Strasbourg may be situated in eastern France, but the city is historically German-speaking; hence the Germanic name which actually translates to “the fortified town” (die Burg) on “the road” (die Strasse). Its history, architecture and culture bear witness to the Roman, French and German influences that have shaped its character over the centuries. Situated at the confluence of international communication routes, it is truly the centre of European affairs. Small wonder, then, that in 1992 Strasbourg was confirmed as the headquarters of the European Parliament.
Guess what country’s influence is missing from all that Alsatian history, architecture and culture? Hint: other than its increasingly fractious relationship with the European Court of Human Rights, its other connection to the city is largely confined to a minor 2005 hit song called “Strasbourg” by art-punk band, The Rakes. No? Okay, well, The Rakes are/were from London. A tenuous link indeed!
It’s strange then that Strasbourg should impose such unwarranted interference in matters of UK national sovereignty. Yesterday the human rights court ruled that Britain’s blanket ban on prisoner voting must be lifted.
Fortress Europe was a Second World War propaganda term referring to Hitler’s plan to fortify Nazi-occupied Europe against the perceived threat from Britain. Leader of the dreaded SS, Heinrich Himmler, said: “It will undoubtedly happen, that the enemy will make the attempt, today, tomorrow or the next day, at some time, to break into this fortress of Europe at one point or another. That will undoubtedly be the case.”
The UK Government should reject the European Court’s perverse ruling and reassert our democratic right to make our own laws. The time has come to lay siege to the fortress.