Leeds & West Yorkshire

Harold Wilson Westminster statue plea

Statue of Harold Wilson in Huddersfield
The statue of Harold Wilson outside Huddersfield railway station was unveiled by the then prime minister Tony Blair in 1999

A campaign has been launched for a statue to be erected at Westminster of former Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

It comes on the eve of the 50th anniversary of him becoming Labour leader on Valentine's Day 1963.

A statue of Lord Wilson was unveiled in his home town of Huddersfield in 1999 but there is no full-length statue of him at Westminster.

Labour's Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman has tabled a Commons motion calling for such a statue to be commissioned.

Mr Sheerman said he was surprised Lord Wilson's achievements had not been better recognised.

'Early action'

His motion points out that during his time at Downing Street, capital punishment was abolished, homosexuality was legalised and abortion laws were introduced.

In addition, he brought in the Open University, kept Britain out of the Vietnam War and won four general elections between 1964 and 74.

The motion calls for "early action to commission a statue equal in quality to that which stands in St George's Square in his home town".

Prime Minister Tony Blair unveiled the statue in July 1999, but the sculpture omitted the former Labour leader's most famous trademark - his pipe - at the request of his wife, Lady Wilson.

The 8ft (2.5m) tall bronze statue cost £70,000.

Lord Wilson, who was born in Huddersfield in 1916, became Labour leader in 1963 on the death of Hugh Gaitskell, and won the general election the following year.

He lost the 1970 general election but was returned to power in 1974 before finally resigning as prime minister 1976, although he continued as an MP until 1983. He died in 1995.

A special Harold Wilson Night will be shown on BBC Parliament on Thursday.

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