Bernard Sumner pleasures us with his views on European political integration over in the New European. My own view on this is that I tried music, for years, and reached my Peter Principle Point at Grade VII. Wondrous fun getting there, playing live is near as good as sex but better for one can do it for hours in public. Yet that those who know their key changes from their gear ones want to tell me about politics is, well, you’ve heard about this specialisation thing? I know I’m not good at what you do, been there done it. Are you willing to return the favour?
At which point, from our Wessex Regionalists Correspondent, a special report:
I feel European, I regard myself as a European, and I certainly don’t want to go back to some kind of little Britain, circa the 1950s. The days of Empire are long gone, the captive market it gave us is long gone. The world is a very different place now and you can’t go back, no matter how much you might want to.
I was trying to think who might be the equivalent entertainers to New Order in the original EEC referendum of 1975. A musical act that had been going for 40 years and you’d have to go with someone like George Formby or Arthur Askey. Maybe they’d have said some things about funny foreigners or allying with the Germans who we fought a war with. This would be the conservative position.
I don’t know if Bernard Sumner of New Order thinks of himself as a conservative. A band born from the Sex Pistols concert in Manchester probably doesn’t, but it’s worth considering that John Lydon is mostly spreading butter in TV commercials rather than spreading anarchy today. But they are conservatives. The EU is something we all grew up with. Maybe we all saw people fighting Little Englanders to get to a larger future, but I think to these people, there is an unthinking normalisation of the EU. They’re new fogies, stuck in the past, fighting the same battle that was fought in 1975. They still think this is about empire, despite the fact that the number of people who still remember Nyasaland and Gold Coast are now vanishingly small, let alone having a fondness for them to return to Britain.
The idea of sticking with the EU feels the same as someone in the 1970s wanting to stop European trade. The world was changing back then. We could trade goods with the French, Dutch and Germans. French wine, Dutch cassette players and German cars improved. Arguably, the EEC was a good idea for a time. But it’s an idea that feels outdated when we’re buying wine from Chile, electronics from China and Korean cars. The institutions we have should match how things are, not how they were. Our future is global.
Or – Tim again – as we often say around here there’s nothing quite so conservative as a progressive….