Monday, January 15, 2007

French Leave

Listening to 'Good Morning Scotland' as I headed onto the Forth Bridge this morning, I had cause to crack up into my take-out coffee. I concede that's not an unusual occurrence when Douglas Alexander, or as FM Jack McConnell is alleged to refer to him, 'Le petit merde', is being interviewed. This time, though, it happened a good 20 minutes after his interview had finished.

What caused these splutterings of incredulity and nearly led to another dry cleaning bill for my suit? Well, as usual, wee Dougie had been banging on about 'the modern case for union' and how independence supposedly runs against the spirit of the age. This time, though, he went so far as to say that the multi-national UK served as an example for the rest of the world to follow, or somesuch other hubristic claptrap.

Total nonsense, of course, as the shortage of countries queing up to form similar unions with their neighbours shows. But then came the bombshell that nearly led to me losing my coffee, in the form of a trailer item for a new series of 'Document' on BBC Radio 4.

It seems that documents from the National Archives show that back in 1956 on a visit to London, the then French Prime Minister Guy Mollet raised with the Prime Minister of the day, Anthony Eden, the possibility of a political union between the United Kingdom and France. If approved, this would have led to common citizenship, and Queen Elizabeth becoming the nominal Head of State in France.

The idea, naturally, was dismissed out of hand in London, and France went on to become a founder member of the much looser union arrangement of the EEC. However, the thought occurs that if wee Dougie means what he says about the British union serving as an example to others, he should maybe tug on Gordon Brown's sleeve and try to get him to dust down Monsieur Mollet's proposals for union with France. After all, as Brown and Alexander never tire of saying, 'stronger together, weaker apart'...

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