Friday, 30 December 2011
State of the EUnion

Supporters of the Euro, and - because one is not possible without the other - a pan-European superstate, have been proved spectacularly wrong. David Aaronovich is among them, but will he admit it? Will he Hanover. Instead, he tries to be funny but fails. Daniel Hannan picks up on his Times post, which is behind the apartheid paywall, in the Telegraph:

In George Bernard Shaw's 1928 play, The Apple Cart, the American ambassador blurts out some momentous news to Britain's King:

The prodigal, sir, has returned to his father's house. Not poor, not hungry, not ragged, as of old. Oh no. This time he returns bringing with him the riches of the earth to the ancestral home. The Declaration of Independence is cancelled. The treaties which endorsed it are torn up. We have decided to rejoin the British Empire!

David Aaronovitch plays with the same idea in The Times today. I think he's trying to be funny, though I'm not completely certain. He uses the word 'ironically' in his column but, like many journalists, uses it to mean something along the lines of 'oddly enough'.

'We British pro-Europeans are beginning to sound more and more like Betamax enthusiasts arguing the superior merits of their systems against the unstoppable VHS tide', Aaronovitch writes. 'The people of Britain don’t get Europe, don’t like Europe and don’t want Europe'. Indeed.

And, since Britain is apparently too small to succeed on its own (pace Singapore, Switzerland, Qatar, Monaco, Norway, UAE etc), he suggests that we join the US. While, as I say, the proposal seems to be intended lightheartedly, the analysis that underpins it – the recognition that our two countries have a shared political culture and that Britain could benefit in many ways from repatriating the American Revolution – is moderate and reasonable.

The flaw in the Shavian fantasy of full amalgamation is, of course, that Americans are as jealous of their sovereignty as any people on Earth. Look at their (justified) suspicion of the United Nations. Look at their reticence vis-à-vis NAFTA. Do you really imagine that they'd accept a political union with 60 million Britons?

Just for the record, what we Atlanticists want is not a merger, but a free trade area. We'd like an organic, not a governmental union; ties between citizens, businesses and civic associations, not a combination of state structures. And we aim for it to embrace, not just Britain and the US, but the community of free English-speaking democracies – the Anglosphere. In fact, by coincidence, Iain Murray and James C Bennet explain how it would work in today's Wall Street Journal.

At least Aaronovich doesn't call his piece "a modest proposal". The next journalist who does should be stewed, roasted, baked or boiled. Or rather, as Giles Coren said, partially parboiled one day and fully parboiled the next.

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Posted on 12/30/2011 7:27 AM by Mary Jackson
30 Dec 2011
Send an emailJohn MJ

I couldn't agree with you more if I tried.

One of the truly nasty things about our current government, and the last one as well, is that it knows that about two-thirds of the UK electorate want out of the EU but it refuses point blank to obey the wishes of the people because that would jeopardise the retirement gravy train of many members of the said government. - just look at what Neil Kinnock managed to extract from the EU in the way of personal wealth when his party no longer wanted him around!

30 Dec 2011
Hugh Fitzgerald

There are several problems with this proposal.

Problem #1.

There are too many Muslims in Great Britain who have, or will obtain, British citizenship, and they would be even more dangerous if allowed to acquire American citizenship.

Problem #2.

Thhere are currently fifty stars in the American flag, nicely arranged in four rows of five stars (or is it five rows of four stars?) between five rows of six stars (or is it six rows of five stars?). In any case, fifty-one stars would create nightmarish vexillary vexation. 

One possible solution to Problem #2: 

If England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland were to be admitted as separate states, that would bring the total to fifty-four, which could be pleasingly displayed as fifty-four stars, in seven rows of eight, or eight rows of seven.

That still leaves Problem #1.

There is no solution to Problem #1.

30 Dec 2011
Hugh Fitzgerald

Oh dear.

I've just realized that seven times eight is not 54, but 56. Ever since I dropped out of Math 55 with Prof. Sternberg I've realized that mathematics is not my strong suit, and now apparently I'm not much better with arithmetic.

So either we could have a flag with nine rows of six stars apiece (or six rows with nine stars apiece) or we could decide to make into separate states the Channel Isles, and possibly Cornwall too.

Any objections?

And to those who saw my arithmetical howler, but held back -- thank you.

30 Dec 2011
Send an emailMary Jackson

My flat's in a bit of a state.

Ever since I dropped out of Math ....

Or maths, as we call it. One possible inconvenience is that voicemail would now need to say "Press 1 for American English, 2 for Proper English, 3 for Spanish etc"

30 Dec 2011
Alan R



The unstoppable VHS tide


51st state

30 Dec 2011
Jay LeTroll

Leave it at fifty. You get New Jersey. We get Northern Ireland. 

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