I AM pleased to support Sir Alex Ferguson’s campaign for a statue of Nelson Mandela to be erected in Glasgow (“Sir Alex backing Mandela statue”, The Herald, October 10). I know that Nelson Mandela had a great affection for our city. I was leader of Glasgow City Council in 1980 when the council decided to make him a freeman of the city. The Labour group on the council had long supported the Anti-Apartheid movement by boycotting South African goods and supporting the sporting boycott. The Tories on the council moved no action on the grounds that Mr Mandela was a terrorist and that we were disgracing Glasgow in the eyes of the world but we won the vote by 56 to 8.

The UK media had a field day at our expense. We were pilloried for honouring a “terrorist” but I was really buoyed by hearing a report of our action on BBC World Radio giving our decision, in perfectly neutral terms, world-wide coverage. So perhaps we had made a difference. We later heard that the news had been given to him in prison and that he was delighted.

In 1981 the freedom of the city was conferred on him in absentia. In 1986 we decided to bring more attention to Mr Mandela’s cause by naming a street after him. An early suggestion was a wee lane off Bath Street. But that was not dramatic enough for the council. We went for the city centre location of the office of the South African ambassador in St George’s Place which is now Nelson Mandela Place. More wide publicity, labelled by the Evening Times as “a bad move”.

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In 1990 Nelson Mandela was freed. Eight other UK cities had awarded him the freedom of their cities and it was decided that, as Glasgow had been the first to do this, all the freedoms would be conferred on him in Glasgow City Chambers. As leader of the council in 1993, I had the honour of taking him round all the committee rooms to meet representatives of the other cities. Then he went out to George Square where he joined in the dancing to the delight of the huge crowd who had gathered to greet him. It was a great day for Glasgow and Glaswegians can be proud of the part they played in the struggle against apartheid.

Jean McFadden,

16 Lansdowne Crescent, Glasgow.