It’s always enjoyable to come across a hysterical prophecy that has been disproved by the passage of time. How much more enjoyable it is when the author is as self-righteous and opinionated as Simon Heffer.
The prophecy in question comes from the Daily Mail in 2003. In an article entitled without irony, Europe: Who’s telling the truth?, Heffer was invited to describe what life in England will be like in 2010 if the EU Constitutional Treaty is brought into effect.
Here’s a few extracts from his prediction of life today:
EVEN now, I still can’t get used to the fact that my postal address ends ‘Eastern Region, Province of England, United States of Europe’.
[Soon after the ratification of the constitution] we were all instructed to attend local identification centres to be photographed and issued with our new United States of Europe (U.S.E.) identity cards – visible proof that Brussels law took precedence over our own.
[European police took over from British ones on the streets of London]. In the early days, when a few criminals chose to fight back, there were unpleasant scenes. As a result, Europol agents now only ever try to stop those who look middle-class and respectable. All of us know someone who has fallen foul of the new criminal code. Inevitably, those who have are not remotely the type of person that anyone would think of as criminals.
Trial by jury was abolished, not least because it was dangerously democratic, but also because it interfered with the new Europe-wide code of guilt until proved innocent.
With travel across the Channel so perilous [because the EU police locked Britons up indiscriminately if they went abroad], we started instead to go to the English seaside for our holidays again, only to find that once-genteel resorts like Rock, Lyme Regis or Brancaster were under a dusk-till- dawn curfew because of their new role as official reception centres for the U.S.E.’s illegal immigrants.
Reserving the right to interfere in member states’ social policies, the U.S.E. Politburo had decided that, given England’s massive experience at welcoming illegals, it would be used to process all those who came into the new superstate.
The need to finance ‘cohesion’ in the more economically backward countries proved expensive. VAT was harmonised first at 20, then at 25 per cent. The basic rate of income tax was harmonised at 30 per cent, with new 50, 60 and 70 per cent bands for higher earners.
By now, the Second Cold War – this one between Europe and America – is entering its fifth year. Britain is no longer allowed a foreign policy, and the U.S.E. has decidedly rocky diplomatic relations with the U.S.
Not a day passes without America’s superior wealth, military power and freedoms being mocked by eurocrats – in truth because their universal superiority is so feared.
It’s worth lingering a while on the Homeric sweep of the persecution complex revealed here, and letting the casual racism of the passage about “illegals” fester in your mind for a while.
I am not quoting Heffer out of context (the full piece is here), and his article was part of a special issue campaigning for a referendum on the constitution, not written as a spoof or a light-hearted piece. In fact, the introduction pointed out that “although [Heffer’s] account is fictitious, every law and regulation is a genuine part of the new European constitution”.
This is the serious point. For all it’s fun to laugh at the hysteria and the prophecy that didn’t come true, Heffer writes in major newspapers on European issues. He is taken seriously as a columnist and yet he appears to believe that all foreigners are plotting against the UK and given half a chance the EU would take over and chuck us all in jail. This is not a reasonable opinion about which one might have a debate, it is borderline psychosis.
This sort of paranoia (a novelisation of which can be found in historian Andrew Roberts’ breathtakingly stupid novel the Aachen Memorandum) poisons political debate.
It contributes to an atmosphere where both the big parties compete – I’m looking at you Ed Balls – to back away from the basic principles of the EU, and yet no-one calls them extreme. An atmosphere, moreover, where a fairly mild proposal to send draft budgets round other EU states, with no threat of veto, change or punishment, is rejected out of hand – and worse, framed in the press entirely as “Cameron’s battle in Brussels”.
Who needs to think about the future, when the past has worked out so brilliantly?
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