Statues of Liberty: Who should we be celebrating in stone?

Readers of The Conservative Woman website cannot have missed that the iconoclasts have been on the march in the US, in Australia and in the UK, as we have written about here and here.

So far the UK has resisted the craven surrender to the Left that in the US has resulted in nothing less than a cultural purge of the South — something historically associated with tyrannical regimes such as Nazi Germany or Stalin’s USSR, and unworthy of a free democratic nation.

It does not need rehearsing that the stories these symbols tell – whether of Cecil Rhodes in South Africa or Robert E Lee in the US – are more nuanced than the angry protesters fed on false resentment would have it. But even the fact that slavery was more than a Southern problem – a Northern States one too – is really beside the point.

Western history has much to teach us, but lessons good and bad (from which reflective Western civilisation has uniquely continued to learn) are lost when their physical symbols are erased and intolerance takes over. This cultural cleansing, this dangerous new form of intolerance, is debasing America’s people and setting a dangerous precedent for civil liberties.

Here in the UK, universities and towns from Oxford to London to Bristol, are under siege from the angry Left. The BBC, shame on them, gives a nearly permanent platform to the Leftist extremists who want to tear down Nelson's column; and now it seems that even Cromwell (love him or hate him) is on the hit list. The British Museum too is under attack for its ‘Empire’ connotation.

We could engage in tit for tat, such as ‘Can we rip down Marx while we are at it?’ Although there certainly is an argument for that it is too easy and would sink us to the level of Left. As Daniel Frampton has observed: ‘Instead of replaying the gallantry of the past, which is perhaps too much to live up to, those such as Afua Hirsch participate in a game of mock heroics that requires little, if any, effort or sacrifice, allowing them to play the hero without being exposed to any of the inherent risk. It is an intoxicating mixture that has come to define the Leftist ethic.’

If there is a war to be waged, then, it must be against the conceit of our own age, not the supposed deficiencies of the past. Far from representing the evils of yesteryear, we need to recognise and make known more of those who stand for some of its most impressive ideals.

This is the challenge The Conservative Woman has set its brilliant team of writers. Who should be celebrated in stone? What statues should go up celebrating great individuals’ contributions to the emergence of British classical liberal thinking? Who has made the most significant contribution to the British constitutional order, or sustained our Judeo-Christian culture and heritage by serving others and protecting the weak, or by developing an idea that greatly materially improved our lives? And in doing this, who displayed courage and self-sacrifice? Who are the people that every British child should be taught about and learn to respect, if not regard with awe?

We could not start with a more apt nomination today – the journalist who raged against injustice, a man without whom the free press, this website and so many others, might never have come to exist. The man whose name is indelibly associated with freedom of speech, William Cobbett, who was once described by Samuel Johnson as the greatest Englishman.

The Conservative Woman

  • Simon Platt

    Can I be the first to suggest Nigel Farage?

    • Laura Perrins

      Has to be dead.

      • Simon Platt

        Fair enough. I wasn’t entirely serious, mind you. Farage will, I hope, deserve his statue, but not yet.

      • Shaunr19

        Well he did come close. 😉

      • Little Black Censored

        Zat can be arranged.

    • PutinCooksSocks

      Farage will get his statue, mark my words.

  • sfin

    Hmm…”courage”… “self sacrifice”…someone “that every British child should be taught about and learn to respect, if not regard with awe?”…

    I would add prescience to that list of qualities and select Enoch Powell.

  • Bik Byro

    Tommy Flowers. A vastly under-rated individual whose contribution to the war effort was massively under-recognised due to the secrecy that his work necessarily involved.

    Arguably, the builder of the world’s first computer, made to crack German ciphers in WW2, and upon which the success of the D day landings depended, the money he received from the government didn’t even cover his own personal financial investment, and the money he received, he generously shared among his staff.

    After the war, his work was kept secret. When he applied to the bank for a loan to build a commercial computer, the loan was turned down on the basis that “it couldn’t be done” despite the fact that he had already built ten in the previous decade.

  • Busy Mum

    John Hampden.

    • Bik Byro

      Yes, England hasn’t got a statue of him … oh hang on, there already are two, a very large one slap bang in the middle of Aylesbury and one in St Stephens Hall in the Palace of Westminster.

      • Busy Mum

        Thankyou for telling me – I was unaware.

        • Bik Byro

          I’m a regular visitor to Aylesbury on business and the statue is excellent; he looks very formidable. He looks across the market at Benjamin Disraeli.

