Leading Article: Populism on the plinth

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The Independent Culture
WHO WOULD you like to see honoured on the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square? Margaret Thatcher? Michael Owen? Florence Nightingale? Nelson Mandela? Well, it doesn't matter much, because the decision will be taken by Westminster Council from suggestions by the Royal Society of Arts. These include a figure of Christ, an upside-down cast of the plinth and a severed head caught in the roots of a tree. Whatever the merits of these works, what is striking is that the fate of a site of national and international distinction will be decided by an establishment elite and the planning committee of a local authority.

Perhaps we should try democracy? A plebiscite would stimulate a lively debate that would reveal much about us. We could test preferential and electronic voting. Our suggestion: Charles Darwin, the most influential figure in 160 years. In all events, it's time to fill the people's plinth.

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