Regional identity

In much of the EU the regions that wish to be independent are the richer parts of their present countries. In Spain Catalonia is the most enterprising and highest income part of Spain along with the Basque country which is also keen on having more self government and control of its own tax revenues. In Italy the main force for independence comes from the Northern League where average incomes are much higher than in the south and where economic performance has been much better than in the rest of the country. Venice is a particularly successful city state with a strong wish to be independent. In Belgium the richer north is keenest to split away. In Germany there is less force for self government thanks to the relative success of federal economic policy despite the lander system of devolved government, but even there it is rich Bavaria which seems the most semi detached. In the UK it is different. The richest part of the country is London but there is no serious move to create a City state independent of the UK, whereas some parts of the Union that require substantial transfer payments with lower average incomes have a strong sense of individual identity. Scotland’s wealth and income is a matter of dispute depending on how you account for and project oil revenues.

Language is often a force for separation. The Catalan and Walloon speakers of Spain and Belgium see their language as part of their difference from the rest of their current country. The EU has fostered the development and revival of local languages which has reinforced these feelings. The EU seemed to want to use local and regional identity as a force to weaken the power of unitary states like Spain and Italy. It appealed over the heads of the member states to these regions. It had in mind not a host of smaller new countries claiming independence, but a subsidy or dependency union for the regions. It looked forward to regional allies and gratitude for the money sent to the regions, money it only had thanks to the contributions of the member states.

Now the EU is so much more powerful it has new problems to resolve. Will it seek to play down the demands for independence generally, as it is clearly doing in Catalonia? And now it has ambitions for a common foreign policy, how will it respond to similar tensions in non EU countries? Is it pleased with its work in Ukraine, where it wants the Russian minority to accept the pro EU policy of the western majority? In the Middle East is it feasible to ally with the Kurds against ISIL but to deny them their aim of a Kurdish state? Does the EU seek a federal solution to the governance problems of Iraq and Syria?

Outside the EU the politics of identity can become violent and extreme. It is most important the EU treads carefully if at all over these intricate and deep seated issues within Europe as we wish to keep the peace.

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71 Comments

  1. Rob K
    Posted July 29, 2015 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    Fascinating insight, thank you.

  2. Old Albion
    Posted July 29, 2015 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention the EU’s continuing surreptitious attempt to turn England into nine EU regions too. A policy that many in Westminster seem to approve of !

    • The Prangwizard
      Posted July 29, 2015 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      Just so. Conservatives and all Unionists will not come out and wholeheartedly support a true English parliament nor for unequivocal English identity because it runs counter to their obsession to keep a UK, and of course their own positions of power within it. It will be the beginning of the end of them. It is the British and Unionist Establishment which stands in the way of English identity and our democratic freedom.

      • bluedog
        Posted July 29, 2015 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

        If what you say is true, the British political class, with the exception of the SNP, clearly does not understand the theory and execution of a federal constitution. Worse, there seems no inclination to even try to understand.

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted July 29, 2015 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    Indeed the EU seem to want to draw power to itself at every turn. This by augmenting the power of regions to a certain degree. But then as we saw with Scotland only so far. At the same time they want to reduce and kill tax competition between nations thus making the region far less competitive.

    The very presence of the EU in its current form is destabilising. Why should regions have two masters bossing them around, the EU and the nation state? The existence of the EURO without more direct control is clearly a complete disaster as was always predicable.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 29, 2015 at 6:34 am | Permalink

      The Cameron Government is of course going along with and assisting with this break up of England into region. The last thing England needs is even more government and levels of government.

  4. Bernard from Bucks
    Posted July 29, 2015 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    “…the politics of identity can become violent and extreme. It is most important the EU treads carefully if at all over these intricate and deep seated issues within Europe as we wish to keep the peace.”
    Too late John, too late. I no longer feel welcome, or even safe in Scotland, and Wales is also becoming a less friendly place.

  5. Dame Rita Webb
    Posted July 29, 2015 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    “Outside the EU the politics of identity can become violent and extreme.” JR where have you been for the last few years? Have you forgotten about Charlie Hebdo already, never mind Madrid or 7/7? Or were all those events, within the EU, just criminal acts and nothing to do with a sub strata of society who is finding it difficult to fit in?

