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In the statue debate to say Margaret Thatcher was a feminist is wrong

26 January, 2018

Statue of Margaret Thatcher

• NICKIE Aiken, the Conservative head of Westminster Council, is lobbying Tory ministers to put up a statue of Margaret Thatcher in Parliament Square.

She says the timing is right because women got the vote 100 years ago and a statue of Thatcher would be a “tribute” to the feminist movement.

As Westminster Council’s Labour group leader Adam Hug has noted, there’s no doubt that Thatcher was a consequential figure in British politics. But he’s also absolutely right to point out that she was and remains a deeply divisive figure – perhaps the most divisive 20th-century British politician.

At a time when national politics is increasingly polarised, local political leaders just shouldn’t be adding fuel to fire on the grounds of party political ideology. We should be bringing communities together not pitting people against each other.

The point has to be made that the notion that Thatcher speaks for the feminist movement is so hollow surely Nickie Aiken doesn’t even believe her own words. Thatcher was an outspoken anti-feminist and ridiculed the movement on multiple occasions.

Being a woman doesn’t translate into being feminist. Sure, feminists paved the way for a woman to become PM, but that has nothing to do with Thatcher as an individual.

It also has to be pointed out that Thatcher was the chief architect of austerity Conservative politics, one embraced enthusiastically by Conservative prime ministers since her, including the most recent batch.

And it’s clear who austerity hits the hardest – women across the country who’ve been hit with wave after wave of cuts. Nickie Aiken should stop pandering to the Conservative right and do what’s right for Parliament Square.

She knows that conflating Thatcher with feminism is inaccurate at best, offensive at worst. And now’s certainly not the right moment to be making the argument.

Labour candidates for St James’s ward

Labour candidates for West End ward


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