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Labour’s Hopeless Immigration Quandary

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The Labour Party is doomed to break apart on the issue of immigration because the Metro-Left has become so ideologically insulated and closed-minded that they can no longer speak the same emotional language as half of their own voters (and the country)

Martin Kettle has some advice for the Labour Party as it wrestles to come up with a compromise between the blithe open borders attitude of the Corbynites and the suddenly nativist instinct of Midlands and Northern MPs whose seats may be in jeopardy unless the party moves convincingly on the issue of immigration.

Kettle lays out the issue in the Guardian:

After the issue of Brexit itself, voters think immigration is the most important question facing the country. But Labour’s poll ratings on immigration are terrible. Only 11% of voters in the most recent YouGov poll think Labour is the best party on immigration, with only 29% of Labour voters from the 2015 election – which Labour lost badly – agreeing. A mere 5% of leave voters think Labour is best on immigration.

If Labour’s priority is to re-secure its core voters on the issue, that is a very bad place to start from. Latest research by Chris Hanretty of the University of East Anglia suggests that 64% of Labour’s 232 parliamentary seats voted leave in June. So if it is correct that immigration control was the decisive issue in the leave win, Labour MPs are right to demand that, at the very least, their party says something about immigration that engages with that stark reality.

And suggests a solution based on dubious historical precedent:

There’s a framework for this. For most of the last half-century Labour’s policy was that managed migration made community integration and mutual trust possible. The policy had periods of success and failure. It was too repressive in the 1970s and it was too insouciant in the early 2000s, after EU enlargement. But until recently it worked reasonably, and won electoral consent.

Labour’s challenge in 2017 is to renew that same approach around the realities of Brexit. It won’t be easy, and it will involve compromises of the sort that Crossman expressed half a century ago. The policy cannot be based solely on liberal principles. But it cannot be based solely on ignoring those principles either.

It has to place intervention in the labour market to ensure fair treatment, alongside an unsentimental approach to immigration control. If Labour’s factions can at least agree to start from there, there’s just a chance that enough of the rest will fall into place.

But there can be no agreement between Labour’s factions. One faction – the metropolitan Regressive Left faction, incorporating everybody from leftists like Jeremy Corbyn to virtue signalling centrists – hold it as an article of faith that to even question whether everybody who wants to come to Britain should immediately be allowed to do so constitutes damning evidence of racism. The other faction – call them Old Labour, rooted in the party’s historic Northern, industrial and post-industrial heartlands – have not yet sacrificed patriotism and a belief in the uniqueness of British values and culture on the altar of globalisation, and fail to understand why immigration controls such as those imposed by countries like the United States or Australia are somehow racist.

These two sides simply cannot reconcile – certainly not so long as the metropolitan Regressive Left continues to arrogantly insult agnostics and sceptics, either accusing them of moral deficiency for failing to meekly toe the party line or ignoring their arguments altogether. In fact, with immigration currently a high priority political issue, one can argue convincingly that there is no longer any place for the two factions within the same political party, and that Labour must split (and probably should have done so some time ago).

Kettle, however, would have Labour look back to 1965 for a solution to their dilemma:

Yet the disagreement is not a new one, and Labour has succeeded in managing it before. Back in the summer of 1965, Harold Wilson’s Labour government published a radically restrictive white paper on immigration from the British commonwealth that shocked even cabinet ministers. “This has been one of the most difficult and unpleasant jobs the government has had to do,” the housing minister Richard Crossman wrote in his diaries. “We have become illiberal,” he mourned. “This will confirm the feeling that ours is not a socialist government.”

Nevertheless Crossman was absolutely sure that the controls were necessary. “I am convinced that if we hadn’t done all this we would have been faced with certain electoral defeat in the West Midlands and the south-east,” he went on. “Politically, fear of immigration is the most powerful undertow today … We felt we had to out-trump the Tories by doing what they would have done … I fear we were right.” Antisemitism and racism were endemic in Britain, Crossman suspected. “One has to deal with them by controlling immigration when it gets beyond a certain level.”

The fact that left-wing politicians and commentators would turn to the overtly racially tinged 1965 White Paper Immigration from the Commonwealth as a blueprint for dealing with Brexit and present-day immigration concerns only goes to show how little they understand the totally different present day context or appreciate the different public attitudes toward immigration in 2016.

