LONDON -- There seem to be two fundamental political issues here this summer: how much more tightly to entoil the United Kingdom with the European Union and how to defeat Islamist terror, much of it home grown.
The first issue is not easily apprehensible to a Yank visitor. Suffice to say that if London's ties to the EU get much tighter, the UK will no longer be an independent country and its special relationship with the United States will be but a memory. The ordinary British citizen probably opposes further integration in the EU. On the other hand, politicians -- even many conservative British politicians -- surreptitiously invite further integration. As with the hubristic bureaucrats now running the EU, many British politicians see themselves as superior to the electorate. They believe in "progress" and ever since the end of World War II, one of the ingredients of progress has been integration of all the nations of Europe into one vast continental government. The continental government's regulations, however, are beginning to offend local ways of life, which explains the rejection of the EU constitution by the French and the Danes and my suspicion that Britain's electorate would reject further integration into the EU.
This scheme to insinuate Britain further into a grand continental government is also colliding with Britain's need to defend itself against Islamist terror. The country's new prime minister, Gordon Brown, has prescribed "Britishness" as an antidote to the Islamofascists who tried to blow up two cars in the heart of London and in desperation rammed a gasoline-laden Jeep into a terminal at Glasgow airport, hoping it would blow them to Kingdom come and all the welcoming virgins. By Britishness, Brown means a renewal of patriotism and civic virtue, a reverence for British history and the flying of the Union Jack. Yes, Brown actually called for the flying of the flag.
Now Brown is a member of the British Labour Party. It was founded on ideas of "progress." It has long been a party of the left, and flying one's national flag has never been a progressive thing to do. In fact, it is actually quite reactionary. I fly the Stars and Stripes with relish seven days a week. Need I say more?