A positive vision of Europe

From an odyssean experience came a vision of a Europe
that builds on the steady exchange of people and languages, culture and ideas, until we create a wider, looser, more generous Europe, that includes the Turks
Let's buy into the good things about Europe Much as I love my fellow countrymen, I couldn't quite believe how many of us decided last week to pick the same small set of beaches on the island of Lefkas. There we were, alone on some stretch of bone-white sand, the sea the colour of forget-me-nots, the sky like blue fire; and then dots would appear at the far end. Would they be French? German? Slowly the dots would turn into shimmering human shapes, and they would call out: "Oi, Boris, long way from Henley!" Or, "Don't you MPs do any work?" Yes, they were you and me. They were perfectly charming, but sometimes it didn't feel as if we were abroad at all. So, after a while, we hired a motorboat and went to an island that was even smaller and more remote, and after spanking over the billows for about an hour we came to a place straight out of the Odyssey. Green foliage hung mysteriously down to the water. Lemon-yellow butterflies skittered over the empty beach. Perfect! The only sign of civilisation was an ancient taverna wedged on the rocks, and so we moored the boat and headed in for lunch. To our amazement, the place was thronged; and as soon as we went in I heard one turn to another and say: "Hey, it's that wotsisname. That Basil something, the Tory geezer from Not The Nine O'Clock News." I looked around and realised that we were all Brits, every one of us. We might as well have been in the Angel on the River in Henley. What's up? I asked our rep, and she told me it was just the beginning of the craze. People are not only going to Greece on holiday in ever growing numbers; they are buying houses there. "Pretty soon it is going to be like Spain," she said, and I can see why. The flights are cheap. The UK property market is so relatively inflated that you can parlay your assets into some stunning place in the sun, and ever more of us are doing so. There are now 750,000 British properties in Spain and half a million in France, and it is well known that there are now some French villages where the English influx is so heavy as to provoke the kind of tensions not seen since the Napoleonic era. And I have to tell you that there came a point after lunch, staring out over that wine-dark sea, having drunk a certain amount of wine-dark wine, that I was filled with a Byronic romance, and thought yes, why not? Wouldn't it be wonderful to escape to the south, like swallows, and join these other Brits in their bliss? The answer is that it would be wonderful, and I point all this out now because this right of abode is one of the unambiguous blessings that has come from Europe. Here we are, we Euro-sceptics, in a state of complete triumph. The European ideal has been overwhelmed with derision and disaster. The European constitution is dead, and of course it is a good thing that it is. There is no earthly point in this country going through the expensive charade of our own referendum, and queueing up to stab the corpse like the cast of Murder on the Orient Express, when the French have themselves had the honour of first extinguishing its vital functions; and nor do we want our own government furtively importing the text by means of intergovernmental agreement. We don't need more qualified majority voting, which hollows out the democratic process at Westminster. We don't need a European defence policy or foreign policy, not when 16 out of 25 countries secretly or openly disagreed with the Franco-German position on the war in Iraq. You can't herd squirrels with some fancy new treaty. We don't want the European Union to be blessed with a new preposterous oxymoronic motto, "Unity in Diversity" (you might as well say Strength through Feebleness), or a new Euro-army or a new European foreign minister and European embassies all over the world; not when British businessmen trying to do deals in, say, Zambia, are already finding that there is no one left in the UK High Commission to help them on the trade desk, because the trade desk has been abolished in favour of joint representation with the EU. We don't need a European policy on sport, together with qualified majority voting, or the mandatory celebration of "Europe Day" on May 9, or a European space programme. All of which is contained in this constitution and the constitution is - at least for the time being - dead, and of course it ought to be with joy that we Euro-sceptics place our feet on its mounded belly. And yet, as the Duke of Wellington said, there is only one thing more melancholy than a battle lost, and that is a battle won. As we survey the carnage, it is vital for Euro-sceptics of all kinds that we are not petty. This is a time for bigness of soul, and for realising that it is precisely now, in our moment of triumph, that we must be most generous and creative. Yes, let us scrap the pretensions of the EU to statehood; let us congratulate ourselves (because no one else will) on being so resoundingly vindicated about the euro. Let us prepare to offer the Italians, when they eventually leave the single currency, the use of the pound sterling, provided they are willing to pay the seignorage. But let us also remember that some good things have come from Europe, and they include the basic four freedoms of movement - of goods, people, services and capital. It is that achievement that allows one to become a dentist in Belgium, and it is that achievement that facilitates and secures your purchase of that dream little place in the Mediterranean. Let us have a positive vision of Europe that builds on the steady exchange of people and languages, culture and ideas, until we create a wider, looser, more generous Europe, that includes the Turks, and let us toast - in retsina - the construction of this project without any interference from government, or treaties, or ancient French politicians.

