I watched with much interest and some disbelief your interview on BBC Hard Talk with Stephen Sackur on Friday, 29 November 2013.
In many ways I thought you demonstrated a near total failure to grasp the British political ‘psyche’ and its attitude to the corrupt, corrupting and anti democratic EU. At least on three occasions in the interview Sacker said: ‘you don’t get it, do you?’ – and he was spot on – you demonstrated a near total absence of historical and cultural context, rather surprising given that, as I understand it, you spent some time at the University of Manchester.
You did, of course, behave like an unelected bureaucrat, unanswerable to any electorate!
What I found particularly objectionable and grossly insensitive was your characterisation of Britain (in any context) as ‘hysterical’ and ‘nasty’. This is crass and unmindful of Britain’s contribution to European freedom in at least two World Wars.
I have some family connection to Hungary and as part of my job travelled there on several occasions ( still have friends who I visit). Given that you come from a country which historically is probably unmatched for xenophobia, racism, anti-gypsies and anti-semitism; not to mention dislike of Ukranians, Romanians and generally all foreigners (kulfoldi?), you should refrain from making such unfair and untrue comments.
Was the Hungarian Revolution against the Soviet Union in 1956 hysterical? Was it, as they claimed, a counter-revolution? As Margaret Thatcher rightly noted, why permit the oppression from the EU when (at least in Eastern Europe) it had freed itself from Soviet domination? The ‘difference’ is only that one oppresses with tanks; the other with quasi-judicial denial of democracy and self government. You appeared completely unmindful (at least in your comments on Hard Talk) of Britain having enjoyed a thousand years of freedom and near 200 years of democracy. Whilst this was the case, Hungary was a battleground of tribal warlords and oppression by Mongols, Turkey, Austria, Germany and Soviet Union – and now the EU! As one Hungarian put it to me: having experienced oppression by each of these in succession, the European Union’s more subtle oppression is relatively benign!
Yet oppression remains oppression irrespective of its source or form and the UK will not tolerate it much longer; I campaign to withdraw. On immigration, you were, quite frankly, naive! Do you think Hungarians, especially with their right-wing government (Fidesz?) welcome Romanians and Bulgarians with open arms? Do you really believe Spain, with 45-50% youth unemployment and 25% overall would do so? Do wake up to reality – and appreciate that politics is not invariably about rational decisions alone!
To make some amends you should withdraw your unwelcome comments which, when set against British sacrifices against your former allies in Europe, Nazi Germany, Italy and Vichy France you should be much more humble. Indeed, Britain, in the forefront of resistance to totalitarian Soviet domination through NATO, facilitated the collapse of the Warsaw Pact countries which, eventually gave Hungary some measure of freedom (if only temporalily, until the EU stepped in).
I am aware that EU Commissioners are required to leave their national interests out of their duties, however I believe they should nevertheless have some awareness of European history which may help them to avoid crass comments and realise that there was and remains a Europe which remains outside and prior the Treaty of Rome.
Dr. Robert G. Walmsley