Let me begin by saying that the circumstances surrounding the death of Stephen Lawrence 25 years ago must have been horrific for him, his family and his friends.
My concern is to question the appropriateness of a ‘national day’ for one individual in these circumstances. After all, there have been many many others who have been murdered for what they are, or they represented, both white and black – Kriss Donald in Glasgow along with Richard Everett and Lee Rigby in London spring to mind, to ‘balance the books’. Personally, I would also question the motivation behind the fact that it is 25 years ago and maybe it’s time to move on? The point has clearly been made as both his parents and especially his mother, are now part of the ‘establishment’.
To develop this issue, I have noticed that many politicians and especially those in government and more widely in Parliament (predominantly on the ‘left’), have resorted to focusing on individuals and individual causes and cases. They raise individual (often named) cases in Parliament and at ‘Prime Minister’s Questions’ and, as above, we now have national days (paid for by the tax payer) for individuals. Surely the purpose of government and MPs is to collect and collate individual cases and present them as issues in a constituency or national context. If we spend too much time on individual cases (and for that matter referendums) the role and purpose of Parliament (and MPs) becomes degraded, devalued and eroded and the governance of the country and government is diluted.
Today, a statue to Millicent Fawcett is being unveiled in Parliament Square. This may be a different case/cause, but my concern is that it is being driven by a feminist cause (which so often is, by nature, one driven by misandry) rather than recalling the ‘mission’ she represented. If this is the case, this is sad, as it is of national importance to us all. I would also criticise the ‘art’ in the statue, as it lacks the subtlety of those around it. Most of the statues in Parliament Square are of people who said a lot, had a lot to say and is memorable, but they are not holding up banners, which I appreciate the Suffragists and Suffragettes did, of course. The words inscribed on the plinth would have been adequate, as with the staggeringly haunting Edith Cavell on the edge of Trafalgar Square. The images of another 50 or so individuals (who of course have to be mentioned!) also spoil the statue…and set a worrying precedent.