Home town backs Margaret Thatcher statue

Vastavam web: Margaret Thatcher’s home town cautiously backed plans to erect a statue of the late British leader — but only after putting it on a plinth tall enough to keep vandals at bay. The strong-willed “Iron Lady” of the 1980s remains a polarising figure in Britain six years after her death at the age of 87. Her sweeping privatisation and deregulation efforts are credited with pulling Britain out of the economic doldrums. But her resolve to break the trade unions especially the miners — in the face of strikes and street protests made her into a hate figure for the left.

Thatcher’s daughter Carol also reportedly objected to the absence of her mother’s trademark handbag. The 10.5 foot (3.2 metres) tall bronze statue shows the former prime minister in the flowing robe that she wore as a member of the House of Lords. Thatcher’s hands are folded solemnly before her without the handbag. The local council in Grantham in central England approved it only after agreeing to put it on an equally tall granite plinth to keep it safe from “politically motivated vandals”.

Thatcher will now hover over a central Grantham square facing the local museum. “There remains a motivated far-left movement across the UK who may be committed to public activism,” a report submitted to the local district council cautioned. Grantham is a town of around 45,000 that once produced steam engines but is now mostly known as being the birthplace of both Thatcher and the scientist Isaac Newton.

Local heritage association trustee David Burling admitted that “the debate about Margaret Thatcher’s legacy will now continue for generations to come”. But he said in a statement posted on the local council’s website that what Grantham needed most was tourist money. Local council leader Matthew Lee agreed.

“Whatever your views, the statue will undoubtedly attract more visitors to the town which can only be good news for Grantham’s local economy,” he said in the same statement. But councillor Morgan said Thatcher “did little to help her fellow women” and “preferred the company of men”.