Today Europe will be celebrating sixty years of peace. The last time this happened was around two thousand years ago during an age described by the historian Gibbon in these glowing terms:
“If a man were called to fix the period in the history of the world, during which the condition of the human race was most happy and prosperous, he would, without hesitation, name that which elapsed from the death of Domitian to the accession of Commodus.”
As clocks adjust in Italy to ‘ora legale’ by putting the clocks forward one hour the UK will be starting to put its clocks back over seventy years, returning to the dark ages of a country shaking the dust and destruction off a six year long war.
Just the achievement of sixty years peace for the members of the European community – for which that same community obtained the Nobel peace prize in 2012 – should make one hang on to something that is imperfect though precious, riddled with mistakes yet right-minded. The European community has not only preserved us from the utter waste of war but has also safeguarded our right to work, study, live and love within its area. It was thanks to the EU that I went on a teacher exchange to Genoa in 1995. It was again thanks to the EU and the Comenius project that I was able to have a collaboration with Austrian schools in 1999. Again, thanks to these valuable and enriching experiences, I subsequently obtained jobs with Italian schools and colleges ever since I became a resident in Italy over ten years ago.
So many other areas, like human rights, employment protection, and climate change, are directly touched by the EU. Furthermore, this community is the largest and most powerful free trade area in the world and the only one to be able to fully compete with the rising economies of the Far East. Quitting it will just leave a post-colonial stump of a country begging for bread-crumb trading deals with some of the most questionable nations of the world who share few of the ideas of democracy and freedom which the UK is proud of.
Yet this week-end, thanks to an ill-informed slight referendum majority fed by false and bigoted information, all these hard-won benefits will be placed in jeopardy for the population of the United Kingdom: that is, unless Northern Ireland uses its majority opinion to join with Irish republic and make a unified state or if Scotland manages to obtain and win a second independence referendum. In that case we shall clearly see the break-up of a nation.
The issue which swayed the otherwise negligible majority to vote to quit wasn’t anything to do with the uneatable British sausage having to be renamed the emulsified high-fat offal tube, or the equally unpleasant British imitation of real chocolate being called vegichoc, or something equally unpalatable, and looking remarkably like dishwater, being passed off as real coffee.
(Yes Minister, of course)
No, it wasn’t even the European economy which has dragged up the UK from the dismal abyss into which it had landed before joining the common market 1973 with worn-out industries, tired-looking cars and demoralised work-forces. It was, in fact, the subject of immigration. Not immigration from Commonwealth countries, however, which, starting with the arrival of Jamaicans on board the MV Empire Windrush at the port of Tilbury in 1948, provided a much needed workforce to help rebuild the UK after WWII (in which so many servicemen from Commonwealth countries too, gave their lives). No, it couldn’t be that sort of Powell-discredited immigration which I vaguely remember as a child was characterised by notices like ‘no blacks’ on properties to rent. Immigration against people of a different colours skin would now immediately be classed as racist and the perpetrators be accused of race hate.
No. It wasn’t that immigration which had to be controlled. Yet take a white person who doesn’t speak English, or speaks it with a ‘foreign’ accent, then it’s different. Sadly, this is the type of immigration the bigoted Daily Muck readers want to control – in short, the free movement of labour within the European community. It doesn’t matter if there will be skills shortages, especially in hospitals and service industries, as already is happening now from an uneasy European work-force in the UK. It doesn’t matter if members of the European Youth Orchestra, at present based in the UK, will have to move abroad in order to preserve this freedom of movement. It doesn’t matter if City banks are relocating or have plans to move to mainland European financial capitals such as Frankfurt. It doesn’t matter if so much of the field of education and the arts will suffer and be depleted as a result. It doesn’t matter if research and science opportunities for UK youth to work in the European community will be slashed. At least these specimens of UK Daily Muck readers will say they will be spared the offence of people speaking Italian, French, Rumanian, or any other of the twenty-three officially recognised EU languages, as they catch the 176 bus driven by a Pole or do their shopping at the local convenience store served by a Lithuanian.
‘Ah yes’, they will say. ‘At least we’ll be able to control our country, free from all those EC laws.’ What laws in particular? I’ve asked some of these people. None could give me any specific example…
For me the ultimate insult to anything that is of value in an organisation which has saved us from so much evil that previous European generations had to endure is that dismal crowd of so-called expats – immigrants in fact – that propagate their ridiculous views in such places as the otherwise acceptable bar at Ponte a Serraglio, Bagni di Lucca. To use anagrams in order to avoid libel and name in this way just two: the soft roes and retoolings of this world.
How can immigrants from the UK, resident in an Italian comune for over ten years and getting their income from this country, ever have had the idiocy of voting to quit a union that has achieved so much for a great continent that last century all but destroyed itself twice over? I suggest that these ‘Cretini’ could leave and spare the likes of me the ‘Daily Merde’ back-chat that soils the atmosphere of an otherwise pleasant ambience in Bagni di Lucca.
Happy Sixtieth Birthday European Community! Long may you live and may your children have the chance to continue to build upon the great foundations laid by Italy’s De Gasperi, Germany’s Adenauer, France’s Monnet and, last but not least, Britain’s Churchill who said at the congress of Europe in 1948: ‘I look forward to a United States of Europe, in which the barriers between the nations will be greatly minimised and unrestricted travel will be possible….Britain must play her full part as a member of the European family’
PS I cannot leave this rant without a sad thought, but a defiance one, for those victims of the recent terrorist attack in London. Of the killed and injured victims three were French children, two were Romanians, one was German, one was Polish, one was Irish, two were Italian, and two were Greeks – all countries of the European Union – and all of which countries pasted ‘I am a Londoner’ on my facebook page too.