‘I loathe the EU but I won’t be voting in the referendum’
- Credit: PA
My 18th birthday came just in time for the 1975 referendum on whether Britain should remain in what at that time was called the European Economic Community. I thought it the best present to be able to vote a resounding 'Yes!'
But how my enthusiasm has withered and died in the four decades since then.
I feel entirely European. My partner of the past 25 years is German. My brother's family has long lived in Paris, where my nephew – now a very cosmopolitan graduate on a year-out in New Zealand – was born.
After East Anglia, I feel most at home in Greece.
The Little England mentality seems nearly as paltry to me as petty Scottish Nationalism.
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But while loving Europe, I hate the complacency, conformity, conceit and complete hypocrisy of Euroland. Yes, I loathe the European Union.
Doubts came early on with the grubbing up of our ancient orchards.
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Losing our rich heritage of apples was too high a price to pay for the Common Agricultural Policy.
So much for taste and diversity, Euro-style.
It became clear even before the EEC metamorphosed into an EU monster, that this was a disorganisation run by and for third-rate bureaucrats and fifth-rate politicians.
And it has proved the hallmark of these snouts-in-trough Eurolanders – with their obscene salaries and pensions – to ignore inconvenient truth.
Every year the EU announces its budget and every year the auditors rule it not properly accounted, probably corrupt and certainly illegal.
And every year the arrogant Eurolanders just carry on regardless. This alone should demand that we all start from scratch with a smaller, leaner European body that can actually be trusted.
The enshrined wish for Ever-Closer Union is the excuse for ever-greater powers and privileges to those bossy governors I lump together as 'official dumb'.
We can't see the wood for all our wooden rulers.
The fact that Belgium is now practically a failed state is hidden by the falsities of Euroland.
What I love about Europe is its endless variety – and while some might think me racist for feeling this, I love the sheer Italianess of Italy, and all the differing Spanishnesses of Spain (yes to Catalan autonomy, no to independence).
Greece has only managed to remain Greece by all manner of scams.
The modern Greek tragedy was a political elite presenting to Euroland what I believe Eurolanders knew full well to be lies to join the Euro. That was a scam of a different order, still threatening to destroy everything.
And yet I can't be on the same side as UKIP – reactionaries who if ever gaining power, or swinging the pending Euro-poll, will destroy the United Kingdom.
How to vote in the referendum?
Whatever the impact of David Cameron's tinkering, I can only abstain.
•The views above are those of Ian Collins. Read more from our columnists each day in the EDP.