How do you feel about the first world war centenary?

Posted on 7 November 2013

As part of our research for our latest report, Do mention the war: Will 1914 matter in 2014?, British Future commissioned a nationally representative poll to find out which meanings of the first world war centenary people agree and disagree with.

The public primarily see the centenary as an opportunity to learn about our shared history. Greatest support, at over 80%, is for a centenary that focuses on the importance of preserving peace, which commemorates the sacrifice of those who lost their lives, and which increases knowledge of the Commonwealth contribution, so that we understand the shared history of our multi-ethnic society.

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The polling revealed far lower levels of public support for a centenary that focuses on victory over the tragic loss of life in the war. Yet there was even less support for an approach which avoided commemoration lest it encourage further nationalism and war.

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  • Comment by Alan Robinson at 05:28 on 17.09.16

    “Sacrifice … died to protect the British way of life”

    This is something that should be looked at in more detail. I suggest reading “Empty Cradles” by Margaret Humphreys. It depicts one aspect of the British way of life of which we should all be ashamed. Or how about the fact that the British invented modern concentration camps during the Boer War? Or how about the way in which past criteria for becoming a magistrate were designed to exclude virtually all but land-owners? How are the judiciary appointed these days? Or how about the way in which upper middle-class business-owning families became wealthy in the UK then as times changed moved their money into tax shelters, leaving the British public with the bill to clear up after them? Don’t believe me? Take a look along Bankside in Hull. Or what about solicitors being under pressure not to take on cases that challenge the establishment? How about files containing unpleasant facts disappearing from public archives? How about data protection laws that serve only to help conceal unpleasant facts?

    As an ex-serviceman I find there is much for the British to be ashamed of. There will be no outlook for national unity until the British themselves hold their so-called compatriots in regard. What is the point of a nation where the citizens look on their compatriots as people to compete against, compared with, and to be better than?

    I think you should ask the fundamental question, “what is the point of having a nation?”

    Sincerely

    Alan Graham Robinson