31 thoughts on “A positive vision of Europe”

  1. “This is time for bigness of soul”? you’ve had too much retsina lovely.

    “some good things have come from Europe, and they include the basic four freedoms of movement – of goods, people, services and capital.” well yes but they’re not new Boris – did you wear a hat?

    “Let us have a positive vision of Europe that builds on the steady exchange of people and languages, culture and ideas, until we create a wider, looser, more generous Europe, that includes the Turks” – NO, LET’S NOT!

    We don’t want a steady exchange of people – the NHS can’t cope now. WE LIKE the language we have thankyou, and most of the civilised world does too. It’s about time we started being proud of our culture not seeking to dilute it even further. As for ideas – we already have a brain drain of graduates abroad.

    But yes to the Turks, because we like you Boris, even though you’re short x

  2. Is Boris in this article arguing for a federal state of Europe. In that we all keep our armies, education system, law courts and the like, and our own foreign policy? Sounds very much like the union of Scotland and Great Britain to me!

  3. Come on Jaq: give it to them large. We all know you have an affinity for the Johnson family, and we know they have Turkish delights in their lockers;ooOOh. But that was long ago: they are as dyed-in-the wool Brits as you or I. Read today that Stanley is hoping for a better result next time there’s a bye-election. ….
    Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey, was, I believe, not too pleasant to Boris’s forebears, so why is he rooting for his political descendent’s inclusion in the club? Ask anyone in Dordrecht; Rotterdam; Dortmund or Duisburg if they want more contact with what is still a non-European neighbour, at least those parts extending from the Bosphorus eastwards. They, that is to say the vast majority of Turks owe more to the Asian continent than to Europe, and to cap everything else, they all want to come here.( ask the staff at Turkish hotels).They ,that is to say , those living away from the large westernized connurbations, apart from the remains of the Byzantine culture, have little of intrinsic value to offer the EU, since enormous tracts of Asia Minor is given over to existence farmers.The CAP is almost bankrupting Europe as we speak, thanks to the French, and to add yet another net receiver economy, to the already overburdened hash which we call the European Union would , or at least could, be bankrupting. What message, would the acceptance of Turkey into Europe give to Georgia ; Armenia and Iran?Would they be next in line? .
    Perhaps in several years , when they have something positive to offer, it should be re-considered. Even though the Turks enjoy a secular lifestyle , rather than the stricter Muslim countries, the addition of approx 65 million, mainly Muslim followers,( about a quarter of a million are non Muslims), would swamp what has , for centuries, been the nominally Christian bastion of old Europe. Would the old framework hold up to the added weight of an, although equally accepted , alien basic concept in beliefs. Each should be allowed to worship as he / she wishes, without let or hindrance to / by, any other religion or non religious group.It belongs in the heart and not on the street. Jaq has more than adequately made the parochial case against; others are equally eloquent elsewhere.

  4. How come Melissa does all the posts, and Boris gets all the credit? This is so typical of the dual exploitation of the late capitalist, patriarchal socio-cultural matrix.

    “Would the old framework hold up to the added weight of an, although equally accepted , alien basic concept in beliefs.”

    Macaranie, you Islampohobic bigot. It is so typical of our western mindset to seek to impose on ethnic minorities our own oppressive cultural norms.

    For example, right wing lunatics often complain that Islamic culture oppresses women, but as I just stated, Western cultural patriarchy is far more insidious, as Melissas plight demonstrates, in the current post modern, decaying capitalist epoch than at any point in history.

    As we know, western women are today subjected to a vicious process of ‘normalisation’. Pernicious media systems of cultural control endeavour to reinforce the ‘dual systems’ exploitation of the patriarchal, capitalist order, and as such keep women in a state of subjugation

    Women are enslaved by aesthetic cultural expectations propagated by bourgeois ‘lifestyle’ women?s magazines which cultivate new markets for make up, diet fads, cosmetic surgery etc, in effect corporations ‘police’ both the mind and body of the modern western woman, ultimately she is ‘commodified’ and repressed by sexually exploitative cultural expectations.

