Cambridge history professor Sir Richard Evans: ‘Michael Gove is a donkey who pretends to be a lion’

Sir Richard also hit out at the commemorative Lord Kitchener coin

The Cambridge history professor dragged into a row with Michael Gove over his interpretation of First World War history has hit out at him once more, labelling him a "donkey".

Sir Richard Evans, who made the headlines earlier this month after being on the receiving end of “an ignorant attack” from the Education Secretary, made further stinging remarks in an interview with Cambridge student newspaper Varsity.

In reference to the fact that the soldiers of the First World War are often described as “lions led by donkeys”, he said: “I think in this respect of his proposed national history curriculum, Mr Gove is definitely a donkey. A donkey who pretends to be a lion.” 

Sir Richard also lambasted a new commemorative £2 coin displaying the image of Lord Kitchener, branding it “inappropriate”. 

“The image simply conjures up patriotic mobilisation. We need to think more carefully and in a more grown-up way about the First World War,” says Evans, who warns that the coin could shut down public debate.

He added: “Obviously there are a lot of different points of view over whose head to include on a commemorative coin. I don’t think it should be railroaded through.”

He supports the recent petition started by Sheffield Labour councillor Sioned-Mair Richards, who wants to replace Kitchener’s image with that of Nurse Edith Cavell: “Her action was not one of narrow patriotism. She helped many different kinds of soldiers of different nationalities. Her famous statement is ‘patriotism is not enough.”

Despite his general support for the Government’s centenary commemoration plans, the occasion has refueled tensions between Sir Richard and Mr Gove, who has publically claimed the First World War was fought for values of freedom and democracy.

“A lot of letters and diaries of the soldiers who took part in it have been released. They conceived themselves as fighting to defend the British Empire, not what Mr Gove says are western liberal democratic values.”

“We have to remember that Britain was not a democracy in 1914. 40 percent of adult males did not have the right to vote,” he added.

Of his public spat with Mr Gove, he said: “I played a very public part in criticizing his personal draft national history curriculum for the schools, which he was then obliged to withdraw, and I don’t think he’s forgiven me for that.”

Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Software Developer

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Join a fast growing software co...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Executive / Digital Account Executive

£20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate / Digital Account Exe...

Guru Careers: Junior Designer / Design Graduate

£18k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Junior Designer / Design Graduate to join...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas