Jeremy Paxman Scolds David Cameron For Celebrating Catastrophic WWI

Jeremy Paxman has criticised Prime Minister David Cameron for comments he made about Britain celebrating the centenary of World War I. In a speech in October, Mr Cameron said he wanted to see "commemoration that, like the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, says something about who we are as a people."

Newsnight presenter Paxman told the Radio Times that the centenary events should "have almost nothing in common" with the Jubilee. The Prime Minister had promised a "truly national commemoration" in 2014 to mark 100 years since the outbreak of the war and the dates of the major battles.

The sharp-tongued Paxman, whose great uncle died in the war, said that "not to acknowledge the war's significance would be wilful myopia," though warned that the "the whole catastrophe has been overlain with myth and legend."

The 63-year-old accepted that the Jubilee was "an excuse for a knees-up in the rain to celebrate the happy fact that our national identity is expressed through a family rather than some politician who wants the job to gratify his vanity," though explained, "A number of distinguished fellow citizens, like the poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy and the thoughtful musician Brian Eno, are worried that the events will turn into a celebration of war. Only a moron would 'celebrate' the war."

He added, "We shouldn't 'celebrate' the outbreak of the First World War. But not to recognise that it was one of the most consequential events in our history would just be perverse."

World War I caused 16 million deaths and left 20 million wounded, making it one of the deadliest conflicts in human history. Britain suffered around 1 million deaths, around 2% of the population at the time.

500,00 soldiers were killed in the Gallipoli Campaign, 300,000 in the Gorlice-Tarnow Offensive, almost 1 million at the Battle of Verdun, 1.6 million in the Brusilov Offensive, 1.2 million at the Battle of the Somme and 200,000 at the Tenth Battle of the Isonzo.

David CameronDavid Cameron Arriving For A Cabinet Meeting At 10 Downing Street

Jeremy PaxmanJeremy Paxman Arriving At 'A Celebration of the Arts'


Contactmusic

Tags: Jeremy Paxman - David Cameron

Advertisement

More Jeremy Paxman

From Newsnight to The Fringe: Jeremy Paxman Delights With One Man Show

Jeremy Paxman’s exit from Newsnight was in line with his candour as a presenter: clean cut, no nonsense and controversial. His talents, though, don’t lay...

Edinburgh Fringe 2014 Celebrations Kick Off... At The Airport

August has arrived in Edinburgh – and the rest of the world, in fact – bringing with it a deluge of travelling live performance from...

Evan Davis Is The New 'Newsnight' Guy

Evan Davis – yep, the bloke who presented The Dragons’ Den – is replacing Jeremy Paxman as host of BBC2’s Newsnight. The decision has plunged...

Jeremy Paxman's Last Newsnight: The Best Bits

Politicians and decision makers held up a glass last night as Jeremy Paxman, famous for his uncompromising interviewing style, signed off on his last ever...

Advertisement

Edinburgh Fringe 2014 Is The Biggest Ever. Promise.

With 49,497 performances of 3,193 shows, The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is set to be the biggest yet. Organisers are promising a "truly unboring experience” while...

Kevin Spacey Gives Paxman An F-Bomb to Defuse on BBC 2's Newsnight

Kevn Spacey’s liberal use of the English language was there for all to see and hear on Wednesday’s (June 4) Newsnight. Host, Jeremy Paxman, did...

Jeremy Paxman Told Off As He Embarks on New Career Chapter

Jeremy Paxman seems to have treated the BBC a bit like he treats his interviewees: with a deadpan glare and an unforgiving manner. But the...

Jeremy Paxman, And his Beard, To Leave 'Newsnight' After 25 Years

Jeremy Paxman is to quit his job at 'Newsnight' after 25 years. The presenter, who once asked hapless a Michael Howard the same question a...

Advertisement

Comments

Jeremy Paxman Newsletter

Subscribe to this news alert service to receive news and reviews on Jeremy Paxman

Unsubscribe | Unsubscribe All