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Rejected plan for Thatcher statue sparks clash between council leader and Labour

Westminster Council’s planning team unanimously turn down tribute to 'Iron Lady' prime minister

26 January, 2018 — By Tom Foot

The proposed Thatcher statue outside Parliament

SHE was known as the “Iron Lady” – a paragon of Conservative Party faithful – and the first female British prime minster.

But is Margaret Thatcher a feminist icon?

A row over whether a Thatcher statue should be put up in Parliament Square intensified this week after council leader Nickie Aiken claimed the memorial should inspire women around the world “whatever your political persuasion”.

In a statement, issued before the statue was rejected on Wednesday by the planning committee, she said: “I am all in favour of having a statue of the first woman prime minister in Britain in Parliament Square. All the more so in the year in which we mark the centenary of women getting the vote.

“Whatever your political persuasion, I believe it is entirely fitting that the life of this extraordinary person – who showed women there should be no no-go areas in politics – is marked in the shadow of parliament.”

Labour candidates, in St James’s and West End wards, have responded with incredulity issuing a joint statement warning: “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.”

Westminster Council’s planning team unanimously turned down the design for the 1.5-times life-size statue.

Thatcher’s daughter, Carol, had reportedly opposed the design because no handbag was included. The Tory leader was famous for her hand- bags. It was the second attempt to erect a statue – just six months after a first proposal was thrown out over vandalism fears.

Thatcher died after suffering a stroke in 2013, sparking celebrations from her opponents; but she was later given a state funeral.

“Baroness Thatcher is a hugely significant figure in British history and in principle the council is in favour of a statue commemorating her in Parliament Square. But it must be the right statue, with an appropriate design, and have the support of her family,” planning chief Richard Beddoe said.

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