The statue of Nancy Astor in Plymouth has apparently been spray-painted with the word “Nazi” and a circle with three arrows, an Antifa symbol.
Lady Astor was the first female to take a seat in the House of Commons, and a crowdfunded statue was unveiled last November outside Lady Astor’s home by former Prime Minister Theresa May to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Lady Astor’s election.
While Lady Astor was a trailblazer for women’s rights and participation in politics, as well as other reforms, she also held deeply intolerant opinions, including antisemitic views, for example reportedly telling a Jewish MP that “only a Jew like you would dare to be rude to me.” She was also a supporter of appeasement and is said to have indicated sympathy for the Nazis prior to the Second World War.
The vandalism comes at a time of scrutiny of historical monuments and statues, particularly of those believed to have held racist views or profited from racist practices or businesses.
At the time of the unveiling of the statue of Lady Astor, a spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “Nancy Astor was a trailblazer for women in politics, and in that respect it is fitting that her statue was unveiled by our second woman Prime Minister. However, Lady Astor also held appalling views on Jews and Nazi Germany. Therefore it is vital that context should be provided for passersby about not only her achievements but also her virulent antisemitism. Hopefully that will serve as a lesson that in our time we must not sacrifice our solidarity with a minority community for other priorities, however worthwhile.”
Image credit: Thomas Godwin
— Thomas Godwin (@Tom_Godwin) June 23, 2020