We will not celebrate 100th anniversary of First World War, says Tory minister
Helen Grant said that while Britain and its allies had won an 'absolutely vital victory', there should be no 'sounding of triumphant fanfares' given the loss of of life
Friday 07 February 2014
The Government will not be “celebrating” the 100th anniversary of World War One, the minister in charge of marking its centenary has said.
Helen Grant, a Conservative, said that while Britain and its allies had won an “absolutely vital victory”, there should be no “sounding of triumphant fanfares” given the loss of millions of lives.
Her comments, in an article published by The Lady magazine, come after Education Secretary Michael Gove attacked “left-wing academics” – and television programmes such as comedy Blackadder – for “denigrating virtues such as patriotism, honour and courage”.
David Cameron suggested last year that he wanted a “commemoration that, like the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, says something about who we are as a people”, prompting criticism from Jeremy Paxman, who is presenting a BBC series about the conflict.
Mrs Grant said that the Government would not be “shying away from the fact that, in the end, it was an absolutely vital victory for us that changed the course of world history in countless ways”.
“But we won’t be celebrating that fact or sounding triumphant fanfares,” she added.
“Don’t forget that, as well as changing history, the conflict claimed the lives of around 16 million people across the world, and injured a further 20 million.
“The tone has to be right, not four years of gloom and misery, but no dancing in the street either.”
Responding to her remarks, Professor Gary Sheffield, who teaches war studies at Wolverhampton University, told The Times that “avoiding triumphalism is absolutely correct”.
“Nobody wants a triumphalist approach. But we’ve got to be aware that celebrating can mean different things,” he said. “Celebrating in the sense of acknowledging the national effort made during the war is entirely appropriate.
“We must not lose sight of the fact that the war was fought by Britain to counter largely German aggression and involved a huge national effort on the battle front and home front.”
Professor Sheffield said the military victories of the war did not seem to be included in the main events to mark the centenary.
“What I think they’ve got wrong, and it’s caused some concern among military historians for example, is that among the great set-piece commemorations they are not including the great victories of 1918 which actually ended the war,” he said.
“That shows a lack of understanding of the basic facets of the history of the First World War.”
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...
£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...
£35000 per annum + Pension+Bupa: The Jenrick Group: We are recruiting for an e...