Controversial Margaret Thatcher statue officially unveiled at ceremony in Grantham
A ceremony took place to officially unveil the memorial of Margaret Thatcher in the town centre.
The controversial statue of the late former prime minister Baroness Margaret Thatcher was officially unveiled at a ceremony today (Tuesday) on St Peter's Hill, Grantham.
After it was installed on May 15, the statue has been victim to two acts of vandalism, with one protester fined for throwing an egg at the memorial, and a second incident at the weekend which saw the Communist hammer and sickle painted on the statue.
Ivan Saxton, who founded the Public Memorials Appeal in 2002 which raised the money for the statue, attended the unveiling along with members of South Kesteven District Council, including the new Grantham Mayor, Councillor Graham Jeal (Con).
At the unveiling, Ivan said: "I think it’s a work of art to Margaret Thatcher and it should be outside. This is her hometown. It shows some dignity to the town.
"No matter what statue is going to be put up, there will always be controversy."
Coun Jeal said: “In the words of Margaret Thatcher, when people are free to choose, they choose freedom. It gives me great pleasure to unveil this memorial, so future wiser generations can debate and consider the contribution of a Granthamian to this country."
Leader of SKDC, Councillor Kelham Cooke (Con), said: “The memorial to The. Rt. Hon. Baroness Thatcher LG.OM. was paid for by public donations to the Public Memorials Appeal (PMA) and it is only right that they should have held a ceremony marking the completion of the project.
“I think the ceremony was absolutely befitting for the economic climate we are in. I think it’s absolutely right we’ve now got the statue officially unveiled so everybody can appreciate it. It’s been two years in the making, and it’s fantastic to finally see it here in Grantham.
“Following its installation on May 15 the memorial was expected to be a talking point and a focus for debate attracting a range of opinions, and that has proved to be the case.
“I think with any statue unveiling, you always anticipate a certain amount of antisocial behaviour. Hopefully, it won’t be as much as we expect and we will continue to monitor the statue as ever.
“Lady Thatcher polarised opinion in terms of her politics and her legacy but her achievement as Britain’s longest-serving Prime Minister of the 20th century and the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom should be recognised in her hometown.
“She was brought up and went to school in Grantham and I believe that having the memorial here will be a real positive for the town.
“Attracting people to come here to look at the memorial and visit the exhibition about her in Grantham Museum will bring benefits for the local economy.”
District councillor Charmaine Morgan (unaligned), said: “I think the ceremony was actually quite lowkey, but I think that’s not so much due to the desire I suspect of the council administration, but because of the amount of external pressure that they've had put on them.
“I’m not opposed to there being some sort of commemoration of the life of Margaret Thatcher. She was a local lady. Her personal achievement of going from grocer’s daughter to becoming our first female prime minister should be recognised, but, and there’s a massive but behind that, she was hugely controversial.
“We are still suffering now from the impact of her policies, especially, for example, the cost of living crisis, which I definitely consider her to be the architect of."
Grantham resident John Morgan attended the ceremony to protest against the statue.
He said: “Margaret Thatcher was part of our history, so I have no objection to it being in the museum, same as the Black Death and the Blitz, but I don’t think she should be celebrated because she was such a disaster as a prime minister.
“You name it, she got it wrong, and we’re still paying the price.
“I don’t mind commemorating our history in the museum, but out on a plinth is like we’re celebrating it and that’s celebrating failure and that can’t be right.”
The memorial was commissioned and paid for by The Public Memorials Appeal - a registered UK charity with the objective to commission and erect memorials of people with historical importance.
The installation was delayed for a considerable time because of the pandemic and all parties agreed that the time was now right to mark its installation.