The Six O’Clock News: a Quick Lesson Borrowed from an Actual Lesson

As I hauled myself out of bed this morning the newsreader bloke mentioned that some higher-up in the EU had spoken out against the British government for spreading “myths” about immigration. I thought a few swearwords that are usually too foul for that time of day except I was late and did not need to hear about it before I had found my slippers (remind me to write a post about slippers). I thought “I better do something on Indifferent Ignorance on the EU because no one knows what in the [swearword] is [swearwording] up with it hey I forgot to draft the Six O’Clock News EU time!” and went to find some Oatabix.

Or something.

Fast forward to fourth period and my Politics lesson was about the history of the EU! So since it’s fresh in my memory and I need to be academic for the betterment of my brain and career prospects, here is a lesson on the EU with some vague relevance to today’s news.

Fun Facts With Frank

  • This thing’s been around almost as long as the papers that ridicule it. First known as the European Coal and Steel Community, it was established in 1951 as a method of rebuilding Europe, which looked something like this when the war ended. It was generally agreed that a good way to prevent another war would be to get bickering neighbours to share wheelie bins, by which I mean that West Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy and the Netherlands all signed over a bit of power (supranationalism, snowflakes) to the ECSC. With no political involvement, it was just a free market for coal and steel, so that war would be, to quote French foreign minister Mr Schumann, “materially impossible”. Basically if countries rely on one another for resources (interdependence), they are less likely to invade one another. Cool huh.
  • Like a decent band, the ECSC evolved over the next few years. NB: Britain hadn’t wanted to join because racism xenophobia miners didn’t want to relinquish control of their mines. In 1957 the organisation’s remit expanded, creating the European Economic Community and the Atomic Energy Community. Ten years later they did (made? Signed?) the Merger Treaty and called the whole lot the European Commission. Still with only six member states, there was growing reticence – word of the day, means ‘wary’ – about states giving up their power. Sound familiar? Good.
  • In 1973 Denmark, Ireland and the UK joined. Having not consulted the public about joining, a referendum was held in 1975 to see if people wanted the UK to remain in the EC. Sound familiar? Good.
  • 1979 saw the first elections for members of European Parliament, which had not previously occurred because who needs democracy an every governmental level. Interestingly, Spain and Portugal weren’t allowed in until the eighties because until then they had dictatorships…
  • Allowing more free and standardised trade, the Single European Act was passed in 1986, expanding the process of the easy peasy wheelie bin sharing with the neighbours. Germany unified in 1990 and in 1992 the Maastricht Treaty was signed, which further expanded the remit and lead to that shining example of excellent currency, the euro.  It also made the whole organisation more political and renamed it the European Union.
  • As of 2014 the EU is home to 500 million people (that’s more than in the entire USA, folks), 28 states and 24 official languages.

Here is a mildly inappropriate loop video of politicians dancing to help you digest that information.

Now, you will all hopefully be aware that lots and lots of people like to say “what in the name of Mr Johnson’s dancing does the EU do for us absolutely nothing those immigrants just want to take our jobs and cash and housing and they don’t even integrate let’s send them back where they came from who cares if they came here smuggled under a coach we don’t want them taking up our school places and giving the kiddies Eastern European ideas blah blah etc. etc.”

But ladies and gentlemen, Vivian Reding is totally right about political rhetoric! I’m not sure how right in terms of legal stuff because I’ve only done one lesson, but if you can’t see past the political hand-waving or tabloid crap pertaining to immigration then a) you need to learn how and b) you probably shouldn’t have read this far because I probably can’t change your mind. But have a wee look back at that list. The EU was formed in order to help Europeans prosper. Or at least not kill each other. The recent influx of Eastern European nations is due to the fact that for the majority of EU history they were part of the USSR, which wasn’t really pro-Western trade. In terms of GDP, EU is the richest area of the world, so the prosperity idea seems be if not succeeding then not failing. Plus the migration thing works both ways. Imagine you were to go on holiday to, say, Greece. You meet a nice guy and decide to stay and open a bar there. You could. Unless you were a convicted serial killer or something anyway. Remember those E111 cards you’d get on school trips to the trenches? They give you access to free or almost free healthcare in the EU, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway. So if you get sick from a dodgy cocktail in Marbella, you don’t have to pay through your vomit-filled nose to get your stomach pumped.

Fun.

Okay, that’s enough politics stuff for one day. Just do me a favour: when you are next watching the news and some white dude in a suit says something about the EU, think about this: three Members of the European Parliament are Nigel Farage the UKIP guy, Geoffrey Bloom the other UKIP guy who called women sluts and got thoroughly ridiculed by Victoria Coren on Have I Got News for You and Nick Griffin the  bankrupt BNP guy who is possibly even more racist than the UKIP guys. They have been elected because the majority of voters (and there aren’t too many to start with) hear the rhetoric or read the papers, believe the words and vote in someone who will cause a ruckus in Brussels. Which doesn’t accomplish anything except embarrassment.

Happy first week back! If I never blog again it’s because Sherlock broke me.

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The Ten O’Clock News: Enduring Legacies and Other Less Pretentious Ideas

I realised over the course of this evening that today is fifty years since JFK’s assassination, fifty years since the first Doctor Who episode and three years since Danger Days was released.

I was first going to do a post about JFK and how he’s become an icon, then about JFK and Doctor Who and how they’ve both become – very different – icons, and then I remembered Danger Days and how that’s already legendary, but probably is so because I was there when it happened.

I mean, the Kennedys are like America’s royal family, and everyone knows the old “what happened in Dallas on 22nd November 1963? Don’t know, wasn’t watching it then” joke/quiz show answer. People know where they were when it happened and everyone has a theory about Lee Harvey Oswald, etc. etc. Stephen King’s written a book about stopping it, G Way wrote a comic about ensuring it – President Kennedy seems to have become an idea more than a person in many ways.

Doctor Who has kind of defined science fiction, British television and eccentric dress sense over the past five decades, and since the Internet has attracted as many, ah, enthusiasts as JFK. Everyone has an opinion on the writing, the acting, the regenerations, the best Doctor (David Tennant, for the record), the scariest ever villain (gas mask children or weeping angels, for the record). It’s always been there and hopefully will keep being there, because it’s excellent. I have no idea what’s going on about seventy per cent of each episode, but it’s fun, and funny, and one of the few things I’m proud is British. Plus the TARDIS is up there with Hermione’s beaded bag on my list of fictional things I’d like to play with. It’s a thing, you know, as opposed to a TV show.

Danger Days might be my favourite MCR record. It’s bright and loud and dirty and colourful, and the concept is so, so clever. Danger Days is a world which started with Art is the Weapon and has continued through the videos and shows into the comics. Well it technically started with a comic and evolved into a record and went from there… my point is, it’s tangible. It’s believable too, because we aren’t all that far from nuclear war or semi-permanent medication (I got a badge at the Freud Museum in the summer that says “In the future, art will be taken as pills”). The storylines in the comics are relevant today – I don’t want to give away spoilers, but Red and Blue’s situation is real, and so is that really irritating Party Poison-imitating dude whose name escapes me. The corporate clean-up’s in our faces.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that my gushing about Danger Days is similar to what people are gushing about Doctor Who and JFK on other sites, today and over the past fifty years. For some people, JFK in terms of history and legacy and political meaning is what they’re passionate about. For some it’s Doctor Who. For me it’s MCR shit. Everyone has a thing, you know, and sometimes it’s hard to explain it to other people. But I think it’s important that we have them, and reflect upon them when the time is right.

What’s yours?!