Saturday, 17 August 2019

Only Euronationalism could make Tories vote for Corbyn



I’ve been trying to think of what would make Tory MPs bring down a Conservative Government. What would make them contemplate making Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister? Well it’s August. This is supposed to be the silly season. Perhaps alternatively Ken Clarke, Dominic Grieve, Oliver Letwin et al have all been out in the midday sun. Are we to see them foaming at the mouth if Britain leaves the UK without a deal? But there is unlikely to be much sun in late October.

I think part of the explanation is that the long Remainer rearguard has like many battles meant that the purpose for fighting has been lost. We’re here, because we’re here. Soldiers who have fought together will go on fighting even when the cause has been lost and when the reason for fighting in the first place has been forgotten.


All the Tory arch Remainers were willing to stand for Parliament on a manifesto that said, “no deal is better than a bad deal”. I doubt any of them could have imagined then a scenario where they would prefer Corbyn to leaving the EU. But somehow what was once grudging acceptance that the UK would leave the EU has become something else. 

The Tory Remainers started merely trying to obstruct Brexit and hoping to limit what they saw as the Brexit damage. Their aim was merely to make leaving the EU resemble as closely as possible remaining in the EU. But as the rearguard continued, they began to think that victory was in fact possible. They could overturn the result. We could stay in the EU.

This is what it is about now. No Tory would contemplate voting for Corbyn merely to water down Brexit, nor indeed to stop a “no deal” departure. The prize now is to stop Brexit completely. Since Theresa May’s deal was rejected the choice has always been no deal or no Brexit. Grieve et al would only be willing to ruin their careers for the prize of staying in the EU. They would do so for nothing else.

But why? What has stirred up all the passions in Britain about the EU? The only comparison I can think of is with the Scottish independence referendum. The long campaign. The moment when independence supporters thought they were going to win and the despair of losing created modern Scottish nationalism. It turned it from being a fringe movement of cranks and obsessives to something that was capable of destroying Scottish Labour and winning nearly all the seats at Westminster.

Something similar has happened in the UK. There was no such thing as a Remainer movement five years ago. Most people were fairly indifferent about the EU. You either thought it was a necessary evil or you hoped but didn’t expect ever to be able to leave. Few people were particularly enthusiastic about EU membership, but a good pragmatic argument could be made for staying. I didn’t expect Leave to win the EU referendum even while campaigning for us to do so. I would have met a Remain vote with a mixture of disappointment and relief.

I think it was the shock of losing that changed the Remainers. Calm indifference and pragmatism changed overnight into Euronationalism. They were absolutely certain that they had won. They planned to be conciliatory to the rather foolish Brits who had been so dull as to think Britain could ever go it alone. Then at some point in the early hours of a June night in 2016, the Remainers whole world view was shaken. They had lost and they reacted with a fury that was unfamiliar even to those of us who had gone through the aftermath of the Scottish independence referendum.

There are three forms of nationalism, but the word itself is horribly misunderstood and used in very imprecise ways. Donald Trump is sometimes called an American nationalist. But this is just a way of saying that his America first message is excessively patriotic, selfish and right-wing. This is the sense in which “nationalist” means something like fascist. Unfortunately, this sense of the word is unhelpful. It’s the equivalent of saying “boo”. The other two senses of the word “nationalist” describe political goals that are perfectly respectable and help our understanding of history.

The secession form of nationalism is at the heart of Scottish nationalism, while the unification form of nationalism is seen in 19th century German history. There is nothing morally deplorable in either seeking to leave a nation state or seeking to form one from formerly independent states. Virtually every European state is made up of parts that used to be independent. Likewise, many European states at some point seceded from larger ones.

I have been reading about German unification lately, because it is the best way to understand what is going on in the EU. In 1866 blind King George V led the independent Kingdom of Hanover. His army fought the battle of Langensalza and defeated the Prussians in front of him, but it made no difference because his army was surrounded and soon after it surrendered. After that there was no more independent Kingdom of Hanover. The process of German unification was relentless and once you were on the path to “ever closer union” there was no getting off it.

