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Who wouldn’t want to be a statue to Boris Johnson in Britain? Cherished by the powerful and honored at collective gatherings, as Churchills Sanctuary was last week, by supporters of the Candidate for mayor of London Laurence Fox. Without the need to organize themselves, these historically neglected members of the inanimate community have, in recent months, been granted high-level privileges, protections and advocacy which, in addition to their current base status, barely reach full suffrage and even that cannot. be excluded with confidence.

Demonstrating that the government has a heart, even if it is of stone, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has accepted this, where sensitive arts freelancers could. manage alone locked out, the statues needed help. Not just in their personal struggles against rot and pigeons, but against officials intimidation (Fortunately for the statues, largely ideological in nature as opposed to violent, conservative, intra-departmental). His department has identified a vocal minority of activists constantly trying to bring down Britain.

A respectable statue had been toppled solely because of his slave fortune. Another plinth had been scribbled. A few dark stone dignitaries had been unceremoniously moved from their old haunts, to the world, as if they were random old ladies blocking the demolition of a nursing home. As these humiliations were hardly invited by the effigies themselves, everything was a matter of institutional statuism. New laws would therefore protect the statues never to be disturbed again without the permission of the government. Precedents in history iconoclasm Henry VIII and Cromwells, say, or Johnsons London skyline devastation were not an excuse. Disobedient organizations could lose their funding.

And what about statues that allow you to go out alone at night, without fear of aggression or unwanted contact? In an emotional item, sounding as insulted as any woman Imran Khan lectured him to on how to dress, Johnson lamented the boarding of Churchills statue before a Black Lives Matter protest. It was scandalous, he wrote, that anyone could even claim that the statue needed protection. He was and is unhappy to see his statue buried in its protective sheath. (Sheath? So he’s quite familiar with the concept.)

Yes, conceded the Prime Minister, such outrageous precautions preceded the BLM. But that, you got it, happened in the long period of time between the Pygmalions’ very successful relationship with a statue of Johnsons membership in 2019, during which the statues were widely seen as lifeless. , representing only significant, even pathetic, passing relics of ancient grandiosity. Maybe they didn’t make Ozymandias to Eton.

Why attack Churchill? Johnson asked. What about when one of this country’s greatest rulers, perhaps our greatest, needs to be shielded from the wrath of the mob?

If, outside of Great Britain first and The telegraph of the day, many civilians were disappointingly apathetic on this point (only 33% disapproved of the removal of the Colston statues), instructive sanctions would re-educate them. The 10-year prison sentences introduced in the new Crime Bill confirm that, in the punitive application of the veneration of statues, Johnsons UK is now in competition with any effectively managed tyranny.

The damage and desecration of the memorials has been greatly upset, the Home Office lies, to explain why damage to the statue can now be more severely condemned than rape. It was long considered, he adds, just as vaguely, that the law was not sufficiently robust in this area. He has? Can he point out to us a clear promise, if not a serious conservative interest, if not ephemeral, in the statuary not of Margaret Thatcher, before the monument of Bristol was immersed, recovered and thereafter the only pretext for Telegraph articles on barking / wrathful / imaginary creatures?

Perhaps the shame of this earlier indifference helps explain the intensity of the current passion of governments for the protection of monuments (alas, excluding Stonehenge). Seeking respectable support for this idolatry, Johnson declares a common cause, as per, with women. Recent Maggi Hamblings notwithstanding disaster, there are feminists who think, understandably enough, that the absence of heroic female statuary is worth the effort to rectify. The first request from governments, however, was big big statue Captain Tom, not only for this generation to remember Captain Tom, said Vaccine Secretary Nadhim Zahawi, but for generations to come. And why not. It could even remind a future Conservative government to close its borders in the event of a pandemic.

Perhaps any creative impulse should be greeted by a government so renowned for philistinism. But ministerial fetishization can still be a mixed blessing for historic statues, especially Churchill’s bronze installed in Parliament Square in 1973. Last year Johnson vowed to resist its displacement with every breath of my body. . In practice, the greatest physical risk of this posture was obviously for the statue.

Again, thanks to Churchills’ most embarrassing fan, the Warchief is even more firmly identified as perhaps the worst thing for any quintessential public statue – a divisive figure, recognized as flawed by the left and therefore ostensibly revered from the right. The more Johnson describes him as worthy of martyrdom (Dowden favors the Nelsons column), the more magnetic the site is for smaller demagogues.

Laurence Fox has duly rhapsodized, in plinth, the different paths of the challenge of the mask with the suspensions of low traffic that he aspires, in a sort of reversal of the priorities of the blitz, to shorten the lives of Londoners. Even Churchills admirers could welcome, if that is the fate of his statues, his delay deletion in a safe place.

Long before the conservative plan to cultivate public discord from stone and bronze, the breeding of figurative public statues had become a complicated, dated, possibly doomed enterprise, a theme emphasized by artists contributing to the Fourth. Trafalgar Squares plinth. The indifference which protected the most terrible ancient statues could not extend to the new one. Even if people were in agreement on a subject, for example Oscar Wilde, they were likely to be divided on the execution, for example Maggi Hambling. In a characteristic style, Johnsons Foolish Statues Law is based on an invention, a reverence that never existed.

Catherine Bennett is an Observer columnist

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