One cheer for Ed Balls

 

                  I read that Ed Balls is querying the wisdom of the UK helping Portugal with a bail out. As an opponent of expensive bails outs in general – they do not solve the underlying problems – I welcome that. As a  stronger opponent of UK contributions to Euro bail outs –  as we are not part of the folly of a currency in search of a country to control it – I welcome this for its own sake.

                I also welcome it, in case it is part of a new approach to the EU  by Her Majesty’s Opposition. For too long in the UK we have had two parties that accept more or less anything coming from the EU, and just shout at the Tories that they are being underminded by Eurosceptics. This was factually untrue, but it conspired at many crucial times to ensure the UK signed up to more and more of the federal plans from the EU against the wishes of the majority of voters. When it came to elections voters voted for the two  federalist parties  in sufficient numbers to keep the UK establishment on track with the main thrust of the EU plan. The reasoned Euroscepticism of the overwhelming  majority of Conservatives was unable to deploy to drive national policy for lack of numbers, and owing to the leadership’s past response to the majority  national politicians’ mood of collaboration. The Euroscepticism of many Labour and Union members was suppressed, as a supposed way of dealing with the Tories.

                Today both Labour and C onservative leaderships seem to sense a new national mood which is sceptical of the high spending plans of the EU, and worried about the way the UK is being drawn into financing and guaranteeing the borrowing of a number of EU states. The mood on the doorsteps is clear. Many do think the UK has to rein in its own state spending and borrowing. Most think charity begins at home, and dislike any suggestion that we should be involved in higher spending and borrowing to help relatively rich countries on the continent, especially as much of that spending is of questionable value and purpose.

               The UK needs to be able to have an intelligent debate on what its relationship should be with the emerging country of the Eurozone. All parties say they agree the UK should not join a political or monetary union. One is forming rapidly on the continent. The six pack of economic governance measures, and the financial structure of bail out and bind in for Euro members takes that process much further. If the UK have an Opposition that welcomes that debate and asks some tough questions of the government about the UK’s role within or outside that development Parliament will do a better job. I suspect some Euroscepticism will make Labour more popular, but that is a price worth paying for proper scrutiny of these crucial issues.

               Only if the Opposition in Parliament is prepared occasionally to question and vote against the drive to EU and Euro union will the British public have more reassurance that we cannot be bundled into a financial union by stealth or absent mindedness, or by a government saying it cannot keep out owing to EU qualified  majority voting and past agreements of the previous government.

              To have both main parties querying the size and the expansion plans of the EU budget, and to have both saying they are worried about the Portuguese bail out is progress. They are both getting closer to the national mood. Let us hope they keep this sensible approach up after May 5th. Let us hope when Parliament is allowed to reconvene there is a new realism about the UK’s future relationship with the Eurozone. Above all let us hope stricter limits are placed on how much the UK contributes financially to this dangerous and economically damaging continental  monetary experiment.

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34 Comments

  1. lifelogic
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Balls is a politician in opposition as Cameron was until May 2010. Nothing he says while seeking votes in opposition will have any effect on what he might actually do were the country mad enough to put him in power.

    As we have seen clearly with Cast Iron Dave (and history in general) politicians, when in opposition, just say what they think (wrongly in his case) will garner sufficient votes and do as they wish or as instructed by the EU when actually in power. Cast Iron in opposition but pointless putty in power.

    Cameron even keeps the 52% tax rate knowing it raises less tax than a lower one would and harms all. A rate kept pointlessly just for reasons of a political appearance of fairness.

    Democracy or even common sense, it certainly is not and with AV and Chris Patten type BBC there will be virtually no chance of any future escape to sane government.

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      Today I read that Chris Patten is attacking atheists for being intolerant.

      Well yes we are intolerant of the advantageous entry to the levers of power they irrationally hold above those of logical people. And there incubation of racial troubles through the control of public money through the church school system and the discrimination they indulge in here. Yes we are even rather concerned that people who have un-evidenced beliefs should be able to use these to control others actions by law. Indeed we would be similarly concerned should we have to fly on an aeroplane designed on the basis of
      these beliefs.

      We have not problem with what they do providing they do not harm others as they clearly now do and have only fair representation relative to rational people.

      • lifelogic
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

        Also I am rather concerned that people who hold “without evidence beliefs” on one issue might well form similar “without evidence beliefs” on say global warming, green energy, the EU, big government and the rest.

        Worse they might well use public money to push these beliefs down the throats of the public. When faced with real evidence which is clearly contrary to their beliefs, they will doubtless say “yes but I have my beliefs so I do not need to defend my position with logic evidence or argument” So we will continue to restrict your rights to shop or employ young people on Sundays and continue with the school control, segregation and indoctrination policies, control of holiday dates and bishops in the House of Lords.

