My friend has a theory about missing bits of culture and history. It’s ‘mislaid’ by mainstream historians – not in some Orwellian act of deliberate subterfuge, not in some InfoWars-style conspiracy. It’s just that it’s deemed unimportant over time. Things aren’t covered-up, they’re just forgotten.
It seems like EnglandBritain is suffering from a version of this. A sort of National Aphasia. Whole countries, maybe whole continents are just being forgotten.
“What’s that down the back of the sofa? Oh, that’s the Iberian Peninsula?”
Ooh, you find all sorts down there don’t you? “Look, there’s Carrickfergus!”
Back in 2014 the steady flow of derision against taking back control was that Scotland would be weakened internationally, our economy would suffer, and, after all, why go to so much bother for so little gain? We’d be a laughing stock with key international relations weakened, cast out of Europe and all for a misplaced sense of grievance.
And you know what, the stumbling block would be Spain. Oops.
If such an analysis seems painfully ironic now in light of Boris’s emerging Banana Republic, I’m sorry about that.
But even if all these things had come to pass, and Scotland had become a sort of xenophobic parochial backwater, more Albania than Alba, as our worst critics suggested, no-one thought we’d become aggressively militaristic against our near neighbors did they?
Lord Howard – of whom the Spanish say “Hay algo de la noche sobre él” – certainly is leading from the front this week with the war-mongering against Spain and his conjuring up the ghost of El Thatch:
“Thirty-five years ago this week, another woman prime minister sent a taskforce halfway across the world to defend the freedom of another small group of British people against another Spanish-speaking country, and I’m absolutely certain that our current prime minister will show the same resolve in standing by the people of Gibraltar,”
The comparison is, on one one level, fair. A far-right Conservative leader driven by a wave of nationalism revives support through a tabloid-backed frenzy while facing incoherent opposition by a left Labour leader (then Foot, now Corbyn). But, it in other senses (like in the sense of being deranged) it doesn’t really work.
There’s 400,000 Spanish people living in the UK, including a reported 25,000 in Edinburgh alone.
I don’t think the Brits of Magaluf would appreciate any interruption to their leisure activities.
But it’s not the only flight of fancy that’s going on. The Brexiteers,who should be joyous in victory are spitting mad. Gerard Batten, UKIP’s Brexit spokesman thinks that the whole Article 50 process is a sham and a sellout and the two-year timeline is treason. We could leave the EU “in an afternoon” he says. He’s also got a nice Trump-esque line about sending back the workshy and “beggars and criminals”. While Tory MP Andrew Rosindell thinks the real problem is our pink passport – the heart of our national malaise:
“The humiliation of having a pink European Union passport will now soon be over and the United Kingdom nationals can once again feel pride and self-confidence in their own nationality when traveling, just as the Swiss and Americans can do.”
Victory’s not yet ours it seems.
This whole process of remembering and forgetting is complicated. We know we hate the French and the Germans, but the Spanish too? Who knew. One week in and we’ve remembered a new European foe and forgotten ourselves.
I don’t think they’ve thought this true.
But war with Spain makes as much sense as anything else we’ve heard in this Banana Republic.