the Trust’s identity politics and stand for election.
But the protest group’s leader Dr Cornelia van der Poll, an Oxford University lecturer in ancient Greek, has said the NT’s Quick Vote system, which allows block voting in favour of candidates recommended by the Trust, is fixed in favour of those compliant to its progressive views.
It comes amid concerns at the direction taken by the NT, including a 2021 dossier of 93 sites linked to “colonialism and slavery” including Winston Churchill’s Kent home Chartwell. There was also criticism of volunteers having to wear Pride badges and a Colonial Countryside project that encouraged children to write poems attacking NT properties’ former owners.
Dr Van der Poll, 49, said: “I’ve been a member for 26 years and am increasingly alarmed at how the leadership at the NT has lost confidence in its original mission. It is no longer interested in our national heritage, it appears to want to be a political party.
“It is using history as a weapon.”
She claimed specialist curators have been replaced by “people who have the title of curator but are managers”. She added: “This latest assault on democracy must be challenged.” Restore Trust has nearly 40,000 members, with supporters including ex-
Cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg. He said: “The NT should stay true to its founding principles and stay clear of identity politics, which has alienated tens of thousands of members.”
Dr Van der Poll added: “Members resent the sums being spent on external consultants and trendy exhibitions which have no connection with a property’s history. It tries to tell us what to feel about sexuality and attempts to shoehorn in colonialism with slavery. There needs to be a renewed focus on conserving houses and presenting them to the public as a good thing…not as a campaigning tool.”
The NT, which is holding elections to its council at its annual general meeting in November, said: “The council makes recommendations in line with the National Trust’s constitution. This year the council sought applications from people who met the skills and experience detailed in the Governance Handbook.
“The council is also keen to support the Trust’s Everyone Welcome priority by improving diversity.”