Where's Gordon Brown? And Ariel Sharon?

The politics of Madame Tussauds

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I missed this story last year -- forgive me! -- and so was rather surprised to visit Madame Tussauds today, with my in-laws from America, only to discover the absence of the much-maligned Gordon Brown. He is, it seems, the first prime minister in history not to have a wax sculpture commissioned and put on display in the museum -- and staff there have said they'll wait till after the general election next year to reconsider their decision. I guess, like the British media, they're all holding out for a Cameron victory over in Marylebone. Meanwhile, the current British political contingent of waxworks on display consists of two men who bombed Iraq -- Winston Churchill and Tony Blair -- and the latest star of Eastenders -- Boris Johnson.

Something else I couldn't help but notice while I was there was that the folks at Madame Tussauds have assembled a rather amusing "rogues' gallery" in the corner of one floor: Muammar Gaddafi, Robert Mugabe, Saddam Hussein, Adolf Hitler and -- wait for it -- Yasser Arafat. But why Arafat? He may be a terrorist in the eyes of his enemies, but (a) so too was Nelson Mandela, and yet his waxwork is respectfully placed between Mahatmas Gandhi and Obama, (b) even his enemies would acknowledge that he's killed nowhere near as many people as Messrs Mugabe, Hussein and Hitler (!), (c) unlike the aforementioned trio of terribles, Arafat is -- whether you like it or not! -- a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and (d) where, in the interests of Israeli-Palestinian balance, is Ariel Sharon? His corpulent frame would make for a perfect waxwork and his blood-stained record from Qibya to Sabra and Shatila to Jenin would surely qualify him for entry into Tussauds' "rogues' gallery". So where is he?

I've been going to Madame Tussauds since I was a kid but it's only now, after entering my thirties, and joining the New Statesman, that I've recognised its pro-Tory, pro-Israeli bias.

[Before the humourless wingnuts in the blogosphere descend on this post in their abusive hordes, can I ask you all to recognize that I'm allowed to have a little fun on this blog? Cheers.]

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

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