Home town backs Thatcher statue

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. (REUTERS)
Updated 06 February 2019
0

Home town backs Thatcher statue

  • The entire £300,000 ($390,000) project will be paid for by donations raised by a British historical charity

LONDON: Margaret Thatcher’s home town cautiously backed plans Tuesday 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 polarizing figure in Britain six years after her death at the age of 87.
Her sweeping privatization 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.
A bid to have a statue of the Conservative party leader stand alongside icon Winston Churchill and other leaders filling a square opposite parliament in London fizzled out last year over concerns about “potential vandalism and civil disorder.”
Thatcher’s daughter Carol also reportedly objected to the absence of her mother’s trademark handbag.
The 10.5 foot (3.2 meters) 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.
Some council members said the statue — reportedly gathering dust in a foundry since being rejected by London — should stay where it is.
“I understand Margaret Thatcher’s statue is currently out of sight in a secret location,” councillor Charmaine Morgan was quoted saying by the Grantham Journal.
“Perhaps it should stay there.”

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.”
“Our police are struggling to manage without the additional burden,” Morgan argued.
Grantham’s only existing commemoration of Thatcher is a plaque marking where she was born.
She will now stand besides an existing statue of Newton and a 19th-century local politician named Frederick Tollemache.
The entire £300,000 ($390,000) project will be paid for by donations raised by a British historical charity.
“No public funds have been used,” the local council stressed on its website.


Russia’s Port of Vladivostok prepares to host Kim Jong Un

Updated 19 April 2019
0

Russia’s Port of Vladivostok prepares to host Kim Jong Un

  • Russian media were quick to report preparations were underway for the summit to take place in Vladivostok
  • Proximity is no doubt important for Kim, who is rumored to travel aboard his armored train

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is expected in Russia’s far-eastern port Vladivostok in the coming days, according to reports that have prompted excitement and concern among local residents.
After weeks of speculation, the Kremlin announced that Kim will visit Russia to hold his first talks with President Vladimir Putin in late April. It gave no details on a date or place, citing “security reasons.”
Russian media were quick to report preparations were underway for the summit to take place in Vladivostok, home to Moscow’s Pacific Fleet.
The port lies only about 130 kilometers (80 miles) from Russia’s short border with North Korea. This proximity is no doubt important for Kim, who is rumored to travel aboard his armored train.
The 35-year-old will be following in the footsteps of his father Kim Jong Il, who met the newly elected Putin in Vladivostok in 2002.
The far eastern city rarely sees major international events, and some locals are happy for the city to be in the spotlight.
“Any visit is good, whether it’s an enemy or a friend,” said Danil, a student at Vladivostok’s Far Eastern Federal University, billed by the media as a possible venue for the summit.
He welcomed the talks, saying “you can only make decisions through dialogue and communication.”
Nadezhda, a native of the city, said it will be a global event and “will be a boost for development in our city.”
Authorities this week were busy cleaning garbage near railways leading to the city, Russian media reported.
“The depressing view from the train window does not give a positive impression to guests of Vladivostok arriving by train,” an official from the local branch of Russian Railways told the Interfax news agency.
Nadezhda said she was “absolutely not afraid of (North Korea’s) nuclear program” and would like to see the country.
North Korea said this week it was testing nuclear weapons after a round of talks with the US ended in failure.
But Anna Marinina was less enthusiastic about the summit, and said that if Pyongyang did use its weapons, Vladivostok would be in the firing line.
“The people that panic the most about North Korea are safe on the other side of the ocean,” she said.
“If something were to happen, it would fall on us.”
Putin has long said he was ready to meet with Kim and is preparing to play a bigger role in nuclear negotiations with Moscow’s Cold War-era ally.
The last meeting between Russian and North Korean heads of state was in 2011, when Kim’s father traveled by train to Siberia, where he took a boat ride on Lake Baikal and held tightly guarded talks with then president Dmitry Medvedev.
There is a chance however that fresh talks will not take place at all, as Kim pulled out of 2015 celebrations in Moscow for the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II at the last minute.