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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

YOUGOV poll re WW1


MacNeil

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Oh dear. As has been pointed out elsewhere on the GWF, it's going to be a very long four years....

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No surprises to me in those results except that I'm a bit surprised the gap isnt even wider.

The "revisionist" argument is well supported by the likes of we "war anoraks" and is well argued by modern historians such as Pete Hart, but that side of the argument is as embedded in the popular culture as "lions/donkeys/butchers". It just isnt as good a story.

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What, perhaps, is rather more interesting is the two page demographic breakdown of responses you can access via 'See Full Poll results'. For example, more 18-24 year olds state they know a lot or a fair amount about the war than do the over 60s and yet it is the over 60s who mainly blame the Central Powers (67%) whilst only 45% of 18-24s do. As ever with any poll, the devil (and the interest) is in the detail.

On the issue of the performance of generals again it is the elderly who are far more convinced about their poor performance. There is a margin of 54% amongst over 60s between those that think the generals were poor v. well served. Amongst 18-24s that gap narrows to just 14%.

Perhaps the most pointless question is the last concerning whether children are taught well or badly about WW1. Well, I have a considerable interest in WW1 and yet haven't a clue about how it is taught in schools. Results that can be safely ignored but which Gove and his ilk will seize upon as justifying their arguments about 'left wing' teachers and other claptrap.

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Rather than being disheartened, let us hope that with all the educational media coverage over the centenary period, people's knowledge of WW1 will improve.

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According to the data it is right wing (Con + UKIP), male voters over 40 with whom you will have the most trouble. They are the most ardent in their belief that British generals were rubbish. The more recently educated are far less so indoctrinated.

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According to the data it is right wing (Con + UKIP), male voters over 40 with whom you will have the most trouble. They are the most ardent in their belief that British generals were rubbish. The more recently educated are far less so indoctrinated.

Yes - I noticed that too. Remarkable. Edit: Maybe not if they were educated in the 60s and 70s. Maybe they all read Clark's book in their youth. ...... it further undermines Gove's insinuation that the lions led by donkeys thesis is the preserve of the left wing. ...and perhaps shows that education is beginning to shape the views of the younger generation. MG

P.S. The other thing that struck me is just how many people admitted they knew little about the war. 50% of those polled admitted they knew 'not very much' or 'nothing at all' which surely has to undermine the answers to some of the the other questions. I also note that 51% of those polled thought that the Great war was being taught 'very badly' or 'fairly badly' so at least that part is consistent. MG

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Rather than being disheartened, let us hope that with all the educational media coverage over the centenary period, people's knowledge of WW1 will improve.

Hmmm ... good luck with that one.

Personally, I think, and have thought for some time, that we're best treating the GW as any other war. Of interest to those who are interested, and best forgotten for the rest. Sending kids to the battlefields is a waste of public money unless we send them to Waterloo or Normandy too. Or Agincourt, Minden, Warburg ...

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What, perhaps, is rather more interesting is the two page demographic breakdown of responses you can access via 'See Full Poll results'.

Doh! Yes, I forgot to specifically mention the link to the data chart in my original post. (Cheers for pointing it out Bill.)The overall headline is nothing we don't already know about, but it's the breakdown that is the interesting part. We all have anecdotal thoughts on what people think, but it's good to have some actual "facts" about what the general public think about WW1. It may not be a large sample of public opinion, but it's a useful starting point. (Certainly better than claims made in adverts on TV,especially ladies hair products, where the samples are often less than a hundred respondents.)

Anyhoo, hope the info was interesting.

Cheers

Colin

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According to the data it is right wing (Con + UKIP), male voters over 40 with whom you will have the most trouble.

Yes!

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Sending kids to the battlefields is a waste of public money unless

Have to disagree, Steve. At least, I think I have to disagree.

The results in the demographics may well represent a shift in teaching, from the recipients of my generation(now in our 60s), to today's young folk. We did not cover the War whilst I was at school, not were there battelfield trips of any sort. I can only assume that a battlefield trip helps the understanding of the conflict. I recall my niece going to Belgium and ringing me from a cemetery to ask if the headstone she'd found, of someone with her surname was, in fact, some one from the family. I was able to tell her that it wasnt and, later, was able to give her some information about that man's final day.

I think Gove has got this generally right. I also wouldnt assign particular views on the conflict to one's own modern political beliefs.

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I believe the respected historian and author Mr P M Hart recently said in an interview



" ..[The Great War] should be treated as [an] historical event to be studied and understood rather than celebrated of commemorated. Centenaries are mere excuses for morbid sentimentality. They have no meaning other than an arbitrary number of years since the event concerned."



I have some sympathy with him on that score. Sadly the media and politicians disagree and already appear to be making land-grabs for some imagined moral high ground. MG

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If you had asked me in my twenties, so long ago, I would have been firmly in the Lions led by Donkeys camp. That was clearly a result of my education with a considerable emphasis on Wilfrid Owen, Britten's War requiem and suchlike. I think this possibly derived from the fact that many of my teachers had suffered in one way or another in the next war that had not long ago finished. Some showed physical scars and others mental. Two for example were refugees from Russian camps. They had every reason to feel bitter about war and everything that war involves. Now I think I am in the camp, if such a thing exists, which would wholeheartedly support the comments of PM Hart quoted above. But I still visit the Western Front and particularly the cemeteries with great sadness in my heart for all those, of all ranks, who lost so much in so many ways in the horror of war. It wasn't only those who fought and died who suffered. I therefore feel we have a duty to remember, which needn't be sentimental, nor would I regard remembrance as the same as commemoration, remembrance is a much gentler thing. As to opinion polls, well if you choose to place faith in them, so be it, I don't.

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