Pole-dancing, Jeremy Clarkson and angry twins

Jeremy Clarkson can do it, obviously. He’s English. But when Poles start doing it? Where will it all end? Mocking the Germans. It’s fun, it’s popular and it’s all too easy. Last year everyone’s favourite comedy racist (/ homophobe/ campaigner for the right to emit as much carbon as your hundred-valve 66-horsepower baby-seal-powered recreational monster-truck will allow) did a heil Hitler salute whilst reviewing a BMW Mini. Many people thought it was in poor taste. Popular opinion, I think, was with the Top Gear presenter. Prince Harry, when he donned a Nazi uniform for a costume party, was defended less by the ‘it’s political correctness gone mad’ (is that phrase as stupidly overused as ‘health and safety’? Can we run a competition?) brigade. Why? Because Harry is not funny in any other sense than the one that ends with ‘…looking’. Or at least his outfit wasn’t. Personally I didn’t find the uniform offensive except in terms of my hatred of clichéd party costumes. It was not having a go at anyone. But I thought Clarkson’s gesture was acceptable, despite its racism, because it was funny. There you go, I’ve said it. I support inappropriate comedy. You’d never have guessed, I’m sure.

So what does this have to do with the news? Poland’s President and PM (referred to as ‘identical twins’ all the time in what I initially thought was lazy journalism for ideological similarity until I learned they are in fact twins—who knew?) last week made a rather higher-profile ‘joke’. In response to a point in the EU treaty suggesting that countries be given weighted powers depending on how large their populations are, the Poles said that if Germany hadn’t killed so many of their citizens in the War, the proposal would have been more acceptable. To quote my American friend whenever he feels he’s cracked a winner joke: ‘Ziiing!’ Germany did not quite say ‘ouch’ or ‘you cut me deep,’ but they and many other EU representatives either took the shocked or no-comment lines, as commentators and press went ballistic over how impolite such a joke/point was. It’s a pity, because the comment was fair enough. And, of course, it is funny in that stop the conversation at the dinner-table sort of way.

More interesting really is the issue behind it. Britain, France and Germany are all behind the idea that the more people you have in your country, the more power you should have in the EU. They are all in the 60 to 80 million people range, by the way. Poland (and presumably those other, more Baltic-looking countries we let in so we could free them of the enormous burden of their plumbers) are less behind the idea. Poland has a population of 38 million. So there it is. They are being selfish. I for one think that Germany, France and the UK (the three most populace EU members) have a good case for this measure. The more people in your country, the more they are going to be affected by EU decisions.

Of course I assume that, in line with this thinking, Britain and France will be happy to give up their permanent positions on the UN Security Council (the body within the UN that can actually back its decisions up with economic or military force) to more populace countries? What about India and Indonesia? Excluding China and the US, who already have places, they make the most sense, population-wise. Or perhaps Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh or… (gasp!) Vietnam? Britain and France could become floating members like Angola and Bulgaria are this year, and the world might look very different if they accepted. Do you think they will? Or is that just a bad joke?


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