One Nelson Good - Two Nelsons Bad

By sizemore Last edited 154 months ago
One Nelson Good - Two Nelsons Bad

What is it with London councilors? After the rainbow flag ban and not allowing gay couples to hold their ceremonies on council property, they're now not letting Nelson Mandela in Trafalgar Square.

Well his statue at any rate. What's that you say? Get the Mayor on the case? Before we could even light the Ken-signal atop Londonist HQ he had already jumped into the fray:

"There can be no better place than our greatest square to place a statue of Nelson Mandela so that every generation can remind the next of the fight against racism."

No arguments here. Ken went on to point out that Mr Mandela is more in tune with London than the Westminster councilors who then went on and proved the point for him:

"Once you put a statue up to one person, someone says what about Gandhi? We would like to keep the north terrace free from clutter."

Well hang on then... what about Gandhi? Seems like a good idea to us. We've never counted all the statues in and around London dedicated to very old, very white men who in their time killed an awful lot of people, but we're betting that they outnumber the statues of people who actually did their best to make the world you know... better.

And did you really just call Gandhi and Mandela "clutter"?

We did see a few websites this week claiming that the new statue of Alison Lapper Pregnant is out of place because it isn't old and crap. Maybe it wouldn't be that out of place if we commissioned more new works in ancient places to help reflect our multicultural modern city that elsewhere manages to combine the best of the past with the best of the present - the Gherkin is now like an old friend in the skyline, the Thames would be blinded without the Eye and yet we can't fit one small statue of one single man who helped to destroy something as vile as apartheid? As for the solution of Westminster council to keep him where he 'belongs' outside South Africa House... well that'd be funny if it wasn't so outrageous.

Unhappily the whole thing now rests in the hands of John Prescott - Christ knows what he'll make of the whole thing, but as he's an old school northern type of guy who adapted pretty well to the whole jags and power lifestyle of New Labour maybe there's hope for common sense to prevail yet.

We'll keep you posted.

Last Updated 23 September 2005


Can't we wait until people are dead before erecting bloody statues?

Re Ghandi: he makes a bit of a sorry figure, that chap. Not much meat on him. And if you'd put up a pillar, too, you could see beneath his lungi. Blach!


My immediate reaction is that the north terrace of Trafalgar Square is a stupid place for a statue for precisely the reason they councillors say - that it's currently free of street furniture and all the better for it.

And while Mandela and Ghandi (and indeed Martin Luther King etc etc) are well-deserving candidates for statues, Trafalgar Square doesn't seem the most natural place for statues of foreigners. Why not something more British - like a memorial to the victims of the slave trade.


Personally I'd like to see all statues, fountains and other assorted crap out of Trafalger Square all together. Nice big space like that would have a much bigger impact for being utterly empty.

Hounorific statues have always struck me as being fairly pointless symbols; investing in a programme of cultural integration and education, for example, would be a far better way to show some respect for what Mandella did than a lump of stone.


There are already statues of Gandhi and Mandela in Central London (Tavistock Square and the South Bank) so it is hard to see why we need more of them. Particularly in Trafalgar Square, which is devoted to British military heroes. However un-PC this seems now, we can at least stick with modern versions of British heroes - Alison Lapper isn't bad, but why not an explorer or sports(wo)man?


I fear our sportspersons and explorers may become dated rather quickly. I would be happy to see the plinth used for all sorts of different things - a permanent rotation of temporary statues and art.

Wary Consumer

Madela? Why should we put up a statue to a terrorist? Who would be next - Gerry Adams? Idi Amin? Menachim Begin? Blair?