What David Cameron says

quotes redI want a commemoration that captures our national spirit … that, like the Diamond Jubilee celebrated this year, says something about who we are as a people.quotes red close

What we say

quotes redIn a time of international tension we call on writers, actors, musicians, teachers and campaigners to join with us to ensure that this anniversary is used to promote peace and international co-operation.quotes red close


The Open Letter

Add your name to this open letter by prominent writers, artists, musicians, teachers, campaigners and members of parliament.

quotes red2014 marks the hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the First World War. Far from being a “war to end all wars” or a “victory for democracy”, this was a military disaster and a human catastrophe.

We are disturbed, therefore, to hear that David Cameron plans to spend £55,000,000 on “truly national commemorations” to mark this anniversary. Mr. Cameron has quite inappropriately compared these to the “Diamond Jubilee celebrations” and stated that their aim will be to stress our “national spirit”.

That they will be run at least in part by former generals and ex-defence secretaries reveals just how misconceived these plans are.

Instead we believe it is important to remember that this was a war that was driven by big powers’ competition for influence around the globe, and caused a degree of suffering all too clear in the statistical record of 16 million people dead and 20 million wounded.

In 2014, we and others across the world will be organising cultural, political and educational activities to mark the courage of many involved in the war but also to remember the almost unimaginable devastation caused.

In a time of international tension we call on writers, actors, musicians, teachers and campaigners to join with us to ensure that this anniversary is used to promote peace and international co-operation.quotes red close

Ralph Steadman • Tim Pigott Smith • Dame Harriet Walter • Kika Markham • Roger Lloyd Pack • Susan Wooldridge• Mike Dibb • Colin Towns • Tony Haynes •  Nic France • Barry Miles • Leon Rosselson • Leo Aylen • Jan Woolf •  Ken Livingstone • Jeremy Corbyn MP • Duncan Heining • Chris Nineham • Danny Thompson • Neil Yates • Peter Kennard • Evan Parker • Chris Searle • Steve Berry •  Lionel Shriver •  Mike Westbrook • Kate Westbrook • John Surman • Pete Brown • Neil Faulkner • Vanessa Redgrave • Sir Patrick Stewart • Janie Dee • Alan Rickman • Liane Aukin • Alistair Beaton • Timothy West • Kate Hudson • Andy de la Tour

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6 Responses to

    1. The names above go some way to spectacularly represent and capture the national spirit. Not the warmongering diatribes of a small pocket of war profiteers like the puppet Cameron, the Royals and their glorification of war in their strange, dark ceremonies. We should aim to forget all war. Remember those who gave their lives in the fight for freedom, but the entire concept of it: resign all war to the dustbin of history.

      Hopefully this campaign will capture the spirit of all people on planet earth – the message: we don’t want any more wars.

      Comment by Claire on 24 May, 2013 at 6:08 am
    2. Roger Waters would probably be interested in this, one should point him in this direction..

      Comment by Cecilia on 25 May, 2013 at 11:24 am
    3. Most families in this country were affected by the Great War, now known as the First World War – in some towns whole streets were in mourning due to the slaughter of the Pals Battalions. My two great uncles were killed in action and my grandfather endured 4 years on the Western Front before he luckily returned home. This country lost a million men – the” lost generation” and almost bankrupted the country. All this for no better reason other than the big powers – England, France and Germany to flex their muscles to prove which was the most powerful nation.
      There is no need to spend more millions on “a commemoration”. All the politicians should be made to go en masse to Tyne Cot cemetery or any of the big war cemeteries in northern France and look at the graves of our young men and swear never to become involved in any more wars. David Cameron should be ashamed to be making political capital out of this unnecessary and appalling war.

      Comment by John Watson on 27 May, 2013 at 8:06 am
    4. Any commeration of the anniversary of war should be for people to remember those who suffered and lost their lives – our ancestors – certainly not to glorify war in any way. All that I have read or heard about WW1 was that it lead to an unnecessary waste of millions of lives. Money would be better spent on educational activities about the devastating effects of this particular war and hopefully lead to better understanding about wars generally across the planet.

      Comment by ruth smith on 28 May, 2013 at 9:58 am
    5. Let’s celebrate the beauty and creativity of our nation, not its warmongering. I am an artist and musician. I might also like to remember the uncle I never met, whose cello I possess, and the millions of other creative people whose lives were lost.

      Comment by Julia Fowler on 13 June, 2013 at 11:15 am
    6. For decades after the Second World War it was an accepted given that Germany alone was also the sole cause of the First World War; but as time passes and greater objectivity is possible for present generations, this notion is now untenable. First of all, as historian Norman Davies suggests in his ‘Europe: A History’, the years 1914-1945 represent a single conflict with a long interlude in the middle during which the forces for war were regathering for a second stage, and a new level of destruction. The origins and causes of what opened up in 1914 have been obscured by propaganda, self-serving claims and counter-claims, but it is crucial that we persevere in trying to uncover the awful truth of that time – because had it not happened, the entire C20th would have unfolded differently and we would not live in the same world now. To some of us it now seems that The Great War so-called was in fact avoidable, was not inevitable as was trumpeted then and since, that it came about in an argument between several imperialist powers with ambitions to dominate and at least cripple if not destroy their rivals, and finally, but not least, there were few on the political stage who can be called ‘innocent’. It means that the guilt lay as much with Britain’s political class as with any other, seeing the new industrial Germany only as a threat to its interests, and seeking a way to sustain its (by then) already tottering Empire.
      Understanding this lust for power, which blinds politicians now as it did then, may go some way to alleviate the disastrous course on which we are still sometimes pulled into.

      Comment by Stephen Douglas on 26 August, 2013 at 9:44 pm

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