At a time like now, with pro and anti EU forces suddenly meshing with nationalism, factionalism and whatever other interests may come along, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - which is a concept even more recent than the unifications of Italy and Germany - has no need of clumsy interventions from pundits unconcerned about the consequences of their actions. So one has come along anyway.
Not even slightly fair and balanced
To no surprise at all, that pundit is Melanie “not just Barking but halfway to Upminster” Phillips, who has inexplicably been gifted a berth by the Murdoch Times to rant on a variety of subjects with the sure and certain consequent generation of More And Bigger Paycheques For Herself Personally Now. And despite the paywall, an enterprising Zelo Street regular has passed me a transcript (see how that works, Rupe?).
Mel kicks off with a routine false assumption about the EU “The EU, which concentrates power in Brussels while reducing nations to the status of provinces”. Even the Government white paper on Brexit conceded that Parliament has been sovereign throughout our membership of the EU, and EEC before it. So that’s a fail, then.
And then comes the abuse: “Scottish nationalism and Irish republicanism are cultural phenomena rooted in romanticism and myth and hatred of the other in the form of the English or the Protestants”. But Brexit has far more noble motives: “Brexit expresses the desire for independent self-government by a sovereign state based on the history, institutions and cultural ties that constitute a nation”. But what about Scotland?
“Scotland has no right to rip the UK asunder if it wants to secede” she warns, before abruptly facing the other way: “The Scots developed over time the characteristics of a nation: a distinct language, religion, legal system and so on”. Make your mind up.
Who to insult next? Oh I dunno, how about the Welsh? “Wales was subsumed into the English legal system by Henry VIII and so lost its separate identity except for residual ties to the Welsh language”. Wales has no separate identity? Hmmm.
But then Mel goes totally gaga as she lines up the Loyalist tradition in Northern Ireland. Brace yourselves: “Northern Ireland is different again. The Unionists hate this being said but they are not British. They’re the bit that got tacked on to Great Britain to make the UK”. I’m not sure the successors to Edward Carson will take kindly to that.
And the Republic of Ireland fares no better: “the claim to unite Ireland is tenuous since Ireland itself has a tenuous claim to nationhood, having seceded from Britain as the Irish Free State only in 1922”. Yeah, right. The Irish Free State, later the Irish Republic, was established as a result of the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty, which was ratified by large majorities in both Houses of Parliament. And Mel fares no better with the EU.
“Britain is a nation with the right to rule itself. It is the EU which is the artificial construct, the imagined community that falsely claims for itself the hollow appurtenances of a nation”. As Britain has retained sovereignty throughout its membership of EEC and EU, that is total bullshit. But good to see Melanie Phillips maintains her tenuous grip on reality.