The regressive leftist mind is seemingly unable to compute the idea that objections to unlimited immigration could be based upon anything other than racism. And perhaps this is partly understandable, when historically racism has formed one of the key objections to immigration. But no longer. Racism is now, thankfully, a fringe issue in Britain (despite the continual efforts of SJWs and others whose livelihoods depend on representing official victim classes to inflate the problem). Today’s concerns centre around integration and assimilation into society, and the affect on employment, infrastructure and public services.

None of these concerns are remotely race-based, and yet the response of the Labour Party has historically been to dismiss them all as a thin veneer covering for xenophobia. When voters plead with Labour politicians to believe them when they say that their objections are not connected with race, too often the response has been sneering dismissal. And even now, when some MPs and commentators are considering making concessions on immigration, it is done in the spirit of “we must join the British people in their racism as a matter of political survival” rather than a genuine attempt to understand legitimate public concerns.

And thus we have Martin Kettle essentially arguing that the Labour Party should hold its nose and support something which it believes to be overtly racist in order to stave off political annihilation. Why else cite the case of the 1965 White Paper, written at a time when “coloured immigration” was still openly spoken of as a specific problem?

High-minded it isn’t. But those words echo today because the essence of the argument in which Crossman’s generation participated – hard times, more migrants, native resentments, press and public prejudice, liberal principles under challenge, electoral defeats – has not altered all that much. Yet just as the Wilson Labour party was right to grasp the issue, though it could have grasped it far better, so the Corbyn party needs to grasp it in an equivalent way too.

This is the infuriating thing about leftists. They manage to be insufferable bordering on slanderous even in their attempts to be conciliatory and find compromise. Because they sincerely believe that any departure from their worldview can only be prompted by malice or grave moral failure, their attempts at dialogue with political opponents are awkward and strained as they inadvertently insult the people they are trying to flatter.

Martin Kettle has gotten it into his head that Brexit proves that the British people are having one of their funny turns and have come over all racist, just like we did in the 1960s. Unable to even consider that the Leave vote was prompted by sincere and virtuous political disagreement about the merits of EU membership, Kettle therefore suggests that the Labour Party recycle some good old fashioned racist outreach from 1965 as a kind of olive branch to persuade swivel-eyed Labour Brexiteers back into the fold.

This is the kind of clumsy gesture we have come to expect from a political elite which has become so isolated from much of the country that they can barely speak the same language. Listening to Martin Kettle try to strike up a rapport with Brexiteers would be like listening to me using Google Translate to talk to someone in Korean. The rough message might get through, but the garbled syntax would prove that I am not really speaking their language, that I do not truly understand them.

I’ve said it numerous times, and I will say it again: the Labour Party will not taste power or enjoy another general election victory until they stop giving off such strong signals that they openly despise the voters and hold more than half of the country in open disdain.

The British people do not want to be told “okay, we’ll try racism for awhile!” by an exasperated and uncomprehending Labour Party. They want to be listened to, to have their ideas and concerns heard and engaged with rather than being summarily dismissed.

This should not be a lot to ask, yet it is proving to be an almost impossible challenge for a bitterly divided Labour Party. And time is of the essence. Even assuming that the next general election takes place in 2020 and not earlier, it takes years to execute a convincing policy reversal while re-establish public credibility and familiarity.

If the Labour Party are to make a change and decide to meet the British people half way on the subject of immigration, then now is the time to do it. But with Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell in charge and an increasingly London-centric party behind them, don’t bet on it happening.

 

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Nick Clegg, Defiler Of Liberalism, Has Something To Say About Populism

Populism is bad, mmkaaay?

“I think it’s important to remember populism can be a very positive, can be – I mean, Gandhi was a kind of populist. If populism is about challenging a complacent elite, challenging an established order, speaking for people who are not spoken for, populism is a really really important antidote for complacency in politics” – Nick Clegg

The only way that one can hold this seemingly benign attitude toward populism while deploring Brexit and the vote to leave the European Union is either to misunderstand the true nature and purpose of the EU, or to be engaging in deliberate deception.

