Thursday, April 28, 2016

The best case for Remain has been made by... Jeremy Clarkson

Here are some paragraphs from the best case I have seen for Britain's continued membership of the European Union:
In 1973 my parents held a Common Market party. They’d lived through the war, and for them it seemed a good idea to form closer ties with our endlessly troublesome neighbours. For me, however, it was a chance to make flags out of coloured felt and to eat exotic foods such as sausage and pasta. I felt very European that night, and I still do. 
Whether I’m sitting in a railway concourse in Brussels or pottering down the canals of southwestern France or hurtling along a motorway in Croatia, I feel way more at home than I do when I’m trying to get something to eat in Dallas or Sacramento. I love Europe, and to me that’s important.
Isn’t it better to stay in and try to make the damn thing work properly? To create a United States of Europe that functions as well as the United States of America? With one army and one currency and one unifying set of values? 
Britain, on its own, has little influence on the world stage. I think we are all agreed on that. But Europe, if it were well run and had cohesive, well thought-out policies, would be a tremendous force for good
Can you guess who wrote them?

Of course you can. I have pasted a photo of him above.

But this column by Jeremy Clarkson, published in the Sunday Times on 13 March of this year.

It's support for full-blown federalism will scare some off - I am not its greatest admirer itself - but it captures an enjoyment of our European identity that has been wholly absent from the Remain campaign.

That campaign has concentrated on pointing to the disasters that may befall Britain if it leaves the EU and pointing to the contradictions in the Leave case. Its arguments are right, but are unlikely to inspire anyone.

So why hasn't Jeremy Clarkson been up front and centre of the Remain campaign? He would appeal to great swathes of voters likely to have so far remained untouched by it.

Maybe he was asked and said no, but it is hard to resist the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, the leadership of the pro-EU campaign does not consist of the best and brightest who could have been found.

Incidentally, Clarkson's article is lodged safely behind the Sunday Times' paywall, but I found the full text of it on a Top Gear bulletin board.

It was a little like stumbling across a site devoted to a fetish you do not share. I was not so much surprised as puzzled.

No, Clarkson's views are not mine, but I do admire the easy flow of his prose as a columnist. From that point of view, a young writer could do much worse than adopt him as a model.

And what I always objected to was not so much Top Gear itself so much as the BBC's absurd promotion of it.

1 comment:

Frank Little said...

I believe that clause in the Treaty Of Rome (about ever-closer union) is increasingly like the old Clause Four in the Labour constitution - more honoured in the breach than the observance, and eventually will be amended to meaninglessness.