  6. Peter Van Leeuwen
    Posted July 29, 2015 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Interesting description and advice, but (IMHO) the EU has doesn’t seek to strengthen regions “at the expense” of nations, neither inside or outside of the EU.
    If the EU doesn’t favor Turkey bombing Kurdish sites together wit ISIS sites, or the earlier suppression of Russian language the Kiev government tried in Ukraine, that would be for reasons of human rights, not regional development. If anything, the more disadvantaged regions (and nations!) could hope for more EU financial support, all agreed by all 28 members of the club.
    The regional support instruments may facilitate cross-border projects and cooperation, like in adjacent Dutch, German an Belgian regions (economic and also police cooperation). In the UK it may facilitate such cooperation between adjacent regions in Ireland and N. Ireland. That doesn’t undermine nations. If the EU is experienced like some foreign monster (ignoring the own participation in anything EU), this may of course lead to a different perception than mine,

    Reply it does seek to undermine States e.g. Every jointly funded project between UK government and EU has to have a big board saying funded by EU with no statement that UK government had to send them the money first to get some back. Dishonest presentation.

    • Graham
      Posted July 29, 2015 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      Peter

      Did you ever say which part of the EU empire you worked in?

      We really ought to know so that we can judge your sponsorship accordingly.

      • Peter Van Leeuwen
        Posted July 29, 2015 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

        @Graham: still on your conspiracy trail?:)
        I already told you all there is to know about me.

    • Martyn G
      Posted July 29, 2015 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      PvL – you say “In the UK it may facilitate such cooperation between adjacent regions in Ireland and N. Ireland. That doesn’t undermine nations”.
      Oh yes it does – first and foremost, who or what gives the EU the right to meddle with the relationship between those nations and if it did so, the EU would be interfering with and undermining the rights of the UK and Eire governments, who alone are responsible for conducting such a business on behalf of their citizens.
      Plus, of course and as John suggests, in doing so the EU would undoubtedly be spending UK taxpayer money (the UK being a major contributor to the EU coffers) and claiming all credit to itself.

    • acorn
      Posted July 29, 2015 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      My link is to the mechanism that will be used to start eating away at inter-member state borders. There is a group looking at a “macro-region” for the English Channel, involving UK southern counties and their French equivalents.

      https://portal.cor.europa.eu/egtc/news/Pages/The-members-of-the-CoR-launch-an-interregional-group-on-cross-border-cooperation-and-EGTC.aspx

      • acorn
        Posted July 29, 2015 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

        A while back, I asked why it was, that right-wing politics, automatically includes climate change deniers. Nobody gave me a satisfactory answer.

        Which led me to think that the UK, currently, does not have an overt equivalent of a US Senator McCain or a Sarah Palin; Republican neo-conservatives.

        There are only about half a dozen real, dangerous “neo-cons” in the HoC, led by Mr Osborne. They are not all hard right Conservatives, for some totally inexplicable reason.

        Anyway, for climate change deniers, (I used to be one ’till I got educated in the subject); it appears that the BoE has been asking the large insurance corporates; and, the even larger re-insurance corporates, if they have a large enough capital reserve to withstand increasingly large, and more frequent claims, due to you-know-what change.

        The BoE is asking if a “regulator” is needed to force much larger capital reserves in the Spiv City global insurance industry. Basically to provide a level playing field for them all to work off, resulting in a industry-wide jack-up of premiums.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted July 30, 2015 at 5:10 am | Permalink

          Few deny that climate changes. It clearly always has and always will. What is denied is that there is a dangerous runaway World warming problem caused by manmade c02. The CO2 devil gas religion/politics is clearly a gross exaggeration. This has been shown to be almost certainly correct given the total lack of any warming for the past 18 years – which was not predicted at all by the warmist’s expensive computers. Garbage in garbage out as they say with computers and calculators.

          Perhaps you need some more education on the topic from a better source try a good physicist.

      • libertarian
        Posted July 29, 2015 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

        Acorn

        This has been in place for some time

        Eures is the name of the region incorporating Belgian Hainaut, the French region Nord/Pas-de-Calais and Kent. There are lots of joint trade fairs and jobs fairs that are organised by the region that try to encourage workers from the 3 areas to commute to work in the other parts of the region. The next event is in October. Its snappy title is 6th Cross Border Jobs Happening . Its at Gymnasium Rene Hochart on the outskirts of Calais

        They even have a website where you can book your ticket

        http://www.jobstransfrontaliers.eu/en/

        I gave you a perfectly good answer about RW aversion to AGW. I would be interested to know which scientific paper it was that you read that converted you from skepticism into a believer

        • acorn
          Posted July 30, 2015 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

          I got an invitation to an investor seminar, organised by one of the ‘Catastrophe Insurance’ corporates. We had a fellow number cruncher who had worked for its risk analysis outfit before retirement. These insurance guys are very serious, there are large profits at risk; they pay for the best science available, under or over the counter.

