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Friday, 31 January, 2003, 17:02 GMT
Statue replacement call 'despicable'
Duke of Wellington statue
The Duke of Wellington statue was erected in 1852
A call from a Scottish National Party candidate to replace a statue of the Duke of Wellington with one of poet Robert Burns has been attacked.

The prominent landmark depicting the victor of Waterloo on horseback in Edinburgh city centre is not relevant to the modern Scotland, according to SNP candidate Kevin Pringle.

In a letter to Edinburgh City Council, Mr Pringle proposed that the bronze statue, erected in 1852, be replaced with one of the national bard, with the move funded by public subscription.

Mr Pringle, a candidate for the Scottish Parliament elections in May, said: "After over 150 years, the Duke has been on his high horse in Edinburgh for long enough.

DUKE OF WELLINGTON
Duke of Wellington
It's time Wellington was given the boot, in favour of a statue of Robert Burns at the heart of Scotland's capital

Kevin Pringle

"It's time Wellington was given the boot, in favour of a statue of Robert Burns at the heart of Scotland's Capital."

In his letter to the council's director of culture and leisure, Herbert Coutts, Mr Pringle said there was no statue of Burns anywhere in the city centre.

He wrote: "A perfect and prominent location for a Burns statue would be the current site of the Duke of Wellington statue, which really says nothing distinctive or relevant about Edinburgh and Scotland now.

"Replacing Wellington with Burns would send out a strong message to the rest of the world that Edinburgh and Scotland are moving on, and growing in cultural self-confidence."

'Betrayal'

Scottish Conservative justice spokesman, Lord James Douglas-Hamilton, said Mr Pringle's suggestion was a betrayal of the memory of those Scots who lost their lives fighting under the Duke against Napoleon Bonaparte.

He said: "This is quite inappropriate. A large contingent of Scots served loyally under the Duke, their supreme commander, at Waterloo and their role in that battle is the stuff of which legend is made.

"Burns should also be commemorated for the universal appeal to humanity of his poetry, but this idea of removing the Duke is quite wrong and simply narrow-minded."

I'm quite happy to entertain the idea of siting a Burns statue somewhere else but I don't like the anti-English bias pervading this suggestion

Cllr Steve Cardownie
A council spokesman said Burns was already remembered in the city centre with a marble statue of the poet at the National Portrait Gallery on Queen Street and a Burns Monument in Regent Road park.

Scottish Labour Councillor Steve Cardownie accused Mr Pringle of electioneering and racism.

He said: "I'm a big fan of Burns but replacing the recognised landmark of the statue of the Duke of Wellington is a daft idea and smacks of anti-Englishness.

"I'm quite happy to entertain the idea of siting a Burns statue somewhere else but I don't like the anti-English bias pervading this suggestion."

Mr Cardownie added: "I think it's despicable that he is using Burns, who was famously internationalist, to make what appears to be a narrow nationalist point and it's no coincidence the election is coming up."

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25 Jan 03 | Scotland
24 Jan 03 | Scotland
07 Oct 02 | Entertainment
22 Jul 01 | Scotland
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