Letters: Mixed reaction from readers to the Margaret Thatcher statue in Grantham
Readers have expressed their opinion on the installation of the Margaret Thatcher statue in Grantham.
Unveiling of statue now is insensitive
The statue of Lady Margaret Thatcher is finally up.
When I first spoke against the statue, as a member of the Planning Committee in 2019, it was due to go up that summer. Then the planning committee were assured no public funds would be spent on it. Despite comments by myself and others to the contrary, the mainly Conservative committee unsurpisingly voted for it. Since then CCTV cameras have been installed around St Peter’s Hill and trees pruned to give line of sight of the statue. At public expense. On its first day of being erected police officers were required to investigate an egg throwing. Already plans are being muted to further increase security.
In the meanwhile my calls for more CCTV along the River Witham were rejected by SKDC due a lack of funds. ASB issues and thefts are on the rise. The WW1 Memorial Orchard in Wyndham Park has been damaged by vandals and there is drug dealing in broad daylight in our town’s public spaces. Police officers, drastically reduced in numbers, are few and far between. Councillor Cooke, leader of South Kesteven, welcomes the statue arguing it will make Grantham the centre of debate, but is erecting the statue now, amid such controversy and associated risk of a negative reaction, wise? Is protecting a statue really where our limited police resources should go?
Security would be less of a concern had a smaller appropriate scale statue been placed in the museum along with an exhibition displaying Margaret Thatcher’s personal achievements and the impacts of her policies in context. But this proposal was rejected by the museum - even though it would have likely attracted more visitors to the museum itself. The museum, we are told, provides a balanced view of Margaret Thatcher’s life, but is in fact, since Conservative austerity cuts, frequently closed and its sterile timeline neatly dodges the full impact of her premiership on our country. The current exhibits do not fully reflect the controversial nature of her legacy by any means.
The timing by South Kesteven District Council to erect the statue now could not be more insensitive. Margaret Thatcher may be rightly regarded by many as the architect of the current Cost of Living Crisis which is resulting in the struggle and suffering of thousands of local people. Under her premiership 16 million fell into abject poverty. How many will fall now? Before the pandemic 3 million UK citizens suffered from malnutrition, according to the NHS. Shamefully no government has made a serious attempt to reverse her policies, which is why her legacy remains and why feelings about her are so raw.
South Kesteven is losing more council houses a year under her ‘Right to Buy Scheme’ than it can build. Our Government states it is virtually powerless to deal with the energy companies who are making £bns in profit at all our expense, and our NHS is on its knees with the internal market she introduced, beginning the increased bureaucracy, fragmentation and privatisation we see now.
It is so ironic that since Covid 19, when we have come to learn the value of working together, and now, when people will be turning to local charities for the support the Government is failing to give them, that our Conservative District Council should choose to laud someone who once said ‘... there’s no such thing as society’. Well I believe there is. Statue or not we need to come together. If nothing else to prove her wrong.
District Councillor Charmaine Morgan
Chair SOS Grantham Hospital
Did it have to be a secret?
I am sure individually we disagree about Lady Thatcher, her policies and legacy, and whether a statue in Grantham is appropriate.
I wonder, however, if we can all agree that as someone who never shied away from her critics or conflict that she would not approve of having her memorial erected in secret, very early on a Sunday morning, and surrounded by a 2m high fence?
Gonerby Hill Foot
Secrecy shows how unpopular it is
Following years of dithering the local Tories have finally got their shrine. Grantham Labour’s position has been consistent: we did not want it, repeatedly said that a balanced exhibition of her life should be in the museum, not a partisan love fest, and that it would be a target for vandalism, both petty and politically motivated. Sneaked out early on Sunday morning, the egging incident was almost inevitable. She remains the most divisive PM of my lifetime and possibly history, and when up against the incumbent that really is saying something!
The question also remains: has a single penny of council taxpayers’ precious money been spent on the statue’s erection, including wages for the workforce? What about for the mystery unveiling? Who is funding that and who is invited? The total secrecy shows the Tory SK cabinet know how unpopular this is with many local people.
The statue is now here and all opponents of this awful government and Tory dominated SKDC must not let it distract us from the human misery unfolding in ordinary people’s lives. The Tories have literally nothing to offer except memories of a divided nation in the 1980s. That doesn’t feed people or pay their utility bills. Rally against the present, not the past.
Councillor Lee Steptoe
Labour Group leader,
I am proud the statue has gone up
Well dear old Maggie Thatcher has once again made the headlines around the world.
I’m proud that her statue has finally gone up in our town centre. But isn’t it a shame that instead of people feeling pleased that a person who has done as much as Sir Isaac Newton to put Grantham on the map , they feel ashamed! What is behind the psyche of us , that we are more interested in the negative news about the senile delinquent who decided to egg the statue, than the publicity and tourism that will be generated by it? A reason for tourists to visit Grantham for many years to come .
Statue should stay where it is
The statue of the late Baroness Thatcher should remain in St Peter’s Hill Grantham, where it has been installed.
There are people who – almost ten years after this important historical figure ended in a vulnerable haze of dementia – refuse to let go of their hatred for Mrs Thatcher. This is bizarre. The hatred of these fanatics manifests itself in puerile and predictable outbursts and actions – as with the egg-throwing, immature nobody reportedly employed by Leicester University. This type of person thinks hating Mrs Thatcher signals that he or she is a virtuous person. Wrong. It means only two things. One, that they cannot get over that they lost the argument. Two, that they are attention-seeking fools, too resentfully aware of their own pitifully insignificant, unaccomplished lives.
Grantham should be most proud of Mrs Thatcher. She was the UK’s first female prime minister. She won three elections. You can disagree with her politically – as some people undoubtedly do – but you cannot question her mandate. Mrs Thatcher was a working-class woman – famously, a grocer’s daughter – who faced snobbery and disdain throughout her life, and rose profoundly above it. In life, she was complicated, and unafraid of being controversial. But Mrs Thatcher unquestionably loved her country and sought to do right by it. Again, you can disagree with her politically, but she was truly a conviction politician – something people of any current political persuasion must agree is lamentable – viewed from the meretricious, mutable, soundbite politics of today. In death, Mrs Thatcher deserves to be remembered – not invariably fondly – but as the towering historical figure she unquestionably was.
In addition, if Grantham seeks to attract tourism, it should be remembered that Americans typically admire the late Baroness greatly. This town-honouring statue should retain its proud public position, and not be sheepishly tucked away in the town museum.
I would bring my family to see statue
I wonder how many people voting for Mrs Thatcher’s statue’s removal live in a family that benefited from free university education, Right to Buy or the other benefits of Thatcherism that have given them better lives? I can think of a certain neighbour of the statue who obviously has.
Apart from being Lady Thatcher’s birthplace the only thing that I knew about Grantham is that it apparently has/had a lap dancing club. I wouldn’t bother visiting Grantham for that but I would bring my family to see the statue.
There you go, the Iron Lady is still putting money in the pockets of the good people of Grantham.