Sleepwalking to tyranny
Published in: Daily Mail
When they were not sending enemies of the people to the guillotine, the French revolutionaries set about destroying the symbols of their country. Out went the old calendar, the old currency and the old system of weights and measures. In came a ten-day week, decimalisation and the metric system.
The French revolutionaries understood the enormous political power of the everyday. They recognised that the means by which we conduct our most basic transactions - how we measure or weigh things, what kind of money we use, how we organise the months or the days of the week - all define the values of our society.
So if those values are to be overthrown and new ones put in their place, it is crucial to impose new symbols and values - if necessary -- by force majeure.
The ghosts of those French revolutionaries are now stalking the corridors of Whitehall and the Law Courts. Monday's 'metric martyr' judgment means that anyone who does not sell goods in metric measures (with imperial measures permitted merely as supplementary indicators until 2010) is breaking the law. And this is a law of the European Union which our Parliament has not passed but which now has precedence.
Meanwhile, our home-grown revolutionaries are doing their bit, too. The birth of Christ is being dumped as the defining measurement of the calendar. The terms 'Anno Domini' and 'Before Christ' are being gradually replaced in school textbooks by 'Christian Era' and 'Before the Christian Era' to avoid offending the sensitivities of religious minorities.
Some might think dates or weights and measures are trivial. In fact, they matter enormously. They matter because something as momentous as it is priceless is in the process of being abolished here.
Imperial measures are 'much-loved', in the words of Lord Justice Laws, because they are useful. Unlike metric or decimal systems, twelfths can be divided into halves, quarters and thirds. This provides more flexibility, precision and control.
All these imperial measures are based on the familiar and useful. The inch which dates back to King David 1 of Scotland was the width of a man's thumb. A yard was the distance from the nose to the outstretched fingertip of King Henry 1 in the 12th century. A mile was a thousand paces measured out by the Romans. And so on.
Usefulness accords with the character of the British: based on life experience, respecting what is practical and what demonstrably works, rather than falling for the kind of abstract theory beloved of the Europeans. The metric system derives from just such abstract thinking, since the revolutionaries believed that decimals were the basis of arithmetic and arithmetic was the basis of reason.
It was then further imposed by force across the continent by Napoleon, who defined a metre as one ten-millionth of the distance from the equator to the north pole on a line running through Paris - and got it wrong.
Now a system of measurement which flows from the character and way of life of the British is being abolished. For the judges ruled with brutal clarity that English law was no longer master in its own house. As Lord Justice Laws observed: 'The specific rights and obligations which European law creates are incorporated into our domestic law and rank supreme'.
Indeed they do; from the moment this country acceded to the Treaty of Rome, anyone who thought the United Kingdom would remain a self-governing nation was living in a fool's paradise.
With every successive treaty, and with every judgement by the European Court of Justice, we have been haemorrhaging control over our own affairs. Employment legislation, equality directives, even the regulations on disposing of fridges - fewer and fewer of our laws are now accountable to the democratic will of the British people.
Now we have reached the astonishing situation where five traders have broken the law because they want to trade with the public in the time-honoured traditions of their own country. We are sleepwalking into tyranny, taking the form not of a Napoleonic army but EU directives and the European Court of Justice.
But how can we have allowed the basis of our democracy to be eroded like this? How can we have allowed our history and traditions to be swept aside?
The answer is that our political and intellectual leaders are engaged in nothing less than a wholesale assault on this country's ethos and traditions and, beyond those, on western values. The very idea of an independent nation state is held to be an affront in this era of 'globalisation'.
Nation states, we are told, are outdated and lead to wars. Britain, according to fashionable historians, is itself an artificial construct. The brave new world has no national boundaries and will be run by supranational institutions. Who gives a fig for outmoded Parliaments when we have got the sacred Convention on Human Rights?
In this assault on the idea of the nation, the very concept of British national identity has to be dismantled. Hence the feverish assertion that we are a multicultural country when we are nothing of the kind.
So schools teach a multi-faith mish-mash, and now the terms BC and AD are to be junked as history is rewritten as propaganda. This is nothing to do with the sensitivities of minorities. It's rather an attempt to re-badge Britain as a post-Christian nation. But it is not.
Britain has a dominant christian culture. Church goers may be a minority, but Christian values infuse the British way of life. Its principles of equality and individualism, its tolerance and compassion all sprang from that foundation. Far from being offended by BC and AD, minorities should esteem the heritage that makes this country such an attractive place.
But this attack on our history and culture goes much further still. Like the mythological pelican, the west has been pecking away at its own flesh for decades. The therapy culture undermined morality by transferring authority from 'what's right' to 'what's right for me'.
Above all, the two-parent family, the crucible of the sturdy individualism which underpins our democracy, is under relentless attack. Put all that together with multiculturalism and the European super-state, and you have a recipe for the destruction of western democracy.
Has it all gone too far to be turned round? Maybe. Great civilisations have imploded before, after all. But societies have also been known to repair themselves.
There are many who are furious at the imposition of metrication, aghast at the leaching of power to Europe, and appalled by multiculturalism. They feel powerless and disenfranchised - and then our politicians have the gall to accuse them of becoming indifferent to politics.
The people must now make its voice heard. We have to give our governing class the clearest possible message, that we want our country, our values and our traditions back.