When Dan Hannan’s book, A Doomed Marriage: Britain and Europe, arrived through the post I was alarmed to see that it was shrink wrapped in the same way as top shelf pornographic material.
For those of you Europhiles who rather warm to the idea of a federal Europe and look forward to the day when we join the Single Currency, this will not be a happy read. But if you are of the Amish wing of the Conservative Party (or even a Kipper), convinced that it won’t be too long before the clank of jackboots will be heard on the Mall and that her Majesty will be evicted from Buckingham Palace and replaced by a fat sweating Belgian, then this is not just a book of biblical importance, it will be a masturbatory aid.
Despite over the top prose such as:
‘It’s not just the euro crisis; it’s the whole rotten scheme. It will no longer do to think of the EU as a fine idea that has been botched in its implementation. Its very basis, the merger of different nationalities within a single political system is flawed’
I found this rather a disappointing book. I had hoped for a cogently argued blueprint of how it would be in British interests to withdraw, and how to plan for that. Instead we are treated to some pretty duff analysis and debating society angst. I really don’t think that it helps the Eurosceptic cause to come out with such lines as:
‘What sets the EU aside is its discrepancy between its version of the truth and everyone else’s. Warsaw Pact dissidents used to call it “the gap between what is said and what is.”’
‘On closer inspection it turns out that the entire European proposition rests on empty slogans……in the name of Europe , Eurocrats have undone the secret of Europe’s success: the diversity, variety and pluralism that raised their continent to greatness.’
So the French, the Germans and the Greeks (not to mention we Brits) have been subsumed into a monochrome of Warsaw Pact uniformity, have we? This really is an affront to common sense; but not quite as daft as the Hannan argument that small states are far more desirable economically. His proof is the bizarre league table of GDP per capita. Top of the list is Liechtenstein, Quatar, Luxembourg and Bermuda. The USA, (a federal structure for heaven’s sake!) comes in at number twelve. I’m afraid it’s all a bit saloon bar at the Dog and Duck.
To show the true wickedness of the Euro conspiracy he prays in aid the outrageous statement of EU President, Herman Van Rompuy:
‘We have together to fight the danger of a new Euroscepticism. The biggest enemy of Europe today is fear. Fear leads to egoism, egoism leads to nationalism and nationalism leads to war.’
And the words of that demon incarnate, Angela Merkel:
‘Nobody should believe that another half century of peace in Europe is given, it’s not. So I say again if the Euro collapses, Europe collapses. That can’t happen.’
I am not a Europhile, but both statements seem a sensible analysis of political and economic reality rather than proof of some sinister plot.
And then there are the toe curling, sphincter tightening howlers.
‘It is true, of course, that both Papandreou and Berlusconi were already unpopular for domestic reasons, just as Margaret Thatcher had been when EU leaders and Conservative Euro enthusiasts brought her down in November 1990.’
Dan, old son, I was there. The reason she went was nothing to do with some conspiracy of Europhiles in league the Brussels bureaucrats, after all she unmercifully whipped through the Single European Act. Thatcher went because she had become totally unelectable.
This is the downside of books written by obsessives: the daft points devalue the good ones. And, to be fair, Hannan makes some perfectly sensible criticisms of the zeal for political and economic unity which dominates the Commission and clouds their judgement. I just wish that someone as clearly intelligent and articulate as Dan Hannan could make a more coherent case.
I did manage one belly laugh. The book was designed in Berlin and printed and bound in Memmingen. Maybe there is some ghastly Brussels dictat forbidding MEPs from publishing their books in their own country.
Give the perfect gift this Christmas. Buy a subscription for a friend for just £75 and you’ll receive a free gift too. Buy now.