British Prime Minister David Cameron, as pretty much everyone knows, is planning a major policy speech, which will apparently detail his (or perhaps the coalition's) ideas on a new settlement between Britain and the EU.
This is a topic about which I have written pretty much every day for longer than my wife wishes to recall. Thus it is natural that I would like to circulate my own ideas as widely as possible before Cameron opens his mouth and puts his countrymen in line for even more years of trauma and disappointment.
Before starting, some myths are best dispelled. The main ones are as follows:
- The Greeks may indeed have first perfected decent writing but as such, they were mere scribes for others' wisdom
- The Roman Empire was, in the main, a barbaric horror story
- The Mediterranean Sea was civilised from West to East
- Homo Sapiens may well have interbred with Neanderthals
- As a fact of the Earth's rotation, trade winds blow from the East
- Civiisation therefore also most probably crossed oceans from East to West
- Hence, there is nothing particularly unique or special about western Europe.
The statements above may be argued, but anybody with a couple of hours to spare, an internet browser and reasonable command of English, will probably be persuaded that they are substantially correct after two or three hours of surfing. Collectively they destroy the ambition for an imperial western Europe which the EU has now quite clearly been shaped to deliver.
Early man may have walked around the coastlines from Africa, but others may also have begun elsewhere. Innovative early mankind probably first inhabited islands, which he could clear of predators, and thus would have taken to the seas early on. Plodding mankind would have carried on walking and been eaten, possibly for centuries, while his seafaring cousins were advancing by leaps and bounds.
In modern parlance we have tended to divide conflicting political beliefs according to the labels left and right, or alternatively collectivist and individualist. The left, and collectivists, are most logically the offspring of the plodders while innovative early mankind's likely descendants are the maritime adventurers and strivers.
Britain has viewed its historic cultural roots as being as those of a maritime trading nation. It has on too many occasions in the past believed that its neighbours on mainland Europe would choose to share the individual freedoms, democracy and benefits this heritage brings. This was a mistake. Costly and repeated wars should have taught our island breed this painful basic fact - but they did not.
Thanks to the EU, we now have another chance to learn this lesson once and for all and never get involved in, nor dabble with the politics of Western Europe ever again. While World Wars One and Two incredibly still failed to bring these facts home, surely the Treaty of Rome, Single European Act, Maastricht Treaty, Amsterdam Treaty, Lisbon Treaty, EFSF, EFSM, ESM, Fiscal Compact Treaty and the proposed Financial Transaction Tax Agreement must finally convince us of this painful and truly quite awful reality.
Landlocked continental ex-sovereign EU member states do not want democracy, they do not want to make choices, nor do they value individuality - they merely seem to want to live in peace alongside their foreign neighbour and to achieve that will meekly do as they are told by the more power-hungry or greedy among their number. Why else do they accept all the above Treaties, mostly without a popular vote nor hardly a murmured serious dissent? They are the true heirs of the plodders. Presumably the individualistic maritime adventurers for which the Aragon, Celts, Ciboure, England, the Low Countries and Navarre were once famed have long since sailed off for adventures anew and far away from Western Europe's Atlantic seaboard.
Britain was happily geographically separated from the continent when Doggerland was first engulfed by rising seas. Are there any left there now who still hold to the merchant adventurer beliefs of our forebears, who fought their way northwards to open new routes to Moscow and destroy the trading monopoly of the Hanseatic League, before then turning to explore westwards?
A referendum now, not several years hence, but soon, is the least Prime Minister Cameron can now offer his countrymen and women so that we may all find out. Will then Britain leave the EU, or has Europe long since left Britain? Will the UK embrace totalitarianism and despotism as its near neighbours seem to have done? It is in my view long past the time Europe, the world and above all Britain deserved to find out. In turn the world and Europe would do best not to interfere.
A former naval officer and oil executive, Martin Cole has written a novel, Millennium Blitzkrieg, and maintains a number of political blogs including the ever-popular Ironies Too