Beyond Borders,
by Mike Walker

Beyond Borders (Dec 2011) attracted a lot of media attention, including articles in some of the national papers. I've summarised parts of the Daily Mail review, the Daily Telegraph review and added some comments.

This was a play by Mike Walker, produced by Richard Clemmow, directed by Dirk Maggs. After the devastation of WW2, a plan emerges for the economic reconstruction of France and the unification of Europe in an attempt to secure a prosperous future and to avoid future armed conflicts.

In 1950, Jean Monnet worked with the French Foreign Minister, Robert Schumann, to combine the coal and steel industries of France and Germany, setting in place the foundations of the Common Market...

Cast: Timothy West as Monnet, Lesley Manville as Silvia Monnet, with Daniel Weyman, Philip Jackson, William Hope, Jonathan Hyde.

    ADDITIONAL NOTE.....The play ruffled a few feathers. There was a long piece about Monnet and the EU in the Daily Mail, starting with a discussion of the play. It went on to talk about the EU. I have summarised part of this below in more moderate language......

    Today (16 Dec 11) we had 'Beyond Borders' a drama by Mike Walker, about the creation of the European Iron and Coal Community back in 1950.

    How is this related to the EU?

    The Iron, Steel and Coal Community became the Common Market, which became the European Economic Community, which became the European Community, which became the European Union. If Merkel and Sarkozy get their way this will become the United States of Europe, an undemocratic superstate run from Brussels, financed from Frankfurt and ruled by Paris and Berlin.

    The hero of the play is Jean Monnet, a Frenchman. The action centres around his efforts to bring France and Germany's iron, steel and coal industries together, ostensibly to stop the two countries going to war again.

    But he had a hidden agenda. Out of the tiny acorn that was the Coal and Steel link he wanted to grow a federation to join all Europe together. Out would go the old nation states and democracy. In would come a new technocracy run by an elite who would owe their loyalty not to their country, but to the project.

    He wanted it run on Gallic lines with directives issued centrally, and he wanted a revived Germany to pay for it all. And it has - more or less - turned out as he planned.

    Monnet realised from the outset that the people of Europe would not appreciate having their nations taken over by unelected officials, so he specified that the whole operation should be carried out gradually, in a covert step-by-step operation and under conditions of the greatest secrecy.

    The people would be 'guided' towards his ideal superstate without their knowing what was happening. Europe would be transformed from a family of democratic nations into a  dictatorship without anyone outside the elite having the slightest say in the matter.

      ND comment: this is not so much a radio review as a piece of anti-Europe journalism. There is obviously much that is wrong with the EU; no-one disputes it, but this entirely misses the point.

      For those with no knowledge of history, it might be worth pointing out that in 1914-18, millions of Europeans tried to kill each other, some of them very successfully, and in the process caused misery to the populations of England, France, Germany and elsewhere. Twenty years later, the performance was repeated, and millions of people died.

      One of the main reasons for forming the 'Common Market' was to avoid further armed conflict within Europe.

      We have had sixty-five years without a war since then. Perhaps the plan worked.

      The play was set in 1950, when there was intense anti-war feeling. It's not surprising that Europe became unified; the alternative was too frightening to contemplate.

      It's good to see radio drama attracting media attention. Mike Walker is one of our best playwrights. He's done about a hundred plays in a long and distinguished career.

      Here's an extract from another piece, this time from the Daily Telegraph, written by Charles Moore, summarised by me....

      ...skip to ND comments on Charles Moore's piece

        BBC MAKES A MEAL OF THE EU DREAM, 19 Dec 2011

        The BBC is defending the EU at all costs using all the propaganda at its disposal. This play was a comical attempt to dramatise the Schumann plan to unify the Coal and Steel Community in 1950, from which all else has flowed. The playwright attempted to recreate the moment when Jean Monnet's idea won through... "there can be no special conditions for one nation....whatever their history".

        As a drama, Beyond Borders was creaky ......... full of fact-introducing dialogue which doesn't happen in real life. But it showed the idea was to create a union which was at most only semi-democratic, based on the French and Germans agreeing and the rest following. The British were wanted on board if possible, but would not be told too much about the proposed destination....

          ND comment.... Anyone describing a serious play by Mike Walker as 'comical' or 'creaky' is on dangerous ground. Mike has probably had more plays broadcast than any other writer still working for the BBC.

          This was a play where there was no action at all. It consisted of the arguments, thoughts and discussions of essentially uninteresting people: bureaucrats, attempting to draft a document designed to prevent a future war; a play about keeping things as they are; maintaining the status quo.

          It would be difficult to think of a less suitable story line for a radio entertainment.

          Writing such a play is almost impossible; but Mike Walker's play did, successfully, what it set out to do ... explaining, clearly and in an entertaining way, some of the thought processes which went into unifying Europe. The 45 minutes passed by in a flash, and I learned something in the process.

          The acting and direction were equally good - not surprising with Timothy West as Monnet and Dirk Maggs (of 'Hitch-hiker' fame) and Richard Clemmow in charge of the production.

    note- there was also a review in The Guardian.

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