Verse or worse on the permanence of empires

Today I am interested in  how far you think the  EU will go in creating the United States of Europe?

How much power will it have?

How long will it last?

How much unemployment,recession, lack of democracy will people put up with in the various countries?

When will they start to blame their EU government rather than their national governments for their plight?

 

I wrote this when I was last in the Scillies, a beautiful part of the country I love.  

Scilly empires

 

Waves heave and scour in fury at Hell Bay
Calm will bring peace on the beach next day.
The great dashing ocean has time on its side
To flatten us all on some future spring tide.

 

Waves, wind ,sea can all bide their time
These lovely islands are well past their prime.
Each wave which hurls, each wave that smashes
Leaves less shore, or a cliff that crashes.

 

Each wind which blows, each hail which breaks,
Loosens stones, shatters rocks: every plant shakes.
Granite turns to sand, shorelines slip away,
Samson’s hills are parted, the sand bar can’t stay.

 

One island once, twenty long since
Now fifty or more, with many just hints.
They give rocks tough names – like men-a-vaur-
But they know one day they’ll be no more.

 

Empires are like these islands, now humbled
Europe seeks union, but past efforts crumbled.
They tell us that Europe can soon be as one
That conflicts, battles, wars are all done

 

They say one currency will make it alright
That one army will unite us to fight
They urge us together, to build one nation.
We may not want it: they seek an ovation.

 

To all who want Europe to be one
Tell them the people will not let that run.
For people are like the waves of the sea
They break empires – like islands: they won’t let them be.

 

Some Scilly rocks became sand grains
Once lovely hills became a beach
If islands can be levelled
How far can unwanted empires reach?

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117 Comments

  1. Elliot Kane
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    I think that in order for any two nations to really join as one, the very least they need is a common language, similar (Or at least compatible) cultures and the people of the nations at the very least not minding the idea. It also really helps a lot if the peoples of the two nations intermarry frequently.

    The EU is a whole mass of conflicting cultures with dozens of different languages. All the EU ‘harmonisation’ efforts are less than a single drop in the ocean compared with what needs to be done. If they can’t even settle on a single official language – the very first and most rudimentary requirement – they are wasting their time with all else.

    By far the worst problem for the EU, however, is that the peoples of Europe simply do not want to belong to a single nation called ‘Europe’. This means that in essence the EU is forcing them into a federal superstate against their will, rather than carefully nurturing the feeling of a common European identity over generations (Along with moves towards a common language, that would be the smart option. The stupid option I don’t have to describe – you can see that in action with the EU currently).

    I do not think it is possible for any nation to hold any other in chains against the will of its people. Sooner or later, if sufficiently forced, they will fight. I only hope that when the people of the EU do wake up, they fight democratically, at the ballot box, rather than the other alternative.

    As for how much further the EU will get? Well, honestly, I think the end is in in sight. The problem with empires is that that end, though inevitable, can drag itself out over many years and with considerable damage to far too many people. The ruling classes don’t want to lose their prestige, so they will cling on to their faded dreams long past the point where reality has left the building, unfortunately.

    The EU will try to get a lot more things in motion, but I think the Euro – and their wilful blindness towards its utter failure – has holed them below the waterline. Now, they are merely arranging deckchairs and politely reassuring each other that the ship is not REALLY sinking, honestly, it’s just finding a new level.

    • lifelogic
      Posted December 26, 2012 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      Indeed to have any real democracy you need a real demos. A single culture and language is surely part of this. Interestingly the EU pushes for (and funds with our money) the revival of almost dead languages, I assume as part of their desire to break up countries into weaker component to cotrol them and incubate resentment between these section.

      Clearly without a sensible demos one group of countries can merely outvote the others every time. The EU by its very nature is antidemocratic.

      I read in the telegraph that the BBC has given payouts of over six figures to 194 executives. Does anyone over see these payout or is it just staff helping other staff to tax payers money. Does Lord Patten approve and non them through. Why so many? After all it is not hard to produce or buy in the lefty, pro EU, big government, fake green agenda of the BBC and all the dumbed down other drivel they transmit most of the time.

      • uanime5
        Posted December 26, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

        Which dead languages are you talking about? If it’s Latin and ancient Greek then it’s UK politicians, not the EU, who want children to learn these languages.

        Since when has letting the majority outvote the minority been anything other than democratic? Though allowing one country to veto something agreed by all the other countries would be antidemocratic.

        Most likely the BBC is just copying the private sector, which gives large pay-offs to executives.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted December 27, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

          I suggest you re-read his first sentence:

          “Indeed to have any real democracy you need a real demos.”

          Or, as Lincoln once put it:

          “A government of the people by the same people”.

          Not by other peoples, not even if they happen to be your nearest neighbours.

          • uanime5
            Posted December 27, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

            It’s a government of Europeans made up of Europeans, thus it has the required demos.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted December 28, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

            Yes, in much the same way that Yugoslavia had a government of Yugoslavs made up of Yugoslavs, even though only a very small fraction of the population of Yugoslavia ever identified themselves as being Yugoslavs rather than as Serbs, Croats, etc.

          • Elliot Kane
            Posted December 28, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

            uanime5,

            By your logic, ‘Humans’ are a single demos. Unfortunately, I think we are a number of centuries away from that one yet, don’t you?

      • Posted December 28, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

        As a classicist, I am flattered that you find Greek and Latin to be “almost” dead. Clearly my many hours making colourful attempts at prose composition have finally paid off!

    • uanime5
      Posted December 26, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

      Poland and Lithuania were united despite not having a common language or culture. The Ottoman Empire also lasted centuries despite being made up of peoples with very little in common. Countries have and will continue to merge and split regardless of how similar of different they are.

      A single language isn’t a requirement to form a country and many nations, such as India and South Africa, are able to function with multiple official languages.

      If the people of Europe do not want to be part of a single nation called ‘Europe’ then why do they keep voting in pro-EU leaders? The fact that you don’t want to be part of Europe doesn’t mean that everyone else in every European country feels the same way.

      Who is the “ruling class” you’re referring to? The politicians in every EU country?

      • John Bracewell
        Posted December 27, 2012 at 10:27 am | Permalink

        ‘why do they keep voting in pro-EU leaders?’
        The answer is rather obvious, there is no alternative, all 3 party leaders who stand a chance of being voted in are all in favour of the EU. Also, the question is never asked in isolation, i.e. a referendum, in case the answer is not to the incumbents’ liking. It is, rather obviously, only asked at a General Election when the voters think, mistakenly, that the economy, education, defence, NHS etc. are more important issues not realising that all areas of UK government are now affected by EU directives, rules and laws and that therefore the EU issue is the paramount one. This is brought about by the incumbents declining to engage in the EU issue at General Election time but then claiming, as you have done, that they have an EUphile mandate if/when they are elected. However, the 2015 election could be different because of the recent swing of sentiment against the EU and the 3 mainstream party leaders will not be able to disregard the issue in the same way as they have in the past.

