I have just read Daniel Hannan's latest article in The Telegraph and as usual he makes very good sense. He describes the subtle but very real changes in the European parliament which is meeting for the first time since the elections - well worth reading. However, in a personal aside, he relates a recent meeting with an old Finnish patriot who had fought against Stalin. I will quote that part of his essay in full:
I spent part of the recent campaign criss-crossing Europe in support of free-market, Eurosceptic candidates. On one occasion, after a long day of canvassing in the industrial Finnish town of Lahti, we were invited to dinner by a local supporter, a ninety-year-old veteran of the war against Stalin.
He was enormously Anglophile, and brimmed with pleasure at being able to host us. We ate fish from the local lake that he had caught and smoked himself, and elk that he had bartered with a neighbour for more smoked fish. Afterwards he showed me the letter that President Mannerheim had written to his parents when his elder brother, then aged 21, had been killed fighting the Red Army. The Lutheran clergyman who brought the news, he told me, also brought his own call-up papers.
I replied that we politicians were too quick to use military metaphors, to talk about “fighting” for freedom or for justice or for independence. It was humbling, I said, to be the guest of a man who had literally fought for his country’s independence, so allowing later generations the luxury of doing battle with order papers and resolutions instead of howitzers and landmines. He grinned from ear to ear and, as we looked at each other, we felt that complete understanding that, in a common cause, erases language and geography. As I never tire of pointing out, patriots from different countries often find it much easier to get along than Euro-goodie-goodies.
It can’t work, this Euro-racket, not forever. It runs up against the reality of human nature, human loyalties. A huge bureaucratic edifice has been built on the flimsiest of foundations. It needs only one hard blow and the whole tower will shiver and crumble, releasing Europe’s nations again. Perhaps that blow will be struck by Britain. It wouldn’t be the first time.
I'll drink to that!