Obediently serving up more of that diet of anti-EU propaganda that is de rigueur at the Telegraph, Ed “Case” West has decided to have a go at the business of languages. This is because he has decided that, because the then EEC was conceived by rotten foreigners not speaking English, it means that the UK can never really be a part of it. Or something like that.
“The EU was dreamed up in French and German. That's why the British have never fitted in” reads the headline, and it is here, as I’ll explain, that West sells the pass, and not even in style. He is clearly angry that, when a native Flemish speaker turns up at Westminster, Corporal Clegg is able to engage that person in his own language. For deploying this ability, West demands Clegg be sacked.
So the usual level of tolerance in the Tel to those not speaking English, then. And West is equally intolerant of the Deputy PM’s background: “Clegg is half-Dutch, a quarter Russian and married to a Spaniard”. Oh, high tirrible! And he speaks five languages, which was OK for Enoch Powell, but not for a Lib Dem who has committed the unforgiveable sin of working in Brussels for five years.
This must mean that speaking lots of languages is bad for modern politicians, but West then goes after Tone and Pa Broon for supposedly not getting more students to take them, so speaking lots of languages then becomes A Good Thing. Confused? He certainly is. And it gets worse, as West cites Powell making speeches against the EEC in French, German and Italian as a major event.
Except, of course, that the people voting days after those speeches were not the French, Germans and Italians, but the British, so Powell was wasting his breath, although probably not the arrogant majesty of his ego. Meanwhile, West berates the EU for spending money on translators, which must mean knowing lots of languages is finally A Good Thing once again.
And within this musing comes his undoing: “the obvious solution is to make one language official” he says apropos of the EU. But, Ed, one language is already the first one of the EU, and that, as I keep having to point out, is English. West actually cites one important reason for that: 41% of the EU’s population speaks English. That is partly down to it being the official first language of the EU.
West, meanwhile, ends his incoherent ramble by suggesting that Jeremy Hunt, the former Culture Secretary, is the future because he is apparently having lessons in Mandarin. Yes Ed, and so are tens of thousands across the EU. Plus he manages not to tell his readers that his other hero Dan, Dan the Oratory Man has a linguistic reach that does not reach beyond the tongues of Old Europe.
Still, it keeps the readers snarling at the pet bogeyman, so that’s all right, then.