        • uanime5
          Posted December 27, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

          I was referring to why all the people of Europe vote for pro-EU leaders, not why the UK votes for pro-EU leaders instead of UKIP.

    • Edward
      Posted December 26, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      To wake this morning and with my first cup of coffee, be able to read another excellent article and inspiring poem from our host, and then Elliot, to be able to read your excellent post, first in the list , where it deserves to be, was the perfect start to my Boxing Day

    • Elliot Kane
      Posted December 27, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      Lifelogic – yes indeed. The lack of a true demos makes true Democracy impossible.

      Edward – thank you :)

      ***

      uanime5 – many empires last for a long time before their dissolution, not least the Persian and Roman. But ultimately divide they do, and for the obvious reason that their many peoples do not truly feel as if they are one people. Where peoples feel they are one, nations form; where they do not nations dissolve.

      India has one official main language – Hindi – although a number of other languages are indeed spoken. This in no way contradicts my point about having a single common language. If a people cannot understand one another, they will not feel like one people.

      As for how India came to be a nation, I most certainly would not want Europe to be united in that way, and I hope you would not, either! It’s also worth taking a look at how Pakistan and Bangladesh came to be, as they reinforce my point about culture and the need for a people to feel they are one people if anything lasting is to built.

      The best models for successful integration of peoples through more-or-less peaceful means are Germany and the USA (And no, I am not considering how the US was formed, only how the many States came to join the Union. Even there, the process was not trouble free, of course, as you doubtless know). It may be worth your while looking at how Germany and the USA came to be – or more specifically, the things they have in common in terms of process. You will naturally note the presence of both common language and compatible culture in both cases.

      The EU appears to be attempting to use the German model, but without any understanding of how it worked, or why.

    • yulwaymartyn
      Posted December 28, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      I think all your opinions are predicated on entirely wrong assumptions.

      It is all based upon fear.

      Language is only one means of communicating; there are plenty of marriages for example where people speak a shared third language. India has over 500 dialects. Ditto Nigeria. Canada has two. United States has a vast number of languages.

      People in Europe do want to be in a federal union. Look at Croatia on in July next year. Do you think there will be street parties on becoming a member of the EU or do you think there will be gunfire.

      Greece wants to remain in the EU and the euro.

      The rest of your post is just a guess. You must try and overcome your fears about size and familiarity. Our neighbours here in the UK don’t speak a word of English. Their food is fantastic. Human inter reaction need not be based upon language or culture. Being unable not to speak a word of each others’ language has been fantastic.

      Small is not necessarily beautiful – sometimes it is and sometimes not. Sometimes you need to be a small cog in a very large wheel. One circumstance should not be favoured over the other.

      • Elliot Kane
        Posted December 28, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

        yulwaymartyn,

        My posts derive from a study of history, as I would have thought was obvious. ‘Fear’ has nothing to do with any of it. I’m actually quite baffled you could even think it might.

        As I’m holding up the USA – one of the largest nations in the world by land mass – as an example of how to create a successful union (Although even they had a civil war, you will remember, principally caused by cultural differences between North and South), I would have thought it was obvious I do not subscribe to any particular ideal of size for a nation.

        If the peoples of Europe truly wish to be in a Federal Superstate, I obviously wish them well. I have friends on the continent (As I’m sure you do yourself. In the internet age, who does NOT have friends all around the world?) and I would no more wish to force their nations into (Or out of) anything than I would like their nations to do to Britain.

        But the simple fact is that by both temperament and geography, Britain stands beside Europe without being a physical part of it. Our traditions, culture and legal structures are very different. Our traditions cause us to look towards the wider world, rather than merely to the continent.

        If you think I am some kind of isolationist, terrified of other nations, you could not be more wrong. I want to see Britain engaged with the rest of the world, not tied into one declining trade block (And you can check the figures for the EU’s share of global GDP over time if you doubt the ‘declining’ part. It’s a fact, not an insult).

        What I do not want to see is Britain absorbed into a superstate we do not belong in. If you were to actually ask how many Britons feels that they think of their nationality as ‘European’, I suspect very few would answer that they do.

        I also find your claim that the majority of the people of the many EU nations wish to be part of a Federal Superstate to be interesting. I wonder, if that claim were put to national referenda, how well it would fair? After all, the EU Constitution was soundly rejected by voters in France and (If memory serves – though this one may be wrong) the Netherlands. The history of the EU winning national referenda is not exactly good, you must admit.

        Of course, the most either of us can do as far as other European nations is concerned is conjecture (Unless you have seen actual data gathered over time that i have not?). You may be right. Perhaps the majority of French, Germans, Italians, Spanish, etc, would love for their ancient countries to be completely subsumed into a United States Of Europe. I find it unlikely, but it is possible.

        You must admit, however, that a majority of Britons do NOT wish Britain to be so subsumed. And as long as that is true (And who knows what changes the future may bring?) we should not be made to do so.

        NO nation should ever be subsumed against its will. On that much, I hope, if on nothing else, we can agree :)

        • yulwaymartyn
          Posted December 29, 2012 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

          Elliot – thanks for your post. Looking back at my first reply I think it slightly peremptory for which I apologise.

          Actually I agree with a lot of what you say and of course I certainly agree with the sentiments of your last paragraph.

          Before Christmas I was having a discussion with one of my in laws about the EU. He said (having known me for fifteen years or so) that he thought that I was not so much pro European as anti the ruling British establishment and I think that there is a lot of truth in that.

          I think being part of a large political union with other countries in Europe reduces the power of the British establishment. I think that is why so many here are against it. I think Britain is a wonderful country with fine traditions but it also has a darker side some of it steeped in tradition which I think is detrimental to the average UK citizen. Therefore I like the ECHR in the background (not an EU institution I know). I like the ECJ for the same reason. I like our prime minister regularly being in the same room as Merkel, Hollande, Rajoy, Samaras etc because he is representing my country to these leaders and they are doing the same; they are also sort of keeping tabs on each other.

          I watched the footage of Neville Chamberlain at London airport the other day. It is of course horrendous to watch knowing that one decent and, I daresay, kind individual carried the hopes of a nation and was so outplayed and humiliated by a tyrant.

          We live in democracies where the personalities of politicians will always play a part. So I like these big EU institutions, the regular EU summits and the European Commission and the European Parliament which to my mind counter the extremes of politicians’ behaviour and nationalism of member states.

