Tory pals can’t resist another dig at ’Craig

The Steelman was criticised by The Spectator
The Steelman was criticised by The Spectator

If the Tory Party weren’t content with destroying Ravenscraig, their pals at The Spectator have stuck the boot in one more time.

The weekly magazine has published the results of its 2015 What’s That Thing? Award for bad public art.

Coming second was The Steelman by Andy Scott, which was unveiled on the site of the former steelworks last summer to pay tribute to all those who had lost their lives working in the industry.

The Spectator’s correspondent Stephen Bayley, a former chief executive of the Design Museum in London, found no redeeming qualities in the sculpture, going so far as to launch a personal attack on Mr Scott’s skills as an artist.

He wrote: “Andy Scott’s ‘Steelman’, which is meant to celebrate the lost industrial arts of the Motherwell region, is programmatic in a wearily literal way.

“Without nuance or subtlety, ‘Steelman’, which makes not even a half-hearted play towards the observer’s higher faculties, succeeds only in mocking what it was intended to honour.

“The original northern iron and steelmen worked with practical and imaginative bravery in a new medium.

“A better client with a better artist might have made a tilt at appropriate novelty, poetry and soul.

“Instead, poor Ravenscraig has been given two-dimensional socialist realism in nursery-school style.”

Mr Scott, most famous for The Kelpies in Fakirk, said he was “too polite” to comment.

The Steelworkers Memorial Committee led the campaign to raise £200,000 to erect the 16ft high sculpture.

Chairman Terry Currie said: “Given the type of stuff and the policy positions which this publication takes, we should not be too surprised that it has chosen to take a negative view of the Steelworkers Memorial.

“I would pay much more attention to the views of local people rather than a magazine located some distance from here and the many comments which I have received have been overwhelmingly positive.”

Motherwell and Wishaw MSP John Pentland, a former steelworker himself, believes there is no contest in a choice between the Iron Lady and The Steelman.

He said: “Andy Scott may be too polite to comment, but I’m sure there will be plenty of folk in my constituency willing to tell The Spectator where they can stick their review.

“Local people lobbied and raised funds for The Steelman. It’s their memorial and they are the ones being insulted by the Tories and their fellow sympathisers who write for the rag.

“I suppose the Tories and their pals have spent so many decades attacking working people in industries such as iron and steel that they can’t shake off the habit.

“Many people in my constituency were workers or have family connections to the steel industry and suffered as a result of Thatcher’s axe.

“They appreciate a noted sculptor like Andy Scott creating a memorial to our heritage - to an industry that was savaged for the sake of a political ideology known as Thatcherism. Steelman or Iron Lady? No contest.”