Defending the indefensible is an impossible task but that is what BSE have set themselves out to do. BSE stands for Britain Stronger in Europe as opposed to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy – Mad Cow Disease – a malady which one of Europe’s leaders appears to be currently suffering from). Judging by the lacklustre state of their campaign which could be summed up by, ‘Pay for a FaceBook advert and hope for a lot of likes’, these fellows clearly need a lot of help so let’s consider some of the things we benefit from in the Region Formerly Known as Great Britain and ask ourselves whether we perhaps should offer our thanks to the European Union for these gifts and the most obvious of these is…..
BRINGING NOSTALGIA TO LIFE: Let’s face it, who hasn’t watched one of the BBC’s period dramas and, maybe just a little bit, yearned for a return to those apparently simpler times. The gentry arriving by carriage at grand London Balls. The lamp-man on his rounds lighting the primitive street lamps of Victorian cities. The cheerful Cockney chimneysweep, Thanks to the benefice of the EU some of those Victorian facets are already beginning to make a comeback and let’s consider just five of them:
TUBERCULOSIS. Also known as Consumption or the White Plague. Just thirty years after scientists had thought that they were close to wiping out this disease, cases of TB in Britain have hit their highest level for 15 years. Last year, there were over six thousand cases reported – 56 per cent in people not born here – compared to two thousand in 1984, says a report by the British Lung Foundation. London has more victims than any other European city. Just one of the many benefits of the much-vaunted ‘Freedom of Movement’ and hey, who needs good health anyway? After all, it’s not like our National Health Service is at all over-stretched.
THE WORKHOUSE. OK, so we call them Food Banks nowadays but yes one of the most iconic images of the Victorian era is back. Whilst it’s true that the truly poor don’t have to work to receive free food from these august institutions, I would just add the word ‘yet’ to that sentence…
BEGGING. No Victorian street-scene was complete without the ubiquitous urchin begging on the corner. Henry Mayhew’s Those That Will Not Work (1862) detailed the main types prevalent in those heady days: Begging Letter-Writers. Decayed Gentleman. The Broken-Down Tradesman. Ashamed Beggars. The Swell Beggar. Clean Family Beggar. In a large part, thanks to the EU, once again, our streets have their correct complement of beggars, cut-purses, muggers and blaggers . Technology brings its benefits here and adds a further category to Henry Mayhew’s list – The ATM Steamer where, using techniques perfected on the mean streets of Paris, groups of teenage beggars crowd the innocent ATM withdrawer, tearing the notes out of his/her hand before rushing off down the street. Vive La Difference!
SLUMS. How boring towns and cities have become since the famous slum clearances of the fifties and sixties… Why, you’d have to fly all the way to places like Soweto for the authentic slum experience – now, thanks to the EU they’re right on your doorstep and getting closer every day. With a bit of luck, you may even get the opportunity to follow the German model and be forced to give up your house to a ‘desperate refugee’ then go and live in one yourself!
LACK OF SCHOOLING. In the mid 19th Century, education was mainly for the privileged until Sunday Schools and the Ragged Schools movement changed all that. By the mid-twentieth century, irritatingly, everyone had to go to school from the ages of 4/5 until 16 as a minimum, 18 if desired and even leading into free tertiary (university) in education’s hey day. Now, thanks once again to the ‘Freedom of Movement’, our schools can no longer cope with the numbers and where they can, classes mobbed with non-English speakers can make no progress anyway. Soon, we’ll be able to abandon the pretense of ‘teaching’ any but the children of the privileged and send the little rascals back up the chimneys to join the ‘cheerful Cockney Chimneysweep’ or into the factories where they really belong.
The EU. Painstakingly undoing nearly two hundred years of social progress.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!