- Britain commits 24,000 troops to EU army.
- If ministers think the media are unduly sceptical about
Europe, they should hear the talk in the Labour heartland of West Bromwich
in the West Midlands.
- "We've been invaded without a shot being fired,"
said Tom Bromley, 67, a retired carpet fitter. "It's been an absolute
waste of time going to war in 1914 and 1939. Millions of people died who
didn't want a federal Europe and now Tony Blair's surrendering it."
- Like everyone else in the Oddfellow's Arms, Mr Bromley
thought Mr Blair should yield nothing whatever to the French and the Germans
at next month's European Union summit in Nice. "He should go there
and get concessions from them," Mr Bromley said. "But he ain't
got the bottle, has he? If his brains was chocolate, they wouldn't fill
- His opposition to the EU is part of a much wider lament.
"If you live in South Africa and you're a patriot, they give you the
Nobel Prize," he said. "If you live in England and you're a patriot,
they call you a bigot. Nobody represents us. The last bloke in this country
who had any balls was Enoch Powell.
- "If there was a solid English national party candidate
in this area, I don't say he'd get in but he'd pull a lot of votes. They
fly every flag on the town hall except the George Cross. St George's Day
isn't celebrated in West Bromwich.
- "I put my George Cross out last April and the kids
coming by on their way to school didn't know what it was. Our history's
been crowded out. Do they teach Effingham, Grenville, Raleigh, Drake? They're
not taught in ordinary schools now. They don't tell you about the Black
Hole of Calcutta, do they?"
- "We run the risk now of a watering-down of who we
are," said Todd Martin, 36, a tiler. "We're being told by bureaucrats
you have to do this, you have to do that. If we join the EU we lose the
right to be an individual. You've got other people telling you how to live,
how to drive, what to eat. I've got friends in Hereford who own farms and
they're growing stuff they don't want to grow. In the end it's slavery."
- "Conformity negates creativity," said a 36-year-old
former social worker who has been forced by a heart complaint to retire.
"That's what Einstein said. I think every country should stick to
its own identity. It's part of the diversity of life. It'll end up like
the decline and fall of the Roman Empire," Mr Martin said. "It
encompassed so much of the world, but ultimately because it was so big
it got corrupt."
- "I wouldn't like to think we've got to give up the
pound for the euro," said a 46-year-old engineer, who asked not to
be named. "I'll tell you why - we're in the Common Market but we're
not in the Common Market, because we don't get the same luxuries as they
do. Their workers over there, they get £1,000 redundancy for every
year they've worked.
- "I did 22 years here in the steel industry. You
know what I got? £2,800. The only time our politicians want to know
the working class is when there's a war on. Then all of a sudden it's our
country." He also suspected - a frequent complaint - that going over
to the euro would be "like when we went decimal".
- He said: "It was a clever way of devaluing. When
I was at school there were 240 pennies to the pound. It was worth more.
People think the working class person's stupid. They're not stupid."
Next Thursday there is a by-election in West Bromwich West, the seat vacated
by the Labour MP Betty Boothroyd, who has just retired as Speaker of the
House of Commons.
Site Served by TheHostPros