Monday, 15 June 2009

The Gandhi statue and Leicester's lack of them?

"I don't think there should be a statue of Gandhi in Leicester at all I bet he's never even been here." - one man said on our website today,

Blimey, what is it with people and the Gandhi statue, and being so angry about it?

Everytime we do a story on it we get many people upset about the fact that it is going to be in Leicester. Well tomorrow there will be more angry comments and debate because the statue was dropped into place this afternoon.

There seems to be an argument that instead of being Gandhi it should be someone else, like Gary Lineker or the Attenboroughs for example. Surely people are missing the point. This statue has been completely paid for by a charity. It is a private arrangement and it has planning permission. There are similar statues in more than 70 cities across the world, it seems reasonable that a city with links to India like ours should do the same.

The second point is that with all these people so angry with the statue, why not then start to consider whether Leicester should have more statues - more public art that other people can get excited about. Turn this negative energy into celebrating Leicester's heritage and successes. This charity has done it, others can too.

When Gandhi was going in, one bystander said to me that other cities and towns have more sculpture and statues. Why doesn't Leicester?

My home town of Ipswich has recently had two new statues. Football legends Sir Bobby Robson and Sir Alf Ramsay. People love them, I do. Nottingham has the Brian Clough statue. This has been popular as I understand it, and enjoyed because people living there because they can relate and know what these people were/are like and what they did for their area.

I'm not saying it should necessarily be a footballer, sportsman or manager, but something modern like this could only be good for Leicester. You have areas of the city that could be used. The city's cultural quarter near Curve, an area on New Walk, or somewhere near the Walkers Stadium or the new evolving Welford Road Tigers' ground.

I think that we should go for it.


  1. The facile answer, but partly true, is that the anger is down to racism. But I think that's only part of the story - there's also a strong feeling in some quarters that the various Asian communities are real in a way that white English communities aren't any more (perhaps never were, at least not in the way that immigrant communities stick together). Can you see any of the protesters getting together and organising funding and planning permission for a statue of Englebert or whoever they would like to see a statue of? Of course not - they will moan that the council ought to be doing it, but they won't get themselves organised to do it. And that goes for a lot of other things - the Peepul centre, for example, has had a lot of state and lottery funding, but the starting point was a group of private individuals deciding they were going to do something constructive rather than complaining about other people's schemes.

    I think the fact that very few of the moaners in the Mercury can spell Gandhi (or even Churchill) speaks volumes.

  2. Very well written Martin, I agree with everything you're said.

  3. The comments I've seen on various facebook groups about this are frightening and vile. I'm all in favour of it - apart from anything - it looks like quite a good statue! There should definitely be more. How about Joe Orton? What would the "English Democrats" say about that I wonder?

  4. I'm all for this particular statue. And agree with more public art in general. Does anyone know when the unveiling is taking place on Friday?

  5. There are actually quite a few statues in Leicester anyway. Off the top of my head, De Montfort Square, Market Square, Gallowtree Gate, Hotel Street, London Road Station, Welford Place, Abbey Park. Im sure there may be others?

    Leicester City should reclaim Gordon Banks. Stoke City have a statue of him even though he played more games here and won the World Cup while playing for Leicester!

    I love the Gandhi statue.