Saturday, January 21, 2006

European emotions

The 'British Subject NOT EU Citizen' embossed letter I mentioned yesterday has awoken the curiosity of at least one* of my readers. So here is a bit more detail. The letter came from Kent. Like many border counties, Kent seems to harbour a greater percentage of people suspicious of 'foreigners' than does the rest of the UK. The inhabitants of Herefordshire and Shropshire, for example, seem more than usually hostile for Englishmen towards the Welsh and those of Cumbria and Northumbria ditto towards the Scots.

The distrust of the continent seems to sweep along the south coast if the number of UKIP posters during the 2004 election is anything to go by (but these also seem to be favoured by people over 65 many of who now live frightened lives behind lace curtains at the seaside (I'm only jealous except about the lace curtains and the fright)). A survey in Portsmouth allegedly discovered that its inhabitants still think that the French pose the greatest threat to Britain's wellbeing.

Anyhow the chap who wrote to me has strong views. He thinks Britain has gone down the pan since we turned our back on the Commonwealth and embraced Europe. He has curious views on Iraq as well; he thinks it was a lot better off under the strong leadership of Mr Hussein. Most curiously he lavishes praise on Tito's Yugoslavia which I thought was a federation - a word guaranteed to make any Eurosceptic's goose-pimples rise.

I can remember Britain in the sixties and early seventies. Apart from the hippy-euphoria it was a land of perpetual sterling crisis, derelict factories, decaying docks, balance of payments deficits and many other signs of economic decay. It has lost an empire and not yet found a role. Thirty years on since joining the EEC we have one of the strongest economies in the world and seem to have found a role quite high in the premiership of nations. The Commonwealth is as strong as its ever been as evidenced by Mozambique's joining it even though their country was never part of the British Empire.

We get so little news about the EU except for overblown scare stories. It's the subject no politician wants raised for fear, in many cases, of unleashing the tabloid dogs. It's far from perfect but it's far better than the alternatives. People have said similar things about democracy.

And, after two weeks of living in a tupperware-box-like-environment, the sun has come out. We saw snowdrops whilst out walking this morning......

* one reader is > 1% of About Whose News's total present readership so I can't afford to let down the person who left a comment yesterday If he is who I think he be (subjunctive) he'll find more information in his hotmail account if the address I've been given be (subjunctive) his. I hope the dissertation be (dialect) going well.


At 12:46, Anonymous Vanky said...

I always find it hard to blame the media in these situations (mainly because it is the most hoary of hoary old cliches), but I think they should share the blame with HM's government here. I personally believe that our ties with the EU have been of great benefit to Britain (they even contributed to a nice skate park near me, which I doubt the local council would've coughed up for). It just seems to be in the government's interests to be complicit with media euro-bashing, blaming 'the foreigners' for when things go slightly askew.

And I certainly have no sympathy with the curtain-twitchers- they were the same people who wouldn't give my ball back as a young 'un.

Further to your grammatically idiosyncratic addendum, I am me, although my dissertation isn't up to much...

Keep up the blogging!

At 20:10, Blogger Aunty Marianne said...

Of course I'm right behind you on this, H. Britain is a global hinge, between the EU, the Commonwealth, and most of all perhaps constitutes the one guiding hand of reason stretched out in engagement to that benighted land deeply bogged in the mire of rabid religious fundamentalism, the one guiding hand that can still prevent it from, say, bombing Al-Jazeera.

We punch above our weight internationally. We mediate, guide and embrace troubled nations. We are respected, if not always liked, by a large part of the rest of the globe, including our more federalist EU neighbours. I think that puts the country in an excellent position.

We're certainly better off than the French.


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