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More jaw-jaw on the great war-war.

KEEN GREAT WAR anniversary watchers will realise we have left the initial prim and decorous phase of the campaign, which opened with the government telling us in suitably prefect-like tones that the anniversary will be “non-judgmental” and not involve any finger-pointing (at the Germans, that is, who started it all).

Michael Gove’s barrage against left-wing academics for peddling an anti-patriotic campaign over the last five decades, involving Blackadder and a couple of poets, however, has thoroughly destroyed the possibility of such primness continuing.

In response to the Gove blast Sir Baldrick from Blackadder, or at least a balding, middle-aged man pretending to be him, accused the minister of “slagging off teachers”, which will probably be made a crime under a future socialist government. The minister, he roared, “has made a very silly mistake!”

How deep this thrust pierced Gove we do not know, for no sooner had Baldrick delivered it than Tristram Hunt, shadow secretary for education, not to be outdone by a luvvy, also leapt onto the field of action, waving his Guardian screed like a glittering bayonet.

According to Hunt’s brilliant, Cambridge-educated brain, German militarism may have caused the war, but that’s no reason to blame the Germans. Or militarism. Or something.

Gove and the government were being crass and shocking, he sneered like a snotty sixth-former who likes to impress his mates with the titles of some big books he’s read but hasn’t quite understood (eg, Fritz Fischer’s Germany’s Aims in the First World War). According to Hunt’s brilliant, Cambridge-educated brain, German militarism may have caused the war, but that’s no reason to blame the Germans. Or militarism. Or something.

At this last sally Boris Johnson charged to Gove’s defense, smacking the dim Tristram soundly across his smug (“Stoke on Trent is a wonderful city”) chops, mocking his limp grip on the actualities and calling on him to resign his commission in Her Majesty’s Disloyal Opposition.

It’s all quiet now on the Westminster front, ladies and gentlemen, but the war has begun and the liberalocracy is mustering.

Already a group called No Glory In War is touting a wishy-washy open letter in front of the populace, demanding the anniversary be used to promote peace and puppies. It’s a real luvvy and literati affair, signed by people like AL Kennedy, Carol Ann Duffy, Simon Callow, Tony Benn (is he still alive?), Vanessa Redgrave, Ken Livingstone, and Trigger.

Who could argue with peace and puppies? It all depends on whose peace and whose puppies, of course. A proper kit inspection reveals the organisers of No Glory In War to be a bunch of commies from the Socialist Workers Party, the kind of people who are not to be trusted either with puppies or anything grown up.

I’ve read their ramblings and watched their videos and can tell you the import of both is this: the Germans were jealous of us because we had a big empire and they didn’t, so it’s our fault. Strip away from such arguments all the jargon about imperialism, capitalism and elites and that’s as nuanced as it gets.

Fortunately for those of us who enjoy watching the liberalocracy work itself into spasms of outrage we have lots more to come. First to enlist have been the arties and academics. Soon we’ll be seeing the professional scribblers like Owen Jones and Laurie Penny making their way to the front. What fun we shall have then deconstructing the phallocentric, imperialist, patriarchal, anti-environmental racism of it all! What japes!

Michael Blackburn.

Note: Edited 12 January after publication to correct an editing error.


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