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It's That Man Again

Jan. 31, 2021

Remember him? Robert Jenrick, the man who plans to make a law giving ministers the "Final Veto" over any statue being taken down? https://www.invisiblewomen.org.uk/gettingattention/post/172

Now he is giving his backing to the strangely named Tory "Common Sense Group" who propose that a statue be built of every recipient of the Victoria Cross (VC) and George Cross (GC). These plans have been branded a “slap in the face” to women across the UK. The scheme would also see memorials built, plaques put up, and roads and public buildings renamed in honour of the recipients of the George Cross (GC). All in all, the Fawcett Society estimates that's about 1,761 men and 11 women; Victoria Cross (100% men) and George Cross (more than 97% men)

John Hayes, the MP from South Holland and The Deepings, the safest Tory seat in the UK, chairs the group. He said they have “launched a campaign to honour every recipient of the VC and GC through the erection of a statue, immortalising them in their place of birth”.

Alys Mumford, the chair of the Women 50:50 campaign group, said the plans seemed “misguided”.. men and the military “are already hugely over-represented in our public spaces” and the Government would be better served commemorating those who have been “forgotten and ignored”. Felicia Willow, the chief executive of the Fawcett Society, the UK’s largest membership charity campaigning for gender equality, said the Tories’ plan “beggars belief” and that the proposal was “unsupportable”."Why does it take years of campaigning or fundraising to get statues of worthy women erected - people like Millicent Fawcett and Mary Wollstonecraft - while nearly 2000 more statues commemorating men are pushed forward by politicians and funded by the public purse? It simply beggars belief.” She called on the Government not to push it any further forward.

Given the recent active public engagement with the power of civic statues this seems like a move to head off real consultation with communities about who we actually want to see honoured. It's a crafty plan. If anyone objects - as for example the many campaigns for statues of women who have been working independantly for years to raise funds - they can be labelled as disrespectful of these heroic men. And that leaves local councils between a rock and a hard place with Mr Jenrick writing to them to urge them to support the scheme.

The one thing that is clear is that the government recognises the value of the statue and given this plan for so many more men to be honoured, we could be forgiven for assuming that they don't want women to get a look in, let alone fair representation. Too late, because people everywhere have woken up to the power of the plinth.