Much has been said, recently, about our approach to history – and much of it, frankly, is hogwash.

The loudest complaints about the tearing down of statues seemed to be coming from those who have probably never read any proper history since they left school.

So, as somebody who has read a few history books in his time, and even written some, I invite you to consider my view on the subject.

The first thing that any historian will tell you is that old statues are not history. They were PR. People who could afford it used to put them up to glorify each other, whereas to understand the real history you have to take the trouble to read a book or go to a museum.

Slave trader Edward Colston got a statue in Bristol because it suited some to draw attention to his supposed ‘generosity’ in giving to his home city a small fraction of the blood money he got from dealing in human cargo. Not so much history as glossing over murder.

The offending statue of Colston has been recovered and will be put on display in a Bristol museum, complete with the graffiti that was on it when it was dumped in the dock.

I’ve been to that museum. It’s called the M Shed, and tells – rather well, I think – the whole story of Bristol: good and bad. Ever since it opened, the M Shed has been confronting the slave trade issue head-on - as real history does.

Not that all statues are bad. What the amateur armchair so-called historians mostly overlook is our approach to public statues has changed significantly since Colston’s was erected.

Whereas towns and cities were once able to throw up tributes to anyone, regardless of whether they deserved the honour or not, the subjects of modern statues are now generally far more deserving.

If you want to put up a statue to someone today, it will take years of planning and petitioning, and building community support, and will probably have to be paid for by some kind of crowdfunding.

I should know as I was closely involved in Swindon’s blue plaque scheme when it was inaugurated, four years ago.

Although their primary purpose is to mark the places where history took place, you could also think of blue plaques as two-dimensional statues, because they often honour specific people.

We had no hesitation in deciding the first Swindon Heritage blue plaque should be a tribute to Edith New, the prominent suffragette who was born in North Street. It seems an ironic choice now – now that some people like to think the removal of the Colston statue and other acts of public defiance are merely the result of a mindless mob mentality.

Edith New wrote herself into history by throwing stones through the windows of 10 Downing Street and being the first person to chain herself to the railings. She went to prison for her trouble, because the authorities considered her part of a ‘mob’. But we know the whole story, and we honour her for being one of the suffragettes' visionary leaders.

And that’s thanks to somebody who took the trouble to research the whole story and write down Edith’s history for posterity.

That person is a friend of mine, called Frances Bevan.

And after writing the history, Frances's long-term ambition became – wait for it – to honour Edith with a statue in Swindon.

Nothing would make the historian in me happier.

If a more worthy person for a statue has ever lived in Swindon, I am yet to hear of her (or him).