British Parliament debates First World War Centenary plans

Posted on on 09 November 2013
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The BBC's Democracy Live service has provided coverage of a debate in the British Parliament about the Centenary of the First World War.

The debate, on the 7th November 2013, was led by Dr. Andrew Murrison MP, the Prime Minister's Special Representative for the Centenary Commemorations.

Dr. Murrison highlighted the general public's knowledge of the conflict "isn't very good" and that improving understanding about "the causes, conduct and consequences of the First World War must be at the heart of the Centenary that is about to break upon us".

Dr. Murrison also spoke of the role which television and stage had played in portraying the conflict: "We risk disconnection from a defining event of our time and an opportunity, perhaps, to balance the Oh! What A Lovely War/Blackadder take on history, that has sadly been in the ascendant for the past 50 years".

"In its place I hope we will have a richer, deeper and more reflective legacy".

Dr. Murrison also addressed the question of "upsetting the Germans" during the Centenary years - something which has received attention in the British press.

"Some of our more shouty newspapers are salivating at the prospect of this government attempting a grotesque impression of Basil Fawlty in which we don't mention the war for fear of upsetting Germany. Disappointingly for them the history has stood untweaked by this government".

Later in the debate, another issue which has received considerable attention in the British public sphere - whether the Centenary should be commemorated or celebrated - was alluded to by Helen Grant, Culture, Media and Sport Minister.

Ms. Grant highlighted that many who took part in the debate did so as a result of "their own interests in that time and their genuine concerns for how war is commemorated".

Ms. Grant said that when it came to the tone of Centenary commemorations that she did "sense considerable consensus in the chamber" during the debate.

"I would absolutely agree... that this is not a celebration, it is a commemoration... there will be no triumphalism and no jingoism".

The debate covered a wide range of topics ranging from commemorating Irish and Commonwealth troops to cultural events planned to mark the Centenary.

To watch the debate on the BBC's Democracy Live service, click here.

Images courtesy of the BBC's Democracy Live service

Posted by: Daniel Barry, Centenary News