Devon

'Nazi' sprayed on Nancy Astor MP statue in Plymouth

Nancy Astor statue Image copyright Thomas Godwin
Image caption The graffiti was sprayed on the statue near Lady Astor's old family home

A statue commemorating the first woman MP to take her seat in Parliament has been daubed with the words Nazi.

The statue of Nancy Astor, who was a Plymouth MP from 1919 to 1945, was unveiled by former prime minister Theresa May on Plymouth Hoe in 2019.

The graffiti was discovered on Tuesday.

Campaigners have accused Lady Astor of being anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic and a Nazi sympathiser, but supporters say she was a victim of misogyny and was "opposed to Nazism".

Image copyright Thomas Godwin
Image caption The statue was installed after £125,000 was raised through crowdfunding by the Nancy Astor Statue Appeal

The statue was installed after £125,000 was raised through crowdfunding by the Nancy Astor Statue Appeal.

Lady Astor argued for the rights of women and successfully saw the female voting age lowered from 30 to 21 in 1928.

The statue of Sir Francis Drake in Plymouth has also been attacked over his connections to slavery.

Both statues are listed by campaigners Topple the Racists which is demanding the removal of monuments that "celebrate slavery and racism".

Image caption Former Prime Minister Theresa May unveiled the statue of Nancy Astor in November 2019

Prof Judith Rowbotham, from the University of Plymouth, said Lady Astor was "never a supporter of Nazism" and led a conference in 1933 which criticised Nazi policy on women.

"She was one of many people at the time who hoped to avoid war because women and children always suffer most in war," she said.

Prof Rowbotham said claims of anti-Semitism were "unfounded" and "more to do with misogyny and ignorance than reality".

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