The $300,000 memorial statue of Baroness Margaret Thatcher was welcomed by hurled eggs and loud booing in her hometown of Grantham. Others took selfies in front of it.
Margaret Thatcher Statue Egged And Booed Just Hours After Being Installed
A statue of Margaret Thatcher has been egged within two hours of it being erected in her home town of Grantham. A protester threw eggs at the $300,000 statue from behind a temporary fence which surrounds the monument.
The bronze statue was, without ceremony, placed on a 3-metre (10ft) high plinth to make it more difficult for protesters to inflict any damage. Lincolnshire Police said it had received a report of criminal damage at 10:00 BST, but no arrests had been made.
The statue shows Ms Thatcher dressed in the Baronial Gown of Kesteven and wearing the chain of the Order of the Garter. It was created by the critically acclaimed sculptor Douglas Jennings. An official unveiling by the Public Memorials Appeal (PMA), which funded the $300,000 statue through public donations, would take place at a later date, the council said.
The protester who threw eggs at a statue of Margaret Thatcher in Grantham less than two hours after its unveiling is the deputy director of an arts centre who put out a 'call to arms' on social media. Only one of the eggs thrown at the memorial actually hit it. The Labour councillor Lee Steptoe said the egg-throwing was “absolutely inevitable”.
“The statue was always going to be a prime target for petty vandalism and political protest. She was the most divisive prime minister probably in history and certainly in my lifetime,” he said.
The statue sits on a 10ft (3m) high plinth under CCTV surveillance to minimize the risk of vandalism, but last night there were fears it could become a magnet for troublemakers.
In 2020, a Facebook group proposing an 'egg-throwing contest' at the event attracted interest from more than 13,000 people. Around 2,400 others visited the Facebook page to say they would go to the event including 'egg throwing... and potentially graffiti art'.
The vandalism has been condemned by local councilors and MPs who called it '‘very disrespectful’ and added that: 'People should be immensely proud of Margaret Thatcher, whether they voted for her or not, as she remains one of the most important PMs not just of the last century but of all centuries.’
The bronze statue was offered to South Kesteven District Council after plans to erect it in Parliament Square in London were rejected. Reports originally presented to South Kesteven District Council showed the statue was moved to the area due to fears of a 'motivated far-left movement...who may be committed to public activism'.
The monument of Britain's first woman prime minister was unveiled after two years of delays and several threats from protestors to engage in an 'egg-throwing competition' at the monument and by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Councillor Kelham Cooke, the Conservative leader of South Kesteven council, said the statue was a fitting tribute to her"
“Margaret Thatcher will always be a significant part of Grantham’s heritage, she and her family have close ties with Grantham. She was born, raised and went to school here. It is, therefore, appropriate that she is commemorated by her home town, and that the debate that surrounds her legacy takes place here in Grantham. We must never hide from our history, and this memorial will be a talking point for generations to come. We hope that this memorial will encourage others to visit Grantham and to see where she lived and visit the exhibition of her life in Grantham Museum."
Jeremy Webster, 59, the deputy director of a publicly funded arts centre, named himself on social media as the egg-thrower. According to his LinkedIn, Mr Webster spent nearly nine years as Deputy Director at the Attenborough Arts Centre at the University of Leicester, having previously been Head of Exhibitions at The National Centre for Craft and Design based in Sleaford, Lincolnshire.
He had also spent just over a decade in various roles at Lincolnshire Country Council.
He showed up just over an hour after the monument was placed and threw four eggs - one of which hit the statue - and then left the scene. A cry of “Oi!” was heard after an egg landed on its target, and police arrived within minutes.
Mr Webster was yesterday unavailable to comment at his $490,000 home in Grantham, which is on the same street where Baroness Thatcher was born. He was last week pictured at an event with artist Grayson Perry, who is a patron of the University of Leicester.
However, the footage appears to have been taken down from his social media. On his Twitter account, Mr Webster earlier today posted: 'Grantham unveils Thatcher statue, so guess where we are going?'
In another post on Instagram, he had apparently said: 'South Wales miners are heading up to Grantham to remove her head.' This post no longer appears available.
Mrs. Thatcher was born on October 13, 1925, and had spent her childhood in the Lincolnshire market town before heading off to Somerville College, Oxford, at the age of 18 to study chemistry.
The argument about how or even whether Mrs. Thatcher, who died aged 87 died in April 2013 after suffering a stroke, should be recognized in Grantham has been raised for nearly two decades. The council's Labour group leader, Lee Steptoe, said Baroness Thatcher was 'the most divisive PM in history' and that statues are 'Victorian concepts' with 'no place in the 21st century.'