          Oh and a happy New Year to you.!

          • Elliot Kane
            Posted December 30, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

            yulwaymartyn,

            No apology needed, I assure you :)

            I can completely understand being suspicious of people in power. For the most part, those who get it are not those who deserve it or those who know how to use it for the good of the people. A universal truth, unfortunately. However, humans do not ever function without someone in charge, and I’d rather have someone we can get rid of through the ballot box than someone we can’t.

            I actually believe that some day in the far future the whole of humanity will be united in harmony as one people – but I also know it won’t ever happen in my lifetime. It can’t, because any attempt to push peoples together before they are ready for it always results in strife and greater division (Which we can see growing right now in much of Southern Europe, sadly). Thus, my main opposition to the EU. Trying to go too far, too fast has created a completely untenable situation.

            A reliance on dogma rather than fact within the EU hierarchy has created a dysfunctional monolith that cannot change anywhere near quickly enough, nor in the right ways. They seem not to ever be able to realise when they have gotten things wrong, even when catastrophe stares them in the face, which is a terrible flaw.

            That’s not to say that some future iteration of the EU may not be workable. All it would take is for the leadership to have a bit of humility. To stop assuming they always know best and to learn the many lessons that history has to teach them about the rise and fall of empires.

            The current mess is done for though, I have no doubt. It’s a matter of when, not if. I just hope the many peoples of Europe will blame their own politicians for the mess, as they should, rather than other nations.

            Happy New Year to you, too :)

  2. Mike Stallard
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    I love the fact that you write poetry too. When people want to know if politicians are sincere, then a poem says in the frankest way what they feel.
    Will you allow a fellow poet (ahem!) to give a word of advice? The second half of the last line might have been much stronger if it had been half the length: i.e. strike out everything before the caesura.

    “The great dashing ocean has time on its side
    A flattening tide.”

    “They urge us together, to build one nation.
    “Ovation? Negation!”

    Hope that helps. Remind me to send you own works sometime………

  3. Mike Stallard
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Oh all right then, since you insist!

    Mr Brown: In memoriam:

    “The Iron Chancellor, ” you said,
    “Is what I plan to be.
    “With Prudence as my handmaid,
    “Your money’s safe with me.”

    And then, with trust established
    You spent and spent and spent
    Until the money disappeared
    And all your credit went.

    And now in desperation
    You watch your debits soar;
    Yet with decreasing income
    You promise billions more.

    A nail biting silly Scot,
    Otto von Bismarck you are not.

    • Boudicca
      Posted December 26, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      One I wrote about Cameron and The Veto That Never Was:

      ( little out of date now that 3 wheels are off Cameron’s rattly coalition, with the last one wobbling more and more every time he opens his mouth).

      Good morning all and thanks for coming
      I know the newswires are all humming
      With talk of betrayal, anger and spite
      So I must explain what happened that night.
      I’ve come away a hated man
      For spoiling Merkozy’s little plan
      But the Treaty that they tried to table
      Wouldn’t have made the Euro stable
      It was about control and – more’s the pity,
      They wanted to regulate The City.

      Before I went, I spoke to Clegg
      We agreed a plan, I didn’t beg
      The strategy was quite precise
      Don’t be awkward; must be nice
      Allow them to discuss the options
      But, basically it’s not OUR problem
      We warned the Euro would be unstable
      Without fiscal union on the table
      from the outset; but they ignored us
      The result is the current Euro crisis.

      We’ve done our best to help them out
      We’ve put up money and didn’t shout
      when they deposed Pap and Berlusconi
      And installed instead their Euro cronies
      But the power-grab that they had plotted
      Could not proceed and had to be swatted
      Unless they agreed to my demands
      To leave The City in our safe hands.
      Merkozy balked; they wouldn’t agree
      So the veto was used …. and I was free.

      81 Backbenchers in the Tory Party
      Eurosceptics, hale and hearty
      Ignored my pleas; defied the whip
      And had got me in their populist grip.
      The country wants a Referendum
      and a brand new Treaty would’ve got them
      hopping mad; and fuelled demands
      for the vote they want, which I won’t grant.
      If there’s no new Treaty, there’s no debate
      And their demand for a vote will have no weight.

      At the same time I have boxed in Nick
      He didn’t foresee my little trick
      The strategy agreed I didn’t break
      It was Merkozy who refused to make
      the deal that Clegg and I proposed
      So more fool them and Clegg, whose nose
      Is very badly out of joint
      But never mind, I won my point –
      The UK will not bend the knee
      To Merkel and mini-Sarkozy.

      So isolated Great Britain stands
      Alone amongst the EU lands
      The others all were far too frit
      To refuse to take Merkozy’s shit
      They capitulated, one by one
      ‘Til the veto was played and the game was done
      Then they slunk away to each Capital City
      To think about the nitty gritty
      Of Merkozy’s demands and what will mean
      Will their nations still be Sovereign?

      But I’m the Star in the Sceptic circles
      I stood up to Sarkozy and Mrs Merkel
      The tabloids love me, they’re going ecstatic
      The people are fooled – they’re convinced I’m a Sceptic
      Clegg is distraught, his polling is down
      Miliband is livid – that boy’s such a clown
      The Tories are happy – apart from a few
      (Heseltine and Clarke) – but that’s nothing new
      The BBC’s mad – Europhile to the max
      Just wait ‘til I hammer the Licence-fee tax!

      Meanwhile mini-Sarkozy is blowing a gasket
      The Euro is imploding just not yet in the basket
      The Czechs, the Irish, the Swedes and the Finns
      Are thinking about what Fiscal Union means.
      And already we see the wheels coming off
      Merkozy’s Treaty That Never Was.
      I’m a tabloid star; my backbenchers are pleased
      The polls are all good, the LibDems on their knees…..
      And I STILL haven’t granted a Referendum
      So it seems, they all lost (so did you) and I won.

  4. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    I expect the EU always to remain a hybrid between supranational and intergovernmental cooperation, and that it will integrate only at the slowest pace allowed by the financial markets and the emergence of global economic powers. Going slowly is needed for public support. The EU may not become a “United States of Europe” at all, there is no particular need for a new building to resemble previous buildings. So best (for Europhiles) is to keep an open mind about what is needed for sustainable European cooperation. Even the eurozone doesn’t need to become a second Switzerland, (i.e. a confederation of different languages and regional cultures with a single currency ). However, if the Eurozone were to become like Switzerland, why wouldn’t it last likewise for at least a hundred years? (I will read the poem later today, who knows, it may change my view)

    • Boudicca
      Posted December 26, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      It doesn’t matter whether you impose your Federation slowly or or not ….. there is NO public support for it across Europe.

