12 Days that Made Modern Britain: Andrew Hindmoor’s new history book

On September 28 of that year Labour PM Jim Callaghan renounced Keynesian economics. Cue the first disagreement. Many would say that surely January 1, 1973 – the day when Ted Heath took us into the Common Market – was a more important day, the start of “modern Britain”. Of the dozen days, Europe accounts for two – September 20, 1988 when Mrs Thatcher gave her Bruges speech and February 1, 2017 when MPs voted to trigger Article 50.

And there is the rub – many events are subject to a disagreement over which is the most important day.

Which is the most crucial day when it comes to gay rights? The day that homosexuality was decriminalised (July 27, 1967) or the day that two men became the first to have a civil partnership (December 5, 2004)?

Well, that last date is certainly one to argue over because it is simply incorrect.

Matthew Roche and Christopher Cramp were, as Prof Hindmoor states, the first same sex couple to have a civil partnership but they didn’t do it on December 5, 2004 but a year later on December 5, 2005.

Prof Hindmoor gives a neat summation of how for many the view about gay rights became more liberal – shame he gets the date of a major event wrong, especially since the chapter headings are those dates.

Obviously, many of the events are political. BSkyB buying the rights to Premiership football, the murder of Stephen Lawrence and the failure of Northern Rock fall outside this category; the latter certainly have political overtones.

Despite the book being called 12 Days that Made Modern Britain, two of the events happened away from these shores – the 9/11 attacks and the Good Friday Agreement – Northern Ireland isn’t part of Britain.

Prof Hindmoor makes another mistake in his chapter on the Good Friday Agreement – Tony Blair’s autobiography is called A Journey, not The Journey.

As with all the stories, the author relates how the event came about with a look at the Troubles that blighted Ulster for years.

The last chapter is about the triggering of Article 50 by the House of Commons on February 1, 2017 in which MP after MP stood up and said that they “respected” the result of the referendum the previous June and how it was the duty of the House to take Britain out of the EU – how hollow those words sound today when MPs on all sides have done their best to stymie that result.

Readers may have forgotten that in the aftermath of the result, there was an attempt to depose Jeremy Corbyn because he had apparently not campaigned sufficiently to stay in the EU – despite his Euroscepticism being well known to everyone.

An interesting book that will certainly get people talking and that is no bad thing.

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