Will of the People: A statue for Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth

London’s Trafalgar Square is noted as the site of Nelson’s Column, a memorial to the famous admiral who played an important role in the sea campaigns of the Napoleonic Wars and hero of the public open space’s eponymous Trafalgar Battle. Less well known are the military figures occupying three of the four smaller plinths placed around the square, although these would have been well known at the Victorian age when the square was created. To this day the fourth plinth is used as a kind of temporary exhibition space awaiting a suitable statue for this venue of national importance. I think we now have one.

The risk is that the fourth plinth would also be occupied by a statue of some character who with the benefit of hindsight is not so historically notable after all, or who are subsequently found to be dubious in some way. This trap can be avoided by crafting a statue that is allegorical and represents the embodiment – in human form – of a lofty concept such as liberty, freedom, or the national character Britannia. The trend is for a female character, other examples are Lady Justice (as seen on the dome of the Old Bailey) Verity and one local to Llandrindod, Ghia.

We all know Trafalgar was a notable instance where Britain whooped the Europeans. In the current age, the perception of Britain as a proud free nation is affirmed to no small degree by the public art in Trafalgar square; a perception which contributed to many of us wishing to drop out of the European Union. British politicians are divided amongst those for and against withdrawal from the Union, however those who disagree are loath to resist what is now popularly portrayed as “the will of the people”. So it is my humble suggestion that the Fourth Plinth in this most British of places be occupied by a statue embodying the “will of the people”.

Unlike Britannia, Liberty and the rest, the noble ideal of Will of the People will have to be represented in male form – you cannot have a woman called Will – and will also have to be of the people. I suggest that a random person called Will could be selected from a political ward such as Boston (Lincolnshire that is) as a reward to a stout bastion of Britishness with the vision to withdraw from the Union.

Similar to Nelson’s column the Armada Memorial in Plymouth is another idealised representation of the national character standing in defiance of the scurrilous continentals and features Britannia with a lion by her side. I suggest that a lion is hardly “of the people” and I propose Will have a more democratic fearsome creature with which to stand against the continent such as a Stafford terrier.

I graciously offer this proposal to the Nation so sculptors (and photoshop technicians) can create a vision for Will of the People. In the spirit of the current age I see no place for discredited art experts on the panel that gets to choose the piece and with this in mind I’ll happily sit on the panel that weeds entries down to a shortlist for public vote.


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