America only really likes you as a friend; an unpleasant wake up call for EuroscepticsPosted: December 16, 2011
I have little to no interest regarding the United Kingdom’s relationship to the rest Europe, I like the bits about the E.U. everyone likes, I like the fact that I can drive from my house to the Turkey and only be recorded crossing one border, I like that my German utensils and Italian food costs as much as if they came from Kent and I quite like the E.U. Flag, It’s quite pretty – it’s no Mozambique but it’s still quite nice. I really don’t care if we have the Euro or not; I’m sure someone could explain to me the economic benefits or hindrances, but I’m not pro or anti it, it’s one of the few issues on which I remain militantly neutral.
Another is the movement of powers from Westminster to Brussels; an apparently outrageous process in which faceless unelected bureaucrats in Belgium replace faceless unelected bureaucrats in Britain. This is supposedly terrible and something I should care about, as though prior to 1973 Britain was a veritable utopia in which the John Bull types wondered into high level government buildings for a lovely chat with the personal private secretary to the minister of health about how long junior doctors should work every day, but that now the some shifty looking Spaniards plot with the workshy French to steal our cod whilst some Germans stand around looking sinisterly at East Anglia muttering about an Anschluss to bring the Angles back to the fatherland. I can remember the introduction metric system being a cause for conflict throughout my teenage years, I never understood what the problem was; dividing everything into twelves is clumpy, and doing it in tens is easy, particularly when almost everyone else in the world uses it. I can understand people feeling nostalgic, but a measuring system is like a language, it’s only good if some other people use it too, the Imperial system in the UK is specific to us, even America has a different version of the Imperial system. I can only assume loyalty too it is rooted in bitterness over the Napoleonic wars.
I could stand this somewhat if the people who wished to go back to living in 1935 if they accepted the irrelevance and obscurity that leaving the largest single market in the world would entail – which again, in of itself, I’m not bothered by – but they don’t. The Eurosceptic vision of a E.U.less Brtain is one prolonged, starry eyed fantasy; in which red jacketed venture capitalists heroically roam the globe trading opium and tea, whilst pining continentals beg for free trade agreements as we sail nobly into the Atlantic to form a glorious and Anglo-Saxon economic union with the United States and the commonwealth which will last a thousand years. That isn’t just me hypobolically saying what I think Eurosceptics think; I was once invited to a Conservative association function during University which was attended by the local Conservative parliamentary Candidate and the then webmaster of Conservative future’s homepage, who responded to the question;
“If we were to leave the European Union, surely we would stop punching above our weight in the world and become an increasingly irrelevant country, with higher bills to pay as the EU’s tariffs would mean we would have to pay more to trade with Europe?”
“I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t have similar arrangements that we now have with Europe, with the United States”
This is why I don’t like Eurosceptics; we’re not living in 1901 anymore, and far from the Atlantic striding superpower the UK undoubtedly was a century ago, we now live in a moderately sized country with much more power and influence than can reasonably maintain for a while and if – as many Eurosceptics want – you wish to increase the power and influence the UK has; it’s probably better to throw your lot in with countries in a similar position across a small stretch of water than the leviathan 3,000 miles away. They won’t give us any better deal than we have now, probably worse; at least Germany doesn’t maintain military bases in the English countryside and Sweden doesn’t require us to buy Oil in Kronas, I like the United States, but crucially i like the United States, Not; The United states and It’s appendage; Great Britain. It has no business entering into a supranational, integrationist organisation with the UK, apart form anything else we’re significantly smaller and don’t really offer much, why would the US want to integrate our two economies? To finally have the access to authentic Melton Mowbray Pork Pies they have been so desperately craving for years? Of course not, America is such a large country, there is no reason why an economic integration with them, of anything like the kind that would be needed to maintain, let alone improve the quality of life of Britons post EU, would erode everything that makes Britain, Britain, in a way some clumsy regulations regarding the size of bananas just wont do.
To give you a flavour of what American’s think of the ‘Special relationship’; my wife to be – Native of Pennsylvania – initially had no idea what the special relationship was, and when I explained this particular term to her thought for a moment then told me that she thought it ‘sounded kinda creepy, like you’re in love with us or something’. This isn’t just her being Inept, few Americans are aware that we’re supposedly their closest ally, or really want to be. I understand the British political classes like re-living our past though the Americans in various wars and maintaining Hegemony of the English speaking world, but whilst British Conservative Politicians – and the idiots who vote for them – see themselves as the Obi Wan Kenobi to America’s Luke Skywalker, guiding them to run the world in a sensible Anglo Saxon kind of way; the rest of the world see us as the creepy moister farm hand that Luke left on Tatooine because he didn’t respect Luke’s personal space and wanted to get matching tattoos so everyone would know they were betist friends. As an Englishman who deals with foreigners this is acutely embarrassing, at least Belgium get where they are in the world and have come to terms with it; bear in mind they did own the largest colony in Africa until 1960, can we please deal with the fact that we don’t own the world anymore, and find something else about us that we can project to the world, we’re home to the peasant’s revolt; the first generally successful democratic movement in a major European country; we gave the world Habeas Corpus and the Westminster System, all of which are things to be more proud of than an aging politician articulating a vague desire to fight on beyond all hope. The Mythical ‘Bulldog Spirit’ the British apparently showed in the dark days of 1940, were all well and good – but we need to get over that now, and realise that we’re not fighting the Germans any more.
I like being British, I wouldn’t say I’m proud, but I certainly like that I grew up here, but as a society we really do need to get over that we used to be an empire. There are many reasons to oppose the European Union, but all the reasons I can think of apply to opposing all governments ever – if Eurosceptics opposed the EU because they wanted power devolved to the lowest possible level I would be right alongside them, but they don’t want power for you and me, they want power for Westminster politicians; I’m all for bringing down large state apparatus, but not to embolden and further entrench marginally smaller ones; particularly ones run by people who still resent metrication.