I’ve just been listening to the radio. I have to admit I sometimes switch off when Iain Dale comes on, not because I don’t like him but because I have a ‘thing’ about voices, and his voice just doesn’t agree with my neurons. His first topic this evening was, “Italy has an unelected government: Can this happen here?”
Despite the differences between the continent of Europe and the UK of GB & NI, I think it could. Europe, it’s true, has been subjected to dictatorships in one form or another for centuries, for example Portugal, Greece, Spain & Germany. If you include Russia & its former satellites, and North Africa (the ‘Southern Mediterranean’) in the equation, as the EU does, that adds up, very uncomfortably, to a high number of people who really don’t share our concept of democracy. In that sense, we are isolated as much by mentality as by the sea. We simply have no concept of dictatorship; Cromwell was the last dictator and there’s no consensual collective memory of that period in history. As a nation, we wouldn’t recognise a dictatorship or authoritarian government if it knocked on our door and demanded all our personal details, or allowed cctv and recording equipment in taxis, or if we were the most surveilled society in the western world.
However, the countries mentioned above all experienced dictatorships well into the 20thC and, let’s be brutal, they don’t know much else. On those grounds, the fact that a poll showing 78% of Italians welcomed the new corporate government where no-one has been elected and roughly half of them are professors and the rest banking apparatchiks shouldn’t surprise us.
Seventeen is an unlucky number in Italy but that’s how many ministers there are. The last Berlusconi administration had twenty-three. Five ministries have gone. Twelve have portfolio responsibilities – including the economy, held by Mario Monti as caretaker – and five do not. Three women hold key posts (justice, employment and the interior) whereas there were six with Berlusconi. There are also seven academics, five doctors, a lawyer and a university lawyer. A banker, an ambassador, an admiral and a health law specialist are also on the list but no politicians.
So, Monti has slimmed down government departments, is intent on rooting out corruption and waste, and has booted out the lap-dancers and chancers. I’m beginning to think this EU take-over could work for them. One other thing these countries all have in common is a history of coalition governments or ‘governments of national unity’ – you can see where this is leading, can’t you?
Despite our differences and animosity to foreign rule I think that if Britain were ever in the same turmoil as Greece or Italy, the majority would also roll over and accept it – not only accept it, but welcome it, because we’ve been conditioned, cajoled and controlled. We’d accept it until the scales fell from our eyes but, given how much we’ve endured from the EU over the years, I’m beginning to think those scales will need a pretty big whack to be dislodged. I think this is one instance when it’s fair to say: “Think of the children,” so, once again, here’s that small prayer:
“If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. ” Thomas Paine, 1776.