It’s not only beauty but also ugliness that’s best appreciated from afar. Now we can observe the EU from a distance, the former recedes into the background, while the latter comes to the fore.
The latest proof of this optical phenomenon was kindly provided by Manny Macron, a simple soul who doesn’t always realise what he’s saying, especially when his foster mother Brigitte isn’t in attendance. The interview he gave Andrew Marr is a case in point.
By way of backdrop, I don’t regard democracy as an unqualified synonym of political virtue. Hence I’d have little quarrel with Manny if he openly said that the EU supersedes democracy for the sake of more effective and enlightened government.
I might take issue with ‘effective and enlightened’, but I’d mark him up for honesty. Anyway, since the EU is ruled by an unelected body, it would be a statement of self-evident fact, but one that could engage people in a rational debate.
Yet EU functionaries make no such admission. They want to have it both ways: rule by fiat while at the same time paying lip service to democratic rectitude. That’s cheating, and Manny is good at such legerdemain tricks.
The subject of Brexit came up in the interview, and Marr asked Manny if a similar French referendum would yield the same result. “Yes, probably, in the same context”, came the reply.
Meaning what? Oh well, explained Manny, “It’s a mistake when you just ask ‘yes’ or ‘no’, when you don’t ask people how to improve the situation and to explain how to improve it.”
This is a recurrent theme among EU lovers, certainly in France. I wonder what part of referendum they don’t get.
Any meaningful referendum asks for a simple binary answer, ‘yes’ or ‘no’, or else in this case ‘leave’ or ‘remain’. Again, I’d probably agree with Manny had he honestly said that government by plebiscite runs against the grain of representative government.
Moreover, the elitist in me would probably even nod if he said that most people are ill-qualified to make seminal decisions about how their country should be governed. But if Ben Franklin lived today, especially in France, he’d never say that honesty is the best policy. Certainly not as far as Manny is concerned.
What he’s talking about is fudging up the issue, befogging it in a smokescreen of obfuscation. In his nimble hands a Frexit referendum wouldn’t ask the French whether they want to leave or remain.
Instead it would invite them to erect a tall pile of malodorous suggestions on how to improve the unimprovable, what is colloquially described as polishing a turd. Buried underneath such a pile would be the whole issue of Frexit, which is Manny’s whole point.
The will of the people and consent of the governed clearly don’t even play a peripheral role in his calculations. France shall be kept in the EU by hook or, if must be, by crook. How the French feel about it is immaterial.
Any referendum will be designed with that purpose in mind. And if the people still vote wrong, the referendum will be annulled, and they’ll be told to vote again and keep doing so until they get it right. The EU has form on such chicanery.
Since I love France and, until Covid, spent half my time there, I’m sad to see her governed so badly and, more important, dishonestly. And I’m staggered by Manny’s nerve to comment on Brexit and our impending demise as its result.
His understanding of Brexit, he said, “is that middle classes and working classes decided that the recent decades were not in their favour”. For the likes of Manny, support from such lowly quarters ipso facto invalidates the results morally and intellectually.
He then highlighted his own moral and intellectual credentials by explaining what it was that those British hoi polloi disliked about the EU: “I think one of the reasons was precisely an organisation of our EU which probably gets too far in terms of freedom without cohesion. Towards free market without any rules and any convergence.”
I get it. This giant intellect thinks that Britons voted Leave because they felt there was too much economic and other freedom in the EU, and not enough single-state integration. Give them a giant Leviathan with a command economy and they’ll be falling over themselves to join the ranks of the EU.
The cheek of this statement is as refreshing as its idiocy is stultifying. For the truth is exactly, diametrically, totally opposite. By voting Leave, the British expressed their loathing of an unwieldy, dictatorial, protectionist bloc dead set on creating a single European state run by the likes of Manny.
They know their own government may be incompetent, but at least it’s indeed their own, accountable to them if only every few years. They may not have any say in what it does, but they can punish it at the ballot box if it’s not to their liking.
Conversely, submitting to the rule of motley continental powers defies the British national character, the country’s entire political history and ethos. That’s not what les Anglo-Saxons do, what they’ve never done.
Such is the simple truth, but it’s too simple for Manny to understand. Perhaps he should ask Brigitte, she may be able to tell him what’s what.