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Wednesday 17 August 2011

Don’t Mention The War

No-one observing the departure of the tiresome and overbearing Simon Heffer from the Maily Telegraph would have believed that this was the last they would hear of him: this is the kind of tedious hack that will find a conduit for his outpourings somewhere in the Fourth Estate. And today the Hefferlump has found that conduit, among the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre.

His first foray from Dacreland has been to shamelessly dig up World War 2, as he tries to frighten his readers with the spectre of what he calls, with minimum subtlety, the Fourth Reich. Heffer does not reach his choice of words by accident: use of terms like “under the jackboot of the Third Reich” shows exactly the kind of comparison he is trying to make. He’s tactful like Basil Fawlty.

So when he says of fiscal union “it is one economic policy, one taxation system, one social security system, one debt, one economy, one finance minister” – and that all these would be German – the similarity to the Nazis’ “Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer” is not coincidental. This article has one purpose, and that is to frighten Daily Mail readers into equating the EU with Hitler’s Germany.

Does the Hefferlump have anything to back this up? Well, his talk of fiscal union suggests he does, until you look at the people at the top of various EU related organisations and compare that with his assertion that any closer economic ties within the Eurozone would be run by Germany, or at least by Germans.

There’s the European Central Bank (ECB) for starters. Although it is located in Frankfurt am Main, the ECB’s first head man was Wim Duisenberg, from the Netherlands, and the current head is France’s Jean-Claude Trichet. And the lack of those supposedly all-conquering Germans extends to the rest of the EU.

Head of the European Commission (EC) José Manuel Barroso hails from Portugal. The European Council is headed by Belgium’s Herman van Rompuy. Leader of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek and head of the EU Council Donald Tusk are from Poland. And the EU’s “high representative” for foreign affairs, Catherine Ashton, is British.

Moreover, the political centre of the EU is in Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg, none of which are in Germany. In fact, considering its relative size within the EU, Germany is if anything seriously under-represented, and that does not look likely to change any time soon. Simon Heffer’s scare story is just that: he makes even less sense than Basil Fawlty.

Still, it pays the bills, so that’s all right, then.

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