“Identity bilingualism”

My response to a letter I received from Russell Blair 

Mr Blair invited me to publicise his ideas, which I am happy to do – http://www.identitybilingualism.com

Dear Russell,

Thank you for your letter of February 28th, with attachments, which has just come to my attention.  I have to be frank and tell you that I simply haven’t the time to read all 34 pages in detail, but I have flicked through and at least glanced at every page.  And the extraordinary thing is that having done so, I can’t find any coherent explanation of what your phrase “Identity Bilingualism” actually means.

Clearly if I don’t know what your policy proposal is, it is difficult for me to give you a coherent reply.  But I can offer some general observations.

First, it may be true that EU Citizens need something concrete and uplifting at this time – something that the EU project has signally failed to deliver.  But given that the UK is now set to leave the sinking ship, I think that this is a matter for the residual EU citizens, and for Brussels, not for me.  We in Britain have Brexit, which I find enormously concrete and uplifting.  You add that your objective is “Making Europeans”.  But in the aftermath of Brexit, it seems to me that the task is un-making Europeans.

Secondly, I think you will find that language and identity are deeply ingrained, and attempts at a political level to impose or promote language policies tend to be at best unsuccessful, and at worst oppressive.  Some people have an aptitude for languages and are keen to learn.  Good luck to them.  Others have less interest and resent being bulldozed.

Thirdly, there is a de facto common European language.  It’s called English, and I have every confidence that this will remain so after Brexit.  During my first five-year term in the parliament (1999/2004) all the display screens in the parliament were in French.  We had séances and réunions.  It took me a while to notice, but soon after the 2004 elections I realised that it had all changed.  We has sittings and meetings.  English was taking over.  Rather than regretting our poor showing at foreign languages, we Brits should celebrate and exploit the fact that we have the world’s language.

A final observation: I have always treasured John Stuart Mill’s aperçu that “Where people lack fellow feeling, and especially where they speak and read different languages, the common public opinion necessary for representative government, cannot exist”.  This is possibly the best argument for Brexit.

Best regards.

ROGER HELMER MEP

www.rogerhelmermep.co.uk

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6 Responses to “Identity bilingualism”

  1. Patrick Dearsley says:

    Concisely crushing. I like it.

    Patrick Dearsley Chairman UKIP Horsham Branch

    http://www.ukiphorsham.org

    >

  2. KennieD says:

    “Where people lack fellow feeling, and especially where they speak and read different languages, the common public opinion necessary for representative government, cannot exist”. This is possibly the best argument for Brexit.
    Couldn’t be phrased any better than that.
    “Identity bilingualism”. What absolute nonsense, another of those ‘look at me, how clever I am’ made-up phrases, alternative to virtue signalling.
    I have recently taken retirement. Can I therefore say I am now in “new oldness”?

  3. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Google returns stuff about Russel Blair and horse racing? Anyway, his piece appears to be a long way round to what is globally (internationally) agreed anyway. English it is…its simple apparently.

  4. vanorman2016 says:

    We have a varied and intelligent language called English. We do not want gobble-de- gook to demean it. Roger Helmer’s eloquent response to Russell Blair’s obscure narrative proves the point.

    • KennieD says:

      “We do not want gobble-de- gook to demean it.”
      You are absolutely right, vanorman, but we have had such things, progressively more and more, for some years. We are well into the age of “Newspeak” and other invented nonsense. Tony Blair was responsible for a good deal of it (and for lots of other things).
      Trouble is, due mainly to the dumbing down of the education system, we have far too many semi-educated people around and they are dangerously in positions of influence and authority. BBC and Sky News plus a lot of the so-called journos of the MSM are overflowing with them.

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