          I am still not 100% convinced but, as they said at that seminar; you can’t judge climate change by what has happened in the last twenty years. This planet is 4.5 billion years old and will disappear in a cloud of cosmic dust when it is 8 to 10 billion years old, depends when our Sun runs out of fuel.

          PS. Get a copy of the BBC series “Earth Story”. Particularly episode 6: The Big Freeze. It features Maureen Raymo, the lady who knows this CO2 stuff.

    • Chris S
      Posted July 29, 2015 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      Peter, I always admire your fortitude here in trying to justify the indefensible but you are just plain wrong on this particular subject.

      Just as I pointed out to you in another thread here that the only part of the EU’s name that is factually correct is the first word, the External Action Service was largely responsible for the disaster that is Ukraine. It gives me no pleasure to say that the biggest mistake was made by Gordon Brown when he nominated the hopeless Ashton woman to head the service. She was totally out of her depth from day one. When the EU accepted her nomination it was a decision that was to have appalling consequences for the people of Ukraine.

      The whole strategy of the Brussels elite is divide and rule. They know that the nation states will ultimately prevent the full implementation of a United States of Europe so they mean to do away with them. The leaders of the extreme Europhile wing no longer make any effort to conceal their intentions as you can see from reading just the introduction to the Spinelli Group document :
      ( http://www.eureferendum.com/documents/fundamentallaw.pdf )

      It says :

      ” In the face of hostile public opinion, the national governments of its Member States fear to give the EU the powers and resources it needs. National parties and parliaments fail to embrace the European dimension of politics.

      So the European Union needs to assert itself. European challenges can be met
      only in a European way.”

      Their proposed solution is profoundly undemocratic. The only reason the Nation States won’t go along with it is because they know there is absolutely no appetite whatsoever for a USE amongst the vast majority of the electorate in most EU countries.

      A small problem like the wishes of the people has never stopped them before, though, has it ? I recall that even the people of the Netherlands rejected the Constitution by a large majority, only to have it foisted on them anyway as a “Treaty.” Which way did you vote, Peter ?

      In the case of the USE, it’s particularly inconvenient for Brussels because the most vociferous objections come from the taxpaying voters of the nine states that are net contributors to the EU budget, led by Britain. They have a shrewd idea what they would be in for if their politicians were to go along with it !

      There is always going to be unrest and resentment when the taxpayers of just nine countries are required to pay the money for vast expenditure across twenty-eight countries.

      I have always thought that the principle of “He Who Pays The Piper” has a lot to commend it.

      • Peter Van Leeuwen
        Posted July 29, 2015 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

        @Martin G: “who or what gives the EU the right . . .”
        Very simple: the UK & Eire governments, through the treaties they signed and the policies and decisions they take at EU level!
        If such simple questions couldn’t be answered by yourselves in Britain, there must be a lack of education about the EU (beyond the tabloid rhetoric).

      • Peter Van Leeuwen
        Posted July 29, 2015 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

        @Chris S: your recent history of the Ukraine apparently reads quite differently from mine and I’ll stick to my own version (fed by trustworthy media).
        A few idealistic federalists like your own Andrew Duff (a very democratic ex-MEP I believe) should they frighten us? More than the anti-EU MEPS which in contrary to in the H.o.C. have been given a proportional influence in the EP? It is part of a democratic EU that different groups can develop their ideas, and I wouldn’t worry too much if I were you. The EU has to move with public opinion (now with a significantly more hostile minority) and it doing that: it has become markedly more intergovernmental than supranational. It has taken a crisis like the Greek tragedy to show that only intergovernmental (far too many crisis summits within the eurozone) to show that only intergovernmental isn’t exactly ideal.

        • Chris S
          Posted July 30, 2015 at 8:53 am | Permalink

          “It has taken a crisis like the Greek tragedy to show that only intergovernmental (far too many crisis summits within the eurozone) to show that only intergovernmental isn’t exactly ideal.”

          No ! What it shows is the utter desperation of a group of countries to keep their failing Euro project afloat against all logic and whatever the cost to the hapless citizens of Greece.

          When the inevitable Euro crisis first arose, Germany and France ruthlessly and knowingly sacrificed the Greek economy because they judged that the Euro would then have collapsed if Greece were to leave.

          Surely it’s now absolutely clear to everyone that Grexit would then have been the better option for that country.

          They saddled Greece with so much debt that they knew it would have no chance whatsoever of recovery. Now, purely for German domestic political reasons, Merkel has even overruled her own Finance minister and will not do what is necessary : write off Greece’s debts and allow the country to start afresh in or preferably outside the Euro.

