Monday, 12 December 2011

Very well; alone!

Well, well, well, well, well! Who knew old Call-Me-Dave had it in him? Before Cameron headed off to Euroland last week he was being castigated by his backbenchers and the right-wing press as the love-child of Ted Heath and Neville Chamberlain. Now he's been adorned with Winnie's cigar and Maggie's handbag, along with other congratulatory baubles of Little England. (Full credit to Ana the Imp for her 'David and Goliath' allusion. The best comparison I can come up with is with a fictional British Prime Minister - also called David - who also stands up for his country, as portrayed in a light-hearted rom-com from several years ago).

Do I join those Brits whose sense of national self-regard was swelled at the sight of the PM, coolly and calmly explaining his decision on Friday morning? You bet.

The idea of entering a giant fiscal union (or FU as its been brilliantly labelled by Daniel Hannan) in which control over our economy would be restricted is an abhortion. I have not yet looked into a cost/benefit analysis of a financial transaction/Robin Hood/Tobin tax just yet (though I'd be inclined to be sceptical of such measures), but if we were to have one, let it come from Westminster, not from Brussels, Paris or Berlin.

This view is rooted in an aversion to seeing the world's longest continually-running representative Parliament - that is, the first to establish the principle of its own supremacy over monarchical power - told what to do by bodies that don't seem very democratic at all. A formative issue for me personally was the row back in January/February over votes for prisoners. Whatever the merits of extending the franchise to frauds, murderers, thieves, rapists etc. may be (and again, I'd be... sceptical), the decision should be down to those that have a democratic mandate i.e. the politicians at Westminster, so they can take into account the views of their constituents before taking it. The decision should not rest in the hands of an unelected overseas court.

So as I was proud of our Parliament when MPs across the board - led by a cross-party alliance between Jack Straw and David Davis - voted down that arrogant demand from the European Court of Justice, I am now proud of our Prime Minister for having the courage to use a certain two-letter word.

The other point it is important to consider about the EU Treaty's proposed financial transaction tax is that it would have had a disproportionate effect on Britain. The City of London may be a son of a bitch, to coin a phrase, but it's our son of a bitch. Of course, it caused us *ahem* certain difficulties back in 2008, but - whether the figures stick in your throat or not - Britain's financial services industry makes up around 10 per cent of our GDP, and around 17.5 per cent of national tax revenue. Why should we risk turning off the vast numbers of investors who come to London for the sake of the 'Save the Euro' campaign? Yes, the bloody, bloody Euro: surely the world's first currency to be founded solely on stupid utopian "hope 'n change" idealism, and most certainly a strong contender for the Ozymandias of our era (and that's up against some pretty stiff competition in these soulless times...Dubai's a good one, and that comes with its own sand.)

France and Germany have their economic sacred cows - agriculture and the car industry respectively - so why should it be the British, who wisely stayed away from the Euro, that have to cough up the most? The suggestions that it was all part of Nicolas Sarkozy's neo-Gaullist plot to deflect attention onto the evils of Anglo-Saxon capitalism thereby a) convincing everybody that the Eurozone crisis has nothing to do with the Euro and b) winning an upcoming general election are all very interesting. In the absence of any less conspiratorial explanations, and having as I do a little knowledge of historic French resentment of the English-speaking world (do read up! Often hilarious; sometimes not, especially for Rwandan Tutsis), I'm inclined to go with them.

Should you think my position slightly skewed to the Right (you'd be right by the way), let me also point out that there is nothing for the left in this Treaty deal. The following article on the Communist Party of Britain's website notes that the 'fiscal rules' proposed "effectively outlaw any reflationary, Keynesian policies and certainly ban any socialist solutions to the growing crisis". This is because the new rules are supposed to forbid any annual structural deficit in any signatory economy that exceeds 0.5% of its GDP.

As it should be needless to say by now, I don't want any socialist solutions to the growing crisis. But the democrat in me will always support the right of national governments to pursue that course, provided they have an electoral mandate for it (and they usually don't. See Spain, November 2011).

Now is it not telling about the state of the modern British Left that its left to barely- reconstructed Stalinists to point this out? Where is the relevant Left on the matter? Most left-wingers I know personally are following the Euro-integrationist austerity line, apparently unaware of the discrepancy between that position and their ever more inventive 'ConDemnations' of our own government. If you read the CPB/Morning Star article above, you'll see that the comrades picked up on the disgracefully inflammatory remarks made by Belgian 'Liberal' MEP Guy Verhofstadt about Britain being "on the menu". If you type in the name 'Guy Verhofstadt' into the Guardian Comment is Free search box you get just 13 results all dating from before remarks in question.

Eh, maybe they'll see the light one day. Their silence for now means David Cameron is the man who stood up for - in the words of Orwell - My Country, Right or Left.

No comments:

Post a Comment