We bloggers and columnists are presented this week with a bewildering choice of material. The wider implications of the events at St Paul's, the projections of national and worldwide population trends, the extraordinary escalation of executive pay in terms of bonuses for mediocre or substandard performance, the determination of the Government to continue the Blairite scheme to fill the senior ranks of the civil service on the basis of the ethnicity, sexual orientation, disabilities, or even the religious and philosophical beliefs of officials, rather than their capabilities, all demand attention. However I am afraid that like many of my colleagues, I feel bound to follow the remarkable events on the European stage.
What stands out far above this week’s kicking of the euro crisis further down the road at the cost of a few more trillion euros, dollars or pounds, is the growing reluctant, sullen realisation and even admission by the Europhile establishment, that we sceptics have been right all along in what we said about the quandary posed by the creation of the euro.
As I put it to the then Chancellor Ken Clarke all those years ago, “Ken, can you name a currency which has more than one Chancellor of the Exchequer to its name?” A currency union has to go on to be a political union or it will collapse. The question is whether the people (not the political establishment) of Europe are ready to accept a political union.
That is the question which the Europhiles have been dodging for years. We far-sighted critics have been abused uphill and down dale as nutcases, fruitcakes, little Englanders, and ignorant self seeking quarrelsome reactionaries standing in the path of progress for asking it. Now, one by one, our critics are admitting that we were right to do so.
Last Monday, I asked in the House of Lords whether an agreement by the seventeen eurozone member states to make agreements outside the Council of Ministers and then to vote in the Council as a bloc for such agreements would constitute a transfer of powers sufficient to trigger a referendum here. Lord Strathclyde, the Government Leader in the Lords, understood my point clearly enough. That was that the eurozone group can always outvote the remaining member states. What we said or how we voted would have no effect on the decisions which they reached.
Tom Strathclyde confirmed that as no treaty amendment was involved, no referendum would be triggered. Now it seems that the Prime Minister has understood the problem. We and the other nine states outside the eurozone have been disfranchised on many of the key questions of taxation and commercial regulation.
There are three possible ways to resolve the matter. One is to surrender our remaining independence, join the euro and advance to political union. Another is to simply leave the EU and stand back as it is engulfed in economic and political crisis, not next week, perhaps not next year, but inevitably because political union over such disparate nations will not work. We would however be badly harmed by that collapse. The third is to at least try to develop an alternative European architecture to preserve open and free markets in our mutual interest, ready for when even the eurocrats are compelled to face reality.
At present that looks to be formidable, perhaps an impossible, task. However, the history of this kingdom has been one of having to intervene in our own interest to save the masters of Europe from their follies. So now once again it may be our future.
There were some great posts in response to my blog post of Tuesday and sadly some which were simply crass or abusive.
Looking first at the bright side I enjoyed richyork's fable of buying a car. Great stuff! Then redbob (who I think is a Labour Europhile ) rightly made the point that my blog post was not about the EU but about the way that the Commons motion was handled and quite correctly reminded us all that we have a representative democracy in which MPs are not delegates, whilst he agreed that the 3 line whips were a mistake.
Then several of you commented on their own MPs; summermir was well pleased with Stuart Andrew, marcusbrutusjunius with Henry Smith and amatrix with Jacob Rees-Mogg, and revkevblue praised Adam Holloway, but Delboy was disappointed by Connor Burns who I had recommended. I can only say that so was I. He has been very outspoken in the past but succumbed to lobbying by the Prime Minister.
I was very glad that shaft 120 and others mentioned the quality of the Labour MPs who defied their whips, particularly Kate Hooey, Frank Field, Gisela Stuart, and Ian Davidson as well as the Tories.
On the wider issue of the nature of the Conservative Party davidaslindsay wrote a long and interesting piece leading to the conclusion that there are now not many Conservatives in it!
As ever I will ignore the vulgar and abusive comments. A mind which cannot frame an argument without descending into gutter language is not worth engaging with. That, however, does not preclude me from trying once again to direct some of my critics to what I wrote, not what their fetid imaginations make up about what I wrote, or to simple matters of fact.
Immanuel Kant claimed that Iain Duncan Smith gave me a peerage. Come, come. I was made a peer when I stood down at the 1992 election, at which IDS first entered the House. Does Kant really think that he took his Honours list to the Queen so soon? Then leslie claimed I do not accept that someone not of white Anglo-Saxon origins could be an Englishman of equal standing to myself. I was obliged to bersher who asked him for evidence of that, but answer came there none.
None the less, I should remind leslie that to be English is a matter of ethnicity. That is to say I could no more be a Zulu than Chief Buthelezi could be English. Secondly, I am not of Anglo-Saxon origin. Thirdly, of course I respect anyone for what they are, not their ethnic origins. Lastly, he might like to buy a copy of Icki Iqbal's recently published book “The Tebbit Test” and acquire a little knowledge and even perhaps some humility.
As for winston rollo, who described me as a little Englander who had never travelled, he might take the trouble to discover how I earned my living from 1953 to 1970. Perhaps trevorcharante who asked “How about (my) promise or threat to join UKIP?”, might spend his spare time finding some record of such a promise before he submits another post.
Then there was poor tepidcocoa1983. He was offended that I should have suggested he might be incapable or unwilling to read what I wrote and hotly declared that no one is under an obligation to read what I write. No, of course not, but he should surely accept that it is best to do so before commenting upon it.
Wearlily I would also point out that I have many times explained why half a century ago I was a fervent Europhile and how experience drove me to my hostility to the plans for a Euro super state. I will not repeat that despite the idiotic abuse from those too ignorant to contribute anything but cat-calls to the sensible exchanges on Telegraph Blogs.
It was rastusctastey who led the pack calling on me to let myself be ousted from the Conservative Party and join UKIP, but I think magnolia had the better argument in suggesting that those who supports UKIP's programme might be better employed in getting into the Conservative Party and putting it straight. Then cwarner asked my opinion of UKIP.
I am afraid that I do not regard it as very well organised at present and still too prone to internal bickering, which I accept has about it a bit of kettles and pots. Several posts from man friday, chancer and others asked why Prime Ministers seem to be captured by the Europhiles, and analyst suggested they take the easy way out.
There is some truth in that. There is always so much to be done. The Falklands, the Cold War, the attempted TUC insurrection for example, that the thought of the huge task of carrying public opinion through the process of disengaging from the EU is quite intimidating. Jaquesgarden asked what would I have done last Monday had I been in the Cabinet. It would be easy to posture about that, but it is a hypothetical question. However, if the Telegraph report is correct that was a question which Iain Duncan Smith found none too easy. He had to balance the need to complete his work to rid us of the why work cult against making a splendid gesture, but still only a gesture. What is more, Charles Moore, who has been a great defender of the Prime Minister, writes in The Spectator that Owen Paterson came very near to resigning too.
I am sorry that I could not engage here with more of the 800 or so comments on my blog post, and not the many which took views similar to my own, but also to try to gently suggest that to wish to govern our nwn country ourselves is not to make us “enemies” of the Prime Minister, nor “little Englanders”, lunatics, nor other abusive descriptions. Nor is it a desire to fight the 1939-45 War again to remind our friends why we have fought so many wars to preserve our democracy and help our them to advance to theirs. It is much more to avoid another bloody and needless European conflict.