      Otherwise you wouldn’t have to repeatedly ignore Referenda and the likes of Shauble wouldn’t have to instruct the British Government NOT to hold one in the UK.

      The EU has no democratic legitimacy and never will. There is no European Demos.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted December 26, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

        @Boudicca: Of course there is a European Demos (a silly Klaus-invention), it is called the peoples of Europe. Not very different from the Swiss example I cited – various cultures, various languages but still very much in common as well.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted December 27, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

          I’m not familiar with Dutch grammar, Peter; is there no formal distinction between the singular and the plural, or is this just your own deliberate attempt to confuse them?

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted December 27, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

            @Denis Cooper: You could try “volkeren” in google–translate. My point really is that I cannot see why people from various nations couldn’t participate in supranational democratic processes. Democraqcy doesn’t have to stop at town level, nor at national level.

      • yulwaymartyn
        Posted December 27, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

        of course there is public support for it. It is just dumb not to recognise that. People including me love Europe. We put Europe first then our member state second. End of.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted December 28, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

          Then you’re in a very small minority, even according to the EU’s own Eurobarometer surveys before they decided to stop asking about the questions about it.

          • yulwaymartyn
            Posted December 29, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

            No Denis for most people Europe is not particularly high on their list of grievances on the door step. They don’t share the anti EU feelings that you have and they don’t share the pro EU beliefs that I have. At a guess probably 20 per cent of Brits think like me on this point.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 26, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      “Going slowly is needed for public support.”

      You and your kind have almost no “public support”, Peter, not just in the UK but in most other parts of Europe; what you really mean is:

      “Going slowly is needed to avoid public revolt”.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted December 26, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        @Denis Cooper: Denis, I think that you’re wrong here. Just a few months ago (12.09.12) the Dutch public voted in a more Europhile government than the previous one, the two coalition parties belonging to ALDE and S&D in European context.
        I have to point out that eurosceptics (like you?) have had a few bad attacks of “wishful thinking” recently:
        * predicting (wishing) the euro would break up – failed
        * predicting the EU would break up – failed
        * predicting a fiscal compact could be stopped by a veto – failed
        * predicting (even Cameron!) the EU facilities from being used by the fiscal-compact members – failed
        Maybe your dream about no public support for the next (small) integration steps is another example of wishful thinking? Naturally, people’s instincts are usually against change, so they will need to be convinced first. As our recent free and fair national elections are showing, this is possible. The party which suggested to leave the euro, leave the EU, lost over a third of its support. The more moderate eurosceptic party (Socialist Party) didn’t gain any seats in parliament. The richer EU members were supposed to be the more eurosceptic ones, not wanting to pay up. Well, the Dutch public would have voted far more eurosceptically, don’t you think?

        • APL
          Posted December 26, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

          Peter van Leeuwen: “I have to point out that eurosceptics (like you?) have had a few bad attacks of “wishful thinking” recently:
          * predicting (wishing) the euro would break up – failed
          * predicting the EU would break up – failed
          * predicting a fiscal compact could be stopped by a veto – failed
          * predicting (even Cameron!) the EU facilities from being used by the fiscal-compact members – failed”

          It ain’t over until it’s over.

          The thing about predicting a thing is that there are two components to the successful prediction, getting the ‘thing’ right, and getting the time frame for the ‘thing’ to happen right.

          It is nearly impossible to get both right at the same time on a consistent basis.

          In the case of your four ‘predictions’, the third one … what is that? There never was a ‘veto’, now to turn around and claim that the results of a pretend veto was

          Reply : I seem to remember predicitng that the ERM would break up, which it did, that belonging to the ERM would cause the UK great economic pain, which it did, and that Greece would default debts, which they did. The pro Euro people all said these things were impossible.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted December 26, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

            Reply to reply: some Eurosceptics were more prudent and successful than others in their predictions, and, although I’d be a very bad prophet, I have always imagined that Greek debt would have to be restructured. I can even see Greece leaving the euro at some point, but only if it can be managed and if the Greeks themselves want to leave the euro. So please don’t include me yet in “all the pro euro people”, they come in many shapes and forms.

            @APL: with regard to the third “prediction” – Some Brits didn’t see Mr. Cameron stance as a veto, I seem to remember from newspaper reports , that he himself did , (and as a foreigner, I have to take the UK government’s opinion as the official UK position :) )

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted December 27, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

          I’ve never predicted that the eurozone was likely to break up; on the contrary I’ve always predicted that your eurocrat chums would do everything that they possibly could, legal and illegal, ethical and unethical, to preserve the existing eurozone intact to prevent it all unravelling and to allow it to continue its expansion across Europe.

          That wasn’t me being particularly “prudent”, simply recognising that they are fanatics with no respect for the rule of law and little care for the suffering they inflict on others.

          • uanime5
            Posted December 27, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

            Care to explain why Greece and Spain also wanted to euro to survive and didn’t want to leave it? Are these countries made up entirely of euro fanatics?

            It’s far more likely that the countries supported the euro because leaving it would cause them more suffering.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted December 27, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

            @Denis Cooper: So some eurosceptics never expected the eurozone to break up, point taken. “Prudent” wasn’t directed at you but the blog’s author, hence reply to reply. You may not have realised that on the continent there are large groups of common people like me who wholeheartedly support a gradual further integration in Europe. I wouldn’t call these people eurocrats, just people with a different persuasion than yours.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted December 28, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

            Of course there are large groups of people like you who wholeheartedly support further integration in the EU, Peter; that would be why on the only occasion your countrymen have ever been asked about it directly they wholeheartedly rejected the EU Constitutional Treaty, despite it having the strong support of the government and all the main political parties, and no doubt your strong support as well.

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted December 27, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

          Peter–All very fine but as ever what has that got to do with us in the UK? How much would you bet on the results of a UK referendum? That is all I care about and I do not want to be homogenized with the Continent which I, and I believe the UK majority, see as a completely different animal. Thank God for the Channel. You might as well tell me what the feelings are of the people in Timbuktu. Say what you like about Switzerland, good bad or indifferent, but at least they have regular referenda (personally I do not see much need for politicians any more in this high tech age) and have come up thereby with the right answer on the EU.

          • uanime5
            Posted December 27, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

            1974: polls show 50% of the people polled want to leave the EC.

            1975: 66% of the voters vote to remain in the EC.

            2012: polls show 50% of the people polled want to leave the EU.

            I suspect any referendum will be a repeat of the 1975 referendum.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted December 27, 2012 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

            @Leslie Singleton: the question put in the blog was about the EU, how far it would go, and before I got side tracked by various reactions, I did address that issue. The referendum question wasn’t really put in this blog, although I can see that this is an increasingly pressing matter for Britain.

