Monument to indecision

Decision. So, at long last, after 150 years, plentiful suggestions and lengthy deliberations, most recently by a distinguished panel under the leadership of Sir John Mortimer, a decision has been reached about a statue to stand on the fourth, empty plinth in Trafalgar Square: there's not going to be one.

Sir John, explaining yesterday why the plinth would instead be occupied by a rotating series of temporary art works, was his usual eloquent self. The solution reached, he said, would constitute a "celebration of our artistic revival and the vitality and vivacity of this moment as opposed to the great moments of the past". Permanent statues, he implied gently, were rather outmoded in these days of Tate Modern Cool Britannia.

He has a point. We would be extremely pressed to decide between the lasting merits of suggestions that have ranged - if that is not too expansive a term - from a giant pigeon to David Beckham. Nevertheless, we would prefer to see the decision as evidence that another great national characteristic continues to linger under the veneer of the forceful new. It has often been dismissed as weak, vacillatory and just a little perfidious. But we would seek to proclaim it as a strength.

One of the rotating exhibits should be an empty plinth above the plain inscription: "The Compromise".

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