Michael Bywater column

It's time to make a stand

I EXPECT that you, too, when you were little, were told not to take instant, terrible revenge on those who annoyed you. I expect that you, too, were told: "Don't give them the satisfaction" and "They're just not worth it" and "No need to drag yourself down to their level." Did you take that advice? Well you're mad, then. It's complete bollocks. My ancient family motto is quid hospes aspicis, which, thanks to the egregious flexibility of the Latin tongue, can be translated in a number of ways. Some have held it to mean "See anything you fancy, stranger?" although their lines have largely fallen into desuetude; the more thriving line of Bywaters prefer the rendering "What you looking at, pal?" and that is the lineage from which I spring. No insult, however slight (nor, come to that, any slight, however insulting) can pass unavenged.

Usually it is a simple matter of creeping round when my enemy is at work ("Hello. Mr Nematode of Credit Control speaking...") and seducing his wife. But every now and then I find myself pushed beyond the boundaries of normal social intercourse and into a truly spectacular revenge. Last week, for example, something happened which so annoyed me that I decided the only answer was to run for political office. By a fortunate coincidence, there is a political office to run for: the European Parliament elections on June 10.

You may not have heard of these elections. The government doesn't particularly like talking about them, and the opposition ... the opposition ... feh. Little Mister Hague, though doing jolly well for his age, has had a bit of a sheltered life and even moving to London and selling his soul to the Southern poofters hasn't really broadened his mind very much, and the rest of the Dim Party are so scared of nasty foreigners that they still really believe they lost the last election because they were "divided on Europe".

Sheer balls, of course. The reason they lost the last election is because everyone hated them, but they can't see that, any more than they can see that Little Willie is the most frightful mistake. They had people like that when I was at university: odd sorts in curiously stiff ready-made clothes, who used to go down to the Union and say things like "On a point of order, Mr Chairman", and pretend to be their own grandfathers, and were so destitute of any sense of their own identity that everything which was not parodic of an imaginary Golden Age was seen as a terrible threat: foreigners, garlic, the sun, displays of emotion, women, aeroplanes - in fact, almost everything.

We've seen what happens to them. They grow up and become Mr Nematode, or the sadder sort of barrister; sometimes they join caravan clubs, and sometimes they go to parliament, where they are driven by their own inner fears to project on to us the insulting notion that our sense of being British is so slender and fragile that an outburst of jabbering by some outlandish foreigner is enough to collapse it like a pricked balloon. As for the suggestion that, being irrevocably in Europe, we should stop being silly and use the same money as everyone else ... well, the poor things are just like I am with my tax bill: too terrified to even look at the thing until it's too late.

There was a time when they were harmless enough. They could just tit about wearing huge brogues with running-boards, and use the word "gentleman" a lot, and make an awful (and frankly rather common) fuss about eating roast beef, and hang around sad pubs where they still ostentatiously use the old money. But they're not harmless any more. They're messing things up for the rest of us, and, more worryingly, for our descendants. My own posterity will inherit the motto along with my genes, but I can't leave it to them to sort out. The passport queues alone - European, Non-EEC, and British Scum Too Stupid To Sign Schengen Agreement - make action essential.

And so I think it's time to hit the whistle-stump, or the campaign horse, or whatever it's called. The two poles of my campaign will be (a) let's stop being such bloody cissies over Europe and (b) Vote for Me or I'll hold my breath until I turn blue. June 10 could be a turning-point in British history: the point at which Britain's destiny and my own become inextricably entwined, leading us into full communion with our European friends (and out of the clutches of that absurd Mr Clinton and his horrible burger-and-cartoon country). But don't hold your breath. That's my job.

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