Thursday, 1 September 2016
When, in 1998, I told a disbelieving Australian backpacker that the UK would not join the Euro he mocked. “What?” he said, “The single European currency that’s happening next year?” We were in the USA at the time and a small crowd of ‘Mercans gathered as we debated the point. Yep, I said and expounded my belief that while it might work for some unknown country called Europe, it would never be to British tastes. He argued that it would be just like the dollar in the fifty United States. I argued that Europe was a long, long way from being a single country with a single constitution, shared struggle, traditions and political values. He was young, so he didn’t really grasp why we couldn’t, you know, like, come together, dude.
So imagine my utter lack of sympathy for the plight of the Eurozone today... Now I’m not claiming seer-like powers of prophecy but I knew a bad idea when I saw it. I admit my aversion probably had more to do with being English – avowedly not European - than having any deep economic insight, but I felt that was enough and besides, my forecast proved to be the equal of - better than - any economist on earth. And so here we are today; me with a strengthened confidence in my original convictions, Europe, mostly fucked. I try not to laugh, but you know, up yours Delors and all that.
Another fabulous ideal of the EU was of course the free movement of people and some deaf, dumb and blind kids still fly the flag for the Schengen zone. Hey, I’m all for treaty partners having agreements which make border checks more perfunctory and allow employment wherever you may find it, but once again the disparity of the member states has created unnecessary turmoil. As I retweeted yesterday, courtesy of @OffencePolice, “If British businesses need foreign workers, they can make the case for visas. If the case is ‘We want to pay staff less’, they can piss off.”
The result has been a labour drain from poorer EU countries to richer ones, making it impossible for those poor states to retain talent and they now largely rely on the charity of the rich states whose taxpayers resent them for doing so. And of course, the formerly working poor of the rich states are being parked on benefits as business prefers to
utilise cheaper and more compliant/grateful employees. As for the absurd notion that legions of
low-paid, low socially-involved migrant workers will somehow do anything more
than fuel the inevitably catastrophic model of ever greater consumerism, long warned against by people
like Aldous Huxley, that dream, too is coming unstuck very rapidly indeed, isn’t
it, Mrs Merkel?
Of course, once into Europe – that great big soft touch with the flimsiest of borders between it and Africa – migrants from anywhere in the world can feast on the hard-won riches of the west without ever making any contribution other than by fouling the shallow end of the gene pool and causing mayhem. And then there’s that Calais thing. Anna Soubry may believe – as she stated yesterday - that we didn’t have a positive debate about immigration, but, given that a majority of her own constituents disagree, maybe they already had that debate and she just wasn’t listening.
It's a jungle out there...
And that, in a nutshell is it isn’t it? Politicians not listening. In a representative democracy we don’t want or need a referendum on every issue; we elect our representatives and then we expect them to actually represent us and not just assume that after the vote we will leave them to govern in a vacuum for five years. But since John Major we haven’t had representative government but assumptive government. Tim Farron can whinge all he wants about Brexit showing us up as fools but his party could be said to be the most representative of them all at the moment in that virtually nobody gives them the time of day. If he can figure out why that is - and that is a pretty long shot - he may be in with a chance of understanding why nobody gives a toss what he thinks.