In Search of British Values

Rumana Begum and Andrew Thompson 
Email Rumana Begum, or Andrew Thompson,

Cross-Posted from Care for the Future

Last week Michael Gove rekindled the debate on British values by demanding that they should be taught in Britain’s schools. Gove’s broadside against the dangers of Islamic extremism taking a hold of our education system was backed by the Prime Minister, who rallied to his Education Secretary’s side, claiming that the incorporation of British values into the school curriculum was likely to have the “overwhelming support” of the country. The Prime Minister went on to give his own view of what these values are, citing freedom, tolerance, respect for the rule of law, belief in personal and social responsibility, and a respect for British institutions.

Continue reading “In Search of British Values”

Echoes of Britain’s Wartime Past: Gove’s Timeless Rhetoric of Justice and Liberty


Simon Mackley

Michael Gove’s recent assault, in the form of an article in the Daily Mail, alleges that the myths of the First World War continue to be perpetuated by an unholy alliance of left-wing academics and television sit-coms. The Education Secretary accused his ideological opponents of failing to recognise that the conflict was a ‘just war’, fought in defence of ‘Britain’s special tradition of liberty’. Since the piece went to press, the myriad problems inherent in Gove’s characterisation have been dissected at great length – including an excellent assessment by Marc-William Palen in this very blog. Yet while we might take particular exception to the tone and context of the Education Secretary’s position, such attempts to deploy the rhetoric of justice and liberty in defence of conflict are nothing new. Indeed, from my own research on the Liberal Party and the outbreak of the 1899-1902 South African War, I would suggest that Gove is merely rehashing the language and rhetoric of pro-war Liberals at the turn of the century. Continue reading “Echoes of Britain’s Wartime Past: Gove’s Timeless Rhetoric of Justice and Liberty”

Fighting the Myths of the First World War

Television - BBC - Blackadder Goes Forth - Rowan Atkinson and Tony Robinson - London
Rowan Atkinson as Cpt. Edmund Blackadder (left). Tony Robinson as Private Baldrick (right).

Marc-William Palen

Did you miss this weekend’s intellectual battle over the myths of the First World War? Here are the highlights.

Round 1, Gove v. Evans

Late last week, Education Secretary Michael Gove fired off the year’s opening salvo in the pages of the Daily Mail in ‘Why Does the Left Insist on Belittling True British Heroes?’ As the title suggests (and now with support from Stephen Pollard in the Express and UKIP’s Nigel Farage in the Independent), Gove attempts to situate the debate as a Left v. Right political issue (for which Professor Gary Sheffield has taken him to task). Continue reading “Fighting the Myths of the First World War”