Nick Clegg is not an uneducated man. With his career, he knows better than most precisely what the EU is, how it operates and where it is heading. He knows that the European Union is more than the “friendship ‘n co-operation”, humble free trade club portrayed by deceitful Remainers during the referendum campaign. In other words, the ignorance excuse is not available to Nick Clegg.

That leaves only the conclusion that Nick Clegg is a liar. A very affable and eloquent liar, certainly, but a liar all the same, and a particularly dangerous one for his gifts.

Nick Clegg would seriously have us believe that the European Union has nothing to do with a “complacent elite”, an “established order” or “complacency in politics”, and that therefore Britain voting to liberate ourselves from the EU is therefore the “bad kind” of populism as opposed to the virtuous kind, which he happily supports. How anybody could sit and listen to him advance this view without either laughing or heckling is completely beyond me.

What nonsense; Nick Clegg has no time for populism of any kind, because it inevitably threatens the rule and routines of the elite in which he is so personally ensconced. Besides the archetypal High Tory, it is hard to imagine a senior British politician with less affinity for anyone who supports any populism movement. At his core, Nick Clegg believes that politics is something to be done to the people by enlightened, “liberal” elites like himself, not something for the masses to influence, with their base prejudices and uncomfortable opinions.

We know this because immediately prior to praising populism, Nick Clegg also said this:

“Populism is redolent with kind of uncontrollable rages and angers and passions, whereas liberalism – at least the liberalism I believe in – is about reason, rationality and evidence, and so on and so forth.”

No. The “liberalism” that Nick Clegg believes in consists of insulating oneself inside an hermetically sealed, epistemically closed information loop, listening only to those “experts” or paying heed to those “facts” which are conveniently in line with one’s own globalist, anti-nation state worldview to the complete exclusion of all other parameters, angles and viewpoints, before applying “reason” to that desperately narrow window on reality and pronouncing verdicts which always comfort and never challenge the metropolitan Regressive Left mindset.

Nick Clegg is perfectly entitled to hold and profess those seethingly anti-democratic, elitist positions. But he should not be allowed to get away with calling himself a liberal while he does so.

Watch this fascinating Intelligence Squared debate/discussion between the excellent social psychologist Jonathan Haidt and the sneering, unrepentantly euro-elitist Nick Clegg, on the subject of populism.

 

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Hysterical Remainers Are Inadvertently Making ‘Hard Brexit’ More Likely

Sam White has a great piece in Country Squire Magazine, in which he warns that the juvenile behaviour of bitter and hysterical Remainers is doing more than anything else to imperil the prospects of a smooth and orderly Brexit.

White writes:

One of the false charges levelled at Leave voters is that Brexit is an act of self-harm. That whatever reasons a person might have for voting to escape from the European Union, the amount of damage caused will always outweigh the benefits.

But from where I stand, the only masochistic inclinations come from hardcore Remainers themselves, as they attempt to hinder or halt a clean, well executed departure.

As they snipe and circle in a constant, bad tempered performance, drawing attention to their own discontent like hormonal adolescents, it becomes clear that they’ll try every trick at their disposal to oppose democracy.

An already impatient Leave camp is being made twitchy by the Remain contingent’s obstructive posturing, but can the Europhiles do any real damage?

The most vocal Remainers are so entrenched and irrational that they’ve actually shifted general opinion toward the very thing they’ve spent the past few months ardently demonising: a hard Brexit.

There are Leave supporters who’ve consistently argued that the only real Brexit is hard Brexit, and Remain have unwittingly reinforced this view. In fact, the idea of simply repealing the 1972 European Communities Act and walking nonchalantly away as if we’ve never heard of Article 50 now has a certain nihilistic, up-yours attraction. It’s the kind of thing Sid Vicious would do if he was in charge. Not so much a hard Brexit as a brick to the face Brexit.

That might give credibility to the charges of self harm though, and it’s unlikely our politicians would have the poised recklessness to pull it off. Instead, given the space to play smart, our negotiators would do best to take that most composedly British of approaches, and play the long game.

And were we united behind Brexit, they could do that.

However, with Remain jabbering and poking in the background like irritating, spoiled children, the considered approach becomes less attractive. What Brexiteer would feel comfortable with such a cautious route now, in the knowledge that amoral Remainers would have more time to subvert the plan?

