At the moment I am reading a history of the 1970s and enjoying it a lot more than I expected to.Â Â Last night I was at the section covering Britain’s entry to the Common Market and there was an interesting poll about attitudes at the time.The Daily Mirror, a pro-European membership publication at the time, asked its readers some questions aboutÂ whether they would welcome certain aspects of culture and got these results:
|Regular wine with meals||23%||21%|
|More pavement cafes||11%||34%|
|More shops open on Sunday||5%||40%|
|Coffee and roll for breakfast,
not bacon and eggs
|Pubs open all day||18%||44%|
So it is true and the past is, indeed, another country.Â Â How strange that all these things that were actively popular with so few people are now not only commonplace but are so accepted there would be considerable resistance to changing them back.
40% of the readers were actively against shops being open on Sunday, for example.Â How different to today’s rampant consumerism.Â Ironically, our shops are now open more than in France where Sunday opening is largely reserved for designated tourist areas.Â Was there really such hostility to having pubs open all day instead of closing right after lunch?
Can it be that, in Borg-like fashion, we have already been assimilated into European culture without realising it?
Of more immediate interest was this passage:
In 1930, the year Heath had his first continental epiphany amid the gateaux and Citroen showrooms of Paris, Winston Churchill wrote a pioneering article for an American magazine, calling for a United States of Europe.
By the Second World War, having moved from the margins to the centre of British politics, Churchill was able to set out his European vision more publicly and and more concretely.Â In a 1943 broadcast, he put before Britons the prospect of an ‘integrated life of Europe that is possible… without destroying the individual characteristics and traditions of its many ancient and historic races‘.
Three years later he made a high-profile speech in Zurich, addressed to the public and politicians right across the battered post-war continent.Â He urged the creation of a united Europe based, just as the future EEC would be, around a partnership between France and Germany.Â He concluded: ‘We must begin now‘.
Would this be the same Winston Churchill that UKIP have plastered all over their website and leaflets to symbolise Britain’s separateness from Europe?Â Â Perhaps, like the BNP with their Polish Spitfire, they should do more research into what they choose as the symbols of their campaign.