          So, the outcome is again to subjugate the Greeks and make their already hopeless situation even worse by adding another €80bn to the already unsustainable debt mountain !

          This time the situation is so bad that even the IMF, conveniently led by another arch-Europhile, has come out and openly said that what is proposed will not work ! Yet the leaders of the Eurozone ignore all reason and are forging ahead anyway.

          The EU is a profoundly undemocratic organisation, run for the benefit of those in Brussels that seek to take over and run the continent.

          They see their ultimate dream of a USE as being in the best interest of the people of Europe and everything they do is directed at achieving that goal. As far as the economy of Europe is concerned that would ultimately mean the economy being run from Berlin.

          Of course, they can only accomplish a USE by stealth because they know that not a single member state would willingly vote for it if her people were asked in a referendum.

          Whatever the outcome of the British referendum, one thing is clear : Britons will never willingly be a part of the failing Euro project or “Ever Closer Union.”

          Sadly there looks to be every chance that Cameron will make a mess of the renegotiation. If he fails to get legally binding opt outs from freedom of movement and further integration he may go on to have more success in conning our electorate into remaining within the organisation.

          Whatever the outcome of the referendum, the evidence of hundreds of years of history indicates that our determination to remain an independent country will remain undimmed.

          All that will then happen is that after a few more years of mismanagement and the ultimate failure of the Euro, it will fall to a future Conservative Prime Minister to take us out of the whole sorry mess.

    • forthurst
      Posted July 29, 2015 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      “If the EU doesn’t favor …the earlier suppression of Russian language the Kiev government tried in Ukraine, that would be for reasons of human right…”

      PvL, are we to infer that, according to the EU, slaughtering thousands of Russia speakers in Odessa and Donbass, is not contrary to their “human rights”?

      • Peter Van Leeuwen
        Posted July 29, 2015 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

        @forthurst: of course it is against their human rights! The right to life is I believe the very first human right. That is exactly the point I’m making. The blog suggests otherwise and coveniently substitutes the Kiev government with the EU!
        The EU doesn’t approve of everything the Kiev government does and suggesting otherwise is misleading.

        • forthurst
          Posted July 30, 2015 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

          “The EU doesn’t approve of everything the Kiev government does and suggesting otherwise is misleading.”

          The EU has responsibility for installing the Kiev government and thereby the ensuing slaughter because we remember those posturing EU (people ed)in the Maidan making their provocative speeches; however, all we ever hear now from the EU is the absurd suggestion that the Russian military has invaded Ukraine and is responsible for the ongoing mayhem and murder taking place in Donbass; the Russians have certainly occupied Crimea which, in contrast, is extremely peaceful because the overwhelming majority of its population were extremely glad for their return to Russia and their being defended by a proper army rather than in the case of Donbass, being attacked by (forces ed)unleashed by the Kiev puppet government but not controlled.

    • Peter Van Leeuwen
      Posted July 29, 2015 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply: Your comment illustrates our completely different perspectives: When I once saw such a board next to a country cycle lane in Ireland, I really liked it that I (through my VAT or other tax) had helped to fund this. Likewise, may I thank you for co-funding a biogas project in Gouda, Mr. Redwood? If only, one day, you could come to see this EU sign as: “funded by all of us together” ! 🙂

      • alan jutson
        Posted July 29, 2015 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

        PVL

        Problem is Peter we do not see many signs like the ones you outline in the UK.

        We seem to be paying for everyone else, but getting little in return.

        The fact that we are constantly reminded of this, with hundreds of signs in Europe when we travel there does not exactly help.
        Many new and wide motorways which have little traffic on them seem to be funded by the EU, meanwhile over here we have motorways full to overflowing which need improvement.

        Perhaps if the EU funded more useful projects here, then perhaps, just perhaps there would not be so much anti EU feeling.

        But:

        Perhaps we are our own worst enemy, perhaps we do not push hard enough for all this dosh that seems to be flowing or slushing around at the moment.

        • Peter Van Leeuwen
          Posted July 29, 2015 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

          @Alan jutson: I seem to remember that a minister in the UK government also tried to do away with such EU signs in the UK and then it follows that you’re bound to see fewer of them.:)

      • Edward2
        Posted July 29, 2015 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps it should say:-
        Funded by taxes paid by people in member State nations, less 50% taken out to cover admin costs of the EU

        • Peter Van Leeuwen
          Posted July 29, 2015 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

          @Edward2: The EU % of administrative costs stands at 6%. If only British authorities could be as efficient.
          The 500 million people EU has as many civil servants as a middle sized British town (35000)

          reply The EU relies on armies of national government officials to implement its policies and enforce its laws

          • Edward2
            Posted July 30, 2015 at 7:12 am | Permalink

            I find your figure of just 6% difficult to accept, but putting that statistical argument to one side for the moment, my actual point is that it is recycled money which could be more efficiently and effectively spent at national or even local level.
            The EU is yet another growing level of government to add to all the other growing levels.
            What next, the EU passing the money to the UN where they take their percentage before passing what is left back to benefit the individuals who earned the money originally?

