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March 11, 2007

Will Hutton on Britain

I do wonder sometimes where Will Hutton gets his information from. Try this:

Of the many noxious legacies of Mrs Thatcher, perhaps the most poisonous is the idea that somehow the British are not European. She taught her party, the media and a large part of the country that any European initiative was necessarily hostile to our interests and originated in a mindset of which we are not part. The British may be geographically European; culturally and politically, we are different.It was nonsense.

Nonsense, eh? We speak (to a large extent) English, a language we share with the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and so on, some 350 million people just there and a language we share within the European Union with the 3.5 million of Eire and no others.

We have a Common Law system, something we share with the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and so on, some 350 million people just there and a legal system we share within the European Union with the 3.5 million of Eire and no others.

We have trial by jury, something we share with the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and so on, some 350 million people just there and a legal system we share within the European Union with the 3.5 million of Eire and no others.

We have the presumption of innocence, something we share with the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and so on, some 350 million people just there and a legal system we share within the European Union with the 3.5 million of Eire and no others.

Anyone else want to continue the list?

Nonsense?

March 11, 2007 in The English | Permalink

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Comments

Of all the idiots who write for the Observer, I think Hutton is the dumbest.
It takes a certain talent to be that stupid.

Posted by: Peter Briffa | Mar 11, 2007 11:31:26 AM

From Mrs. Thatcher's Bruges speech:

"We British are as much heirs to the legacy of European culture as any other nation. Our links to the rest of Europe, the continent of Europe, have been the dominant factor in our history.

For three hundred years, we were part of the Roman Empire and our maps still trace the straight lines of the roads the Romans built.

Our ancestors—Celts, Saxons, Danes—came from the Continent.[fo 1]

Our nation was—in that favourite Community word—"restructured" under the Norman and Angevin rule in the eleventh and twelfth centuries.

This year, we celebrate the three hundredth anniversary of the glorious revolution in which the British crown passed to Prince William of Orange and Queen Mary .

Visit the great churches and cathedrals of Britain, read our literature and listen to our language: all bear witness to the cultural riches which we have drawn from Europe and other Europeans from us."

Posted by: Arthurian Legend | Mar 11, 2007 12:15:39 PM

Tim, all your list does is show that we have things in common with the rest of the English speaking world. It does not prove that the British are not European.

Tim adds: It shows that we are indeed cutlurally different from our continental friends though, does it not?

Posted by: Steve | Mar 11, 2007 12:35:59 PM

We produce good pop music, something we share with the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and so on, some 350 million people just there and produced by the 3.5 million of Eire and no others.

Posted by: Tim Almond | Mar 11, 2007 12:57:29 PM

Dare I say humour?

Horse walks into a pub. Barman says "Why such a long face?"

I rest my case.

Posted by: Kit | Mar 11, 2007 1:01:25 PM

One key difference is that we escaped subjection to the European Unions of Bonaparte or Hitler.

Posted by: dearieme | Mar 11, 2007 2:55:03 PM

"We escaped subjection to the European Unions of Bonaparte or Hitler."
Not for long>

Posted by: Little Black Sambo | Mar 11, 2007 5:03:38 PM

Tim,

Thatcher was as passively pro-European as the treacherous entryists Fatty Clarke and Big Hair Hesetine were active.

If she were a true patriot she would have legislated for withdrawal, not bitched about the rebate.

'The lady's not for turning' and all that BS looked good in the papers, but as usual she wasn't really interested in the nation - it was the market that made her sweaty.

Better still, she could just have withheld the money. She was Prime Minister. She could have done anything.

Posted by: Martin | Mar 11, 2007 5:36:19 PM

Tim, we are culturally different from our continental friends to the same extent that they are all culturally different from each other.

We share more history with France than, say the Swedes or Danes do. Look at the cover of your UK passport. It has ten French words on it an eleven Engish ones, two of which are 'European union'.

Britain is no more different from France or Italy than Sweden or Finland are.

Posted by: Steve | Mar 11, 2007 5:38:51 PM

LBSL "Not for long"

Not for long enough.

Posted by: APL | Mar 11, 2007 6:36:08 PM

Martin, I suspect Maggie would probably agree with you now.

In the 1970s, the EEC - as it was called then - was seen by Tories and pro-market folk as a bulwark against socialism, etc. The left tended to oppose it for that very reason, rather than out of concerns about sovereignty. Mrs T. did not really get alarmed until after the speeches of J. Delors and others who made it clear that the EU was going to be an explicitly federal project.

But we should recall that Thatcher was much more of a political compromiser than her admirers or foes will admit. She was not quite the hardline ideologue of legend.

As someone who openly admits to "getting sweaty about the market", my support for free enterprise, free trade and so on is precisely why I want to leave the EU.

Posted by: Johnathan Pearce | Mar 11, 2007 8:42:30 PM

Britain's value to Europe is as a bridge to the English-speaking nations, and also the Commonwealth. Other nations serve similar purposes. Which makes the EU in itself a very useful bridge for Britain.

Of course, the continuation of this bridge argument is to be in favour of Turkish accession.

I don't get the need for this either/or thing. Smacks of for-us-or-against us. There's just no call for it.

Posted by: Auntymarianne | Mar 13, 2007 4:44:16 AM