        • yulwaymartyn
          Posted December 27, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

          Peter – of course he is wrong. Matters proceed very quickly sometimes -here in the UK we have a saying “needs must”. All democratic governments can act quickly in extremis.

  5. Boudicca
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    I think the EU, as it is currently constituted, won’t survive another decade.

    I believe the British Establishment will finally recognise that the only way our economy will recover and grow again, is to regain the freedom to run our own economy from the UK and build up trade with the global community (particularly the BRICS and the Anglosphere). The UK will detatch itself from the Monster (I hope completely) which will send a signal to the other non-federalist nations in Scandinavia, the Czechs and possibly Ireland.

    The EU will probably become two unions. A Federalist Eurozone, led by Germany and the EEA, led by the UK.

    If it cannot find a way of achieving this by negotiation and then the agreement of the people in each member nation, then eventually there will be civil conflict on IRA/ETA lines.

    History repeatedly shows that people forced into an unwanted and inappropriate union will eventually rebel. That is the lesson of the USSR, Yugoslavia and countless African and Middle Eastern constructs. The nations of the EU have nothing to bind them together: there is no correlation between Finland and Malta; Spain and Bulgaria; Sweden and Hungary – and there never will be.

    The sooner the UK gets out, the better. Either Cameron recognises that and does something about it, or UKIP will end his political career.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 26, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      And the lesson from the creation of the USA, that Obama has either forgotten or maybe has never known, is that the final imposition of an unwanted and resented federal system of government may only be achieved if the federalist fanatics can arrange for enough of their opponents to be killed and maimed, for their economic base to be destroyed and for their families to be expropriated. Which no doubt the same kind of federalist fanatics within the EU would have little hesitation in doing, if they were ever to be allowed the means to do it.

    • uanime5
      Posted December 26, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      As long as half the UK’s exports go to the EU we won’t be leaving any time soon. Nor will the Czechs, who are surrounded by EU countries.

      You belief in an IRA/ETA-esque conflict is just silly. Any nation can leave the EU if they elected a Government that wishes to leave the EU, so there’s never any need for violence.

      • Boudicca
        Posted December 27, 2012 at 10:03 am | Permalink

        Considerably less than half our exports go to the EU. The Official figures, which show it at around 45% (and declining) are inflated by goods which are destined for outside the EU are but are shipped via Rotterdam.

        Whilst our exports to the EU are on a declining trajectory, our exports to the rest of the world are increasing substantially.

        There is no need to be in the political union which is the EU, in order to trade with the EU nations. Otherwise China would be having a few problems exporting to it and so would the Yanks. We are the EU’s largest export market and they will trip over themselves to agree a Trade Treaty when we leave.

        Alternatively, we join the EEA and/or EFTA and gain access to the single market that way.

        • uanime5
          Posted December 27, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

          Our exports to the rest of the world cannot rise faster than our exports to the EU decrease. So I doubt the increase has been substantial if 45% of our exports still go to the EU.

          The UK is unlikely to get a better trade than the USA if we leave and definitely nothing as good as the member of the EEA get (they have to obey most EU laws in exchange for access to the single market).

          • Edward
            Posted December 29, 2012 at 12:04 am | Permalink

            Ive read some non-sensical statements from you uni, but none so bad as “our exports to the rest of the world cannot rise faster than our exports to the EU decrease”
            UK trade is not a fixed figure only abe to be apportioned between two areas.

        • peter davies
          Posted December 28, 2012 at 9:29 am | Permalink

          Using the Export/Import argument is absurd when we talk about reasons to stay in the EU. We know there is a deficit and the EEA and EFTA vehicles to continue this free trade relationship.

          Bottom line is simple, being part of a Fed EU does not and never will suit the UK.

          Its funny I listened to half an hour on BBC Parliament showing Blair lecturing a group of business leaders on why staying in the EU was so important.

          Wholly based on the fact that we need to compete with the BRICS and other emerging economies, how we could ever do that in a Socialist EU straight jacket is beyond me.

          It sounded so much like the way he behaved in the lead up to the Iraq war – nothing to do with his own personal ambitions of course…..

          Its worrying that people obviously still listen to the man worrying

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted December 27, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

        Right, and nor will the Swiss be leaving the EU, not while 60% of their exports go to EU countries .. oh, hang on, Switzerland has never joined the EU, those stupid Swiss keep voting against enjoying its manifold benefits.

        • uanime5
          Posted December 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

          The Swiss are part of the EEA and have to obey most EU law in order to have access to the single market.

          Also the Czechs are net recipients of the EU budget so they have even less reason to leave as they’re effectively paid to be part of the EU.

          • peter davies
            Posted December 28, 2012 at 9:31 am | Permalink

            You have to obey any market to have access to it – that is not an argument to be in it

          • Bazman
            Posted December 28, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink

            What about North Korea and the Bahamas? They are not in the EU.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted December 28, 2012 at 10:15 am | Permalink

            Your first sentence is incorrect in two particulars.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted December 27, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

        Unanime5–What I think you might mean is that according to you there SHOULD be no need for violence. I see the EU as a pressure cooker that might blow at any time, when for instance people who have been destroyed by it decide to revolt big time. Your idealism, well meant I am sure, will not count for much if people start getting assassinated.

        • uanime5
          Posted December 27, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

          The EU is not and never will be a pressure cooker; just because you don’t like the EU doesn’t mean it will collapse/implode/explode.

          Every country in the EU is a democracy and the people can vote for a government to leave the EU if they don’t like being part of it, for example the Greek had two recent elections where the Greek people could have voted to leave the EU but chose not to. Thus there are never any circumstances when the people would need to revolt. Your claims about assassinations are just paranoid delusions.

  6. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    The EU will do everything it can to create a united States of Europe because that is its sole raison d’etre despite all the lies we were told denying it over decades. The Eurozone will be the first countries to lose democratic control and then muscles will be flexed to force other member states of the EU to follow. Many bemoan colonialism whilst failing to appreciate the loss of independent self-government of member states to the EU. They have forgotten the words of Mahatma Gandhi: ” Good government is no substitute for self-government.” In the case of the EU there isn’t even “good government”. Abraham Lincoln said “No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent.” No one in the EU seems to have heard of that one. I have long thought that the EU “project” will end in uprisings and violence. I don’t know how long it will take before people finally realise that they have lost their freedom of self government. All empires rise and fall and this anti-democratic dictatorship will be no different.

    • uanime5
      Posted December 26, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      Quoting other people doesn’t make your argument any less silly.

      Given that the leaders of the EU countries wrote all the EU’s treaties, their Parliaments ratified these treaties, and their MEPs voted on these EU laws it’s clear that these countries haven’t lost democratic controls and do consent to the EU.

