In August 2011, Starkey appeared as a guest on the BBC's Newsnight programme together with Owen Jones and Dreda Say Mitchell, made during a discussion about the 2011 England riots. Starkey claimed that "the whites have become black", and that "a particular sort of violent, destructive, nihilistic, gangster culture has become the fashion". The then-leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, spoke about Starkey's remarks, saying "they are racist comments, frankly". The author Toby Young, blogging in the Telegraph, defended Starkey by claiming that Starkey had been talking not about black culture in general. Rod Liddle argued in support of the remarks. Jones described the comments as "one of the ugliest episodes of the backlash", claiming that "multiculturalism and ethnic groups have nothing to do with what happened". Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Starkey argued his views had been distorted, he referred only to a "particular sort" of 'Black' culture, and that the "black educationalists" Tony Sewell and Katharine Birbalsingh supported the substance of his Newsnight comments.[nb 3] The broadcast regulator Ofcom said that Starkey's comments were part of "a serious and measured discussion", and took no action.
In a June 2012 debate, Starkey stated that a Rochdale sex trafficking gang had values "entrenched in the foothills of the Punjab or wherever it is", and was accused by his fellow panelist, writer Laurie Penny, of "playing xenophobia and national prejudice for laughs".
In November 2015 the University of Cambridge dropped a fundraising video featuring Starkey after a significant backlash from staff and students. A letter signed by hundreds of students and staff criticised Starkey's involvement in the video due to him "repeatedly making racist statements".#
The 75-year-old, who is best known for his programmes about Henry VIII, made the racist comment while discussing Black Lives Matter protests on a Youtube show hosted by Brexit campaigner Darren Grimes.
He said: “Slavery was not genocide otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or Britain would there? An awful lot of them survived...”
His comments prompted widespread criticism on social media. Former chancellor Sajid Javid wrote: “We are the most successful multi-racial democracy in the world and have much to be proud of. But David Starkey’s racist comments (”so many damn blacks”) are a reminder of the appalling views that still exist.”
David Olusoga, who was described by Dr Starkey as “an interesting and quite able historian” on the show, reacted by saying: “This is truly disgusting. And by the same ridiculous, twisted logic the Holocaust would not be counted as a genocide.”
The Mary Rose Trust, which is responsible for Henry VIII’s favourite warship, said was “appalled” and had accepted the historian’s resignation from the board of trustees.
“Mary Rose Trust is a charity that exists for the benefit of everyone and we have zero tolerance for such comments,” it added.
During the show, Dr Starkey also suggested that people should not “go on about” slavery because it has been abolished in 1833.
”There’s no point in arguing against globalisation or Western civilisation – they are all products of it. We are all products of it,” he said.
“The honest teaching of the British empire is to say it was the first key stage of world globalisation. It was probably the most important moment in human history and it is still with us.
“As for the idea that slavery is this terrible disease that dare not speak its name. It only dare not speak its name because we settled it 200 years ago...