The sad story of the Margaret Thatcher statue
ohNE CONSEQUENCE to increase attacks against existing images is to make the implementation of new ones more cumbersome. This is true even when the statue in question represents the oldest British Prime Minister since the 19th century, and is enormous.
The campaign to erect a bronze statue of Margaret Thatcher began a few months after her death in 2013. But in 2018, Westminster Council rejected a request to place one (depicted as a clay sculpture) by Douglas Jennings, specializing in public art, on Parliament Square. , in the heart of London. The site was already crowded with monuments, he ruled, and Thatcher had been depicted in formal dresses that she rarely wore.
Besides, the council worried, he risked becoming a target. Although its plinth is 4m high and contains sockets to allow rapid erection of protective scaffolding, police feared it would attract vandals. They recommended security lighting and cameras.
A year later, Grantham, the town where Thatcher grew up, announced that she would take the statue, which is almost twice the size. The council felt it would attract the right kind of visitors – the far left activists who might be tempted to attack it being thin on the ground in Lincolnshire. A plinth has been duly constructed. But other problems arose.
A plan to spend public money on an unveiling ceremony drew opposition and was rejected; covid-19 prevented public gatherings; the protected trees had to be pruned so that security cameras could monitor the statue. Six years after his casting, he remains in hiding.
This article appeared in the Great Britain section of the print edition under the title “Hot Heads, Cold Feet”