      • Brian Tomkinson
        Posted December 27, 2012 at 8:49 am | Permalink

        When do the people get to have their say? You may be happy to be governed by the EU but I and millions of others are not.

        • uanime5
          Posted December 27, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

          You had your say in the 2009 MEP election and the 2010 general election. In the latter case a pro-EU coalition was formed because the majority of the population supported them instead of the anti-EU UKIP.

          • peter davies
            Posted December 28, 2012 at 9:35 am | Permalink

            the last election wasn’t based on an EU ticket, more to do with how to deal with labours mess/deficit/banking etc.

            I fear this EU thing is happening by stealth so is not at the top of the list yet.

      • Boudicca
        Posted December 27, 2012 at 10:04 am | Permalink

        But the PEOPLE have continually rejected the Treaties which the political elite have negotiated and ratified.

        France and Holland voted down the EU Constitution. Ireland rejected the Lisbon Constitutional Treaty …. all the other countries were denied a Referendum for fear of the result.

        The EU has no democratic legitimacy.

        • Posted December 27, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

          Did you forget the Danish NO?

        • uanime5
          Posted December 27, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

          After the EU Constitution was replaced with a new treaty. This treaty was accepted by all EU countries, except Ireland. However before another new treaty could be created Ireland needed a bailout and chose to approve this treaty rather than create a new one.

          Thus the people decided to accept the treaties.

          • peter davies
            Posted December 28, 2012 at 9:36 am | Permalink

            Nothing to do with blackmail

  7. Pete the Bike
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    I’m afraid my poetic side is somewhat lacking so I answer with a quote.
    “As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there’s a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.”
    Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

  8. IAN WRAGG
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Of course the EU is doomed and all but the elite can see that. I fear when it finally implodes, all the people who gave away our freedoms will be punished by the people.
    The French revolution will seem like a minor skirmish compared. All those in receipt of the tax free pensions, the Pattens, Kinnocks etc etc of this world, beware.

  9. william
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Bar Texas,Americans call themselves Americans. There is a national identity.Nobody calls themself European. At some point, as ‘ever closer union’is forced down the throats of the majority by the zealots,who are a pale imitation of ‘founding fathers’, the project must collapse,probably when economic forces and anger amongst German taxpayers force the readoption of some national currencies,within 3 years.There is no historical precedent for democracy and 50 percent youth unemployment to live together,on a permanent basis.Spain …….

  10. Single Acts
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Maybe its maturity, but unlike almost all other politicians, you strike me as a man at ease with himself.

    In addition to being a happy state for any man to achieve, such a perspective allows calm, rational thought which we have seen much of in 2012. Thanks once again this year for a ‘must-read’ blog.

  11. NickW
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    The direction of Europe is quite clear; the European Government is acquiring more and more power with less and less accountability. The Euro is causing depression in the periphery and a general loss of global competitiveness.

    Both these trends will continue, unless they are firmly stopped.

    The electorate cannot influence Europe directly, The European Government can only be influenced by Europe’s national leaders who sometimes have their own agenda independent of their own Parliament and their people’s wishes.

    The European monster will grow until it is stopped, and it can only be stopped by the rise of “Eurosceptic” parties and either the election of Eurosceptic leaders or the pressure put on existing leaders by the rise of Eurosceptic parties.

    Two things are clear; the European experiment is a failure and the electorate can see it is a failure. National politicians will either have to address that failure or be removed from office.

    The alternative to the democratic route is the path being followed by Greece; the destruction and failure of the State, civil disorder and the return of an authoritarian regime.

    The danger point for everyone, (which has already been passed) is when either the national authoritarian regime carries out the wishes of the (unelected) European government, or the European government imposes its rule on a failed state, a path already trodden by the replacement of National leaders with unelected placemen in Greece and Italy.

    UKIP and its national equivalents across Europe are a better option than descent into chaos.

    • uanime5
      Posted December 26, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      The Euro is causing depression in the periphery and a general loss of global competitiveness.

      Then why aren’t any eurozone countries trying to leave the euro. Even Greece wants to remain in it.

      The electorate cannot influence Europe directly

      Apart from voting for their MEPs

      The European Government can only be influenced by Europe’s national leaders who sometimes have their own agenda independent of their own Parliament and their people’s wishes.

      Well there’s three solutions to this.

      1) Stop electing politicians that don’t reflect your views.

      2) Have a more proportional voting system so that politicians have to be more responsive to the electorate.

      3) All constituents to recall their MPs.

      the European experiment is a failure and the electorate can see it is a failure.

      Failed in what way? They seem to have fixed the euro crisis without any country having to leave the euro.

      The alternative to the democratic route is the path being followed by Greece; the destruction and failure of the State, civil disorder and the return of an authoritarian regime.

      None of which is happening in Greece as they democratically elected a new Government. Though they are protesting against austerity this isn’t an attempt to overthrow the Government they recently elected.

      European government imposes its rule on a failed state, a path already trodden by the replacement of National leaders with unelected placemen in Greece and Italy.

      Both got new leaders in exchange for bailouts. Greece voted out their new PM, and the Italian PM resigned and held new elections. Hardly leaders being imposed by the EU.

      • uanime5
        Posted December 26, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

        3) All constituents to recall their MPs.

        Should be:
        3) Allow constituents to recall their MPs.

        • Edward
          Posted December 27, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

          Uanime5
          “they seem to have fixed the eurozone crisis….”
          Oh come off it uni, the Eurozone currency and debt crisis is as potent a danger now as it has ever been.

          • uanime5
            Posted December 27, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

            Given that all the eurosceptics aren’t claiming that the euro is about to implode it’s clear that the EU has fixed most if not all of the problems.

            The debt crisis is also much lower as Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Greece are trying to balance their budgets.

          • Edward
            Posted December 29, 2012 at 12:13 am | Permalink

            This forthcomming year will show who is right and if crucially Germany are prepared to continue to fund the continuation of the grand euro project.
            But to say the Euro crisis is solved is an amazing opinion to hold as it goes against the major economists and banks opinions in the EU.
            In a way I hope you are right because the sooner countries like Spain Greece Portugal and Italy are booming again then the better it may be for the UK.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted December 27, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

        “1) Stop electing politicians that don’t reflect your views”

        seems a good idea and one that I can fully endorse, and which means none of us should be voting for any of your party’s candidates except for the few who have signed up to leave the EU.

  12. Denis Cooper
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know how long the EU will last or how far it will go.

    I do know that its course will be steered by the heads of state or government of the sovereign member states, meeting in the European Council:

    http://www.european-council.europa.eu/the-institution

    And I do know that those heads of state or government have agreed that their respective peoples mustn’t be allowed any effective say on what will happen to their countries.

