Joining the League of Dishonorable Mayors with Ray "I ain't got no busses" Nagin, we now have Ken "What do generals have to do with history?" Livingstone:
LONDON (AP) - The latest battle of Trafalgar is getting ugly. Mayor Ken Livingstone wants to erect a statue of former South African President Nelson Mandela in Trafalgar Square alongside monuments to British military heroes. City officials oppose the idea, and in a showdown this week, one of Britain's most respected sculptors dubbed the proposed Mandela statue "mediocre." Livingstone compared that sculptor's work to a "dog mess."
Livingstone wants Mandela at the heart of the piazza, already dominated by another Nelson. A statue of 19th-century naval hero Adm. Horatio Nelson stands atop an 185-foot-tall column, and the square itself is named for the admiral's 1805 victory over the French and Spanish fleets.
Also in the square are statues of King George IV and Victorian generals Sir Henry Havelock and Sir Charles James Napier.
"I have not a clue who two of the generals there are or what they did," he said.The Westminster Council (Westminster being the relevant borough within Greater London), on the other hand, has a reasonable solution - placing a statue in a more relevant location:
Mr. Livingstone has yet to give a good reason why a statue of a foreign political leader who effected change in a distant former colony should disrupt a British monument to British military history. In addition to the Westminster Council's suggestion, more appropriate locations surely exist - including Parliament Square, which currently features statues of such foreign statesmen as Abraham Lincoln and Jan Christiaan Smuts.
Conservative-controlled Westminster Council has rejected Livingstone's plans for a 9-foot-tall bronze statue on the square's north terrace, outside the main entrance to the National Gallery.
The council says its opposition is practical, not political. It does not like the look of the proposed statue by sculptor Ian Walters, which depicts Mandela clad in a characteristic loose-fitting shirt, his hands raised as if in animated conversation. It also wants the monument placed in front of the South African embassy on the eastern edge of the square.
Paul Drury, a consultant for conservation group English Heritage, which also opposes the mayor's plan, has said that placing an "informal, small-scale statue" of Mandela alongside military heroes "would be a major and awkward change in the narrative of the square."
Don't expect Mr. Livingstone to let history stand in the way of rewriting history:
Shortly after his 2000 election, Livingstone suggested replacing the military statues with figures "that ordinary Londoners would know."The easiest way to rewrite history is to delete it.
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