    In contrast, Islamic culture allows women to wear the burqua, effectively liberating them from the aesthetic ‘rat race’. That is why so many enlightened sisters such as Germaine Greer have woken up to the fact that we have much to learn from medieval Islamic culture. As such, Turkey ought to be allowed into the EU ASAP.

    Up the workers!

  5. I think , you outmoded communistic dinosaur, that you would find, not only in what I said, but in the explanatory correspondece elsewhere on this site , that you are wrong, terribly wrong , in what you say.
    In no way have I ever , on these pages or elsewhere, denigrated or condemned any religious groups, neither have I anywhere, at any time, said that I am against religion in any of its forms, Read the text man. Would you rather return to your Mr.Stalin.Gulag for me I suppose. As for Melissa, she being the right hand, the very amanuensis of the MP who is Boris Johnson, is the keeper of the protocol concerning these pages, and she does a very fine job of keeping decorum amidst such outbursts.

  6. I’m with me communist friend on this one. It’s high time Melissa got her own website. That’ll show that Johnson fella up for the bluffer that he is. Behold – the real power behind the throne!

  7. Melissa knows my opinion of her and of her place in the Boris machine and I hope she’ll allow me to say:

    comrade smirnoff, I’ve never read such complete bollocks.

    Mac, the Turkish comment was just a joke lovely, hopefully made obvious as such by the reference to Boris’s height – he’s not short. I have never thought the Johnsons anything other than true blue Brits. That would be like considering anyone with Norman blood a foreigner.
    Very good news about Stanley 🙂

  8. Oi, Smirnoff: NO! What kind of moron are you? Has the vodka you have taken your name from rotted your brain? Did it not occur to you that this was actually from Boris’s column in the Telegraph? That he wrote the piece himself? What you appear to be arguing is that Melissa should get the credit for writing the piece.
    I’m not saying that Melissa does not deserve the credit for maintaining and updating this website in the brilliant way that she does. I’m merely suggesting that you find yourself in the wrong by claiming that she has not been given the aforementioned credit. Not only that, but isn’t it just typical that a leftist would attack a rightist politician for what seems to be a non-existent reason? Think about it for a bit, then put on the pointy hat with the large, black D and sit in the corner for a good week or so.

  9. When’s Boris going to respond? He posts his article like a bone to pack of pit-bulls then ignores the carnage!

  10. Not sure what the debate is about – clearly this is the *Brilliant Boris Blog* and he needs only the very best posting and commenting on it, naturally.

    We can but try

  11. Wrong again little water.
    I might be persuaded to believe that your utterances were “the thick of it”,if what you wrote was meant to be satirical.

  12. jaq – whats this about not getting behind the Johnson? It would seem that most people on this site hold him high. I don’t think VG is needed here!

    Big Mac – as for the Vodka that some people might drink they need to learn that it’s produced here in GB – not a very Marx drink I do not think. One hopes for some terse lines form you on the very subject;)

  13. Nick; in the timeless words of Eartha Kitt,” An Englishman needs time”. I forecast vodka as an addition to the menu soon,( Jeez I’ve done it again, promised what I probably can’t deliver).

  14. Blimey, what’s been going on here then?

    The hot topic seem to be Do We Let the Turks in? and I would say emphatically Yes. (No loony CAPS.)

    My local corner shop is run by Turks, my son’s reception class has at least 3 Turkish kids,the Turkish parents make jolly nice scoff for the school fetes – in all, they make a significant contribution to the local community.

    On the macro scale, Turkey stood firm against Amerika over Iraq. This may be the opportunity to head off the rumbling apocalypse (Clash of Civilizations) unleashed by Mad Dog Bush when he decided to stick it to Saddam after 9/11 and had to be dissuaded from calling it a Crusade against Terror, duh.

    (My Pet Goat was a bit advanced for him, I thought, that’s probably why he went all rabbit-in-the-headlights when Mr President We Have A Situation was whispered into his shell-like. )

    I shall walk through the valley of Death
    But no evil shall I fear
    ‘Cos I’m the biggest bastard in the valley
    (The Blessed John Lennon)

    Turkey used to have an appalling Human Rights record and seemed to be a supine Middle Eastern client of the United States of Kiss My Ass. I’m not up to speed on the HR issue, Amnesty may have discouraging things to say about this, so jury out I suppose if that’s still an issue. (Hence the presence of some of our local Turkish folk? Asylum seekers, anyone?)

