St Teresa: Beth Hart. Absolute goddess; indeed, they both are.
How many more people will play the price for the BBC’s guilt over Jimmy Savile? A guy with half a century of popular broadcasting behind him has been axed, brutally and summarily, on the basis of what the current director general Lord Tony Hall describes as ‘my interpretation’.
Instead of lashing out at the unlikeliest of scapegoats, an individual known generally as the hardest working man in radio, Lord Hall should do the decent thing and fall symbollically on his sword. That’s my interpretation.
Ask me where my nationality lies, when I’m in the land of my birth, and I’ll tell you I’m Scottish and proud of it. Ask me when I’m in Spain, and I might tell you that I’m a citizen of the European Union and content to be one.
The first of those feelings will never change, and not so long ago, I would say that neither would the other. This morning, I can no longer assert my continuing loyalty to Europe.
I’ve spent the last few days looking on at the Prime Minister’s posturing in Europe as he fought, no, begged more like, for a fairer deal for Britain within the EU. What did he get? He secured what an old leader of mine in the Government Information Service, now deceased, would have described as ‘a form of words’. Old Charlie’s were meant to be interpreted in a certain way, but almost invariably could be read in another, by anyone with a sharp enough mind.
Dave’s deal in Brussels cuts no ice with me I’m afraid. There’s been some tinkering with the benefit system, okay, but the notion of child benefit being paid in respect of children who are residents of another European nation is just plain ridiculous to me.
That aside, the PM’s triumph will do nothing to restrain the untrammelled inward flow of economic migrants willing to work for the minimum wage, and for less if the employer is shifty enough. I’m an Amazon customer; the last year or so has seen the introduction of a thing called Amazon Logistics, through which most of my deliveries now arrive. Amazon Logistics seems to consist of people in rental vans, never the same one twice, almost invariably with east European accents, and names to match on the cards on the lanyards around their necks. What’s their hourly rate, I wonder?
If you think that’s xenophobic, live with it. I don’t; I see it as the cost of being a good European Union member. That’s one reason why Dave got his deal; the smaller nations, any one of whom could have vetoed it, know that we play by the rules, no matter how disadvantageous they are to our indigenous work-force. We don’t have regulatory fiddles like the French. We don’t have anything as craftily insidious as the Spanish NIE system, which requires citizens of all other EU member nations to register as foreigners, before they can work, buy property or even buy a car, then imposes a bureaucratic system that makes it as difficult as possible to do so.
To be honest, I can live with that stuff, insofar as it doesn’t impact upon me: I’ve had an NIE number for over 25 years, obtained in ten minutes in the Guardia Civil office in Figueres and I’m not likely to be looking for a delivery gig with Amazon logistics. No, my concern over Europe is long term; it’s this ‘ever closer union’ from which Dave says he’s opted us out.
The way I see it; mainland Europe is moving slowly but inexorably towards becoming a single supranational entity, a collection of independent states bound together under a single constitution, with a single defence force and overarching federal laws under which everyone must live. Sound familiar?
Eventually Europe, which is already much bigger than the US or Russia in population terms, will elect a chief executive; that person, usually German, will be called ‘President’, and will be called to account by a federal European parliament with which he or she will be regularly at odds. The Prime Minister says that we won’t be apart of that, but in decades to come how easy will it be for us to resist pressure to join, and how will we be able to resist as a nation if that pressure acquires a military edge?
That’s not going to happen in my lifetime, but my grandchildren will see it, of that I’m sure. It’s not a scenario I would wish to bequeath to them.
It is said by the Remain campaign that our economic strength depends on our EU membership. Really? I look across the Atlantic and I do not see Canada being disadvantaged by not being the 51st State. I look around the world and I see nations who are already our cultural and economic partners in a thing we call the Commonwealth. Then I look at home and I see strength and talent in abundance, plus a generosity of spirit which is, frankly, being taken for a ride at this moment in time.
I’m a member of the Scottish National Party. Our strident leader says I must be a member of the EU as well, but she hasn’t asked if that’s okay with me: it isn’t Nicola. Put to the choice my first loyalty will always lie with my family and with my descendants. That’s why I’ll be voting ‘Leave’: for Rex and Mia.
Yes, I know. I’ve been away, but my excuse is the same as always: I’ve been working on a book. In this case, it’s a Skinner, number 27 in the series; the title will stay secret for now, but save for a few days editing, it’s done and about to be dusted.