A Pox on the Patriarchy
I posted a tweet thread about why I will not be accepting the CEO of Regent’s University’s offer to meet with him about the removal of the Emmeline Pankhurst statue to the grounds of his private university. Just copying it here for easier reading.
So I’ve just received an email from the “Vice Chancellor and CEO” (CEO of a uni?) of Regent’s University wanting to “clear up any misunderstandings” about an ex Tory MP’s plan to relocate the Emmeline Pankhurst statue from by Parliament to the grounds of his university. In his email he claims that the reason to move the old statue is to put up a more prominent and easily accessible statue in Canning Green. This is wrong on two counts. The current statue could not be more easily accessible, standing as it does at the entrance of the Gardens. By contrast, Canning Green is, and I cannot stress this enough, an inaccessible TRAFFIC ISLAND, tucked away out of sight behind Parliament Square. It is extremely difficult to get to it because it’s right in the middle of two busy roads.
Second. A new statue commissioned by Sir Neil Thorne, who has no connection to the Pankhurst family, & indeed, who does not have the blessing of the Pankhurst family (I have previously tweeted screengrabs of correspondence showing they are against his plan) is not “more prominent.” A new statue by an ex Tory MP is NOT more prominent than a bona fide piece of suffrage history. To suggest this is an act of astounding arrogance which reveals the derision the proponents of this plan have for women’s history. The original statue was commissioned and fundraised for by the suffragettes themselves. The suffragettes also specifically chose the location, and, I cannot stress this enough either: SPECIFICALLY TO BE AS CLOSE TO PARLIAMENT AS POSSIBLE.
Which leads me to the second point made by the CEO of Regent’s University: that Sir Neil knows better than the ACTUAL FRIGGING SUFFRAGETTES about the best and most prominent location for their own sodding statue. Regent’s University, it is suggested, is a better location for the statue because it stands on the same site as Bedford college, an old all-women university. This link is so tenuous as to be embarrassing. Regent’s College has no connection with Bedford beyond its grounds. Bedford College in fact was relocated to Egham, where it joined forces with another previously all-female institution: Royal Holloway. In any case, no Pankhurst ever attended Bedford college. There is no Pankhurst connection.
There is, however, a close connection between Regent’s University and Sir Neil Thorne, who is a member of the Steering Group Committee for the British Chinese Armed Forces Heritage project, a collaboration between the Ming-Ai (London) Institute and Regent’s University. Are we to believe that this convenient link between Sir Neil and Regent’s University is not the real reason this is the proposed relocation for the original Emmeline Pankhurst statue? I certainly do not believe it.
The CEO of Regent’s University goes on to assure me that the grounds of his private university are visited by 5000 people a week.
Last year 1.5million people visited nearby Westminster Abbey. If only a fraction also see the Pankhurst statue that’s already well in excess of 5k.
But more important than all of this, is recorded FACT that suffragettes did not wish to have the statue moved again, and that its proximity to Parliament was of utmost importance to them. OF COURSE IT WAS. Parliament was where Emmeline Pankhurst and all the brave women who stood alongside her fought for women’s right to vote. For MY RIGHT to vote as a woman. They did not fight in Regent’s Park — or indeed for access to Regent’s Park.
Those who fought for women’s right to participate in democracy deserve better than this half-baked plan that shows total disrespect to Emmeline Pankhurst, to the suffragettes, to women’s history, and to women. And so, respectfully, I must decline the CEO of Regent’s University’s kind invitation to me to come & discuss this matter. There is nothing to discuss. The original Emmeline Pankhurst statue must stay where she is. And if you agree, please PLEASE PLEASE take two minutes and OBJECT to Sir Neil’s planning application.