So far, I am disinclined to vote for Ukip in the forthcoming Euro-elections. Our area has been represented for many years by the great Daniel Hannan, the leading practising Eurosceptic of our times, so I have resisted the Faragiste temptation. But I felt a bit wobbly after reading an interview with Nigel Farage in the Guardian. According to its author, Decca Aitkenhead, Ukip supporters — though not the libertarian Nigel himself — want to make dressing up for the theatre compulsory. They are so right. It is now almost compulsory not to dress up for the theatre, even in the West End. This has had the predictable result that theatre-goers pay less attention, eat and send texts all through the performance. Although ‘audience participation’ has been theatre orthodoxy for 40 years now, the simplest way for an audience to participate in a production is to dress up. By doing so, they recognise they are part of the performance. (For this very reason, audiences at experimental theatres should not dress up.) If they feel no duty of performance, they become just like a cinema audience, indifferent to the live reality of what the actors are doing.
Continentals tend to be more persuasive for the European Union than our home-grown Europhiles, who are rarely honest about what it entails. The only English public figure who ever made the case well was the late Auberon Waugh. He argued the EU was a good thing ‘precisely [because of] the limitations it sets on the influence of British politicians and the British electorate’. He thought it much less harmful if we could all be run by ‘Belgian ticket inspectors’. When we argued in print about this 20 years ago, Bron looked forward to the single currency, because ‘no single government will be able to inflate by printing money to overspend at will. At a stroke, it takes away the greatest power for mischief which our politicians possess.’ I trusted his instinct for who the bossiest people were and how best to frustrate them, so I fretted. But he has been proved wrong about the euro. Far from reining in politicians, it enabled them to borrow without limit because they believed that someone else would stand behind it. That someone else is ultimately Germany who, understandably, wants no repetition. The likely solution, therefore, is rule not by Belgian, but by German ticket inspectors. An altogether more serious matter.
This is an extract from Charles Moore’s Spectator’s Notes in this week’s magazine. Click here to read for free with a trial of The Spectator app for iPad and iPhone. You can also subscribe with a free trial on the Kindle Fire.