View from Westminster 3rd February 2017

One of the things that I have always enjoyed is public art. The idea of statues, paintings and murals in the public realm is something that brings cultural wealth to an area. Some of it has greater meaning that others, whilst others bring simple joy. Banksy – the graffiti artist – has built an extraordinary reputation in this area, but we see similar near the Boar’s Head in Kidderminster. Similarly, the horse statues in the Horsefair is something that, to my mind, gives simple pleasure.

But the majority of public realm art is that of statues commemorating great people. Nelson’s Column is an extraordinary example of this, but we see much of it locally. The preacher Richard Baxter, a Kidderminster man, has a statue to him outside Baxter Church on the ring road. Roland Hill, inventor of the modern postal service and the postage stamp and also from Kidderminster, is commemorated outside the town hall in Kidderminster. Of course, we all remember him and probably curse him when bills arrive thanks to his invention!

There is one son of the district, though, who is not remembered with any prominence. Stanley Baldwin, MP for Bewdley between 1908 and 1937, was Prime Minister of this country three times (1923 to ’24; 1924 to ’29; 1935 to ’37). It was a remarkable achievement and whilst there are a few paintings of him and a bust or two around the district, there is no major statue of him. That will change.

An appeal has been launched to raise private money to pay for a statue outside the museum in Bewdley. A maquette has been made and the full-sized statue will be impressive. But this will give our community a chance to celebrate someone who achieved a great deal in his life, and to give inspiration to future generations from Wyre Forest.

On a different note, we had a big vote in Parliament this week – the triggering of Article 50, taking us out of the EU. Despite writing three articles in this column about my voting intention, putting it on my website and my Facebook page, and talking on radio about it, some people are still unclear about how I voted. So for those people who are still unsure: I voted with the government to trigger Article 50 and take us out of the single market. I hope that is clear.