The Independent comments on Gove’s tantrum and Evans’s response.
Today, one of Britain’s most eminent historians hit back at what he described as an “ignorant attack” by Education Secretary Michael Gove on his analysis of the conflict.
Writing in the Daily Mail yesterday Mr Gove accused Professor Sir Richard Evans of failing to acknowledge the debt owed to the soldiers that were killed in the Great War claiming he had previously dismissed attempts to honour their sacrifice as “narrow tub-thumping jingoism”.
Sir Richard, Regius Professor of History and President of Wolfson College Cambridge, suggested the criticism stemmed from his vocal opposition to the Education Secretary’s ill-fated attempts to reform the way history is taught in schools.
Professor Evans told The Independent: “I never said that at all. I said his proposals for the National Curriculum were narrow tub-thumping jingoism and there is some relationship between that.”
History according to the Tory party. Sounds about right.
Professor Evans accused Mr Gove of oversimplification. “How can you possibly claim that Britain was fighting for democracy and liberal values when the main ally was Tsarist Russia? That was a despotism that put Germany in the shade and sponsored pogroms in 1903-6.”
He said that unlike Germany where male suffrage was universal – 40 per cent of those British troops fighting in the war did not have the vote until 1918. “The Kaiser was not like Hitler, he was not a dictator. He could never make his mind up and changed his mind every five minutes. The largest political party in Germany in 1914 were the Social Democrats,” he said. “Germany was a very divided country in 1914 and becomes more so as time goes on. It is not Nazi Germany,” he added.
Don’t pester the Education Secretary with pedantic details like that. He’s a busy man.