Thursday, 24 January 2013

My Personal Reaction to David Cameron's EU Speech

I had not realised "The Speech" would come so early on Wednesday. As it was, it managed to spoil my day completely and utterly. The proposition of an in/out referendum for Britain, the ghastly formulaic "We wanna bedder deal" (i.e. more money), and the general bellicose and aggressive demeanour of the speaker churned my stomach.

You know the branding exercise "If  this product were a person, what/who would they be"? I've always found it very useful to clarify my thoughts. So let's think. If today's Britain were a person what would they be?

The image of a dirty old man living in a run-down shack comes to mind. He shoots wildly at his neighbours whilst shouting obscenities and accusing them of trespassing. He lives on his own, maybe with a flea-ridden dog. He has no job and no obvious income. He spends his time watching  TV, and throws the remote at it when something is not to his liking or he thinks it's a foreign program. For food he slops a can of baked beans over some soggy toast. The leaky roof of his hovel is adorned with a tatty flag to which he salutes when he goes out.  He is unkempt, aggressive, and thoroughly unpleasant.

Clearly, in my personal life I would not have any dealings with such a person. I abhor any form of nationalism, xenophobia and racism. Sadly, in today's UK, xenophobia is so institutionalised and socially acceptable, people aren't even aware they're practising it. And small wonder: Lack of foreign language skills, (i.e. no ability to read or listen to foreign media) little experience of foreign countries (apart from artificial tourist resorts - the "Costas"), and an inherited belief that "Britain is best" make for a society that is perennially chasing its own tail. Unable - and unwilling - to look across the parapet. Proud of its ignorance ("I don't like eating foreign muck"), its tribalness, and its provinciality. Only British people who are living abroad find all this embarrassing and off-putting.

It's a country where hatred reigns supreme. Everybody there hates everybody. Men/women, northerners/southerners, Tory/labour, car drivers/pedestrians/cyclists, families/childless, old/young, rich/poor. There is not a group that hasn't got an aggressively pursued anti-group. (I've written about this quite often, for example here So it's hardly surprsing that the whole lot collectively hates all its European neighbours. Hatred comes naturally, and a certain historical invasion paranoia doesn't help. All psychologically logical and understandable, but off-putting nevertheless.

The European idea favours mutual support, trade, exchange of ideas, know-how and talent. Countries forging links and living peacefully together, striving for a maximum level of affluence for as many people as possible. It eschews tribalism, and prejudice. The original idea was conceived in the Enlightenment, and in the 21st century has been augmented by a common desire to be linked up, belonging to (cultural or economic) networks, and  a general drive towards a more integrated, modern, and mutually beneficial society.

40 percent of the UK populace reject those ideas and are in favour of exiting the EU (with only 34% opting for staying - the rest doesn't know, hasn't heard of Europe, or doesn't care). Two thirds of the over-60's want to leave the EU. Those figures clearly indicate that it isn't about power-politics, or even rooting for cash-backs. People want their "sovereignity" back, they don't want to be "governed by foreigners", they don't want to exchange ideas. people, and goods. They want to live in their hovel, and hate everybody. Just like the dirty old man.

For me, that is unacceptable. I prefer not to have any dealings with such convictions. I find them abhorrent, deplorable, and really quite disgusting. British voters might be put off by Europe. I am put off by the old man - I know I should be feeling sorry for him, but I'm too disgusted by his ways.

Sorry, no comments - my openness for dialogue with Euro-haters is over.

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