            Overall my view is that we need and would benefit from less government not more.
            One of the main drivers of all the outbreaks of local independence movements we are seeing all over the EU empire is this centralising of power away from citizens at a local level.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted July 30, 2015 at 5:12 am | Permalink

          Any 60% of the remainder spent on either complete nonsense or things that are actually damaging in their impact.

      • ChrisS
        Posted July 29, 2015 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

        Peter, can you not see the lunacy of the British Government handing over massive sums to Brussels ( £13.5bn this year alone ) and then British institutions having to jump through numerous hoops and committees just to get a small proportion of it back ?

        Is not the British Government a better judge of what British taxpayers money should be spent on ?

        Do you genuinely think that Brussels knows best ?
        If you do you must have been brainwashed.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted July 30, 2015 at 5:14 am | Permalink

          Better still leave it with the people themselves they know better than both the EU and the UK government how to spend/invest it well.

          That is probably how they made the money in the first place before it was taken off them.

      • Graham
        Posted July 29, 2015 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

        Utter provocative nonsense from the EU man

        • ChrisS
          Posted July 30, 2015 at 10:56 am | Permalink

          Yes but it wouldn’t be half as much fun if Peter wasn’t here to put the counter view !

          I miss debating topics with another guy, can’t remember his user name but it began with U.

          Peter must feel pretty lonely here, we could do with a few more Europhiles to joust with.

      • James Matthews
        Posted July 29, 2015 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

        ” Funded by some of us disproportionately to the disproportionate advantage of others” would read rather better for most of these projects.

        In the case of the UK of course it is the EU buying influence in carefully selected areas (eg. Universities) by returning some of the money provided to it by UK taxpayers.

        Pretty much all western governments seek to bribe taxpayers with their own money. This is bad enough when it is your own national government and the source of the money is transparent. Much worse when the selecting agency is supra-national and the sources opaque.

  7. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted July 29, 2015 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    You write accurately about the relationships between the EU, its Member States and its regions. Question (not rhetorical): Why do Member States acquiesce? It doesn’t seem to be in their interest.

    • agricola
      Posted July 29, 2015 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      They acquiesce because in most cases they are dependant states, none contributors to the EU budget. They do it for the next motorway. When they become net contributors you may find they are less acquiescent.

  8. Ian wragg
    Posted July 29, 2015 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    The EU is sowing the seeds of discontent all over the Continent. I’m not sure if this is to create another beneficial crisis as an excuse for the EU defence force. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the Brussels ruling elite are going to be very aggressive protecting their lifestyle. Like the Romans and USSR. Insurrection will come from the colonies and they will need troops to contain it. Greece was merely a starter for 10

    • Graham
      Posted July 29, 2015 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      Dare I say that perhaps it is in the nature of some European countries to always be aggressive to their neighbours at regular intervals.

  9. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted July 29, 2015 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Telegraph states that Osborne said Britain should return to a trade relationship with the EU. I doubt it has any credence and certainly seems inconsistent with membership of EU. Is he negotiating Brexit?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 30, 2015 at 5:16 am | Permalink

      Who know what they are negotiating, they absurdly will not even tell us. It looks like nothing at all of any consequence to me.

  10. mick
    Posted July 29, 2015 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Regional identity, soon to be not British, why aren`t yourself and other MP`s shouting from the roof tops for the Army to be used at all ferry and tunnel terminals to stop this invasion of foreigners, what are waiting for another 7/7 or 9/11 just get it sorted your employed to protect this country not give it away before the people take to the streets and demand something is done NOW

    • Anonymous
      Posted July 29, 2015 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      Mick – we now have a majority Tory government to deal effectively with this issue.

      Have no fear.

      • ChrisS
        Posted July 30, 2015 at 11:03 am | Permalink

        Yes, a majority Conservative Government led by the guy who repeatedly promised he would “reduce net migration to the tens of thousands.”

        He won’t even take action to reduce the 50% that comes from outside the EU to the fives of thousands. That he could so easily have dealt with as it’s nothing to do with Freedom of Movement. Instead he’s actually allowed net migration to rise to 300,000pa !

