How Britain Was Shaped By The Roads Not Taken

Martin Kettle’s article on the Berlin exhibition that highlights key moments in German history has sparked interest in debating pivotal moments in British history. One such moment could be the decision to go to war in 1914, which had devastating consequences for the country in terms of loss of life and economic impact. It would be insightful to have an exhibition in London similar to the one in Berlin. Counterfactual history is a valuable area of discussion, and the failure of the single transferable vote in the 1917 Commons by seven votes could have saved the country from the dysfunctional politics that we see today. In light of Welsh and Scottish nationalism, and Sinn Féin’s consolidation as the largest party in Northern Ireland, it would be interesting to consider the breakup of the United Kingdom in 1921 when Ireland was partitioned and most of the country left the UK. The Conservative Party’s absorption of anti-EU rhetoric to counter UKIP’s rising popularity led to self-destructive policies like Brexit. The consequences of the Liberal Democrats allying themselves with Labour after the 2010 election could have prevented a decade of austerity and a Brexit vote. The list of what-ifs in British history could be endless and can teach us lessons about our future. What if Balfour hadn’t made his declaration or the Irish free state had included the six counties? The passing away of John Smith in 1994 could have prevented the rise of Tony Blair and nationalism. The possibilities are fascinating, and even small things like the Manchester Guardian folding could have significant consequences.


  • tobyevans

    Toby Evans is an educational blogger and school teacher who uses her blog to share her ideas and experiences with her students and fellow educators. She is passionate about helping her students learn and grow, and uses her blog as a way to share her knowledge and insights with the world.