Monday, 16 May 2016

Turning European

During a nowadays rare afternoon of gossip and chatter with my parents and sister the conversation – as it inevitably must do – turned to reminiscing about our growing up in the dark days before the EU made all our lives so much better. I should explain here, for anybody of a pro-EU or leftist disposition that the conclusion of the foregoing sentence is intended to be ironic. We marched about the playground as infants chanting rhymes about how we’d won the war (‘in 1944’ – close enough for kids) and spent our out-of-school time adventurously not being fiddled with by rapists and nonces as we got on with the business of growing up without the aid of twenty-four-seven parental supervision.

If anybody had used the ridiculous word ‘parenting’ they would have been laughed out of court and equally laughable would have been the notion that England needed the permission of Europe to do anything at all. English people actually called themselves English back then and ‘the UK’ was only ever heard in news bulletins and hardly ever abbreviated. We knew we were British by birth and grateful for it and all around us this sense of nation was reinforced by the names of our industries. British Steel, British Rail, British Leyland, British Overseas Airways Corporation, British Thornton... British Home Stores

We played British Bulldog and we knew that ‘being British’ about something meant being fair, accepting defeat with good grace and triumph without gloating. Hell we even won the World Cup... an event we may have mentioned once or twice since. But that little gloat-worthy triumph was pretty much the exception that proved the rule. We didn’t know then that even the adjective ‘British’ was in trouble and that all to which it referred was in decline. During the seventies, it seemed, the rot really set in and the anti-nationalism movement began to gain ground.

People wanted to abandon our heritage and abandon our future as an independent nation state for some glorious socialist utopia of cooperation and friendship and could not – or would not – see how that was possible so long as individual countries continued to exist. So set about a long term, supra-governmental process of dismantling all that was British. Far from being steadfast adventurers for King and Country our empire and all who engaged in it were decreed evil and our history began to turn sour; to demoralise a people today, repeatedly shout about a disgraceful past. Stop conforming to norms of family and responsibility and let it all hang out. And teach that everything not British is better than everything British.

Cameron has said that leaving the EU will damage foreign investment in UK infrastructure, but isn’t this exactly the problem? Why are any of our essential services in the hands of foreign investors at all? We can’t even build a power station without involving people whose allegiance is elsewhere. Another doom-laden prophecy is that foreign owners of notionally ‘British’ property will leave and prices will slump. How terrible, that a nation may have to live within its own means and that its people may be able to buy houses!

An Englishman’s home was said to be his castle and one of our past dreams was for us to become a property-owning democracy, yet today if you throw a stone anywhere in London it will almost certainly land in foreign territory. And nobody challenges this? Those expensive, subsidised white elephant wind farms? Who do those belong to? Not us. And who owns ‘our’ shipping lines, ‘our’ ports, ‘our’ manufacturers? About the only thing that’s British any more is Bake Off...

Empire builders

We no longer have the confidence to stand alone, as we managed to do for so very long and we have bought the lie that we can’t access global trade without being absorbed into a bloc, without becoming another indistinguishable region ordered by a faceless and unaccountable bureaucracy. No longer do we stand up for the underdog; instead we are bullied by minorities to keep our racist mouths shut. Our governments have allowed a soft invasion of ideologies and cultures to eradicate what we once were. Britain no longer has a well-shaped identity and Tommy Atkins is morphing into Johnny Foreigner. It is almost as if we are becoming... European.


  1. You usually write very sensibly but I suggest you bone up a bit on economics before you start denigrating Johnny foreigner for owning British businesses and properties. Because today you are just propagating myths and misconceptions. You are displaying prejudices that are misplaced. There is absolutely nothing wrong and only advantage from foreigners owning bits of Britain especially as we have a such a large current account deficit. What you are seeing is money going out to buy imported goods and services and capital coming back into the UK as investment. At one time we did the very some thing in reverse. That was before two world wars bankrupted us and our overseas investment were sold off to pay for them.

    1. I suggest you read it again then. Having critical services in foreign ownership - and often not so friendly foreign ownership - is a situation we should not need to be in.

      Plus, perpetuating the myth of affluence by selling off the silver is a finite time-buyer and not a solution. It's mortgaging off the family home to buy a luxury retirement without telling the kids you spent their inheritance.

    2. Yes, gas has been an absolute bargain since French-owned Centrica took over British Gas.

      And I'm quite sure all those foreign corporations pay all the tax they owe and wouldn't dream of offshoring their profits via unnecessary loans to other subsidiaries etc.

    3. I think you should read what I said again and the same time Adam Smith, Hayek and Mises after which I suspect your ignorance will give way to enlightenment.

    4. I've read them all. I've done so for years. I also understand how these things work, in principle. And most of all I've seen how every economic theory only ever works until it doesn't, at which point another, usually reverse-engineered, theory springs up to explain the anomaly and is then used to forward project until it in turn fails to predict.

      But this isn't a discussion forum and it is too clumsy a form to be one. I know exactly what I am saying and it isn't what you think I'm saying. Maybe you are related to Tristram Hunt? (See tomorrow's entry)