04/08/2014 The Papers


04/08/2014

No need to wait to see what's in the papers - tune in for a lively and informed conversation about the next day's headlines.


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say that a doctor who treated a Liberian suffering from the Ebola

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virus has contracted the disease. An earthquake has killed at least 398

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people in south`west China. Time for a look at the front pages. Thank you

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for joining us. Familiar faces. It comes as no surprise what is on the

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front pages but what is interesting are the images that are selected of

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the commemorations marking the centenary of World War I. There are

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so many pictures that could have been chosen. The Express: The day

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the world remembered them. When you have a tabloid newspaper, there are

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simple choices for the front page picture, because it is mainly the

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picture that sells the paper. Pictures with bright colours always

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do better. When you have an opportunity to use something that

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has a lot of the colour red in it, it is an opportunity that photo

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editors grab it with both hands. And the Daily Star has exactly the same

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shop. But then you go on to something like the Metro, they have

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gone for a picture of the Duchess of Cambridge laying a wreath in

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Belgium. And the Daily Mail have done it again. A picture of Kate and

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Harry and the Archbishop of Canterbury in darkness. The Mirror

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have chosen very dark pictures of the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.

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Let's look at the images the papers have chosen. Red poppies raining

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down in Dorset. And clearly in the uniforms that were worn by so many

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men that went into a war they really believed they could win. And so many

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of them were signing up but none of them could have had any idea what

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they were heading into. That is the difficulty with this. This is about

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a myth, it is not about historian. I'm sorry to go through this. Every

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editorial piece today, there was always one fact that was inevitably

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wrong. What happened here was that these people were a national army,

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they were an army that was configured to be in colonial wars

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like the Boer War, where they did not do so well. They had been

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thoroughly reformed and they went to fight row in France and took a

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tasting. The casualty levels `` they took a beating. The casualty levels

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really shocked the politicians. Within three weeks. It was the

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Battle of Mons and then the long retreat, where the brunt was born by

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the French. We are not hearing too much about that. The brunt on the

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east was born by the Russians. But the British plug the line and by the

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subsequent spring, that army was broken and it was finished. And it

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was finished at Ypres. That is their history. But this myth is, oh, what

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a lovely war and the last great scene of Blackadder goes Forth. That

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is the iconography. We are looking back at the beginning of a war from

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a very long distance. This was the piece that I wrote in the Evening

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Standard. The unfinished business is coming up. It comes up in a lot of

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the copy but the finest piece that I have read was one written by one of

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the oldest historians, Sir Michael Howard, who said that actually, when

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people went to war, not particularly the Britons but the Germans, some

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French, they were welcoming the war. They thought it was going to be real

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excitement. They were going to settle the old scores and it would

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be over by Christmas. And had it been over by Christmas, we would not

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have got the result many were really wanting. I find it very moving

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because we are trying to take a snapshot of an age and yet the more

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you turn the prison, when you look 360 degrees, it was not a happy

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Europe, it was a Europe that was quarrelling with its self, where a

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small fights have been doused down for about 20 years before and

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suddenly it exploded into this and went on for longer and deeper and

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indeed, the world changed. Now, why the world changed I think is going

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to be a big thing that we will come up to as we go through the various

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stages of these commemorations. And we will be looking at the First

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World War in an area that I do find fascinating because it is not

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static, this picture. We will have a different view of the road and

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ourselves by the time we come to 2018. `` a different view of the war

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and ourselves. By the end of the war, we found out about the truth of

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the concentration camps. World War II. And that was used as a form of

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justification, a revisionist justification to justify why we had

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been fighting. World War I has the same revisionism. Because World War

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II was a justified war, we like to use that to justify even further

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back in history World War I, to say oh, it was the Germans again and the

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same kind of thing will stop and culturally, it becomes part of the

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same messy thing. I think that is the most powerful element in this

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because what you get out of this, and you are quite right in that in

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the very end, was the Second World War where a

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great journalist, one of the heroes of our trade, did a book called the

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The Good War. The Second World War could be the good war and it

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coloured this one because if you look at the way this was regarded in

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the immediate aftermath, particularly to one of my

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grandfathers, who was horribly injured in the most terrible

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fashion, you lived in misery, that this was the bad war and that no

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good came of it and no good came of the conduct of... David Cameron

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described World War I as one of the most is not the most horrific war

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ever. But he also said... But why do we think that this war? Yes, the

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experience. It is Blackadder, it is the Somme, but why do we say that it

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is worse than any other thing? I suppose they were not in lines of

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trenches but look at the levels of attrition in the American civil

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war. It is not trivial to bring that out because the American papers have

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been dealing with the 150th anniversary of the American civil

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war, which took out somebody in almost every family. And very

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intelligently as well. I didn't think that there has been real

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thought put into these papers, how to balance it and how to give the

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image. It is not celebratory in any way, which people had feared. But

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how do you do the commemoration, particularly in view of you dies? We

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have seen the images of the reconciliation between the European

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leaders... Let's look at the Metro because that is a particular moment.

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And in one way, one of the young members of the Royal family on the

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front plate will appeal to some of the younger readers. It comes down

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to in the end trying to get a very complicated series of not one event

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but many others across using just one photograph. It boils down to

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show business in the end and that is what the Duchess of Cambridge

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represents. She represents a kind of a younger generation of Britain, a

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hope for a future. She is a mother and all the rest of it. I could not

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agree more. And she is used to say, oh, don't we feel dreadful. But she

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is very pretty. If William had married a German princess, I don't

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think she would be used in the same way. Then again, in 1917, the Royal

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Family changed its name because they did not want to sound Germany any

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more. This was one family that has spread its tentacles across Europe,

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which then started fighting, the statesman paid into it, the

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politicians got into it, busy telling these nations that they

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needed to start fighting. And now we have politicians like David Cameron

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and Michael Gove saying this was a justified sacrifice. 100 years on,

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they are trying to justify the death of 17 million men stop I'm not there

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is a way to do it. Another photograph of a member of the Royal

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family. This is all incredibly important as well. And you think of

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some of the surveys that came out on the last Remembrance Day. Many young

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people were confused about what the Hoppy represented, why you had to

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wear it, what war it was from. `` being poppy. Was it to remember

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sacrifice or a piece? Images like this might draw in some of those

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people. It is a good point. I'm slightly involved in all of this as

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Commissioner of Commonwealth War Graves. And the issue with schools,

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because it is on the curriculum, there is a great deal of interest.

