Sunday, May 01, 2011

The march of Ruritania

"The Edwardian braid and sashes worn by Princes and Dukes emphasised that our Armed Forces are shrunken remnants – lots of big hats, not many planes, ships or soldiers", writes Peter Hitchens. "Never have they looked so laughably Ruritanian".

And more or less the same point is made by Booker as he writes of politicians hiding their plans to put French jets on Royal Navy carriers. The Royal Navy won't be flying Anglo-US Joint Strike Fighters, but providing a platform for French Rafales as part of an EU force, he tells us.

It is all there, in black and white, the treaties going back to the deal made by John Major in 1996, extended in St. Malo by Tony Blair in 1998, in Helsinki in 1999 and then again in 2000 and 2006, and then further extended by Euroslime Dave in November 2010.

The point that comes over from this is that it does not matter one whit who occupies No. 10 – the same old integration agenda goes ahead. From Major through to Cameron, four prime ministers have pursued exactly the same agenda.

Thus does Booker write that the magnificent military pageantry of the royal wedding coincided, sadly, with yet another humiliating instance of the precipitate decline in Britain's military power. Soon, all we will have is lots of big hats, as we hand over operational control over our few remaining assets to an Anglo-French consortium, where the one operational carrier that we will have will be used as a platform for French aircraft.

The point that must be emphasised again and again is that this has always been the plan, ever since 1996, under the last Tory government. The carriers have always been earmarked for a joint Anglo-French project. Their purpose has been to serve as the main Anglo-French contribution to the European Rapid Reaction Force, as agreed by Tony Blair at Helsinki in 1999.

That is what makes our pageantry and the military splendour a hollow charade. It had some meaning when it was a reflection of our power and status, but when we have more admirals than ships, more generals than battalions, and our sad little navee goes to sea with iPods and EU flags, earmarked to further EU grandiosity, then the splendour takes on a Ruritanian character. It is all show and no substance.

That is what it has come down to. That is why there can be no pride in watching a celebration of something that no longer exists - just overwhelming sadness. We have sold the substance of Great Britain on the altar of European integration. What is left is just part of the tourist industry. We might as well sell it to Butlins, with Mrs Windsor the executive chairman.

But then we live in a land of collective delusion. Author of the original Anglo-French treaty in 1996, and much more, was then defence secretary Michael Portillo. This is the man who now writes in The Daily Mail that he was "so glad" to have mingled with the London crowds, finding, "to his surprise", a nation "who still measure their lives by Royal events ... and sing the National Anthem".

"Our country is high-tech, cosmopolitan, secular and monarchist" writes Portillo. Sadly, we are also easily led, easily fooled and easily pleased. As our nation is stolen from us, a man who has played an active part in the process is paid to chronicle the charade he has helped create. He is not even recognised for what he is, the classic Tory "traitor" who is probably so thick that he himself does not even realise what he has done.