Britain won an unexpected battle again EU nationalism when we won the vote in 2016. But the Euronationalists are relentless and the forces under their control are far more powerful than those available to Moltke and Bismarck. The issue now is whether having won a tactical victory we go down to a strategic defeat three years later.

Euronationalism was awakened in Britain by the 2016 Remain defeat. Suddenly there were EU flags on the street and a love for the EU that had never existed before. But it is rather like that 19th century German nationalism which was expressed by people in places like Hanover and Saxony. They thought that they could express support for Pan Germanism while retaining their independence. German nationalism gave them a Zollverein or customs union, but Germany was far less unified in 1866 than the EU is today. Five years later by 1871 there was only really Germany.  Whether they wanted to or not the member states had been subsumed. Hanover had become Wessex, Saxony had become Burgundy. I doubt even Germans now know that in 1866 they both took on the might of Prussia.

What is perverse about British Euronationalism is that while Eurofederalism is a goal held by some Remainer fanatics, if you asked the British electorate whether they wanted the UK to join the Euro, Schengen and accept our place in a United States of Europe sometime in the next 5-10 years, it is obvious that the vast majority of the electorate would reject Euronationalism.
The problem we have is that the Remainer elite still want to portray British membership of the EU as simply a matter of trade and economic pragmatism. They tell us we must avoid at all costs an economically damaging “no deal”, but they would want to avoid it even if the price were a United States of Europe with the UK unable to escape ever. In fact, that is the price of the Remain rearguard succeeding.

The blind King of Hanover could not see until too late that he would be subsumed and his country forgotten. But he was of course, neither form of nationalist. He just wanted to maintain the territorial integrity of his kingdom. When we fight against either Euronationalism or Scottish nationalism this is exactly what we are doing. We want neither to be divided nor subsumed. Let us then be clear about what the next few months are about. If we lose the battle to leave the EU this time, we won’t get another chance.

36 comments:

  1. Very true, Effie. Thanks again.

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  2. "Are we to see them foaming at the mouth if Britain leaves the UK without a deal?" I nearly choked on my toast!

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    1. Some people in Down and Antrim believe that it already has.

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    2. Its only a matter of time now....

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  3. Up to a point, Lord Copper ...

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  4. Excellent comment. Very insightful. I think its worth remembering after all that, that German unification is partially an unfinished and unstable project. It is not necessarily over, as history never is (former East Germany has very different attitudes; Bavaria has a strong independent streak). Secondly, the EU project based in Brussels as the axis between France and Germany is very likely doomed by the flawed principle of centralisation which is its guiding spirit. The incompetence,inadequacy, and arrogance of Brussels is (to the UK sceptic) of course cliche, but its reality is gradually apparent to more and more of Europe's peoples, and especially the national-level bureaucracies who have to toe the line of jumped up, super-remunerated, tax dodging 'superiors' in the hollowed out capital of a confected semi-functional part of the cordon sanitaire.

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    1. This is pure nonsense, utterly so.

      Bavaria does have a small and not very vocal independence movement. It's no representation in Berlin since the 50's as its so small. It does not even have anyone on Bavarian lander government, never mind in Berlin.

      The German reunification project is so unfinished that they stop taking the reunification tax from people at the end of this year.

      Who makes this stuff up, its not even close to reality. Brexiteers are like kids in a playground, oohh my team might be rubbish but look at these European teams, they are worser(sic).

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    2. Running man, I wouldn't make up 'sics' if I were you. You're all too capable of them on your own (though I must confess I missed a comma in an edit I made earlier above). As regards Bavaria or former East Germany, I merely pointed them out because remainers and their ilk ritually ignore the granular weaknesses in their project (ie. the reflex to 'worser' that you abhor is only a reflection of the EU's propagandist will to suppress facts). I did not phrase it ambitiously, but these differences in political outlook are non-trivial (as the success of AFD in the East has recently shown; meanwhile, a YouGov poll in 2017 found 32% of Bavarians in favour of independence). You on the other hand said that it was 'pure nonsense', and then as if extra redundancy were needed, 'utterly so'. Ever heard of the saying 'argument weak, shout loud'? As the esteemed history professors used to say, 'that's you, that is'.

