The enemy within


This article first appeared here in The Herald on October 28, 2011, and seemed to generate some interesting debate online. Good.

A BUNCH of pinko liberal whingers may have won the vote on a European Union referendum in Parliament this week, but we’ll be back. And back. And back … until we get our way.

The EU has wrecked our economy for nearly 40 years and kept us under the thumbs of the French and Germans. The only way we can reclaim our place as a world Superpower (and our Empire) is to get out of Europe – and get out fast.

We demand a referendum on EU membership. It’s our human right. Not that we actually approve of the European Convention on Human Rights, you understand.

European integration can never work. How could you expect such a diverse group of people to get along and share common goals? Well, OK, China managed it for a thousand years, but name one other country.

And the euro, don’t make me laugh: a single currency serving a continent of 500 million people in 27 countries. OK, so it works for the US dollar, but they’re a mere 312million people and 52 states.

Federalism! Ridiculous: only works in America because … well, because.

And the Germans think that just because they created a new federal republic after World War One, they can repeat the trick with the whole of Europe. They want to be in charge of everything. Well we, and our lovely British Royal Family, will never allow that.

Best of all, if we quit the EU our businesses can forge ahead without having to worry about the workers.

We’ve already opted out of the Working Time Directive. So what if Brits work longer hours than anyone else in Europe: they do it because they love their bosses. And it makes us more efficient; well, not more efficient than the Germans, of course. Or the Belgians. Or even the Irish, there’s shocker.

And if we can’t have a referendum, at least renegotiate the terms of membership. The rest of Europe is so desperate to keep us in the club that they will happily let us have a better deal than the other 26.

The euro is in crisis, don’t make us say it, we told you so. What better time to pull out than when things are going badly. Isn’t that what friends are for? Who the hell came to our aid in the 1970s when the pound was in crisis? Well, OK, the IMF. But who else?

No one under the age of 55 has had a chance to vote on membership of this European club, and it’s time they did. Come to think of it, no one under the age of 304 has had a vote on the union with Scotland, so while we’re on the subject….

SORRY TO disappoint the Euro-sceptics, but I haven’t changed my mind. This is what passes for satire here.

The crusty Colonel Blimps who see Europe as the enemy are like so many old soldiers, forever fighting the last war. If anyone still thinks that the nation state is supreme they’re living in the past. Our enemies are no longer fellow European countries.

Like the Roman Empire in its last days, we’ve been blind to the rise of the enemy within – largely because the enemy have had their uses.

In the 21st century the enemies at the gate of democracies are the unaccountable multinational corporations, which includes the banks.To be fair they were once good friends, providing us with prosperity at home and influence abroad, before their global ambitions grew.

New Scientist magazine reported this week on research by systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

The team studied the relationships between 43,000 companies and found a “super-entity” of 147 that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth. Many were financial institutions, including Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.

Some financial organisations behave in ways that ancient emperors would instantly recognise.They move into a territory, plunder resources, deliver a few benefits and demand painful tribute. If we dare to complain the corporations say: “Shut up or we’ll move to a more friendly country.” That’s what Barclays (number one on the Swiss list) did when faced with tighter UK regulation.

Only a huge bloc like the EU has the power to take on transnational bullies. But if it’s to win the EU needs tighter, not looser integration: it needs political unanimity and not just free trade. Until now, we in Britain have blocked that.

The EU proved on Wednesday night that we can tackle the banks. The bailout package agreed at a tense summit forced them to write off 50 per cent of their debt to the Greek Government. No one European country had the clout to swing that deal.

In case you think this is an ill-informed rant, listen to the words of Andrew Haldane, executive director of the Bank of England, this week: “For a century, both risks and returns [for banks] have been high. But while the risks have typically been borne by wider society, the returns have been harvested by bank shareholders and managers.”

EU federalism: It gets my vote – because I’m a patriot.

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