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And the interest index went right up but the basis of knowledge was, as

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you say, astonishingly low. He is very interesting. I think that the

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Royal family have orchestrated this very well and very subtly because

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they are also sharing the load, the young royals, in doing the really

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important commemoration is of the Second World War. Why are they

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important? The last big ones were D`Day. It is the last time you will

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have veterans who have real memories. They were saying to me

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that they will not turn up again. He is quite extraordinary. With

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veterans, he has his mother's touch. At Casino, you made it clear...

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There were a lot of New Zealand fighters. They had a terrible time.

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The veterans from New Zealand got a lot of stick. He made it clear to

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every single veteran that if they wanted to talk to him, he would find

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the time to talk to them full of the must have spoken with more than 200

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in the space of a few days. He is very important. We have seen the

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three principles. Harry, his brother and his sister`in`law. And they will

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be going Gallipoli. An image with the Archbishop of

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Canterbury as well and there with the lanterns which have been the

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focus of the this evening. Between these newspapers, coming back to the

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reason why tabloids, the most successful newspapers, choose a

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particular story on the front page, the Sun is generally read by young

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men. They can identify more with Harry than anyone. He is a veteran,

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a member of the military. The story they have got a letter he has

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written, says, if we get bowled out there is nothing for it. They can

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relate. Other newspapers comment on the officer class. Broadsheets speak

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about David Cameron's uncle who was lost in the war. That isn't to say

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an officer dying isn't worse than Tommy dying. It means that some

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papers focus on the working`class element and others for the kind of

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people of a class who made decisions at the time. The Daily Mail goes for

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a younger man and woman and an older man, more family focused. Briefly,

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let's look at the Independent, which always tries to be different. In

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effect, the front page looks like it's turned off its own lights. It

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is similar to the Mirror. The story of the unknown warrior is one of the

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most moving parts. They easy and four bodies, perhaps Guardsmen, they

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chose one at random, brought him home and buried him in Westminster

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Abbey. It was an amazing thing. It was a catharsis. This is Sebastien

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for a looks's paper, Birdsong `` Faulks. It is a deft touch. What I

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do think though, speaking of the Unknown Warrior, such is the

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technology today, if we were to start again, you could find out

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exactly who it was. I went to the laboratory of the Dutch war dead,

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who recover 40 Khedive as per year from World War II and they were

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getting people from the Warwickshire Regiment and they could say that we

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grew up on the borders of summer `` Somerset and so on. `` . I like the

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argument between the poets, the correspondence and the public and

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the posh historians, and the posh historians aren't having their own

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way on this. Let's move on to the Guardian. They are doing something

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clever, they have tried to make what happened to count for something that

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is happening today, linking the conflict around us in the Middle

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East and asking, well saving, we have had a century to count the cost

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of war. For those who don't know, the end of the Foles toward war is

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when Britain started occupying Palestine. It created a lot of what

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we are looking at now with ISIS producing a caliphate. The

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Guardian's copy comes down to celebrity. We have the historian,

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Dan snow, no rating. You have got one particular relative of the

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16`year`old who was scouted and shot, reading from his mother's

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letter to the War office, asking for news of his son `` Dan Snow,

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narrating. They are used as an afterthought, the Tommy, the average

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person, is used to tail off at the end. The majority of the stories are

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about celebrity, showbiz, someone from... There isn't any reason to

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have that. When it becomes your sole focus, it takes the mood away. It

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oversimplifies it. The times have been even bolder than the Guardian

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and they have tried to bring the commemorations and make them more

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relevant. A slender branch of hope. I couldn't find the hope in all of

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this. The ceasefire that has been announced tonight. It is giving a

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reflection of the mood in Glasgow. With the Commonwealth Games and the

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service in the cathedral. As you say, quite rightly, he was trying to

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look for the no more War message that he hopes will get through to

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Gaza `` war. It will be very interesting. The bit I thought might

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come up, which will come up soon, is the way, of course we will have

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terrible things, but war changed by dimension in a huge degree and

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someone did it today, I saw in an inside page, they had the nearest

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thing to a biplane. By the end, it became a very big air war. On the

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1st of April, 1918, you have the foundation of the RA at, the first

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independent air force in the world `` RAF. This changes everything for

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the worse because you get hundreds, thousands, millions of civilians.

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Some of the things we have seen in Gaza to a great scale. It is very

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difficult as you say, this enormous portmanteau of half memories, to

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simplify and get a straight narrative. Do you think that we got

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the coverage right? So many events and thoughts to mark. These are just

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the front pages, this is a snapshot. You would have to read everything

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and even then you would only have a snippet of what you have got. I

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don't have the same optimism that after four years of going over the

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anniversaries, that as a culture, we will have a better grasp of what the

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First World War involved. We had a new RAF, we got new pilot, zips,

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teabags, lots of things. Thank you for your thoughts and for taking us

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through the papers for tomorrow. Thanks to you for joining us.

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Thanks for tuning into the latest thoughts for the weather prospect

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for the rest of the week, the weekend and beyond. There is

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something interesting for the second half of the weekend,

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