      From your other comment related to mine I gather you have spent 11 years in Germany. I've spent 15 in the Czech Republic and I know something both from Germans I've met here, and the Czech view of Germany (it's all love and understanding, believe me). Maybe expat Germans are more forthcoming about their deeper loyalties; maybe distance from the 'uber alles' rhetoric lends perspective; but really, a country which needs to put itself 'uber alles' in its own anthem is demonstrating a deep-seated and untreated historical insecurity. I think that the way they deal with it is 'euronationalism', or as it could be called 'more (of) Europe (for them)'.

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    3. Actually, the first two stanzas of Deutschlandlied, that contain the words "uber alles", were "unofficially" (but actually officially) banned from the anthem after WW2. Only the third stanza was used as the national anthem. Since 1991, the third stanza is the only one that constitutes the official national anthem.

      Using your line of reasoning though, what does having a line in the UK anthem that exalts the monarch to "crush rebellious Scots" say about our place in the Union? Just asking. Maybe its simply an historical anachronism, like the "uber alles" line, and should not be used to suggest a dark subtext to a nations intention. Then again, given the tone of some articles on this and other Tory sites ..... ?

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    4. Good point, Me Bungo. And at least the now-defunct verse set precise boundaries to Germany - unlike, say, some British-patriotic songs whose aims are 'wider still and wider'.

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    5. Maybe we built an aircraft carrier so we could pretend to rule the waves.....

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    6. Ed,
      Sorry if you took offence at my worser (sic) joke, it was aimed at the overall Brexit movement.

      You quoted a poll on Bayern independence(i haven't googled it) and I gave you actual voting records for the Bavarian lander for the independence party and they have not had a single person elected to the Bundestag since the 50's. They only need to clear a 5% hurdle to be allowed in and its a two vote PR voting system. Seems straightforward. If its so popular why have they never had a member voted in for 70 years.

      You are correct the AfD have made some inroads and moreso in the East but still overall in Germany they have made progress, embarassingly so. The green party are also very strong where I live, voting patterns are different based on local industial and social history. To say the east is not integrated is still quite a leap, my evidence that progress has been made is they will stop the reunification tax in the West this year....No government stops a tax easily.

      Your knowledge of German national anthem says a lot about both your knowledge of Germany and your knowledge of its history. Its a huge faux pas for foreigners to sing DE Uber Alles in Germany, just ask Robbie Williams who was booed off stage for making the mistake. Not sure they have any expansionist desires, their weak army is certainly a symptom of that. In any case why would they rock the boat, the Germans have made hay while the sun shines on the back of the EU project. If only the British had been so smart.

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  5. Effie's typology of nationalism, while only weakly adequate, is an advance on some of her earlier animadversions. An important aspect that she does not consider, however, is that of motivation. This failure, I think, explains why the title of the present piece is false, and the argument presented fallacious.

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    1. Effie asserts, without advancing pertinent evidence, that the only reason for any Tories' supporting a UK Government led by Mr. Jeremy Corbyn would be a sentiment she dubs Euronationalism. In this, as in a number of other things, she is quite mistaken.

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    2. I get the feeling Effie gets more desperate as the time ticks down.....I think she'll get her hard brexit, she'll also I believe pay a big price for it as will everyone else.....

      I hope they enjoy the rewards.....

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    3. I share that feeling, Running. Unless Effie is in a *very* well-paid job, or has substantial capital outside the UK, she will indeed suffer along with most of the rest of us.

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  6. This article is utter fantasy both politically and historically. There is no such thing as a "Euronationalism" project within the EU. It only exists in the heads of "cranks and obsessives".

    Most notably the head of Oswald Mosely who formed a neo-fascist, trans-national movement called the National Party of Europe in 1962 which achieved the square root of diddley-squat by the time it petered out in the 1970s. It is now only advocated by a smattering of tiny neo-fascist groups of no significance.

