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I would be remiss if I didnt start with a Mark Steyn article.
Mark Steyn: Europe Is An Indulgence We Can't Afford
The Eurofetishists can't seem to agree their line on this referendum business. On the one hand, the Guardian's headline writer was packing up and heading for the hills - "Europe is plunged into crisis" - and EU leaders warned that "Europe" might cease to function.
Oh, come on. We won't get that lucky.
On balance, Jean-Claude Juncker, the "president" of "Europe", seems closer to the mark in his now famous dismissal of the will of the people: "If it's a Yes, we will say 'on we go', and if it's a No we will say 'we continue'."
And if it's a Neither of the Above, he will say "we move forward". You get the idea. Confronted by the voice of the people, "President" Juncker covers his ears and says: "Nya, nya, nya, can't hear you!" There are several lessons worth learning from the French vote. The first is that the Junckers are a big part of the problem.
Only in totalitarian dictatorships does the ballot come with a pre-ordained correct answer. Yet President Juncker distilled the great flaw at the heart of the EU constitution into one straightforward sentence that cut through all the thickets of Giscard's unreadable verbiage. The American constitution begins with the words "We the people". The starting point for the EU constitution is: "We know better than the people."
After that, the rest doesn't matter: you can't do trickle-down nation-building. The British, who've written more constitutions for more real nations than anybody in history and therefore can't plead the same ignorance as President Juncker, should be especially ashamed of going along with this farrago of a travesty of a charade.
Ah, say the Eurofetishists, but you naysayers are gloating undeservedly: the French didn't suddenly see the light and decide British Eurosceptics had been right all along; they rejected the EU constitution because they thought it was an Anglo-Saxon racket to impose capitalism on their pampered protectionist utopia.
But so what? Britain's naysayers don't have to reject the constitution for the same reason as France's commies, fascists, racists, eco-nutters, anachronistic unionists, featherbedded farmers, middle-aged "students", Trot professors and welfare queens, bless 'em all. If they want to go down the Eurinal of history clinging to their unaffordable welfare state, their 30-hour work weeks, 10-month work years and seven-year work decades, that's up to them. If Britain doesn't, that should be up to Britain.
For decades, some of us have argued that "Europe" is too diverse to form a single polity, that the British and French are in fact foreign to each other. Sir Edward Heath and his ilk scoff at such crude language: why, today's young cosmopolitan Britons are perfectly comfortable drinking Beaujolais and eating croissants and flaunting their wedding tackle on the Côte d'Azur. True, and irrelevant. What Sunday's vote underlined is profound differences in political culture. Britain's anti-Europeans and France's lunatic fringe are united only in their reluctance to be bossed around by a regulatory regime that insists a one-size-fits-all rulebook can be applied from Ballymena to the Baltics. It can't. The alleged incompatibility of our dissatisfactions makes the point: all politics is local; despite the assiduous promotion of the term, electorally speaking there is no such thing as a "European".
Incidentally, that "lunatic fringe" in France now accounts for about 60 per cent of the electorate. That's another lesson for the decayed Euro-elite. One of the most unattractive features of European politics is the way it insists certain subjects are out of bounds, and beyond politics. That's the most obvious flaw in Giscard's flaccid treaty: it's not a constitution, it's a perfectly fine party platform for a rather stodgy semi-obsolescent social democratic party. Its constitutional "rights" - the right to housing assistance, the right to preventive action on the environment - are not constitutional at all, but the sort of things parties ought to be arguing about at election time.
Instead, Europe's "consensus" politics has ruled more and more topics unfit for discussion, leaving voters with a choice between Eurodee and Eurodum, a left-of-right-of-left-of-centre party and a right-of-left-of-right-of-left-of-centre party. None of these plodding technocratic parties seems eager to talk about any of the faintly unrespectable subjects on the minds of voters - Muslim immigration, increasing crime, Turkey, EU labour mobility. So voters, naturally, are turning elsewhere, and in five years' time the entire Continent could end up with the same flight from the centre as we've seen in Ulster.
As to whether Turkey is European, evidently it was a century and a half ago when Tsar Nicholas I described it as "the sick man of Europe". Today the sick man of Europe is the European, the gilded princeling like Chirac or Juncker, gliding from one Eutopian planning session to the next, oblivious to the dreary parochial concerns of the people. In The Sunday Telegraph, Douglas Hurd, typically, missed the point in his analysis of the French vote, arguing that Europe needed "new leaders". Our colleagues headlined it, "Two men and a woman who can save Europe". No, no, no. Europe doesn't have a lack of leaders, it has a lack of followers.
I mentioned to a theatre chum the other day that the EU reminded me of Garth Drabinsky's Livent company. They were the big theatre producers in the Nineties: they revived Show Boat and produced Kiss of the Spider Woman and Ragtime and Sweet Smell of Success in Toronto and on Broadway and brought most of them to the West End. And they were all critically admired, yet didn't seem to make any money. But Livent took the view that somehow if you produced a big enough range of flops they would add up to one smash hit.
They're gone now. But their spirit lives on in the EU, critically admired (at least by the Guardian and Le Monde) but not making any money, and clinging to the theory that if you merge enough weak economies they add up to one global superpower. The big story of the past three decades is that the more it's mired itself in the creation of a centralised pseudo-state, the more "Europe" has fallen behind America in every important long-term indicator, from economic growth to demographics. "Europe" is an indulgence the real Europe can't afford. The followers recognise that, even if the leaders don't.
I am one of the many rabid Steyn fans out here who never miss an article.
I will be commenting on US and World politics, the Media and life, the Universe and everything.