Two contrasting events from yesterday (Tuesday 28th):
First, Nigel Farage having the perverse temerity to turn up in Brussels to a session of the European Parliament and throw insults. ‘…virtually none of you have done a decent day’s work in your life’. Some of us would be inclined to level the same charge at Farage. Matched against a Scottish MEP, Alyn Smith, who begged MEPs to help Scotland stay in the EU. ‘I want my country to be internationalist, co-operative, ecological, fair, European …Scotland did not let you down. Please, I beg you, cher colleagues, do not let Scotland down now’.
Now, which side do we want to be on? The mean-spirited or the open-hearted? Europe is an attitude of mind. The Leave side claim to be European, but only if you believe in a Europe where we retreat behind our national frontiers. As part of that narrative the EU itself has to be pilloried. I like what I saw of the EU parliament yesterday. Not something I’d always say: no-one argues it’s a perfect institution! But you don’t leave an institution like the EU. You change, you reform, you build, you work together.
One addition: Quentin Letts, in the Mail, had this is today’s paper: ‘The parliament’s president, Martin Schulz, whose only previous job was running a bookshop, appealed for hecklers to desist.’ One could write a whole article about the idiocy of that remark. Running a bookshop is a far superior occupation to that of journalistic hack. I’ll leave it at that. I know booksellers, having been in publishing all my life. And I can recognise a hack at fifty yards.
The second event: the Colliers, Chris, Ben and Rozi, in Trafalgar Square for a pro-EU demo. Also Rozi’s best and oldest friend Lucy. My ex-wife Kathy was I’m sure with us in spirit. An international event, it’s London after all, and one I’m proud to have been a part of. And I’m proud that our family though no longer together in one sense is so together on this. We all did something right over the last 30 years.
I had to leave the demo and head off to an evening class. In the rain, a 1/2 hour walk. I arrived and the tutor was in full flow… on the subject of the EU. Pro-Remain, but believing we should go along with the result. The class then got my riposte. ‘No pasaran,’ as they say in Spanish (they shall not pass), or ‘no lasagne’, as my mobile phone spellcheck suggested to me last weekend.
The emotions all this brings out are surprising. My plan had been for a quieter mretirement!
I learnt later that the demo had moved on down to the Houses of Parliament. Maybe not so much a demo as a celebration. Being a European, a citizen of the world, is a good place to be.