    The idea that the EU is intent on creating a single European identity is up there with the "straight banana scandal" in terms of credibility. If only because it could never happen. Each individual independent member state has its own strong national dynamism and, crucially, full control of its sovereignty (as Brexit proves). Any attempt to initiate the gargantuan task of destroying the national identity of over 600 million people in dozens of independent states would see the EU disintegrate in short order. No credible politician of any nationality would even contemplate it, far less instigate it.

    It is here that the historical fantasy comes into it. German unification was essentially a military conquest after three regional wars gave Prussia hegemony of the "German Empire". It has endured because the peoples within the empire were/are Germans. No "nation-building" was required. Similarly with Italian unification. It has endured for the very same reasons.

    It is not the case for the EU which is made up of dozens of national identities. Any attempt at quashing individual nationalities and establishing a European one would be met with intense resistance and ultimately destroy the union. That, along with the humongous cost, is why it will never be attempted. It is simply scaremongering and dog-whistling to suggest it is an issue.

    It is strange to think that Effie actually advocates this course of action when it comes to combat Scottish independence. We must feel sorry for poor Hanover while actively working to destroy Scottish national identity. While it is more likely to work given the relative sizes of Scotland and England, it also risks raising resistance to a level that ensures a majority for independence. When you raise an issue to an existential level for a country, don't be surprised when it chooses to survive.

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    1. Judging from your glib comments I would suggest you know very little about European nationalism and its historical suppression by grander entities. Your throwaway comment on 'Hanover' is absurd. If you actually knew any 'Germans' you would know they can be prouder of being Schwabian than German, and you might have a more mature take on Scottish identity as well.

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    2. I don't know how you can come to any of those conclusions based on a thread post. I was not writing a book.

      Yes there were movements based on a German national identity, given direction during the Napoleonic wars, that argued for unification. Yes the ruling aristocracies railed against it for their own narrow self interest. Yes the states involved were numerous, mainly tiny and often fleeting in their existence. Yes modern day Germans can have a strong local/national identity beyond German. Yes the subject is even more complex than even all that. However my post did not detail absolutely everything about the subject of German unification and the fluid state of identity politics throughout the history of the German people's because, as I said, I was not writing a book.

      So yes, my comments can be described as "glib" but then, so can yours for the very same reasons. As can Effie's article itself because .... none of us were writing a book.

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    3. Great comment. It's the usual Brexit conspiracy theory of an EU superstate - note the comical 5-10 years.
      The rise in EU popularity in the UK has been down to Brexit supporter's clueless lack of a plan & failure to own any of the consequences of Brexit.

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    4. Well Ed I lived on and off for 11 years in both Hessen and in Baden W├╝rttemberg. The idea that people identify with their lander/state is nonsense.

      People may state that I'm Bavarian or as you say Schwabian but its in the same was as I would say I'm from the west(Glasgow). Just so people know I'm not from the East....I'm still Scottish and the Germans are still very German.

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  7. Many Tories are, in fact, conservatives. Unlike the enthusiastic factions of Austro-American 'libertarians' who began to take over their party in the 1970's, they wish to *conserve* (maintain, preserve, uphold … (see Roget's Thesaurus, dictionary, wordbook, glossary, lexicon …)). This entails defending the integrity of the United Kingdom, preventing its population from falling into penury, and ensuring that any innovations are only introduced with caution. They perceive that membership of the European Union is therefore conducive to their goals. It provides a certain social and economic framework, operates a working solution to the territorial tensions within and between States, and acts as a brake on incautious enterprises.


    This, and only this, is the reason that many Tories would prefer Mr. Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister of the UK. (Not so long ago, I seem to recall, Effie would have preferred this to Mrs. Nicola Sturgeon as Prime Minister of independent Scotland.)