    As they are now members of a pan-EU political class, they are even less interested in the views of common folk than when they were just members of their respective national political classes.

    That’s the reality of describing the EU as a “club”; it’s a new “club” for politicians, not for their servants.

    In some parts of the EU people may cause trouble by insisting that they want a proper say on the future of their country, in the belief that it is supposed to be a democracy, but every effort will be made to stop them interfering.

    That’s why back in October Cameron had no scruples about going behind our backs to reassure his fellow club members that with their co-operation he could keep us under control:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/9617085/David-Cameron-to-reassure-Brussels-that-Britain-can-avoid-a-vote-on-exiting-the-EU.html

    “Sources said Mr Cameron will reassure the Brussels summit that Britain can delay or avoid a vote on exiting the EU if treaty changes are put off until the summer of 2014.

    This would be following elections to the European Parliament, but before the 2015 general election.

    The timetable, which has been suggested by Jose Manuel Barroso, the commission president, will be discussed tonight but a decision will not be taken until December.

    Diplomats said that Cameron would reassure today’s EU summit that if future treaty change is carried out at these dates, with concessions to Britain, then the risk of a popular revolt can be avoided.”

    • Boudicca
      Posted December 26, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      The next GE will be between LibLabCON on behalf of the EU v UKIP on behalf of the British people.

      I hope the electorate realise that this may be their last chance to vote for a Self-Governing UK.

  13. M Davis
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    The fanatics at the EU will never give up until they satisfy their quest for totalitarian power, unless elected Governments use their power and tell them in no uncertain terms that the majority of the people WANT OUT – presuming that they do, of course!

  14. Barbara1
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Your poem is very ‘zen’, John – the idea that drops of water, eventually, wear away the hardest stone.

    Personally, I suspect that the riots and demonstrations in Greece, Spain and France (over gay marriage) show that the populations will not take very much more.

    I would be very interested to know what others think of the idea that it would be easy for the UK to leave this ill-conceived ‘project’, as we never legally joined in the first place:

    With regard to where the project is going – could these two links suggest that the superstate’s ignoble end might have been contained in its ignoble beginnings?

  15. David Saunders
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Stick to the day job, JR.

  16. Bert Young
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    I hope and believe that a united Europe will not happen . The differences that exist among the countries involved are too many and too unwieldy to knit together . In the coming year the UK will have modified its relationship and have , to all intents and purposes , withdrawn . The action taken by the UK will trigger the fall out of Italy , the Czech Republic , Denmark and Ireland in fairly quick succession . In three years the remaining countries will have been obliged to do the same . The result will be a re-negotiated Common Market and a re-establishment of democracy . The Euro will vanish in this time scale replaced by national currencies . Fingers crossed !

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 26, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      There’s still a widespread misconception, actively encouraged by some, that the original “Common Market” was OK.

      But the 1957 Treaty of Rome, to which the UK formally acceded on January 1st 1973, has this as its very first line:

      http://www.eurotreaties.com/rometreaty.pdf

      “DETERMINED to lay the foundations of an ever-closer union among the peoples of Europe”

      and in one way or another everything we don’t like about the EU now has sprung from that; so if the result was “a re-negotiated Common Market” it would have to be re-negotiated to exclude that commitment.

  17. Richard1
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    I once heard Tony Benn, the veteran Labour MP say the following in answer to a question on the powers of the EU: ‘Did you elect the people who govern you? and Can you get rid of them? If you can’t answer yes to both questions you don’t live in a democracy’.

    Can the problem be summed up any better than that?

    • Robert Christopher
      Posted December 26, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

      No!

    • yulwaymartyn
      Posted December 28, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      of course you can get rid of them. I dream every night about Daniel Hannan being kicked out as an MEP. It is a matter of voting in the european elections. To see the back of Hannan – that would be really something.

  18. pipesmoker
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    I would be more interested in your view but you asked. I think they will use any means they can, funded by our money, to get what they want and that they launched the Euro currency in the expectation that it would fail and end in calls for political union to further their aims. I do believe that in the end they will fail and the whole thing will implode like the USSR. The one thing I recall from my history lessons at school was the important principle that this country always held the balance of power in Europe, not the EU. Your party got us in and they are the only one, given the will, to get us out.

    If they don’t and members of parliament are unwilling, then I forcast that one day the armed forces will have to take over governance of the country in order for us to regain the political and legal sovereinty we have lost?

    All the very best to you JR for the new year.

    • uanime5
      Posted December 26, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      The UK didn’t really hold the balance of power in Europe. We were only able to influence somethings Spain and France did; with the Holy Roman Empire, Hungary, Austria, Prussia, the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth, Russia, and the Ottoman Empire doing pretty much what they wanted.

      Let’s face it in the past France, Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire were able to control much of Italy and the UK didn’t do anything to stop them.

  19. Chris Sheldrake
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    The only thing holding the Eurozone together is fear : that is, fear of the alternative, which is, of course, being fanned by those that benefit most from the Gravy train and national Eurozone politicians. Trouble is, they are so arrogant that they continue to think that they can buck the markets.

    Sadly, with the sole exception of Britain, no European political party is offering the electorate an alternative, so tensions and economic pressure will continue to mount until somebody breaks ranks or the market eventually intervenes.

    The crunch point should be the German elections in 2013 but if Merkel continues to conspire with the SDP to keep the public in the dark about the real cost to their support for Southern Europe, I reckon the SDP and the Greens and, possibly, the rump of the CSU, will be able to form a pro-EU grand coalition so the German population will just be dealt more of the same.

    That will only postpone the Eurozone break up for a year or three at best.

    It will be messy and expensive, but is a break-up is inevitable.

  20. Denis Cooper
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Meanwhile, the Daily Mail seeks to mislead its readers into thinking that it is anti-EU by highlighting idiocies such as this:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2253230/Footballs-marked-warning-stating-choking-hazard-according-EU-regulations.html

    and the Daily Telegraph tries to maintain its circulation, and support for the Tory party, by holding out the prospect of the pseudosceptic Boris Johnson coming to the rescue:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9765909/Tories-preparing-Boris-Johnsons-return-to-Parliament.html

    But if the chips were ever down with an “in-out” referendum, both newspapers would abuse the trust of their readers by actively campaigning for us to stay in the EU, just as they actively campaigned for us to stay in the so-called “Common Market” back in 1975.

