Gove’s partisan wittering

Another Angry Voice points out some of the (to put it politely) mistakes in Michael Gove’s Daily Mail article about how marvelous the First World War was. (It was so marvelous it was even “iconic” – they called it The Great War you know, until the next big one came along and they realized it was just going to have to be numbers.)

I’ll go through some of Gove’s absurd ramblings and highlight some of the many things that he’s got wrong.

         “The conflict has, for many, been seen 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. Even to this day there are Left-wing academics all too happy to feed those myths.”

The conflict has also been seen through the great volume of testimonies from people who served during the Great War, from the works of great war poets like Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon to the first hand testimonies collected by the Imperial War Museum and collated in books like Forgotten Voices of the Great WarThe Soldier’s War and Britain’s Last Tommies (all of which I thoroughly recommend as infinitely more enlightening than Gove’s partisan wittering on the subject). Many of these first hand testimonies are pervaded by a sense of horror at the tactical blunderings of the generals that resulted in the mass slaughter of millions of men.

One wonders where Gove thinks the fictional versions came from. One wonders if he really thinks WWI was just a roaring success in every way and people wrote movies and memoirs and tv shows saying it was awful just because they’re left-wing troublemakers.

As for his drivel about “left-wing academics“, perhaps he is unaware that the historian who did the most to spread the “lions led by donkeys” narrative was  Alan Clark in his 1961 book “The Donkeys”. Clark went on to become a minister in Margaret Thatcher’s government, hardly a “left-wing academic” by any stretch of the imagination. Not only is Gove expressing an ignorant and politically partisan myth (that the left are inherently unpatriotic) he’s also displaying grotesque ignorance of his own political party.

From Another Angry Voice’s Facebook page…

Photo: Michael Gove has taken a few moments away from his day job (orchestrating the ideological destruction of our education system) in order to slag off Blackadder Goes Forth as leftist propaganda.

Turnips at least don’t write articles for the Daily Mail.

H/t Mary Ellen


  1. colnago80 says

    Appeared in the Daily Mail, the British equivalent of the Fascist News Channel. No other commentary is necessary.

  2. Gordon Willis says

    Turnips at least don’t write articles for the Daily Mail.

    They don’t? What, really? Bloody hell. Another myth gone, then. How am I supposed to make sense of things now ?

  3. Shatterface says

    As a lot of British critics of Gove have already pointed out, the ‘myth’ to which he alludes is at the heart of Alan Clark’s chronicle of the war, The Donkeys. That was published in 1961.

    Clark was right-wing even by Tory standards.

  4. says

    Gove is so dumb that he thinks “great” means “large”, not “wonderful”.

    How does someone like that tie his shoes in the morning? Or is he one of those privileged-from-birth types who never had to tie his own shoes?

  5. infraredeyes says

    Gove is overlooking a major source of opinion about the 1st World War: stories handed down within families. Both of my maternal grandparents served in the Mediterranean theatre, as a nurse and a doctor respectively. They never forgot the trauma of dealing with casualties from Gallipoli; grandfather’s death from alcoholism in the late 20s was attributed to that trauma.

    The Tories’ notion of somehow “celebrating” one of the great tragedies of European history is simply sick.

  6. rnilsson says

    But as it turnips, The Great War is still so poppylar that anyone without a certain ornament on their clothes in November are in for a beeting, apparently.
    // teh swede
    (OK, not really up to Baldrick standards, granted. Or should that be, I Gove you that? Nah, that’s ‘Allo, ‘allo innit.)

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