          • Busy Mum

            Sounds as though schoolchildren would learn more from a trip to Aylesbury than from their textbooks 🙂

  • Shaunr19

    These people are no better than ISIS taking sledgehammers to archaeological treasures in Palmyra. A bunch of Philistines.

  • Graven images of politicians? No thanks. No harm in making suggestions though.

  • LoveMeIamALiberal

    Maggie, obviously, though the statue would have to be made of iron.

  • Busy Mum

    Instead of erecting new statues, maybe we should concentrate on learning about the people who are already commemorated in this way? There must be loads of statues throughout the country which are ignored/taken for granted, and even more of which it could probably be said that the living majority have no idea who they are and why they are there.

    Maybe we could have a ‘statue of the week’, whereby readers submit a photo and details of their favourite, or of an obscure one in their locality?

    Is there a national directory of statues? Does one have to hold a licence to erect a statue? Thus is an area about which I am very ignorant.

    • Owen_Morgan

      Unfortunately, a directory of statues would probably be a bad idea, or, if such a thing does exist, it would be unfortunate if it were to fall into the hands of the triggered lefties. It would become an iconoclasts’ Baedeker. Only recently in the United States, the very inaptly named Southern Poverty Law Center (which isn’t Southern or Central and which has nothing to do with poverty, or with law) published a list of monuments, buildings, parks, streets, schools etc. whose names bore Confederate associations from the American Civil War. The SPLC darkly menaced that failure to rename or entirely to erase these would lead to violence.

  • Liv Taylor

    Yes, William Cobbett – irritated the life out of the Government with his “Tuppenny Trash”, ignoring the laws on seditious libel etc., and who is rarely mentioned in passing. A good person to nominate. And as you say, at a time when scribblers were not allowed to report even on proceedings in the Houses of Parliament.
    Thinking about characters in the late eighteenth/early nineteenth centuries – these people were imbued with a strength of character and strength of purpose that propelled them on to achieve great things within their lifetimes. They didn’t sit around complaining on social media, they just got on with it – often being sent to prison for their ‘sins’. They didn’t protest (much), they carried through on their objectives when they believed they were right.
    And good for them too!
    Would that we had the spirit of some of those people again.
    I would nominate Joseph Hanson – ‘the Weavers Friend’ – fought and supported Weavers in their fight for a minimum wage.

  • John Standley

    As an aside, I see South Africa removed a statue of Shaka Zulu in 2010. Not because of his violent, brutal all-conquering reign, but because the statue depicted him herding cattle and not with his traditional spear and shield.

  • Colonel Mustard

    Robert E Lee, to commemorate Britain favouring the Southern cause during the War of Secession. Put it up on the site of the former Royal Ordinance Factory in recognition of the more than 900,000 Enfield rifled muskets supplied to the South during their struggle.

  • PutinCooksSocks

    How about Jean-Claude Junker?
    Right in the middle of a very large aviary.

    To give the birds something to … perch… on.

  • MorganCourtenay

    Although I have, in some cases, strong objections to the moral conduct of some of the people engraved in statues, surely the greater issue is to teach all historical figures with objectivity. We have too much hero-worship of historical figures, which creates unnecessary hostility on both sides when events like statue-removal happen. Admiration is good, yes. I admire Oliver Cromwell and I consider him one of the greatest Englishmen in history. (And Antonia Fraser is a brilliant historian! Her book on him is excellent). However, I support the monarchy, deplore his treatment of the Irish and his connections to slavery. Should we have a statue of Cromwell? Yes. I think it’s a matter of what the statue is FOR. Positive contributions should be celebrated. Negative attitudes and actions should be learned and noted for future improvement of our generation. Meanwhile, in the history classroom, we should take a Gradgrind approach– only facts, whether they flatter or cast aspersions on the historical character in question. I don’t happen to know what statues are on show in England, but if we don’t already have one of William the Conqueror, Bede, John Wesley, William Tyndale, Disraeli and Jane Austen, then we need one. Dare I mention Anne Boleyn? I think she had guts!

    • Colonel Mustard

      There already are four statues of Cromwell including one at Westminster. The late Tony Banks once agitated to have it removed.

      The modern left want to control not just the future but the past as well.

  • David

    My suggestion is for my boyhood hero, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, whose technological marvels lifted us into the age of rapid transport.

  • The Duke of Umberland, England


    We need one of Prof CS Lewis.

    On nearly every issue we argue over in the 21st century – he (and that Roman Catholic GK Chesterton) wrote and spoke.