Being British

A Victorian father would tell his children that the greatest blessing that they had was to have been born British.  Those were the days when the sun never set on the Empire and British standards were respected and proudly copied throughout the civilised world.  I can still remember, in one of my frequent trips to India, a Hindi mother castigating her son for speaking Hindi.  “Hindi is for peasants,” she said, glancing in my direction.  “Educated people speak English…”  Maybe she was trying to impress me but, actually, it made me rather ashamed.  I felt that the untended compliment was from a bygone generation and that the poor woman was thinking of a Britain that had ceased to exist. 

My anger at British intransigence and selfish arrogance has been brought to the boil over the next EU treaty which UK will not be party to.  Of all the EU member states, UK will not be part of it.  And they’re touting it as a kind of triumph.  The arrogance beggars belief.  This is a time when the world’s capitalist economies need to work together to sort out the mess that the bankers have created for us.  Economies are in recession, people are unemployed and any small world event, maybe in the Middle East, could push the world into a new depression.  So, while 26 EU member states decide to work together, the UK has decided that it knows better.  On its own.  If anyone needed evidence of just how much David Cameron is in the pockets of the bankers, they need look no further.  

My old friend and former colleague Naomi Gluckstein, has blogged about it as well; see http://naomismag.livejournal.com/ .  We are both Europeans, having worked for various European institutions, and live outside the UK.  We try to be Europeans and find ourselves ashamed to admit to being British.  She says:

After David Cameron’s so called ‘brave stand’ as praised by the majority of the UK press, one can only feel depressed to see one’s country go so far out on a limb. The Brits have never understood or been interested in the EU or being part of it, they are still living in the past. The nonsense being spouted by the Eurosceptics makes me angry. The Brits are not hard workers, they are not willing to take any job to get out of unemployment, and they are happy in blaming the EU for all their woes. Over here in Euroland, if you’re on the dole it’s for a fixed period and you have to go to interviews – turn down three job offers and that’s it. It’s not perfect over here by a long chalk but at least in Belgium we’re aware of what our neighbours and fellow europeans are doing; There are no continuing silly press articles about EU regulations either. And why the hell SHOULD the Germans bail everyone out while the UK stands on the sidelines and whinges? Germany went through the enormous financial upheaval over reunification, they didn’t beg for cash to do so either, they just went on with it. The British press seems to be willing the euro to fail, aaarrgh! the whole business makes me mad!
 
It may come as no surprise to know that, having lived in Germany for seven years, I am rather pro-German.  That country has developed  a society that seems to know how best to react to events.  Their economy is not on its knees, they work, they have industry, they export and they play their part in Europe.  Their people do not live on credit and that leads to a national sense of responsibility that the Brits could learn from.
 
Learn from Germany?  Heaven forbid! 
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