History has to be rewritten as Home Office gets it wrong

28th April 2006 at 01:00
A government-sanctioned history of the United Kingdom has been criticised by historians for getting the date of the Act of Union wrong, omitting to mention the Falklands conflict and saying that Guy Fawkes "allegedly"

attempted to blow up Parliament.

Life in the United Kingdom: A Journey to Citizenship, published by the Home Office, was written to introduce new immigrants to the UK and its customs.

But the book is being bundled with school citizenship textbooks by booksellers, such as Amazon, and historians fear it will lead to school pupils being given an inaccurate view of the past.

Its chapter on history has been condemned by the Historical Association as "shoddy" and "howler-riddled". The association, which submitted a seven-page list of errors last year before the booklet was due for a reprint, says the majority have been ignored.

The version available today still contains blunders such as a claim that Cromwell beat Charles II at Worcester before invading Scotland, rather than afterwards.

It also asserts that the 1707 Act of Union between England and Scotland created the United Kingdom. This did not happen until the 1800 Act of Union with Ireland which is not mentioned at all.

The association pointed out that a section on the Thatcher era does not mention the Falklands conflict or the miners' strike.

Sean Lang, the association's honorary secretary said: "I think the chapter on history is so misleading, so inaccurate that it really needs to be taken out, rewritten and rethought."

But Sir Bernard Crick, the politics professor, who wrote the chapter, dismissed the association's corrections as "absolute quibbling".

"There are errors in it because it was done fairly quickly because we didn't want to keep immigrants waiting for their citizenship," he said.

Full story 8 Platform 21

* william.stewart@tes.co.uk

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