    For some people, leaving the EU is an existential need. The consequences are irrelevant. They believe that only thus can the work begun by Mrs. Dennis Thatcher be achieved. They may be right. Where they are hopelessly wrong, however, is in their belief that this wildly incautious leap in the dark will preserve the territorial integrity of the UK. One consequence of the policies of the Conservative [sic] Party since 1979 has been the appearance of blue flags everywhere. Some bear a saltire argent, while others bear twelve mullets or. If Brexit goes through, these may become the only flags in official use.

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  8. Thanks for cleaning up my mess Effie :)

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  9. Not so long ago, the percentage of support for independence was in single figures. Quite simply, it was not a serious subject for debate, let alone a political option. Within my lifetime, the Tories have managed to win a majority of votes. Currently, Effie (and, doubtless, countless other Unionists) look back on the time when support for independence was'only' in the 20s and 30's. Support for independence grew strong that Unionists went into panic mode. They wheeled on some big guns who made promises they were not in a position to keep. The clincher for many people was the juridically nonsensical allegation that if the country seceded from the UK it would have to reapply for membership of the European Union.

    Five years on, none of the promises has been kept. On present showing, the country will be dragged against its will out of the European Union in a few weeks' time. Many of those advocating this leap in the dark openly admit that they intend to complete the work of dismantling and demolition begun in 1979. Mr. Boris Johnson and his associates have declared their intention to override the remaining checks and balances in the British constitutional settlement. All that made Britain worthwhile is being scrapped.

    It is therefore no wonder that more and more people are asking what is the *point* of Britain.

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  10. I am informed that over 50,000 people in the Netherlands have expressed interest in a massive Brexit Beach Party.

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    1. We're still waiting on all the other countries groundswell of Brexit support .....

      Pro EU support has rocketed in other countries since Brexit started.... They are not so stupid.

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    2. We'll have to wait *very* patiently, Running! As you say, most people in the Union are not stupid. They are certainly saddened at the UK Government's avowed intent to render itself irrelevant, but many are unable to refrain from laughing at the comic posturing of the current British leadership and its acolytes.

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    3. Indeed the quip from Merkel yesterday around 30 days,30 weeks, 30 months or 30 years to fix teh backstop was in fact sarcasm. The papers reported it as a window of opportunity for Johnson, people are being duped by this nonsense and the papers and TV should bear some of that blame.

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    4. I agree with you, Running. It all becomes more worrying by the day. Britishness is imploding, and none of its partisans have a clue what to do.

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  11. I hear that Mr. Boris Johnson may consider offering a special economic relationship between the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

    The last time Ireland entered a Union with Britain, the economy collapsed. A million people died of starvation. The population fell by a half, and continued to decline for over a century after the Famine. The country did not begin to recover until the 1960s.

    Such a proposal would enjoy as much success as the proverbial spheroid of impacted ice crystals in His Satanic Majesty's domains.

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  12. There is already a legal status of people between UK and Ireland where Irish citizens cannot be deemed foreign in the UK. Ireland Act 1949 I think.

    Republic of Ireland not a foreign country.

    It is hereby declared that, notwithstanding that the Republic of Ireland is not part of His Majesty’s dominions, the Republic of Ireland is not a foreign country for the purposes of any law in force in any part of the United Kingdom or in any colony, protectorate or United Kingdom trust territory, whether by virtue of a rule of law or of an Act of Parliament or any other enactment or instrument whatsoever, whether passed or made before or after the passing of this Act, and references in any Act of Parliament, other enactment or instrument whatsoever, whether passed or made before or after the passing of this Act, to foreigners, aliens, foreign countries, and foreign or foreign-built ships or aircraft shall be construed accordingly.

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  13. The arguments on this text are, I think, exhausted. We attend with impatience her next intervention.

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  14. lol, the current rate of output verus before makes me thnk its a team output

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    1. Do you know, Running - I hadn't thought of that. It would, though, explain a lot.

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  15. I had at first thought that 'Effie Dean' was a nom de plume for one of the Massies - but, on brief consideration, I perceived that such would be utterly absurd.

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  16. So there we have it. The reason why some Conservatives would support Mr. Jeremy Corbyn is ... Conservatism.

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