A few nights ago I was doing a live broadcast from our garden, going out over 100 US radio stations, when suddenly there was a massive enemy attack. Shells and rockets exploded all around my office - and across the sea sound engineers scratched their heads. It was Guy Fawkes' night.
This fitted neatly with my radio theme: the foundations of democracy. For on November 5 we celebrate the fact that Guy and his comrades, who included a Percy, one of my own forebears, failed to blow up Parliament. Yet since then, of course, much of the power of our sovereign parliament has been given away to Brussels, which now interferes in matters ranging from citizenship, foreign affairs, economic and taxation policy, education, road and rail building to energy, agriculture and much, much more. This stealthy takeover has been achieved without a shot being fired, mainly because the British people were deceived when told we were joining a "Common Market."
A week before the fireworks we were in Philadelphia, home of the Declaration of Independence and The Liberty Bell, which we saw. The Declaration, one of the most inspiring pieces of writing ever produced, describes "the self evident and universal truths of freedom." From this came the new American constitution, just four pages long, crafting a system of checks and balances which works well right up to the present day. Then followed the Bill of Rights which sets out freedom of religion, speech and assembly.
Of most interest to our readers is the fact that all of this was inspired by England's own Magna Carta, which is also celebrated in Philadelphia in a fine exhibition. This, of course, was signed by the Barons and King Charles in 1215 and was the first step towards the flowering of democratic freedoms in the modern world.
It so happened that we had recently walked along the Basingstoke Canal to King John's Castle at North Warnborough from which, 800 years ago, King John sallied forth to meet the barons at Runnymead, Surrey, where the Magna Carta was agreed.
By one of those odd coincidences, another of our Percy family (our family name was Percy), Baron de Percy, was one of the signatories to the Magna Carta, so I have a close interest in the fact that so much of what was created here in England is now slipping from our grasp, as the Euro superstate takes rapid shape. Its constitution is being written at this moment- the constitution of the United States of Europe, with its laws which supercede the laws of Great Britain, with magistrates and jury trial likely to be on the way out soon. Will the EU Constitution exhibition ever be a place of pilgrimage, I wonder? The signs are not good.
Before we returned home from the USA I was given the privilege of taking a class at a school in New York. In fact the whole school came and fired in some perceptive questions. Having shown them the new flag of Europe-the flag of occupation-and told them how our freedoms of speech, political protest and much else were fast slipping away, one bright boy piped up: "Why in the world would anyone want to do all that?" What a good question.
It was a question I again pondered this Sunday as I attended a Remembrance Day service at a local war memorial. The Union Jack flew proudly. For how much longer, I wondered. Already it has been replaced at airports, where you walk in under the wretched circle of stars which represents the Eurostate. Nobody ever asked me if I wanted to be a citizen of such a state. We only voted to join a trading partnership, remember?
We listened at the war memorial as the roll call of dead heroes was read out. They died defending liberty. Did they die in vain?
If traders are willing to serve goods in pounds and ounces and customers wish to use this system of weights, why does the EU seek to stamp out pounds?
Selling a pound of bananas is not dangerous, offensive or immoral- so why is it illegal?
All questions, please, to the issuers of EU directives, the unelected officials of Brussels.
Picture caption: Star Editor Alan Franklin broadcasting on a radio station in the USA on his tour this summer. Americans know very little of what is going on in Europe and are horrified to learn that Britain has lost much of its sovereignty. Photo: Pat Franklin.