Jeremy Paxman Scolds David Cameron For Celebrating Catastrophic WWI

Jeremy Paxman Scolds David Cameron For Celebrating Catastrophic WWI

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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.

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