Magazine article The Spectator

Swiss Sense

Magazine article The Spectator

Swiss Sense

Article excerpt

Happiness is waking up in the country which Papa Hemingway called more upside down than sideways and reading that Swiss voters had sent a message to Brussels to take the EU and shove it. Even in Frenchspeaking cantons like Geneva, considered euro-friendly, the message to Romano Prodi was to drop dead: 59 per cent of Frog-speakers said non to the corrupt dictators of Brussels, while 85 per cent of German speakers thundered a resounding nein.

This is the beauty of Swiss direct democracy. The government tried its best to hoodwink the people, but, unlike Blair and Clinton, they didn't manage to. In reality, it was not that difficult. Concepts such as freedom, independence, direct democracy, armed neutrality and prosperity are as prized by the Swiss as they are loathed by the busybodies of Brussels. The outrageous treatment of Austria by the unelected bureaucrooks of Brussels last year did not help. The Swiss may be a slow and not very exciting people, but they recognise a threat to their freedom quicker than one can say cuckoo clock. The EU lost all credibility with the freedom-loving Helvetians during the Haider affair.

Just as the Swiss went to the polls on Sunday a week ago, the blood-stained gangster Robert Mugabe was making a triumphal tour of Europe, with the French President and the Belgian Prime Minister publicly kissing his arse. Needless to say, the state kidnapping of General Pinochet did not help Prodi's cause.

The Swiss have managed to remain unaligned and doggedly neutral for centuries. The trick is armed neutrality, and that includes staying out of the UN. The central government in Berne is as unobtrusive as it's possible to be and still be called a government. Very few know the name of the President of the Swiss Confederation, and the capital never, but never interferes on the local level. National decisions are taken more often than not after a national referendum. Every Swiss citizen has the right to bear arms, yet crime is almost nonexistent, and violent crime extremely rare. Talk about utopia.

The irony is that you British are forever being told that you are too small to survive in Europe unless you lose your freedoms to Brussels. Now that's a crock of you know what if there ever was one. …

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