Europe And The Euro

October 1, 2000

Let me begin with a quotation:

"Firstly, a beautifully effective and time honoured brain washing technique was being applied. If there is some sweeping change which certain interest people are anxious to bring about, the first thing to do is to spread the idea abroad that everything is inevitably changing and that the particular change they have in mind is bound to come anyway. After a while, people become resigned to this, for those in power are so powerful and there is nothing anyone can do about anything. This feeling of resignation is then seized on by the reformers as proof that there is a growing body of opinion in favour of the reform they want. They then, for example, talk confidently about the year 2000 when all will have come inexorably to pass. History is on their side: just as Karl Marx said it was on his".

This is part of an editorial in my old school magazine dated 14th May 1966 – thirty four years ago. It was in response to a call for a fully state comprehensive school system given by the main guest at that year’s Speech Day.

How apt is that editorial in respect as to whether Britain should or should not have the euro as its currency in the future.

I have said previously that I first became interested in politics in 1963 and this was just after the first Macmillan /Heath attempt to enter the then Common Market which was aborted by General Charles de Gaulle. Having studied both French and Latin in school and having an interest in French history I was (and still am) pro European. I supported the second attempt at entry by the 1966-1970 Wilson Government (again a failure) and was pleased when the Heath Government of 1970 – 1974 finally gained entry. I voted "yes" in the 1975 referendum during Harold Wilson’s final year as Prime Minister.

What I thought I was voting for was a ‘common market’ – that is a group of countries who wanted favourable trade with each other is a free enterprise economy. I had no idea that this would eventually lead to full economic, monetary and political union. For me, this has never been on the cards. So for want of a better word(s) I am a pro European euro sceptic.

I am surprised to read that those of us who oppose the ‘euro’ are regarded as on the extreme right (which in my case is certainly not the case) or are regarded as "Little Englanders". What is deplorable is that the British public is not being allowed a serious and sensible debate as to the merits and demerits of joining the euro. The press is full of news about splits in the present Cabinet over the issue (and let’s be quite clear the Labour Party is as divided as the Conservatives over the issue: the left of that (Labour) party is keeping quiet for the moment). But the public should be in no doubt about what is being proposed if we do get rid of the pound. The British Chancellor of the Exchequer (of whatever party) will be beholden to the unelected bankers of Europe based in Frankfurt. The British Chancellor would no longer be responsible for setting taxation or public expenditure levels and would become simply another tax gatherer. And once we are in, there is no going back or getting out (as former Chancellor, Kenneth Clarke, has courageously pointed out).

The consequent political union is also of great significance. I do not see how a group of thirty or so countries with such diverse histories over thousands of years, with different languages, can ever be wielded together to create a ‘super’ state on the lines of the United States of America.

Whether we like it nor not, Elizabeth II is a constitutional monarch and our Head of State. By her Coronation oath, The Queen has promised to govern the "Peoples of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland etc." The Queen would have to sign any Act of Parliament regarding transfer of powers to a ‘super state’ and would be, I would have thought, in violation of that oath. Of course, many among the ‘great and the good’ will say "So what?" because they neither believe in the Coronation oath or in God.

But there are serious constitutional issues which must be fully debated and resolved.

It seems to me that the European Commission is a retiring place for failed British politicians. When Lord Jenkins of Hillhead failed to gain the leadership of the Labour Party in 1976, he took off for Brussels and became President of the European Commission. On his return in 1981, he joined the S.D.P. (reeking havoc in the Labour Party) and in 1988 on the merger of the S.D.P. and Liberal Party, became a Liberal Democrat with a seat in the House of Lords. Neil Kinnock, having twice failed to become Prime Minister, became a European Commissioner and is now Vice President of the Commission. Having been fervently anti-Common Market for the first forty years of his political life, he is now pro European (in extremis), giving us the greatest conversion since St. Paul on the road to Damascus.

The Conservatives are no better. Sir Leon Brittain blotted his copy book at the time of the Westland affair and was soon despatched to Europe, eventually become a Vice President of the Commission. Our present Commissioner, Chris Patten, lost his seat in Bath in 1992 (against an unknown Liberal Democrat and at a time when John Major was polling the highest Conservative vote last century) and holds his position simply be reason of Tony Blair’s patronage (a Tony Tory).

Yet these failed politicians have the nerve to say what the British public must and must not accept.

When the Common Market was established by the Treaty of Rome in 1957, Britain had not, at that time, divested herself of her remaining colonies – Africa being the prime example. The Common Market was primarily designed for the benefit of France and Germany and to prevent them from going to war against each other again. After all France had borne the brunt of the German invader in both 1914 and 1939. Britain has not been invaded since 1066.

In my history lessons, I was always taught that Britain was a sea power with a strong navy. France and Germany, both with large armies were ‘land’ powers.

In any event, with the development of the atomic bomb and later the hydrogen bomb, conventional war was, in future, unlikely. Western Europe would depend on American nuclear protection and on N.A.T.O. – designed to keep America in Western Europe, the U.S.S.R. out of Western Europe and to prevent German aggression.

Many small businesses with under twenty employees do not want the euro and we still do a lot of trade with countries outside Europe. Those who are pro euro say jobs and prosperity will be at risk if we don’t join but I’m not convinced. The economy seems pretty sound at the moment (that’s probably why Gordon Brown is not backing the pro euro drum more vigorously) and I see no reason why it should not continue to be so.

When Britain first applied to join the Common Market forty years ago, those who opposed it were in the main either Tory grandees on the right such as Sir Derek Walker Smith or Sir Robin Turton (both now dead) or left wingers such as Michael Foot or the late Emanuel Shinwell. They were joined by the late Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell (remember how he was mocked by Macmillan in 1962 – "she didn’t say yes, she didn’t say no").

But they have been proved right. We are on the road to a European "super state" in which great Britain becomes a province of a greater Europe. Our present Queen may well be the last monarch of the United Kingdom.

We have been promised a referendum on the euro. It is up to those who vote Conservative, together with the masses of Liberals and Socialists who don’t want to become enmeshed in a ‘greater Europe’ to hate Tony Blair and his cronies in their tracks.

At times of great crisis, people do come together. In 1939, just after Germany invaded Poland, Leo Amery (a Conservative) called across the Chamber of the House of Common to Arthur Greenwood (a Socialist): "Speak for England, Arthur!"

Who can give us such leadership now?


This article appeared in   "Crossbow" magazine published by The Bow Group.

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