Monday, June 06, 2005

Determinedly Anglocentric

It is us heretics – or Eurosceptics, as we are more commonly but less accurately known – who are so often dismissed as "little Englanders", but when it comes to that narrow, nationalistic perspective of which we are so often accused, there is very little to beat the British media.

That has come over with some force over the least two days, with no end of drivel, not least from yesterday's Sunday Times, about how the current crisis gives the opportunity variously for Blair or Britain to "take the lead in Europe".

Together with that, there is the tendency of the media to reduce everything to soap-opera personalities, and "biff-bang" comic-book style confrontations, invariably described in terms of "plucky Britain" fighting its corner against these evil continentals.

That is very much the framework of the piece in the Beano this morning, aka The Times, which headlines: "Battle lines drawn up as leaders get ready for a war over EU".

"A battle for the leadership of the European Union is expected to burst into the open today", goes the "biff-bam" commentary, masquerading as news, adding – you guessed it - "when Britain defies France and Germany by suspending its referendum on the European constitution."

Only further down do we get to anything particularly interesting, which is the idea "said to be gaining ground among the EU's new Eastern European members". This is for a "a nine-month 'ratification holiday' that would see the process extended from November until the summer of 2007, beyond likely changes of leader in Germany and France."

But the drivel is not confined to The Times, as even the otherwise sober Scotsman succumbs to the disease (do we call it the "little Scotlander"?), reporting that "allies of Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, also believe that his personal position has been enhanced" by the current crisis.

Then there are the wild optimists, like William Rees-Mogg in The Times, who argues that "Europe was on its way to a bureaucratic prison camp" but now believes that: "it can choose a more attractive destination."

In the depression of the morning after the night before – actually the morning after the week before – in the cold light of day, nothing substantial has changed. The existing treaties are still in place, the march of integration continues apace and, in the fullness of time, the "colleagues" are going to get their constitution in place - even if it is a line at a time.

As for Britain, it – as always – will do as it is told, while the media will continue drivelling about Europe "going our way", while running the never-ending soap opera about the next "battle" and the one after that, each one which we contrive to lose.

But, as long as "plucky Britain" goes down fighting, all is well in the make-believe world of a media that is determinedly Anglocentric.

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