Wednesday 6 February 2008

A swivel-eyed lunatic speaks the truth

14st 8lb; one unit of alcohol as a nightcap; 1,459; Tyne.

Accession Day; the 56th anniversary of the demise of His Majesty King George VI. I interrupt my reading in bed to turn on Radio 4 at 7, in the hope of hearing the National Anthem to mark the occasion; I am not surprised to be disappointed. If I were in London, I might well wander along to Hyde Park to witness the 41-gun salute fired to mark the day. A spectacle which even a diehad reactionary has to admit has been enhanced in some respects by having so many of the horsemen manning the guns of the King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, replaced by pretty girls.

Still, it is an odd fact that these traditional centrepieces of patriotic rejoicing should have been downgraded to the point of almost total invisibility at precisely the time that the Prime Minister is banging on about the need to promote “Britishness”. But then no odder than his decision, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, to have Britannia removed from our coinage in its imminent re-launch to promote a more “modern” image. The fate of the traditional symbols of Royal authority remains cloudy, but there are enough straws in the wind: the preference for fatuous logos to define Government departments rather than the Royal arms, for example, and the search for a new national “motto” in place of “Dieu et Mon Droit”.

The sad reality, of course, is that neither monarch nor Prime Minister matters very much these days. All important decisions are handed down to us in the form of directives or regulations from the European Union, and Her Majesty has been reduced to the status of one of those tribal chiefs who are permitted to go on practising their traditional rituals with the witch doctors in some African republics. The outstandingly odd thing, given the staggering way in which we betrayed their economic interests when we applied to join the then Common Market in the 1960s, is that she remains the nominal head of some genuinely sovereign states such as Canada and Australia.

The more I read on the subject, the more staggering the deception practised on the British public to drag us into this anti-democratic dictatorship becomes. We entered an organization following a clear and explicit blueprint to create a federal United States of Europe with a single government, currency, legal system and foreign policy, in which the constituent nations were to be allowed less autonomy than the 50 states of the USA. And we did so under the influence of a pack of lies about it all being about “trade” and “jobs”. The lies have continued unabated to the present day, in the claims that the Lisbon Treaty is radically different from the Constitution (which it isn’t) and that a referendum is in any case unnecessary because it will receive detailed, line-by-line Parliamentary scrutiny (which it is now clear that it won’t).

The trouble is that the great mass of the British public seem to care far more about the standing of their local football team or the celebrities on Dancing on Ice than they do about the removal of their most fundamental rights and freedoms. And anyone who speaks the truth on the issue is instantly portrayed as some sort of swivel-eyed lunatic. I wrote a piece in the local paper yesterday which was mainly devoted to cracking what I thought were some not altogether bad jokes about Derek Conway. Knowing what a turn-off it is, I carefully introduced the subject of the non-referendum right at the end, since I am convinced that the fact that we all know that they are a bunch of powerless liars is at the root of the contempt in which the British political class is now held. To my dismay, the paper chose to highlight my European point in their “call-out” quote, probably halving my readership at a stroke.

As well as being Accession Day, it is by pure coincidence Ash Wednesday. Most appropriately, as I start the morning covered in the stuff, after attempting to empty the ashpan of the Baxi grate in my study. Normally I tip the contents into a plastic bag, but today they are too hot to make this practicable. The attempt to use a galvanized bucket instead ends in the sort of mess to which I have not been party since I reluctantly gave up sex. As I am cleaning up afterwards, it occurs to me that I could avoid this in future if I simply bought myself a second ashpan, which could be slotted into place while the other was left somewhere to cool down, like one of Fanny Craddock’s cakes. Given that I have numerous certificates purporting to prove that I am an intelligent human being, how can it have taken me all of 20 years to work that one out?

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