        Perhaps our kind host will let us into the secret of why nothing is being done about what the British public consistently say is their biggest concern ???

  11. a-tracy
    Posted July 29, 2015 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Why isn’t the EU there for the important matters like the problems of free movement in Calais? Is there an EU border/defence force? What sanctions should the EU be taking with France for not policing Calais properly? Why aren’t people being checked in France and if they are economic migrants provided with a coach ride home, cheaper than the on-going problems. Do we get the £7 million back from the EU for our extra defence costs? What is the point of the EU if it makes it easier for potential criminals to enter the UK without any checks.

    We have to walk through hour long queues in airports and the Eurotunnel, perhaps the water cannons Boris has been told he can’t use in London could be deployed to the tunnel entrance if they are used in France. We are getting so soft as a nation and we are losing out in the restrictions of hard working taxpayers movements to the EU and trade which probably suits France as they are one of the most nationalistic protectionist Countries in Europe and just seem to get away with it. Surely there are sanctions we can take, stopping their imports of food etc if they stop our exports. This is causing discontent being reported on our news every night and the UK seeming powerless it’s ridiculous.

    • Graham
      Posted July 29, 2015 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      Well said and so true – weak politicians will give everything away

  12. DaveM
    Posted July 29, 2015 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    You rightly mention regions such as Catalonia, Bavaria, and Venice, which until relatively recently (in most cases) were in fact independent states and the inhabitants often cite their regional identity above and before nationality. However, the ancient kingdoms of England were never truly independent – apart from Northumbria – and Scotland has pretty much always been a separate country since Roman times. Likewise Wales. The English don’t identify with regions, apart from a vague notion of North, South, and midlands, and the SW to an extent. We identify with counties and cities. I know you mention this regularly in Parliament and in interviews, but when will Cameron and Osborne get it?

    Interesting also that, when you and others on this site, and in the wider UK as a whole talk about England, Scotland or the UK, you use the first person plural, and yet the EU is always referred to in the third person.

  13. Atlas
    Posted July 29, 2015 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    “All roads lead to Rome” can now be re-expressed:
    ” All problems lead to the super-state”.

    Remember, oh, you EU-fanatics in Brussels that even the Roman Empire fell apart. And we do not want a new Fourth Reich do we?

  14. Ralph Musgrave
    Posted July 29, 2015 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Keynes favored preserving European regional identities. He said “We should encourage small political and cultural units. It would be a fine thing to have thirty or forty capital cities in Europe, each the center of a self-governing country entirely free from national minorities (who would be dealt with my migrations where necessary).”

    Don’t you just love it? Not even the BNP went that far. The high priests of political correctness who write for the Guardian will put on a fine display of contrived righteous indignation in reaction to that.

    My source for the above is as follows is the book, “Where Keynes Went Wrong” by Hunter Lewis, p.316. And he got it from “John Maynard Keynes” by Robert Skidelsky (vol3) p.218.

  15. agricola
    Posted July 29, 2015 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    I do not quite know how, but we in the UK have evolved a situation of local identity, ie. “Gods own country, Yorkshire.” which only extends to sport and regional banter in the pub. When the UK is threatened from outside we become a united entity. Even to include many from Southern Ireland in WW1 and WW2.

    I see no regionalism when the North West decides that it makes sense for it’s component parts to cooperate in the form of an integrated transport system. However the darker forces of separation have been at work in the UK, whether EU inspired, linguistically inspired, religion inspired, or a combination of any two. None of these should be allowed to achieve their ends.

    Yes the EU has ambitions beyond it’s competence, driven by a misguided political imperative for a United States of Europe which cannot work until the people of Europe want it. There is no sign that outside Brussels they do want it. Brussels perceives that the only way out of the Euro disaster is to create a USE over the heads of the people.

    Any pretensions to a foreign policy are therefore weakened by a lack of cohesion in the component nations. Until the EU accepts that it is not a political entity, but at best an emerging trading bloc, it will blunder about the World like a dangerous drunk. Dangerous to both those without and those within.

  16. LondonBob
    Posted July 29, 2015 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    The EU has a history of supporting regionalism, but only where it suits them. That is the constant.

    There is a very interesting paper by JZ Muller called ‘Us and them. The Enduring Power of Ethnic Nationalism’ published by the CFR which is well worth a read. It is available for free on the foreign affairs website.

  17. Iain Gill
    Posted July 29, 2015 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Yes and the chancellors version of regions is going to generate lots of ill will. Salford is sick and tired of power sitting in Manchester, Sunderland is weary of Newcastle always being handed the political power, and so on.

    Regional identity is very powerful, but the stereotypical version in Southern public school boys heads is just as bad as what Europe comes up with.

