UK: A difficult choice?

Linekar or Gandhi ?
Should an Indian peace activist or a local football legend be honoured with a statue in Leicester?

The city of Leicester is considering whom to honour with a commemorative statue. Two individuals, both of whom could be said to have touched many people’s lives, albeit in very different ways, are being pitted against each other.

As the Independent puts it, “one was a footballing hero”, while “the other is the world’s most celebrated pacifist”. Yes, it’s Gary Lineker v Gandhi.

The Indian spiritual leader may have the higher profile but, as critics have pointed out (there are 211 signatures on a “No Gandhi statue” petition on the Downing Street website), his connection with Leicester is tenuous at best. Lineker, on the other hand, is a local lad who scored 95 goals for Leicester City.

Lee Ingram, a Leicester resident who set up the petition, says Gandhi “has no connection to English culture or the English, therefore a statue of him would be more suitably erected in India”.

The Independent helpfully provides a comparison of the two men. Under the heading “also synonymous with”, the entry for Gandhi says: “A UN general assembly on 15 June 2007 for his birth date to become the ‘International Day of Non-Violence’.” For Lineker, it reads: “The Walkers crisps advertising campaign.”

It brings to mind the row over whether and where there should be a statue of Nelson Mandela in London – although Teddy Sheringham was never mooted as an alternative.

Should there be a statue of Gandhi, or should we be honouring those whose achievements have come closer to home?

* This is an extract from the Wrap, digest of the daily papers

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