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Museums:

One of the things that we don’t talk about here is the feckless administration in charge of the Northampton Borough Council. We had a disastrous Lib Dem administration leading up to 2011, when they were replaced with a Conservative administration that promised to sort out all of Northampton’s issues. Shortly after the election, there was a bit of a power struggle within the local Party, and the Council Leader was replaced by an upcoming councillor by the name of David Mackintosh.

Young David, as we soon came to learn is an ambitious young chap, has plans to become the town MP, and will never turn down an easy photo-opportunity. He does, however, seem to disappear when the going gets tricky…

There’s a lot of things that I could write about the past three years of our Conservative overlords. They’ve even galvanized me into getting politically involved. But the thing I want to talk about today is the town’s museums.

The town has two museums, more or less. There is an old one in Abington Park, and a bigger one in the Town Centre that hosts exhibits relating to local history, and to the history of the shoe industry in the town. I’ve not been to the Abington Park museum since I was younger, but we’ve taken J to the Town Centre Museum a few times, and we’ve always had an enjoyable time.

In their 2011 Manifesto, the Conservatives said “Museums play a vital role in protecting our town heritage and history, and in educating people about the past. Northampton Conservatives value Northampton’s unique heritage, and we will seek innovative ways of bringing the town’s history to a wider audience. Northampton Conservatives will ensure that our museums continue to be a valuable resource to the town and future generations and remain open.”

So much so anodyne. The Conservatives commit to keeping the museums open. That’s the sort of statement from a party that knows they need to mention museums but that doesn’t really give a toss about them. However, at some point, the Borough Council realised that in a dark corner of a dusty storage room, the Museuem had an exceptionally valuable Egyptian Statue. It’s dated from about 2400 BC. It is valued at between 4-6 million pounds, and its only relationship to Northampton is that it was gifted to the people of Northampton by the 2nd Marquess of Northampton, back in the 19th Century. Best not to ask how he came across this statue.

So, the Borough Council, including their fearless leader, saw pound symbols flashing up behind their eyelids, and decided to sell the statue. At this point, the descendant of the Marquess said that it wasn’t theirs to sell, and although the Council continues to argue that they can do whatever they want with the statue, they have agreed to hand over a sizeable share of the proceeds to our noble lord, because a legal battle would delay it (past the lifespan of the current administration)

You might think that any imaginative council would, upon discovering that they had such a valuable resource on their hands, work out how best to use that resource. Maybe come up with an exhibition themed around Egypt, or loan the statue out. No, they have taken the action that now has the Egyptian government claiming it is unethical, that has caused the Museums Council to threaten removal of its accredited status, and that has seen it debated on the Radio 4 Today show.

There is a petition against the sale here. Please, sign it if you are able to. The sale is tomorrow. Barring a miracle, it will go ahead, and the rest of the world will understand that the Conservatives in charge of Northampton Borough are a bunch of unimaginative morally bankrupt bunch of accountants. They understand the price of everything and the value of nothing. They have shown that they are unfit to run the Borough Council and their demise at the next elections can not come soon enough. I just hope they leave us with something to work with.

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