Suddenly we’re a little less Roger Moore, and a bit more like John Cleese in Clockwise—quite prepared to steal a Porsche while dressed as a monk, as we race to trigger Article 50 before the entire glorious achievement can be stolen from us.

My emphasis in bold.

Sam White is quite correct. If we are determined to look at Brexit as a purely economic matter, as Remainers often seem to do, then right now there is no bigger threat than the possibility that the pro-EU crowd’s whiny filibustering might fuel a backlash which forces the government and MPs to take a harder (or more foolhardy) line in the secession negotiations than would otherwise be the case.

Pete North has previously picked up on the same danger, with reference to Nick Clegg an the Liberal Democrats:

And that is a problem if the Lib Dems are setting themselves up as the voice of the obstructionist remainers. It pretty much makes the EEA politically toxic. The option itself is hated among the majority of leavers, not least because they have, hook, line and sinker, bought the remainer narratives about it.

That puts us all in very dangerous territory. It forces the government to double down on seeking any solution but the EEA and consequently has them fumbling around in the dark for something politically palatable when the options are few. What that likely means is further delay and an attempt to bring about some kind of bespoke agreement that is the EEA in all but name.

As White notes, there is already a tedious contingent of Brexiteers, particularly online, who insist that despite the very clear wording of the referendum question, the British people also secretly gave an instruction to leave the single market, and that anything short of full and immediate divorce is some kind of dishonourable betrayal.

Throw in the fact that dishonest Remainers who only months ago were arguing that Britain’s prosperity depends on remaining in the political union have now retreated to the fallback position of calling for continued participation in the single market, and one can understand how the narrative of an elite anti-Brexit conspiracy is gaining traction and potentially leading to a hardening of stances among some Brexiteers.

White concludes:

Something these anti-democrats can never get their heads around is patriotism. The idea that a citizenry could be willing to risk a short-term financial hit in order to secure priceless, permanent sovereignty is apparently unfathomable.

They also have difficulty reconciling national integrity with being an outward looking, internationally-minded country, but of course there is no conflict between these things. Right now it’s the EU that appears stagnant and insular, while an independent, agile Britain looks fresh and ready to do business.

Perhaps it’s this intractable refusal to consider the value of nation states—in their most inclusive and forward thinking colours—that holds the Remainers back.

It’s true – many Remainers simply do not “get” patriotism, at least according to any reasonable definition of the word. Those who style themselves as “citizens of the world” are in fact no such thing. For as long as the nation state remains the basic building block of the global community and the ultimate guarantor of our rights and freedoms, permitting Britain’s sovereignty to be undermined is highly counterproductive.

But as this blog has argued, it goes deeper than that. It is not just that Remainers see concerns about self-determination and democracy as entirely secondary to short-term economic scaremongering concerns. It is that they are actively hostile to patriotism-based arguments, or indeed any harmless expression of patriotism.

And this haughty attitude risks fuelling a backlash which, when translated into domestic political pressure, may make it much harder for Theresa May’s government to pursue the kind of Brexit deal that we should be making.

 

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Why Should Brexiteers Be Magnanimous Toward Defeated Remainers? They Deserve No Such Goodwill

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Brexiteers should be magnanimous toward defeated Remainers? No, sorry. Remainers have behaved like deceitful, duplicitous, spoiled children both before and after the EU referendum, and have done nothing to deserve anyone’s goodwill

Peter Hitchens is both right and wrong in his latest Mail on Sunday column, in which he urges Brexiteers to show magnanimity toward defeated Remainers by swinging their support behind an interim Norway/EEA option for leaving the EU.

Hitchens writes:

Do you really think anyone in this deeply divided country has a mandate to go hell-for-leather for full immediate exit from the EU, regardless of costs and consequences?

I don’t. I think we might be very wise to settle for a Norway-style arrangement, and leave the rest for some other time.

A mandate is a mandate, but only because of the strange, rather illogical magic which says that a majority of one vote decides the issue. So it does.

But it doesn’t sweep away any duty to consider the defeated minority, our fellow countrymen and countrywomen, our neighbours, friends, colleagues, even relatives.

It may be that if the other side had won, they might have behaved badly towards us.

I have been in enough minorities in my time to have experienced that. But they would have been wrong to do so. And precisely because our cause is so good, we can afford to be generous in victory.