        • Jon Burgess
          Posted April 26, 2011 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

          Interesting that you use the phrase ‘without evidenced beliefs’. Presumably as an atheist you can prove the fact that God does not exist then?

  2. Mick Anderson
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    It’s rather easy to suspect that Mr Balls is only objecting on the basis that he opposes everything done by the Coalition government. If you believe that “my enemies enemy is my friend” then give him credit for being right. Personally, I don’t.

    Rather, I look at recent history and remember that Mr Balls was a senior member of an administration that signed away control of many things to Europe, and offered them much more money to do it. His previous enthusiasms mean I cannot trust him or his motives.

    However, Mr Cameron told us that he was Euro-sceptic, and his actions rather demonstrate that he isn’t. Giving more to Europe (powers or funds) then telling us it was somebody elses fault is simply not good enough. He promised change, and has yet to deliver at any level.

  3. les
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    The day I cheer Balls is the day they carry me off!

    • waramess
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      Not even from my coffin

      • lifelogic
        Posted April 26, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

        How is it that Balls, Cameron and the rest all get good firsts in PPE as Oxford without seeming to understand even the basics of how an economy works. They cannot see the wood for the trees perhaps. Or maybe PPE as Oxford just needs some proper economists setting and marking the papers.

        Often it seems the, so called, cleverest people are the most lacking in basic common sense. Too busy with the minor details of endogenous growth theory to see the obvious that the best way to get economic growth is to leave the money with the people who are proven to be good at making it – low taxes and small government.

        Give me some Cambridge engineers please.

  4. Stuart Fairney
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    I have little time for politicians newly out of office, suddenly mirroring the public mood when they can do little about it. Mr Balls apparent views would be more credible if his actions had matched his words whilst in office.

    They didn’t.

    Perhaps time for a private members bill ending UK bailouts, then we would see if it was simply a case of populist weasel words or not.

  5. alan jutson
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    I hope your comments and thoughts are correct.

    Shame that all three political parties have as yet, still to wake up to the full reality of the EU money pit, and its controlling obsession with all matters.

    The first party to really wake up (and take action) will almost without question, get a boost in public support.

    According to the Mail on Sunday, it is reported that David Cameron has been informed, after a survey, that many Conservative party supporters are not happy with his performance to date. It is reported that they want more traditional conservative policies. Perhaps getting tough on Europe may help.

    He really does need to “do the right thing” I wait, but will not hold my breath.

  6. Liz
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    i don’t want ever closer ties with Europe or the €urozone, – I want out – end of

  7. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    In the banking crisis the UK (the City) exposure to the PIGS countries ranks 6 x higher ( $674bn) than Germany with $100bn. (source nrc.nl 19-4-2011). At the very start of the crisis the UK (oops – Gordon Brown) was still able to take a world initiative with his special meeting of the G20, but now the UK really stands on the sidelines and is reduced to internal squabbles between Osborne and Darling. No surprise that the Bank of England worries about its diminishing influence ( http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/8182699/Federal-eurozone-could-marginalise-Britain-King-told-US.html ) Where does this tax revenue generating and GDP enhancing City have to turn to when it is Britain that has chosen to stand outside? It had better make some friends on the continent, bypassing its own government.

    • acorn
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      JR. Last week the EU parliament economic committee voted through “The Six Pack”. Basically, if I understand it, the EU Commission will take over fiscal oversight of member states as a arms length regulatory function outside of democratic control?

      “Cheering the move, Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt said: “The European Commission shall be entitled to intervene with all necessary means if the stability of the euro is at stake, to preserve our European project.”

      It appears to be an austerity plan with more fines than tax hikes; but the six pack is basically an EU wide, EURO currency protection plan. So what happens to the UK with a non-euro currency? Surely, for this system to work EU wide; the £ would have to be pegged / snaked to the EURO? Perhaps that is what is intended? Would appreciate a post on the following, cos I’m confused. http://euobserver.com/9/32221 .

      • Stuart Fairney
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

        What I think of the EU would be in moderation until the end of time, but the forthcoming destruction of the Euro may give them pause for thought.

  8. JimF
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    The worm that turned….
    I can see your point, but at the same time this exemplifies precisely why politicians like Balls aren’t trusted.
    You have argued consistently in this fashion for many years, as have some in your party and the whole of UKIP. Yet your views haven’t prevailed nor propelled you to the fore, likewise UKIP. You and they have been ridiculed by Balls for turning your backs on a currency system which Labour were ready to join when the 5 tests were met. Yet when a placeman like Balls, whose ideas have put this Country into the sorry state it is today, says something which you have been saying for years, people suddenly sit up and take notice. Whatever his thoughts this week, this man’s rantings shouldn’t be given the oxygen of publicity, because they’re liable to change next week. Even if you all let Labour back after the next election, the Country needs new people with different ideas, not new ideas from failed past placemen like Balls and his mate Brown.

