2014 – A year of anniversaries- history and politics will collide…

ba3.JPGHappy New Year all,

In part at least I expect that you are looking at 2014 in terms of your forthcoming examinations (keep going with the mocks revision by the way). It is however also the anniversary of some emotive, and thus politically sensitive events in British history.

This summer sees the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn (just before the Scottish referendum in September), and the 100th anniversary of of the start of the First World War. Politicans have already had much to say about both.

More of the former at a later date. However, the secretary of state for education, Michael Gove, has already written this article in the Dail Mail entitled Why does the Left insist on belittling British heroes ? attacking the representation of “the conflict…through the fictional prism of dramas such as Oh! What a Lovely War, The Monocled Mutineer and Blackadder as a misbegotten shambles – a series of catastrophic mistakes perpetrated by an out-of-touch elite.”

Unsurprisingly, the shadow secretary of state, the historian Tristrum Hunt disagrees. You can read his reply from the Guardian Michael Gove, using history for politicking is tawdry here. He argues that “contrary to the assertions of Michael Gove… the left needs no lessons on “the virtues of patriotism, honour and courage”. 

I have included links to both articles, so you can read them in their own words in full. There is also plenty more comment in the papers about this. Have a look and see what you think. One final point – is all of this helpful to us as historians ? Do we want politicans talking in the media about history anymore than we want historians in the media talking about politics (see my earlier post on the 2011 riots and David Starkey) ? One thing is sure, whether we want it or not, there will much more of this throughout 2014.

Mr Kydd.

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