European anthem

It’s fairly well known that Beethoven’s Ode to Joy (the 4th movement of the 9th symphony) is the European anthem, but less well known that the European version has no words, to avoid the need to translate it two dozen times.

Billy Bragg has recently retranslated the passages from the symphony, taken from Schiller’s Ode to Joy, for a performance at the Festival Hall, and I think he’s done a great job. Given that English is one of the working languages of the Union, I think the relevant verses are a good candidate for an English set of words:

See now like a phoenix rising
From the rubble of the war
Hope of ages manifested
Peace and freedom evermore!
Brothers, sisters stand together
Raise your voices now as one –
Though by history divided
Reconciled in unison

Throw off now the chains of ancient
Bitterness and enmity
Hand in hand let’s walk together
On the path of liberty
Hark a new dawn now is breaking
Lift your voices now in song!
Though by history divided
Reconciled in unison

English Parliament

The slightly odd proposal not to have an English Parliament, but to have a sort of English pseudo-Parliament made up of existing MPs, is “debated” on the BBC’s Jerk Your Knee messageĀ board, where a lot of angry loners passionately agree that they want English independence (even if they can’t spell it).

I think I’ve said this here before: there’s a perfectly rational case for an English Parliament as part of a wider constitutional settlement – reserve Westminster for UK-wide federal issues, and have an English Parliament in Birmingham or somewhere that, on the Scottish model, dealing with the elements of domestic policy that seem to be done best at that level. Of course, the sort of people who are proposing an English Parliament (or worse, a first-past-the-post English pseudo-Parliament) are not doing it for any rational reasons – they are doing it because they hate Blair/Brown/the Scots/the EU/black people and think that in some way having a more right-wing Parliament (which they assume it will be) will deliver for them.

Actually, I should exempt Sir Malcolm Rifkind and his task force from this – they seem to be in this argument purely for party advantage rather than anything more nasty.

National sovereignty

On the regular occasions when I get annoyed by the paranoid rantings of Eurosceptics, I like to read articles on what American politicians think about international law (for instance). Summary: they’re against it, because it might stop them doing whatever the hell they want, and damn what anyone else thinks. Give it a few years with the rise of China, and I expect they’ll be as keen on it as the Europeans are.

The Crown, Horsham

Two disappointing pub experiences in Horsham this afternoon. The Black Jug – an occasional venue for me after meetings in the office complex nearby – turns out to be one of those sour-faced pubs that doesn’t let in children under 10, even into the beer garden. They also make some snotty remark about “well-behaved” children, which makes me want to have a tantrum in their saloon bar.

So we headed on to the Crown, a nicely done up pub on Carfax, where we got super-friendly service and very average food.

Different views

Another illustration of the American media attitude. Telegraph headline on the Polish elections: “Texts fire up young Polish voters”. Guardian story: “Polish twins fear the youth verdict.

Washington post headline on their story? “Poland Vote Touches on U.S. Defense Plan”. Because hey, who cares about anything else?

However, while that makes the British press look good, its overall purpose as a propaganda tool is illustrated by the Telegraph’s website, which places the link: “Q&A on the EU Treaty” directly above the link “Write to your MP to demand a referendum”. That’s going to be a balanced assessment, then.

Funny how the press didn’t recommend a referendum on, say, the minimum wage, isn’t it? And the lesson is: if you’re a journalist, referendums are only to be proposed where (a) you disagree with the Government and (b) you think you can scare people into agreeing with you.

Cry Gord for Harry, England and Saint George!

It seems that our gutsy Prime Minister has defended our island race from the tireless assaults of those wicked Europeans. Why do they hate us so much? It seems like every time there’s an EU summit, they’re trying to take over this scepter’d isle with their hateful rights and nefarious health and safety laws.

Or to put it another way, when are we going to get the Government to make an honest case for Europe?