  18. Agent Provocateur
    Posted July 29, 2015 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Actually – London will soon want to be independent. It’s majority non-native and we’re fed up with the poisonous racist ideologies of the Tory Party and UKIP/EDL/BNP and their anti-ethnic minority policies such as the removal of tax relief for buy-to-let properties (ethnic minorities dominate this sector). Soon we’ll be tired of paying taxes to subsidise the native working class who cannot be made to work and will demand City state status just like Singapore or at least greater financial autonomy just like Hong Kong. And there will be no welfare state in our new London, nor any red tape.

    We will soon be launching a London Independence Party!

  19. Iain Gill
    Posted July 29, 2015 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    It’s comforting to know the illegals making it across the channel at Calais/Dover are being released by Kent police because we simply don’t have the space to hold the numbers getting across. Presumably they are not even being counted as we wouldn’t want the failure to hit the immigration targets even more obvious than it already is for those of us in the real world. Our exports have slowed down so much that there is even a guy holding a disco in the operation stack queue. And the government is supposed to have a clue? Give me strength. How is Kent’s regional identity doing with this shambles going on?

  20. Bert Young
    Posted July 29, 2015 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    The EU has been incompetent in most matters it has dealt with ; whenever it has tried to impose an overall condition across all member nations it has resulted in stirring up dissent . It is time that Brussels recognises that it has overstretched itself and should give up ; no amount of bureaucracy can create unity when the differences in history and cultures are so far apart .

  21. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted July 29, 2015 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    I believe there would be far more support for a London independent of the rest of the UK from outside London than from within.

    I’ve never heard anyone from outside London call or even believe their own land or county or region to be horrible. But horrible is a term I have heard many times from the lips of born and bred Londoners to describe their general situation and environment. As for migrants living in London they only seem to praise life there by comparison with their original homelands such as Chad.
    Of course by “Londoner” and “Migrant Londoner” I am not referring to “This Week” celebrity guests and those of other TV shows who appear to live in a London straight from a tourist magazine.

  22. agricola
    Posted July 29, 2015 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    If the Telegraph is to be believed, George Osborne wishes our relationship with the EU to be one of free trade in a single market. So what is wrong with that, we trade, cooperate and revert to the sovereignty of the UK outside the political EU. Our own territorial waters, agricultural policy, laws, immigration policy, and defence policy with no erosion to the EU. We can then trade where we wish and rebuild our relationship with the Commonwealth.

    All he needs to do now is persuade his friend at number 10 with the wisdom of such a course and to stop messing about fruitlessly trying to change the EU into something it at present has no wish to change to. Party Conference would I am sure welcome such a change as would most of the UK. A foundation for future conservative electoral success while Labour flounder around trying to find an identity.

  23. Richard
    Posted July 29, 2015 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    “Outside the EU the politics of identity can become violent and extreme”.

    This will happen too in England if the EU and the Conservative Party leadership continue with high immigration levels and the division of England into autonomous regions.

  24. agricola
    Posted July 29, 2015 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    There are times when I think we get a little too intense with our political comment. It being the holiday season I offer this to lighten things up.

    The Royal College of Nursing has weighed in on David Cameron’s health care proposals for the NHS.

    The Allergists voted to scratch them.

    Dermatologists advised not to make any rash moves.

    The Gastroenterologists had a sort of gut feeling about them.

    The Neurologists thought the administration had a lot of nerve.

    The Obstetricians felt they were all labouring under a misconception.

    The Ophthalmologists considered the idea short sighted.

    Pathologists yelled “Over my dead body”

    Paediatricians said “Oh grow up”

    The Psychiatrists thought the whole idea was madness.

    The Radiologists said they could see right through it.

    The Surgeons said they were fed up with the cuts and decided to wash their hands of the whole thing.

    The ENT specialists didn’t swallow it, and would not hear of it.

    The Pharmacists thought it was a bitter pill to swallow.

    Plastic Surgeons said “This puts a whole new face on the matter.”

    The Podiatrists thought it was a step forward.

    The Urologists were pissed off at the whole idea.

    The Anaesthetists thought it a gas.

    The Cardiologists didn’t have the heart to say no.

    The Orthopaedic surgeons said he didn’t have a leg to stand on.

    In the end the Proctologists won out, leaving the entire decision to the arseholes in Whitehall.

    Happy recess.

    • alan jutson
      Posted July 29, 2015 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      agricola

      Meanwhile those with Dementia forgot what all the fuss was about, they like many politicians still think the NHS is the greatest healthcare service in the World

      • agricola
        Posted July 29, 2015 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

        Meanwhile if you go private it could cost you an arm and a leg.

