Tuesday, 1 August 2017

A history in need of facts

Ian Sinclair was right to take issue with the traditional depiction of events like Dunkirk which "inflates the British role and omits the unsavoury detail" (Morning Star, 28/07/17). Sadly, such management of the facts is typical of the way our history has been manipulated, in ways which glorify the role of British soldiers in war, exaggerate the enemies` atrocities, ignore events which portray the British far from the superior race many politicians like to imagine us to be, and in our domestic past, blame trade unions for the failure of business to increase productivity.
British people, instead of being allowed to know the truth of our country`s history, are refused even to see anything which might challenge the mythology of our"glorious past", and are fed crumbs of so-called secret history which have been denied to us for thirty or so years. Some "secrets" were released recently: a letter written in 1991 by the prime minister John Major to Mrs Thatcher about her poll tax, papers left by the British military governor of Spandau which advocated Hess`s release, and other innocuous Foreign office and Downing Street papers, including even the ones detailing how Churchill apparently tried to cover up the Duke of Windsor`s Nazi links, all illustrate the contempt in which governments held the British people.
  A 21st century government should not be afraid to share "secrets" with the electorate, which, let`s face it, have been treated like mugs for far too long. It`s time to repeal all legislation allowing state documents, unless their release would threaten our security, to be held in secret. Not only are we all adult enough to be told officially things about the royal family which are well known anyway, or that our revered war leader held racist views, or facts about Major fearing Thatcher`s wrath, we also deserve to know the truth about our history which is hidden from historians in the 1.2 million files locked away at Hanslope Park.

   Politicians all stress the importance of transparency, but few, if any, advocate  its use in transforming the way out history is viewed and taught. That is shameful, as almost certainly the more the truth is known, the more chance there is of  reducing bigotry and partisanship.

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