Actually, you don’t have to choose. As Max Hastings’s article We’ll Pay for the EU Obsession of the Right demonstrates, one can be both.
Those Remainers who aren’t knaves are fools, a group defined in this case by its building impassioned views on a rickety intellectual foundation. I’ve never heard a single intelligent reply to the question of why we should remain in the EU.
French and German fans of that awful contrivance also display a deficit of intellectual rigour, and they too come up with spurious arguments.
But the aetiology of their malaise is different: they bear the scars of wounds cut into their psyche by two world wars, especially the second one. Still, I know some intelligent continentals who should know better than to let their lacerated hearts rule their otherwise functional heads.
Their British equivalents, such as Hastings, haven’t got even such a flimsy excuse for sounding silly on this issue – and especially for interweaving foolishness with mendacity.
The American writer Mary McCarthy once said about her colleague Lillian Hellmann that every word she ever wrote was a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘but’. Allowing myself the same soupçon of artistic licence, I can say the same about Hastings.
The payment for “the EU obsession of the Right” will, according to him, come in the shape of PM Corbyn. Considering that Hastings himself alternates his support between the Tories and Labour, he won’t find the charge unduly exorbitant, but he laudably rises above personal idiosyncrasies.
One can infer that, while the Right is in the grips of a mania, the Left (I include wet Tories under that rubric) are rationally dispassionate.
Yet, had Major’s mock-Tory government not dragged us into the EU and, earlier, Heath’s mock-Tory government into the EEC, the crazed Right would have to look for some other obsessions to pursue.
Anyone with an IQ even in high double digits would see a clear cause-effect here. Not being smart enough to realise that he’s signing his own intellectual death warrant, Hastings readily admits he himself was part of the cause:
“As an editor, I made a big mistake about Europe… . John Major… and the Foreign Office’s mandarins convinced us that our EU partners were not serious about pursuing political integration. Their insouciance about the Jacques Delors, Jean-Claude Juncker school of Europeanism was grievously mistaken, as was Britain’s brief adherence to the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, which some of us were also foolish enough to support.”
‘Some of us’ is a demure version of ‘I’. But the whole paragraph is staggering. For that ‘school of Europeanism’ is the only one, certainly the only one that matters.
Hastings claims he didn’t realise that the EU’s aim was to create a superstate. If he’s lying, which is likely, this is an exemplar of mendacity liberally laced with cynicism. If he’s telling the truth, he’s ignorant to the point of idiocy.
One can understand a leftie social worker saying something like that. But Hastings was at the time editor-in-chief of The Telegraph and had all its vast information resources at his disposal.
Hence he should have known that the single superstate had been inscribed on the EU banners since it had been but a twinkle in the eye of its founders, all those Monnets, Schumans, Gasperis and Spinellis.
My friends and I could cite those chaps’ writings chapter and verse back in 1992. And we all knew in 1990 that joining the ERM would spell an instant economic disaster. How come Hastings didn’t?
He describes those with more nous than he has as “a faction of fanatics” who came from the same group that had earlier supported “white Rhodesia’s rebel leader Ian Smith, a crusader for ‘civilised values’.”
This is written with the benefit of hindsight, which optic instrument should have prevented Hastings from putting ‘civilised values’ in quotation marks. For Smith’s values were indeed civilised compared to Mugabe’s – and I suspect most Zimbabweans would share this view.
Then comes real cloud-cuckoo-land stuff. According to Hastings those despicable fanatics duped the British public by lying that Brexit would solve every conceivable problem because they were all caused by EU membership.
Hastings’s outlook is much more panoramic: “This country cannot again have an effective and creative government until we restore a consensus that politics is rightfully about many things, on most of which compromise is indispensable, rather than about one thing, deemed by true believers to be an absolute.”
Fair enough, some people I know do hang much of their political life on the single peg of Brexit.
It’s even true that compromise is indeed indispensable on many things. Yet Hastings doesn’t seem to realise that national sovereignty isn’t one of them. Either we’re governed by laws passed by our own parliament or we aren’t. It’s as stark as that.
Yes, the issue that should have been simple has been encumbered with all sorts of superfluous addenda, most of them economic.
But those who refuse to compromise the uncompromisable do some of the encumbering only in response to those like Hastings who try to torpedo Brexit in every possible way.
It’s they who, from the moment the referendum was announced, have been screaming that the Leave vote is tantamount to an economic disaster the likes of which Britain has never known.
Leave the loving care of the EU and we’ll starve in the dark, with no medicines to treat us, no transport to take us places, no fuel to heat our houses. We’ll become worse off than the Zimbabweans, and our wives will leave us for swarthy foreigners with vowels at the end of their names.
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, said Newton. People who really only want to restore our ancient – and historically the world’s most successful – constitution have been forced out of the main battlefield and into skirmishes at street corners.
“Yet the principled issue of sovereignty would never have sufficed to enable the right to seize the reins: immigration, and immigration alone, could do that. The indulgence displayed by the liberal elite towards a vast influx of newcomers licensed by Tony Blair transformed a manic faction into a mass movement,” is Hastings’s take on the events.
Yes, after decades of socialist propaganda masquerading as ‘comprehensive education’, many Britons tend to regard things like freedom and sovereignty as abstractions having little to do with real life.
And yes, the easiest way to offset the subversive sabotage perpetrated by the likes of Hastings was to invoke the damage done to British identity by an influx of alien, mostly Muslim, colonisers.
But “the vast influx… licensed by Tony Blair” (for whom Hastings voted) was made possible by the EU with its free movement of people, most of them in the direction of the British social services.
“If this story ends in a tragedy [of Corbyn’s victory] which blights the lives of our children, as seems not unlikely, the career nostalgics of the Tory right will bear much of the responsibility,” concludes Hastings.
No, they won’t. All of the responsibility will be borne by Hastings et al, who first dragged Britain into that corrupt, mendacious arrangement and then have been trying to subvert every effort at getting out.