John Kampfner has a column in the New Statesman about the “straight banana factor‘ on British attitudes to the EU:
The trouble is that [Tony Blair] and those around him have done little in their eight years of office to tackle anti-European myths. They have demonstrated pro-European commitment only in fits and starts. Focus groups provide depressing anecdotes. At one, respondents based their hostility towards the euro on the strength of sterling. Asked why they believed the pound was superior, they said it was because all other countries’ currencies divided into it: take £100 to the bank, and you get, say, $180 or €140 in return.
The straight banana is alive and well. That begs the question: how do we as a nation reconcile our “lived” experience – of second homes in France, low-cost airlines, European cuisine and European footballers at even the smallest club – with our political and media experience of visceral fear and hostility towards the Continent?
Or put it another way: there are up to 40 flights a day to Barcelona from the UK. That is more than double from any other European country.
Are most passengers really that hostile?
Kampfner says the embattled Britsh pro-Constitution camp was rumoured looking to take page out of the Spanish government’s playbook by recuiting a footballer who embodies the European ideal of free movement of labour while remaining a national icon.
But England and Real Madrid’s David Beckham won’t play ball. His PR people don’t want him associated with a risky cause.
(I bet Toby likes Kampfner’s phrase)