I get tired of the overblown shouting on both sides here. Anyone, even I, could see that a referendum was only the first step, and that lawyers, judges, civil servants, diplomats and the BBC would seek to frustrate a vote to leave.

That’s why I always wanted to take another, longer route out. I wasn’t surprised by the High Court decision that Parliament must be consulted, and I will be even less shocked if the so-called ‘Supreme Court’ takes the same view.

Hitchens is absolutely correct to endorse a Brexit model in which Britain retains our current level of access to the single market by continuing to participate in the EEA after our initial departure. One may not realise from listening to overzealous, hard Brexiteers, but this is nothing more than an acknowledgement of basic truth – that Brexit is inevitably going to be a process rather than an event, and that for this to work we need to find effective ways of tying the hundreds of loose ends created by severing ourselves from the EU in a way which minimises economic and diplomatic disruption while fulfilling the primary objective of leaving the political union.

But Hitchens is wrong to suggest that there should be any additional magnanimity toward Remainers, besides that which is absolutely essential for the interests of our cause. Lest everybody forget, Remainers have had their way exclusively for 40 years straight, with Britain participating as a paid-up member of the EU against the wishes of eurosceptics. During all this time there has been absolutely no magnanimity shown or generosity extended to those with doubts about the euro-federalist project, or concerns about the EU’s impact on democracy.

Brexiteers have been called “fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists” by none other than the former prime minister David Cameron, then leader of the party which by all rights should be most sympathetic to the eurosceptic cause. And Cameron was being positively polite in comparison to others. Furious Remainers, angry that their incompetent and small-minded campaign somehow managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory despite having the overwhelming support of the government, civil service and establishment, have been openly complaining that Brexiteers are the racist beneficiaries of a “post-factual” world where dark propaganda overshadows the EU’s inherent goodness (I debunked that lazy theory here and here).

And worse, Remainers have acted as though a nation state seeking to escape from a failing and spectacularly unloved supranational political union and reassert control over its democracy is not the result of genuine and valid political conviction but rather somehow the first step toward fascist tyranny.

I genuinely don’t know whether I have been more insulted by Remainers before the referendum or since it took place. During the campaign we had wall-to-wall Remainer scaremongering and the deliberate encouragement of public ignorance (with the false insistence that the EU is just about “friendly trade ‘n cooperation” and nothing more, that sure it has problems but the Magical EU Reform Unicorn will easily take care of them, and that anyone who disagrees is an Evil Uneducated Xenophobe).

And since the surprise victory for Leave, we have seen a parade of Remainer catastophising and hysterical garment-rending the likes of which have not been seen in my lifetime. Some of it has been dispiriting, coming from people whose opinions I used to respect. Some of it has been whimsical and borderline hilarious. But all of it has been wrong, and all of it has been offensive to Brexiteers, who have nonetheless fought the good fight despite the insults.

Hitchens goes on to sling some further insults at David Cameron, which this blog always enjoys:

People are already beginning to forget Mr Cameron. They shouldn’t. First, because so many who should have known better – Tory activists and then voters – fell for his marketing.

Second, because he is mainly responsible for the mess in which we now find ourselves. Try not to be fooled by this kind of person again.

And in the meantime, realise that, in these difficult times, we risk the sort of unforgiving, dangerous and destabilising divisions which are even now ripping through the USA. In such conditions, you may well get what you want, but only at a hard and bitter cost. Is that worth it?

Halfway out of the EU, which we can achieve now, may turn out to be a whole lot better than being halfway in.

But Hitchens mis-sells the EEA option, which is much better than being “halfway out” of the EU, as he describes it. Freedom from the EU’s political union, the “ever-closer union” ratchet, the ECJ and any future common taxation or military policies alone would be worth the effort. But as an EEA member (by rejoining EFTA and trading with the single market under that organisation’s EEA agreement) we would be subject to only around one third of current EU laws, many of which we would need to accept anyway in one form or another, in order to conform with global standards which the EU merely receives and rubber stamps. This is a lot more than some dismal halfway house, as Pete North eloquently explains.

This is political independence and breathing room for us to then consider how best to work with other like-minded countries and organisations to bring about the kind of non-parochial, global single market which could benefit Britain so greatly. By contrast, pushing for so-called “hard” Brexit not only glosses over innumerable complications, the ignorance of which could do profound economic and political harm to Britain were we to leave the EU without resolving them, it also makes Brexit less likely by alarming sufficient numbers of people that those who seek to stop Brexit altogether receive additional support.