  25. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted July 29, 2015 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Soon with quick changing EU demographics, Calais could vote to become part of the UK. Well we pay for its policing as bâton and its meaning is a peculiarly English word.

  26. Sean
    Posted July 29, 2015 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    I don’t give a fig about the EU hell hole of a money pit. England and all of Britain is what my family have given their blood for our freedom needs to be protected and we should fight to keep it.. Our families didn’t die for Britain to be broken up and our country given away.
    Peace for peace sake. I will never consider myself part of continental Europe.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted July 29, 2015 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

      I feel the same as Sean. What did our ancestors fight for? Our democracy is being given away by successive governments. Our grandchildren will not know what it feels like to be British or English in the future. What a sorry mess. Only politicians are capable of destroying everything good in a country.

  27. bluedog
    Posted July 29, 2015 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    ‘In Germany there is less force for self government thanks to the relative success of federal economic policy despite the lander system of devolved government, but even there it is rich Bavaria which seems the most semi detached.’ No.

    The origins of Bavarian semi-detachment are ancient, not modern, and may derive from sectarian rather than economic differences. Take the modern German state as an evolution of the Prussian state that itself evolved from the Electorate of Brandenburg over a period 300 years. The Prussian state was aggressively Lutheran, so much so that the Prussian creator of Germany, Otto von Bismarck, was running state-sponsored formal anti-Catholic campaigns as late as the 1880s.

    You may find that as Bavaria is overwhelmingly Catholic there is residual resentment towards the Lutherans in Berlin. Certainly during WW1 the Bavarians were almost a separate army to the Imperial German Army.

  28. Hefner
    Posted July 29, 2015 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    Why is the UK border set in Calais? It is not the case for other UK ports of entry, whether airports or maritime entries?
    Maybe the UK border agency would do a much better job, not relying on the French authorities on French soil, if it was dealing with the problem on its home turf?

    • bluedog
      Posted July 29, 2015 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

      I did hear/read a report that the UK and France are about to jointly round-up the illegal migrants around Calais and dump them back in Africa. If so, bravo. It’s about time European nations started to evict these unwelcome guests before the human rights lawyers get hold of them and start gaming the system. Taxpayer financed, of course.

  29. matthu
    Posted July 29, 2015 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    I highly recommend 5 minutes spent listening to Daniel Hannan here:

    http://www.conservativehome.com/video/2015/07/watch-ici-londres-leaving-the-eu-does-not-mean-leaving-the-single-market-says-daniel-hannan-mep.html

    Leaving the EU does not mean leaving the single market says Daniel Hannan MEP.

    Pity there seems to be no central fund collecting for the NO campaign to broadcast these sorts of things more widely?

  30. Javelin
    Posted July 30, 2015 at 5:06 am | Permalink

    Two points.

    First you’re spot on identifying the EU as trouble makers. Taking huge risks with the peace in order to progress integration.

    Second – as I have posted before – the democratic structures of the EU make them liable to a take over by left or right wing forces who could effectively pull up the draw bridge and create a dictatorship.

  31. REPay
    Posted July 30, 2015 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Ancient kingdoms and proto-nation states linger on – Catalonia (Aragon); Bavaria, a kingdom since the early middle ages and with a King with the First Reich; Venice a successful City state until Napoleon trashed it; Piedmont/Savoy once part of the Kingdom of Sardinia where Northern League mindset approximates to the mindset of the Milanese and other northern Italians on acquisition of the south of italy, viewing it as both corrupt and backward. (Even Corsica still has separatists despite France being nearly as centralized as the UK until devolution.)

    All imperial projects suffer resistance from either nation states, peoples with a common identity/regional interests because they lack the degree of support with a single “demos” – the prime condition for democracy. The EU might have managed to be successful as a single market – though national interests still prevent say a single market in legal services and many business services.

    As it pushes its purpose less by stealth and more openly, it will encounter ever greater resistance.

    As JR suggests there has been a softening by the EU in pushing the Europe of the Regions. I am not sure why. Is it because:
    – the forces unleashed could make Europe more divided?
    – the big countries have cracked the whip?
    – a change of individuals at the Commission?
    – the EU has realized that pretending to be a major power has consequences – e.g. Ukraine where the EU foolishly contributed to the precipitation of bloodshed?
    – the emergence of resistance in the shape of nationalist parties?
    – the fact that the euro’s problems means that there is now a tool to advance more quickly to a United States of Europe for the member countries and the support of regions seeking funds and a stage to perform on is less important?

    What best explains this change?

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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