According to the Sunday Times this morning our London Mayor, like our Prime Minister, is anxious about his legacy.
Apparently he is considering 6 monuments at the major entrances to London so that people know they have arrived. These would be situated where motorways hit the boundary of Greater London. Funny how our anti-car mayor wants to give motorists an eyeful.
The whole thing is being driven by the Mayor’s mini-quango Design for London, who come complete with their own website, their own brochure, etc, etc. They are based with the London Development Agency in the swish new Palestra building right. OK for some.
Since he has been mayor Livingstone has spent £100,000s of public money to play around with questionable pieces of public art on the Fourth Plinth at Trafalgar Square. Again it has its own website, etc, yawn, waste. We are due to have something new in spring of this year.
You may remember the Mayor saying in 2000 about the two generals, Napier and Havelock, whose statues adorn two of the remaining three plinths:
I think that the people on the plinths in the main square in our capital city should be identifiable to the generality of the population. I have not a clue who two of the generals there are or what they did.
I imagine that not one person in 10,000 going through Trafalgar Square knows any details about the lives of those two generals. It might be that it is time to look at moving them and having figures on those plinths that ordinary Londoners would know.
What the Mayor probably does not get is that these two statues, like Nelson’s column itself, were paid for by public subscription. In other words the 19th century public had a choice and they voted with their wallets. Indeed it is said that by far the largest number of subscribers for Napier’s bronze were private soldiers.
If Livingstone wants his monuments he should test whether Londoners’ admiration for him runs to actually putting their hands in their pockets rather than the usual situation which is the mayor putting his hand in their pockets.