Today would have marked Margaret Thatcher’s 96th birthday, but enthusiasts can’t pay their respects at a statue in her home town of Grantham because the 10-foot plinth meant to display it remains empty.
It comes more than two years after planners approved the figure, and the Lincolnshire town agreed to honour its most distinguished daughter with the £300,000 bronze work by Douglas Jennings in 2019 after Westminster councillors vetoed plans to stand it in Parliament Square.
But such is the division in opinion over the Iron Lady’s legacy, even in the town where she lived in a flat above her father’s grocery shop, an official unveiling date is yet to be announced, and some Grantham residents are now questioning if it would be better for the plinth to be left empty.
Factory manager, Duncan Attwood, 48, said that the plinth had been empty for so long now, with fencing all around it, that he believes that people are starting to wonder if the statue will ever go up at all and that if it’s going to cost loads of money to protect the statue, then it might not be worth putting up in such a public place because it wouldn’t be guarded night and day.
Margaret Thatcher was born on October 13 1925 and spent her childhood in the Lincolnshire market town before heading off to Somerville College, Oxford, at the age of 18 to study chemistry.
The argument about how or even whether Margaret Thatcher, who died aged 87 in April 2013 after suffering from a stroke, should be placed in Grantham has been raised for approximately two decades.
Ian Selby, a former town mayor, had previously called for a vote to ultimately determine if the town wanted the statue, with the unveiling of it expected to draw fierce protests.
Local officials also fear the statue will become a regular rallying point for demonstrations and could even be targeted for destruction or removal attempts, as was observed when a mob tore down a statue to Bristol slave trader Edward Colston.
The fears led to a 10-foot high plinth being erected to display the £300,000 sculpture by Douglas Jennings, on the advice of Lincolnshire police.
Despite the potential for damage, it was originally hoped the long-awaited Thatcher statue would be unveiled by a big Tory name in the Autumn of last year, but those plans were scuppered by the pandemic.
I never did like Margaret Thatcher solely because she was Conservative – as a person, she was probably a very nice lady, and clearly, she was very well-liked by many people, and then others couldn’t stand her, and if Grantham wants a sculpture of her, then they should have one.
However, if it’s then vandalised and the perpetrator is found, then they should have their backside whipped because we need proper application of law and discipline in this country – not because it’s a statue of Margaret Thatcher, it could be any statue, so voting would be a very good idea, and once decided then that should be the end of it with no whining or moaning.