Posted by: bravo22c | 13/02/2010

Europhobia

It’s all the fault of the French.  Not present-day French people, of course, not even that rabid Anglophobe Roo……….  but I get ahead of myself.  I was musing on what Brendano said on his blog about a difference in psyche and attitude between the Irish and the English…………  Go back a thousand years.  It’s 1066 and the English, or Dano/Anglo/Saxons, as it were, are quietly minding our own business, building a potential confederation across the Northern Seas with Scandinavia, when along comes William the Bastard and turns himself into William the Conquerer.  And what’s the first thing he does?  The equivalent of a council tax revaluation and taxes on everything in sight.  So begins a millenium or so’s worth of involvement with Europe, and France in particular, that brought the English nothing but grief and higher taxes.  Starting with the matter of Aquitaine, then the protracted struggles of the Plantagenets to hold onto, (what became know as,) ‘English possessions’ in France – by the time of the first Elizabeth, the Sovereign was still talking about ‘our town of Calais.’  Then the wars to stop the resurgent French from establishing hegemony over the German principalities and Spain leading into the long struggle – admittedly mostly by proxy on land while we established complete domination at sea – in the 18th and early 19th centuries to contain an aggressively expansionist France which culminated in the crushing defeat of the dictator Napoleon Bonaparte* at Waterloo.  After that, of course, we retired gracefully from the continent and let Germany and France have at each other while we concentrated on what we do best – trade and commerce.

Add in the tragedy of the of the European Civil War, 1914 -45 and you can see why we English have a somewhat jaundiced view, graven in stone on the monuments to the dead in our towns and villages, of any close involvement with European Politics – especially when ‘they’ are telling us what to do, and taxing us without giving us any say, by way of democratically elected parliaments, (effective parliaments, that is, not the tail of a bureaucratic dog,)

It does not help when we see our own elected representatives supinely passing through on the nod ‘Directives’ – yes, that’s what they are called – from the unelected and unrepresentative bureaucrats in Brussels, then gold-plating them in such detail that another army of state snoopers is needed to enforce them.

So, what it boils down to is that the last thousand years of our history has formed our view of ‘the Continent,’ whether the average Wayne and Sharon on the Clapham omnibus realises it or not.

*No democrat he, a hopeless strategist and not a particularly great General, when you check his actual record – climaxed by the Russian campaign – 400k men march into Russia, 40k or so straggle out.

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