Magazine article The Spectator

Who's Mad?

Magazine article The Spectator

Who's Mad?

Article excerpt

This government really takes the biscuit. And it is not a digestive one, either. I refer to its new habit of calling Euro-sceptics - that is, those of us who are sceptical about the euro as opposed to Europe itself - foaming at the mouth, howling at the moon loonies. Just because we dance naked around graven images of Bill Cash. I ask you, what's strange about that?

Yet Labour's political broadcast for the European elections was based entirely on this premise. According to Mr Blair's valet, Mr Ashdown, all Euro-sceptics are to be henceforth known as `William's weirdos'. In the Labour broadcast Jeremy Irons, the actor, provided the voice-over. He asked the public: `Do you want Tony Blair? Or do you want this man?' He said this over the unfortunate picture of Mr Hague in a baseball cap, looking a bit, one must admit, like the newt-fancying Gussie Fink-Nottle.

I am not and never have been antiEurope in any shape or form (actually, I often prefer European forms). Indeed, after an appearance on Question Time last week I was sent a letter of abuse from a man in Surrey who complained that my Euro-scepticism was not virulent enough. But simply because, like 61 per cent of people in this country, I have reservations about joining the single currency, the government thinks I should be hearing the flapping of Teddy Taylor.

Let me posit another premise. Let's pretend we are before a board of medical examiners. Its role is to establish my sanity as a Euro-sceptic vis-a-vis that of Mr Blair and his hierophants (I am sorry to personalise this but I don't have at my fingertips the private histories of my readers). Question before the board: does my Euro-scepticism make me a loony?

First let me state that I am twice as European as Mr Blair is - by blood. And blood is thicker than blather. I am half Hungarian and only one eighth English the rest of me is Welsh and Cornish (if I were a dog, they could never show me at Cruft's).

At the age of 30, I have spent more of my life in Europe than Mr Blair. I was partly brought up in Italy. At least 30 per cent of my friends are European, not English. I do not believe that the Germans are unreconstructed purveyors of evil. I am a Wagnerian and I even like German cooking. At university I specialised in European history. I prefer reading French and German authors to contemporary British ones. I dislike Benjamin Britten (no sex, or at least sex of the wrong sort) and am bored by much of Elgar.

Then why am I a Euro-sceptic? Precisely because I am a European. …

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