    But Mac, what is this bollocks about Christian Europe being swamped ((c) Thatcher) by Moslems? Come on. I’m with my Comrade on this one – and I’m not a Stalinist tankie. (Anarcho-syndalism rules! oops)

  15. Nick, this might not quite be what you wanted, but Vodka is a rotten word with which to rhyme.
    For Nick!
    Vodka is the spirit, which some say doesn

  16. Promising what you can’t deliver Mac? Oh someone give that man a coconut!

    PS: I thought vodka always goes with red bull.

  17. Thanks Nick : if you don’t mind I’ll keep it until I really deliver what I ,in a moment of madness, promised.( my resignation)
    Jaq: the coconut you proffer would be nice; but not with red bull, please , I’m not red; I might be full of bull, but this is no china shop.

  18. jaq, do you really mean that those with Norman blood aren’t foreigners? Goodness, a family belief has just bitten the dust! Now I will read that the seven hundred year war with France has finished (or maybe not, recently our Dutch host asked my mother why do the English dislike the French and she answered “because they are French”). It’s nice to be a young fossil, speak 2 European languages, have friends from all over the place, work abroad, I love Europe and do not want a single state. I like the differences, I like to argue with my French friend (and make her cringe when I mimic De Gaulle “la grandeur”), learn about the history of every country and see how it made the present situation, joke about my English ticks and my friends Italian ones. And yes, I am against the Europe that is being imposed from Brussels and I am ready to vote against it, but do not call me a Europhobe or I shall bite.

  19. Correction Boris: “16 out of 25 countries secretly or openly disagreed with the Franco-German position on the war in Iraq”.
    This is not being honest, is it? For example the 3 countries (and province) making up the UK all agreed with the Franco-German position, as did Spain. The problem is that our government/s were against the sensible Franco-German position (continue with and increase inspections, create no-go zones on the ground, put in UN troops, create the conditions for removing Saddam, etc). Instead we had a meek government that decided to go along with Bush and Co. And look at the mess that came from it.

  20. Count:Your observations show just how wrong the Government is for this country: there was indeed a flood tide of opinion in Britain against the invasion of Iraq ,certainly at least , before more exhaustive measures had been taken to prove , beyond reasonable doubt, that Saddam had WMD capacity. Despite everything, this tide of opinion was ignored, because nannie knows best, and besides HMV had called. Saddam may have had the mental capability: he may even have had the will, to employ such weapons; but; without the actual hardware , he was no immediate threat.
    Were it not for the total disregard shown by this Government, for what the electorate wanted, fyrther compounded by the lack of action from the UN to impose its not inconsiderable influence upon the despotic leader of Iraq, there would not be quite so many grieving families, from all sides of the conflict.

  21. I’m a bit the worse for wear, Mac, so pardon any brusqueness following.

    For Feck’s sake, since when did this gov’t give a stuff what the people think? We’ve got to grow up, people, Blair is a grinning glove puppet (Mr Punch?) with Bush’s hand up his ass. Apart from Grumpy Gordon his supine cabinet is filled with stiffs who couldn’t run a bath let alone a modern nation state. I have some fourth-hand experience of dealing with the people who deal with these people who etc.- I’m way down the food chain – and their medicrity and intellectual nullity is astonishing. And the Tories (until recently) were pretty much the same, and as for that fat pudding…OK, nuff.

  22. Kevin: It’s amazing how quickly one can warm to someone when the wavelengths converge.I am sitting here at this hour because I rather overindulged last night: fell asleep at the keyboard , and so didn’t need to linger until the late hours in my lonely pit. SOoo sad; isn’t it.

  23. I can’t resist that second glance, the re-reading of the bits , which I only glanced at first time round. Opening Para., Boris asks why so many people from the UK chose a particular beach or area to holiday in. Blame Thompson or Horizon or whoever for that. What I find intriguing is the name of the place: Lefkas. Pronounced; a la Spike Jones; backwards , is sackful. Presumably the answer to the question, “How many Brits this week?”

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