  9. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    JR: “All parties say they agree the UK should not join a political or monetary union.”

    Are you sure about that? Your coalition partners are rabid Eurofanatics, as are many in the Labour party not to mention Ken Clarke. As usual any reservation they may have is about timing rather than principle. Even the new Conservative MPs, many of whom you say are Eurosceptic, I predict will put party before country when it comes to a contentious vote on any matter from the EU. There has been a disgraceful disregard for the views of the British people and I see no real evidence of any imminent change.

    • eddyh
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      They aren’t putting party before country. They are putting the party whip’s orders, and thus their hope of future preferment, before their obligation to their electors and their country.

  10. Duyfken
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    WHAT’S IN A NAME?
    There are three European structures with which many in UK are unhappy:

    a. Political – European Union

    b. Currency – Euro

    c. Judicial – European Courts, and Human Rights legislation

    Those who are antagonistic to the federalism of the EU are labelled as “Eurosceptics” but surely that is a misnomer. The Euro currency is not UK’s currency and it is no business of the Brits to be sceptical or otherwise of what other countries choose for their currency – despite our being unhappy with the way Euro debts are being piled on to the UK. There may be a dwindling number who would like the UK to join the euro currency zone and in their case it may be correct to label them “Europhiles”.

    In UK, those who have reservations about the EU, ECJ etc, fall into two main categories:

    1. Those who wish to have the EU reformed, with many of its powers withdrawn, and

    2. Those who consider that there is no possibility of such reform, and consider the UK should withdraw in toto.

    Neither could be properly called Eurosceptic. In the case of 1., the term may perhaps be “EU-sceptics” or better, “EU-reformists”.

    For 2., the appropriate term may be “UK-autonomists”. I avoid “UK-independents” as too closely associated with the political Party.

    As an all-embracing term for both 1. and 2., perhaps we could have “UK sovereignty-seekers”, or is there something better? Anything except eurosceptic.

    • APL
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      Duyfken: “As an all-embracing term for both 1. and 2., perhaps we could have “UK sovereignty-seekers”, or is there something better? Anything except eurosceptic.”

      How about the simple and straight forward British Patriot?

      That quality that is in deficit in much of the British Political class.

  11. sm
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    The problem is MP’s say one thing and do another when in office.They pander to public opinion when not in power, when in power they cannot be held to their ‘election tickets’ and pursue other courses of action.

    These actions do not appear to be in the interest of the UK and seem to suit the interests of some ‘power’ foreign or domestic which has them captured.

    Logically why should we trust ‘Balls’ or ‘a n other’. Its figleaf democracy in the UK.

    We need to have a British bill of rights , similar to US constitutional rights which asserts UK primacy whenever it wishes. It should ensure all MP’s swear allegiance to the British constitution and will uphold its sovereignty. Any votes against it entails an immediate by-election and immediate cancellation of their office and their public pensions and UK passports.

    We then need a binding referendum to point our MP’s in the right direction. We can talk to our European friends and allies to discuss mutual arrangements we agree on.

    If the referendum goes in favour of integration then we should get on with it properly. Drastically downsizing all functions in the UK, and replace them with much smaller admin roles.

    At least we may get sounder fiat money and a harder euro by the backdoor if we manage to stay in and it doesn’t implode which is likely without internal massive transfers.Plus the banks will have a bigger/stronger sovereign to bail them out.

  12. Derek Buxton
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Duyfken,
    The majority of our politicians use “Europe” instead of the EU deliberately, it is all part of the scheme of lies and deceit on which the EU is based. The deceit began before we even entered the EEC, they knew we would not give away our Country voluntarily so bought our politicians and civil servants as a fifth column. They work within, the Trojan Horse to end all Trojan Horses.

  13. David John Wilson
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Why do so many people assign the European Bill of Rights as being the responsibility of the EU. It was put together by the 47 countries which comprise the Council of Europe and which predates the EU by many years. The Council of Europe has no legal responsibilities or powers. The Bill of Rights was adopted by the British Parliament and our commitment to it can be amended by the British Parliament whenever it wants to.

