- Tue Dec 01, 2020 12:28 pm
I think that for many, it's something like this.
The last 45 years or so have seen massive social and economic change. That neatly coincides with our membership of the CM/EEC/EU. For certain, some people have prospered and others haven't. People are looking for someone to blame, and Europe is the obvious candidate. A lot of people feel closer - spiritually rather than geographically - to Australia, New Zealand and the USA than they do to France, Belgium, or the rest of the continent.
So, who to blame for your woes? Europe, painted in the media as "over there", is the obvious choice. After all, you don't really know how the EU works, or who your local MEP is (unless it's someone like Farage, elected to "send a message"). In contrast, your MP is a different kettle of fish. They opened your village fete. They have a column in the local paper to rage about PC gone mad. You feel a connection to them. You'd much prefer to think that it's the big inscrutable organisation "over there" and staffed by ze Jairmans and a load of fat Belgians who never properly said thankyou in 1945 that's responsible for your woes than that nice guy who did a photo op in the local park and went on that news quiz.
Of course, this fails to take into account that while Britain might have been the sick man of Europe in 1972, it certainly didn't feel like it. We didn't want their fancy foreign muck, and we had the Irish - thick, backward Paddies - to push around. Nowadays, you see an Irish person on TV and they're likely the smartest person in the room. We like the food, the culture, the fashion. But we resent not being top dog in our own kennel any more. Even if that kennel was falling apart.
The comedian Richard Herring once did a routine called "Men are from Britain, women are from Europe (and gay men are from Ireland)", which explains the relationship between the UK and EU in similar terms, with references to the glass floor situation (the basic level of privilege a straight white man holds - or held until recently - regardless of personal circumstances, over women and people from minority groups) and social changes over, coincidentally, the time we've been part of Europe in all its forms. Worth looking up.
"There ain't nothing you fear more than a bad headline, is there? You'd rather live in shit than let the world see you work a shovel."