Monday, October 31, 2011

EU SPECIAL


Short of time today, so here's the estimable Daniel Hannan on the euro and its proponents. My emphases. Don't forget to click on the Tony Parsons link . . .

How did so many clever people get it so wrong? The flaws in the euro were visible from the start, and were widely pointed out. Yet in every national parliament, in every academic faculty, in every central bank, in almost every newspaper editorial meeting, there was a collective suspension of disbelief.
If you listen carefully to what Euro-integrationists were saying at the time, you detect a subtext. It's not so much that they liked the euro, it's that they disliked the people who opposed it. Bizarrely, they're still at it, quite unabashed by how things have turned out. Here, for example, is Norman Davies in Britain's most Europhile newspaper:
“How marvellous” they chortle in the Tory clubs; “the busybodies of Brussels are meeting their come-uppance. After all, those ghastly Greeks who cooked the books to enter Euroland in the first place are sure to be cooking them again with an eye to ever larger bail-outs.” Euro summits, the argument goes, are just talking shops. Orderly default is a pipedream. The eurozone rescue fund is an underfunded piggy bank. The European Central Bank is toothless. There’s no central European treasury, and the German courts are obstructing remedies. Politicians are forever quarrelling and kicking the boite down the piste. Greece will push French banks down the chute first; but German banks won’t avoid it, and together they’ll finish Italy off. “With luck, Italy will suck Spain into the abyss; Portugal will follow Spain, and Ireland Portugal. Just think of it! Those Irish traitors from 1922 will get their deserts! Terrific!”
Then continental banks lock their doors and the cash machines dry up. Minestrone kitchens appear on the streets of Rome. Spanish bullrings house the destitute. The bridges of Paris fill with rough sleepers. Weeks and months pass free of money. Europeans relearn the art of barter. When the cash flow stutters back, machines distribute drachmas again, the franc nouvel and the peseta nueva. Yet Britain’s latterday Blimps will still not be satisfied. They hanker for the whole hog; before we pull up the drawbridge, they say, the EU itself must vanish.
For what it's worth, I have yet to meet a Eurosceptic who is enjoying the economic turmoil on our doorstep. It is plainly in Britain's interest that the eurozone – which takes 40 per cent of our exports, and comprises our allies and friends – should flourish. That's precisely why we fret at the way in which the prosperity of so many Continental countries is being sacrificed in order to hold the euro together. 
Not that being right will earn Eurosceptics a more sympathetic hearing. For many of our commentators, this was never really about economics. Britain's Euro-enthusiasts – Andrew Ranwnsley, Philip Stephens, Nick Clegg et all – still see the issue in terms of sensible progressives versus atavistic bigots.
It's odd. Commentators who are so quick to spot prejudice in others when it comes to racism, sexism or xenophobia are quite unable to detect it in themselves when it comes to people who don't share their Weltanschauung. Tony Parsons brilliantly satirises the phenomenon in the Daily Mirror.

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