Thank you, Russia and Estonia, for teaching us ‘social rights’

While coherent arguments in favour of staying in the EU are nonexistent, we aren’t short of strong arguments to get out, courtesy of the EU itself.

Every statement uttered by this wicked organisation is one such. Yesterday, for example, Britain was criticised by the European Committee of Social Rights for requiring immigrants to show some command of English.

This, according to this august body, violates some provisions of the European Social Charter, first adopted in 1961 and boasting among its signatories a dozen countries compared to which Nazi Germany was a laissez-faire paragon of justice.

What I find amusing is the composition of the Committee, featuring representatives from such historical bastions of social rights as Estonia, Russia, Bulgaria and France. Words like ‘glass houses’ and ‘stones’ spring to mind.

Estonia’s presence is particularly telling, considering her own position on linguistic uniformity. The knowledge of Estonian is an ironclad requirement for citizenship there, even for those, mostly Russian, residents who were born and bred in the country.

Hence in 1992, shortly after the country went independent, 32 per cent of Estonian residents found themselves stateless. By now that proportion has come down to about eight per cent, still quite high.

I’m not blaming the Estonians – quite the opposite. Russian was imposed on them by a brutal supranational power trying to merge the country with others into a mythical Soviet nationality, riding roughshod over the local ethnic identity, including the language.

As part of that programme, swarms of Russians settled in Estonia, attracted by the readily available accommodation kindly vacated by KGB execution squads and arresting parties. (About a quarter of Estonia’s population were executed, imprisoned or deported.)

Naturally, since most business there was transacted in Russian, the new arrivals’ incentive for learning the devilishly difficult Ugro-Finnish language was somewhat understated.

Predictably, when independence came, those linguistically challenged Russians found themselves at a loose end, feeling they belonged neither in the country of their birth nor really in Russia. One can sympathise with them, but one can also understand Estonians: language is perhaps the most important adhesive holding a nation together.

Now, if we recall Terence’s saying Quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi, we realise that, while Estonia sees herself as Jupiter, her representatives try to thrust us into the bull’s slot. This is an unfortunate double standard.

For the same principles apply to us. We too are being dragged into a supranational, wicked (though not yet violent) body aiming to toss all European nationalities into a cauldron, bring it to a boil and cook it long enough to produce an unpalatable stew destroying the flavour of each ingredient.

We too are trying to protect our nationhood, and we too realise that our language is indispensable to the task. English is the language of England – everything else is but a side line.

Not every resident of a 60-million nation at the world’s crossroads can be expected to be a native speaker or to use nothing but English at home. But it’s a vital requirement that every permanent resident should have enough English to integrate into our cultural, economic, social and political life.

This is especially critical now, when every other adhesive seems to have fallen by the wayside. Christianity is no longer seen as a factor of national unity, English culture is a terra incognita even for most Englishmen, English history might as well have begun earlier this year.

So what’s left? Some ill-defined ‘British values’ Dave Cameron bandies about, which presumably include the time-honoured practice of two men marrying each other? Among such existential ruins, the English language looms larger than ever before.

If Estonia’s presence among countries teaching us ‘social rights’ is amusing, Russia’s is downright obscene.

This is a country that denies every political liberty Englishmen took for granted centuries ago, one where pensioners starve, 28 million people live under the poverty level of £175 a month, qualified medical care is available only for the rich, every election is falsified, political murder is rife, daily racial attacks are common, a country that routinely jumps at the throat of her neighbours like a rabid dog, committing beastly atrocities in the process.

Now Putin’s poodles are howling at us about ‘social rights’. (The term confuses me. Is it the same as ‘human rights’? Is the right not to speak your country’s language human, social or both?)

Speaking of poodles, until a few years ago Bulgaria had acted in that capacity to Russia. Roughly at the time the Social Charter came into effect, Bulgarian assassins did the Russians’ ‘wet work’ all over Europe, when their pay masters were otherwise engaged. That’s another country amply qualified to act censorious towards us.

Then there’s France, with her maniacal insistence that anyone who speaks native French is French. The logical inference is that those who don’t aren’t – can we please be allowed the same latitude?

This diktat is tiny compared to the overall EU tyranny. It’s but a molecule of the aforementioned stew being concocted in Brussels. Yet I’m astounded that some Englishmen don’t find it sufficient by itself to want to shake the EU dust off their feet.

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