July 7, 2011
(long time passing)
A few days late, but this is a brilliant piece from Mary Ann Sieghart – one of the heroes from the old no to the euro campaigns in the UK – writing in the Independent earlier in the week. Taking no prisoners, Mary Ann settles the score with the British politicans who once so passionately argued in favour of euro membership:
“Hello? Hello? Speak up at the back! Blair? Clarke? Mandelson? Heseltine? Clegg? Huhne? Surely one of you could put your hand up? Well done, Alexander! Thank you for accepting that you were wrong all along about Britain joining the euro. Perhaps you could have a word with the other boys afterwards?”
She goes through the various arguments that the pro-euro camp used, which turned out to be completely wrong, and the “myths” that it accused the other side of peddling (which we have catalouged here) that have turned out to be completely right.
Mary Ann notes,
“The euro-enthusiasts were always accusing the rest of us of being anti-European….But if anti-Europeans had been asked to design a system to sabotage the EU project, they could hardly have done better than the euro. For what could be more damaging than a doomed currency area in which the poorest nations are forced to accept austerity measures and bailouts and the richest ones are forced to stump up for them? Nearly three-quarters of Germans now say they have little confidence in the euro and two-thirds of them are opposed to bailing out Greece. Hardly a recipe for European amity.
Pro-euro campaigners were quick to stamp on what they called “myths” that were, inevitably, “peddled” by our side. There was the “myth” that monetary union would lead to fiscal and political union. This is now accepted as the only possible solution to the eurozone’s woes. There was the “myth” that richer countries might have to bail out poorer ones. That was supposed to be forbidden by treaty, but it’s happened. And there was the “myth” that an external shock might hit some countries harder than others, causing huge dislocation. Well, it’s there for all to see.”
She goes on,
Now is the time for a reckoning. Let us salute the heroes who managed to keep us out of the euro. James Goldsmith, in the last year of his life, forced the Conservatives to agree to a referendum before we joined. That forced Labour to promise one too. Without that obstacle, Blair would undoubtedly have signed us up. Then it was a question of making strong enough arguments to reassure the British people that they were right in their instinct that joining the euro would be a bad idea. All credit goes to Lords Leach and Owen, joint chairmen of the all-party “no” campaign.
But on a question this big, it surely behoves those who tried to push us into the euro to recant now. Blair has become a Catholic; he should understand about confession, repentance and conversion. Danny Alexander showed how it could be done last autumn when he admitted he had been mistaken. We are still waiting to hear from Lord Mandelson, Ken Clarke, Nick Clegg, Lord Heseltine, Lord Ashdown and Chris Huhne. They are as bad as those old Marxists who never conceded communism was wrong even after the collapse of the Soviet Union. We deserve an apology. How dared they sneer at us for being little Englanders or xenophobic when we could just see that the economics were so obviously wrong?
Good question.Open Europe blog team