Past decades are now seen as having a toxic legacy, particularly in discussions about child abuse in the 1960s and 70s, but also in debates about ‘old-fashioned’ patriotism. And in the debate about Baby-Boomers, older generations are admonished for the allegedly hedonistic, selfish and unsustainable lifestyles of their youth. For critics, this means inviting individuals to make sense of their current problems by seeing them as part of the damage inflicted by past wrongs. Why are we so keen to turn backwards and put the past on trial today, rather than concentrating on an optimistic embrace of the future? And was the past so bad anyway? Speakers and audience in this must watch debate at the Battle of Ideas certainly put the past in perspective. The speakers are: Jennie Bristow; Allan Massie; John Waters; Professor Sir Simon Wessely and the chair is Claire Fox.