It is a well known fact that we British people love to queue. Not because of some strange Soviet-esque nostalgia for the breadlines, just that it is perfectly fair and civilised t wait ones turn patiently. Queues are spontaneous too, and need little management as I discovered to my amusement on Sunday morning.
I landed at Malaga airport you see at the same time as about three other flights from the UK. They had only two "passport control" people working. I put that in quotes simple because they were controlling nothing, looking at nothing, and just waving people through as long as they had a maroon book in their hand.
Incidentally, as a slight digression, when I left Luton Airport there was no border control at all. I walked airside with no check for a passport or bordering card. The only thing I had to do was go through the scanner. This made me chuckle given that there was talk of "e-borders" and a need to protect the nation, clearly they were all in bed.
Anyhow, back to the queues at Malaga. I would say that around 99% of the people getting off the buses was British, and the results, in this tiny little hall, was a snaking queue that seemed to follow invisible barriers. Occasionally a break would occur in the queue where someone would just walk through, tuts arose, and then you heard the person speak in what was clearly Spanish.
Now don't get me wrong here, I'm not actually complaining or making a stereotype that the Spanish are rude. Far from it, they're very polite and friendly people, they just don't pathologically queue like we do. They go about their lives differently because they're different. The joy of Western diversity huh?
This then reminded me however of our other problem in Britain. We love to follow rules, and if a rule exists we fear the social embarrassment of breaking it. So many of the rules we get from the EU are ones that cause consternation in the press, and yet don't often get commented upon in the rest of the EU.
Is this because the rest of the EU nations are happy with the rules though? Or is it more likely, as experience suggests, that the rest of the EU nations, not being such anally retentive rule followers like ourselves, simply legislate the necessary the rules but make it clearly, tacitly of course, that no one is going to be punished if they break them?
We already see at the highest levels, France and Germany have regularly broken the rules on national budgets, they've been told they have to pay a fine, and what happens? Zilch. They flick the bird and carry on anyway. The EU huffs a bit, and then everyone stops and goes back to normal. You can bet any pressure we come under from the EU on budgets will see us eventually keel over to them.
Now, I myself am actually signed up to "Better Off Out" as I don't see why we should pay so much into the coffers and get so much little back in return. I also don't accept that to leave the EU would destroy trade and jobs because, in its most simple terms, the idea that someone like Volkswagen, BMW or Mercedes-Benz will stop selling us cars is absurd.
However, is it not fair to say that the reason we have such big problems with EU when it comes to certain things is not really because everything the EU does is bad - I can actually see for example a sane reason to have a supra-national strategy on the environment rather than national on - but more because we're just not "European" and never will be?
Culturally we're just too different to most of the EU nations, especially the early members. The Mediterranean culture is far more relaxed and less rigid than ours, look at the art of the queue to get the point. They don't have the relationship with the EU that we do because they just cherry-pick the bits they like and ignore the bits they don't.
And when I say they ignore whilst we follow, I mean we and they do it at a cultural level that transcends the petty ideological difference of politics. Take for example how the Daily Mail reacts to an EU law that is clearly a silly one. They rant about it being insane and rail against the injustice against sovereignty, but I no point do they advocate we should just ignore it.
Instead we have a "look what they're making us do and we can't do anything about it we must obey". A few years ago I made this point to the leader of UKIP Nigel Farage over a smoke in Charing Cross station (those were the days). He largely, if I recall correctly, agreed with me that yes, other countries did just implement Eu regulations and then not bother enforcing them.
However, he also said that you if went into a British boardroom and suggested that "you know what, we could just ignore these rules, its not like they can invade us to force us to follow them" the reaction would be one of absolute fear. That stems, I think, from a British attitude that laws are "that which can not be otherwise". Its almost as if we have started to consider laws of man the same as laws of nature, something other nations culturally don't.
Again I come back to the queue at Malaga airport. Only a group of Brits would create on their own a perfectly winding queue like an amusement park without having barriers to guide them first. The person behind me said, it makes us civilised. Actually I'm afraid it doesn't. What it actually makes us is bloody stupid and it perfectly exemplifies why we just don't seem to be able to get with the EU programme and probably never will.
Our culturally instinctive sense of following rules, like queueing, means that all we can ever hope to do whilst members of the Eu is moan about it and then do what we're told anyway. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that queuing is a bad thing, just that if you understand why we do it you can also understand why we'll never really be "good Europeans".
Note: No doubt some tit will say this post is xenophobic and is saying other countries are instinctive rule breakers. Far from it, they just have a different attitude to what rules ought to be followed and what rules they know they really just have to go through the motions on. It's not a bad thing, its just the way it is.