Agitating for the hardest of hard Brexits is spectacularly unwise, inasmuch as that it would be an unnecessary act of deliberate economic self-harm – unnecessary because secession from the EU is eminently achievable without trying to undo 40 years of stealthy political integration in a fevered two-year bonfire of laws. And if recognising this basic reality seems like extending magnanimity toward Remainers, then let it be the only magnanimity they ever receive.

By now agitating for “soft Brexit” and Britain’s continued participation in the EU, Remainers are essentially exposing the fact that they lied continually throughout the referendum campaign. As this blog previously noted, during the referendum we were always told that leaving the EU would trigger all of these negative economic consequences. But now that Britain’s secession from the EU seems inevitable, Remainers have fallen back on the argument that it is leaving the single market which will cause us doom. This is actually much closer to the truth, but every day that they make this case shines a spotlight on the steaming lies and deceptions they told the British public during the referendum.

Therefore, if giving Remainers what they now want (continued single market access) still gets us out of the European Union in the most optimal way and exposes them as the shameless liars that they are, then I am more than happy to make that concession. But that is the only magnanimity that they will get from me.

Remainers have had things their way for forty years, never caring about the millions of Britons who dissented from the pro-EU political consensus, and often being actively hostile to us. Now that something has not gone their way for the first time in many of their pampered lives, I fail to understand why I am expected to sit beside their sick beds, holding their hands and reassuring them that I am not secretly part of a plot to bring fascism or splendid isolation back to the UK.

If that is what some Remainers seriously believe, then let them continue to think it. I hope that the gnawing concern gives them ulcers. I am done trying to reason with them. I am done placating them. I am done responding with reason when I am accused of ushering in the apocalypse, either through ignorance or malevolence. I am done extending the hand of friendship. No Brexiteer should feel compelled to defer to the delicate emotions of these selfish adult babies.

They had their way for forty years. Now we get to do things our way for a change.

Life is tough like that. Suck it up, Remainers. Enjoy the political wilderness – we knew it well ourselves, once.

 

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Brexit Catastrophisation Watch, Part 9 – Another Song For Europe

The long-awaited follow-up single is finally here…

Madeleina Kay, an almost Vera Lynn-like character among disappointed Remainers, has released another classic ode to the EU, following up on her first hit, “All I Want For Christmas Is EU“.

This one is an adaptation of the Elvis Presley classic “Can’t Help Falling in Love”, re-engineered as a tearful plea from a contrite Britain for the European Union to take us back.

The immortal lyrics:

Wise men say
Only fools Vote Leave
‘Cause I can’t help falling in love with EU
Shall we stay
Would it be a sin
If we can’t help falling in love with EU?

Every Remainer knows
It’s a catastrophe
But Brexit rest assured
It’s not meant to be

Take my hand
Accept this apology
‘Cause I can’t help falling in love with EU

As the Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony has been co-opted to serve as the European Union’s anthem, let this effort – sung here with the sweet innocence of a child – become the EU equivalent of Parry’s “Jerusalem”, etched into the hearts of every European citizen and fondly sung on all those many euro-patriotic occasions which we have in common across the continent, and which are so important to us all.

Deep breath.

Think about the European Union for a moment. Think about what the EU actually is, how it was founded, how it deliberately grew by stealth, its deliberate corrosion of member state democracy and the impact that the outsourcing of government to a supra-national level has had on political engagement across an entire continent.

Think about the harm that the EU’s protectionist trade policies have wrought on developing nations without and on economic competitiveness within.

Think about the way that this hulking relic from the post-war era, totally lacking in popular legitimacy and unable to meet the challenges of the 21st century without inevitably making them immeasurably worse, grinds ever-onward towards its pre-ordained federalist destination, deaf to all opposition.

Then imagine writing not one, but two love songs to that organisation.

Just think about it for a moment.

The more I see of Kay’s output, the more I am starting to suspect that she may actually be a cunning Brexiteer, trolling the pro-EU Brexit-deniers from deep behind enemy lines.

If so, then she is doing an absolutely masterful job.

 

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