  14. CHEESED OFF
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Again many contributors are missing the point of a well-proportioned blog.
    The present government have surprised and greatly disappointed so many of us with their cowardly approach to EU issues. I agree that the only way to get Camco to lift its game is by another party – in addition to UKIP – breaking ranks. Camco understands politics even if not strategy!
    As much as most of us despise Ed Balls I am also willing to give him the benefit of the doubt if it causes the Tories to heed the Cash/Redwood strategy.

    As I and others here have said for many months we believe that the leadership have seriously underestimated the strength of anti-Brussels feeling in the country at a time when the EU fails to tighten its belt on a bloated waistline.

  15. Martin
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    A few Euros notes have been a better investment for me than Comrade Balls nationalised banks’ pathetic 0.25% interest accounts or the Tories beloved Pound. What is the disaster the Euro or the Pound?

  16. Robin
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    I doubt that we will ever be able to reform the EU from within and the unaccountable monster will continue to grow.
    In the absence of a Conservative government, could this be our summer of 1940? If so, the future of our once proud country rests not with Hurricanes, Spitfires and their pilots of many nationalities, but with UKIP.

    • BobE
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

      Robin, This time we loose.

  17. Mike Stallard
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    In opposition: Eurosceptic.
    In government: Europhile.
    That’s the rule.

    But, as you say, it is some sort of progress.

  18. BobE
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    Under AV John will survive. These are his results from last time.
    John Redwood Conservative 28,754 52.7% +4.6
    But its close isnt it. To get a 50% vote will cause loads of MPs to have to work much harder. Thats worth my vote for AV any day.

  19. zorro
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    ‘When it came to elections voters voted for the two federalist parties in sufficient numbers to keep the UK establishment on track with the main thrust of the EU plan.’

    John,
    The evidence suggests that the public voted for a third (the Tory party) as well. If the Tory party had won a massive majority and clear majority of MPs, it wouldn’t have been different on the EU and I think that you know it.

    ‘The reasoned Euroscepticism of the overwhelming majority of Conservatives was unable to deploy to drive national policy for lack of numbers’…..If you are talking about MPs, how many are Eurosceptics out of just over 300? All thought and no talk let alone any action…..How many vote in line with what you assume are their convictions? If you are talking about party members, then they need to be ensuring that the MPs they choose reflect the more important political issues – namely our relationship with Europe. Stop blaming the public for the Tory party’s inability to face up to this issue.

    zorro

  20. Javelin
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    Greece and Portugal (can’t repay all their borrowings-ed) (so is Ireland) the politicians won’t cut their spending or raise their taxes enough to cover their debts. They are playing chicken with the EU. The EU play along because they ate using the crisis to deepen integration. This farce has to run for at least 5 years until their bonds expire ( which are short term). The Eu hope Germany will keep bailing them out as the economy improves. When the Greeks (are unable to make required repayments-ed) ( and I say when) the the French banks (who hold most Greek debt) will have a capital crisis. I expect the Eu will get the French Government to keep paying the bail outs in exchange for the EU central bank loosening capital requirements on the French banks. I also expect the change in the rules for French banks to allow the Italian banks to continue with their low capital ratios and liquidity – so when Portugal (is in trouble-ed) (and weakens Spain) this will bring the Italian banks (also into difficulties-ed) because their ratios will fall below the 8% level. The dominos are quite predictable once see which banks hold how much sovereign debt. The EU central bank is slowing down the Greek domino falling – but a side effect is they have created a much bigger problem with the Italian banks. Greece needs to default asap for all our benefits.

  21. lojolondon
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Nigel Farage was correct – every party when in power becomes Eurocentric and when in opposition become Eurosceptic.
    So Balls, supporting the EU while in power is now against it, and Cameron, offering a referendum in opposition, immediately did a dishonest u-turn upon gaining power.
    Balls has seen the bandwagon and is climbing aboard, but we know that voting for any party but UKIP is a vote for the EU, Balls and Cameron have already proved that.

  22. BobE
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    This May vote UKIP. It might wake some people up.

  23. rose
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    If the Franco-German axis within the EU is indeed trying to recover fiscal and monetary discipline, then Mr Balls does well to dissociate himself from it. As socialists did in the sixties and seventies. He, as they did, needs to be able still to borrow and print money to get and hold power. Or is that too honest an interpretation?

  24. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    The signs that Ed Milliband and Ed Balls are moving Labour back to its traditional Eurosceptic stance are to be welcomed – indeed, it may turn out to be the main reason that Ed Milliband stood against his brother.

    If this proves to be true, it does have one important consequence for the Conservative Party. Unless the next Conservative manifesto gives us the European policy that we want, then voting for UKIP will not necessarily have tragic consequences. I am sure that Mr Redwood will have already realised this and will be advising his front bench colleagues accordingly.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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