  21. marg brandreth-jones
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    It is natural to want bonding and friendship and this extends to nations, but as in any personal relationship power games are at play;it is a facet of survival of the fittest and species. There is an interplay between the strongest individuals survive and safety for the species in numbers. This tension and mutabilty which is so strongly identified in your poem looks at the earths intention to create and strengthen its matter only to be counterbalanced by the seas eroding qualities , the incessant ebbing and flowing which because of its insistence achieves fragmentation from granite to sand .
    Humans although superimposed on the scene do have a choice..I think ?
    By asking the question how long will the EU state last suggests that you believe that it will come to be. By asking how much power will it have asks the question will any one nation submit to an overiding power..(financial) of another .. no one nation wants the domination of another and does any separate nation really believe that happy and empathetic compromise will bring power?.
    To me competition is concerned with individual betterment , yet today is is concerned with destruction of another.
    I truly think we will go on waiting sparring and waiting and only strike when all chips are down, which I hope they never are as even Greeces predicament is not intractable.

  22. Mark B
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    It will continue to build ‘ever closer union’ between member states, for as long as said members agree to do so. It is called the ‘ratchet system’ and, it works very well. So why change ?

    It will take as much as it needs in-order to do the things that it wants. But like most things political, that will never be enough. It will always want more. The main things however are, financial policy, foreign policy, home affairs and defence. Once it has those, it will truly be able to call itself a Nation. It does not have long to go !

    It will last as long as it can, or at least until the money runs out – Its Socialist type entity after all. Asia is rising, whilst at the same time Europe is falling. The EU along with the rest of Europe is in decay. You can smell it !

    With regards to recession/depression, unemployment and the lack of political accountability one only has to remember the former Eastern Block. The East Germans’ were able to keep a tight grip on their populace thanks to various mass intimidation and indoctrination methods, and a fully controlled and compliant MSM. Sound familiar ? It only fell when the political support from Moscow evaporated. When countries like Hungary and Czechoslovakia tried to break from the ‘centre’ or the ‘loving embrace’ of Moscow, they found themselves under foreign occupation. People who think such a thing could not happen here or elsewhere might want to think again. Euro-force anyone !

    They will ‘never’ blame the EU Government. Not whilst there are still National Governments willing to take the blame. You see it here all the time. An EU or ECJ policy or judgement which proves to be unpopular with the electorate is never presented by Ministers’ as an EU Policy.

    For example:

    Lets take the recent furore over a certain coffee company not paying full UK tax. They were not evading paying tax, they were avoiding paying tax. They were registered in another EU country and paid the lower corporate taxes of that country. Nothing wrong, as its EU law. Yet the UK Government and the MSM failed to point this out. Why? National Governments’ play a crucial role in protecting the EU. No one comes out and says; “Sorry, HM Government would/would not like to do that, but the EU, will not let us. Its all part of the scam !

    Like all things, it will one day end. Like the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th French Republics’, The Third Reich (a thousand years and counting – NOT !) or the The Empire in which the sun will never set. Less said about that the better, I think.

    Question is; how ?

    • uanime5
      Posted December 27, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

      You forgot that Germany isn’t falling and much of Asia isn’t rising (China and India are not synonymous with Asia).

      You’ve also forgotten that there was almost no unemployment in the eastern bloc because companies were forced to give jobs to everyone.

      The Government often blames the EU, especially when something is unpopular or they can’t make employment conditions worse.

      Regarding the coffee company just because something is legal doesn’t make it moral and if the customers of this company don’t like this company’s tax dodging practises they’re free to boycott this company.

      • Bazman
        Posted December 28, 2012 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

        Three quid plus for a coffee had me boycotting them long before any of this tax thing. They can drink it themselves.

  23. uanime5
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Today I am interested in how far you think the EU will go in creating the United States of Europe?

    As far as the countries belonging to the EU want it to go.

    How much power will it have?

    As much as the countries belonging to the EU want it to have.

    How long will it last?

    As long as the countries belonging to the EU want it to last.

    Noticing a pattern here.

    How much unemployment,recession, lack of democracy will people put up with in the various countries?

    Depends on the country. In the UK people seem to have given up on ever working due to the prolonged recession but are willing to defend the lack of democracy by opposing any attempts to make the elections of MPs more proportionate or have any sort of elections for the Lords. Truly a country where no one will care about the lack of democracy.

    When will they start to blame their EU government rather than their national governments for their plight?

    Probably when the national Government is no longer responsible for the budget of these countries or the job creation in their countries. Until then it’s the national Government’s fault for not having a better budget, overspending, not controlling immigration, and not creating enough jobs.

  24. cosmic
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    The fundamental problem was identified 40 odd years back by Enoch Powell. There is no European demos, no people of Europe with a shared outlook, culture and set of aspirations. With no demos there can be no democracy.

    What we have is a form of government which is an oligarchy supervising a powerful caste of administrators – technocrats – and democratic politics is reduced to a sideshow. This is fine as long as the technocrats are wise and good, but if they are not, there’s no feedback mechanism to check them.

    I do think that calling the EU the EUSSR is glib counter-productive, but there are certainly similarities, in that it seems to be heading for a stodgy bureaucracy. It doesn’t have the political cohesion to throw its weight about militarily.

    The other problem connected with there being no demos is that the differences between parts of the conglomerate with different identities are hard to reconcile, such as the difference in productivity between the north and the south. This can only be resolved by the north subsidising the south and there are indications that patience is wearing thin on both sides. Contrast this to the USA where the redistribution of wealth between states takes place on a much smaller scale, there is a shared sense of identity and there is much greater mobility of population. This problem has been worsened by over eager expansion of the EU.

    Another point is that this empire has not been brought about by force of arms or consent. It has been brought about by trickery, passing it off as an economic project when it’s always been political and bribery of one sort or another. Eventually people see through trickery.

    As for the future, empires tend not to collapse suddenly, e.g. the Roman Empire. They decline and lose the periphery or split.

    My guess would be it will turn into an inner circle based on a the original states and a looser outer circle with mainly trading agreements.

    There is a school of thought that the EU will pass into history, leaving the UK as the last member.

    My view is it’s dangerous piece of utopian thinking, which like all utopian schemes is going to end in immense misery and I want my country to be out of it.

    • uanime5
      Posted December 27, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

      Well it’s clear you have no idea how the EU is run. This “oligarchy” AKA the Council of Europe is made up of the leaders of the EU countries, not technocrats, so democracy is at the heart of the EU.

      The EU has always been about closer integration and never just about trade. The failure of the anti-EU movement to explain this doesn’t make it trickery.

      The original states were most of Western Europe (Eastern Europe being under Soviet control) so I’m not sure how they’re going to form an inner circle.

      • Edward
        Posted December 29, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

        Those of us of a certain age Uni, felt that the original idea of closer integration would be used to bolster member states trading relationships, which would in turn, increase wealth and employment prospects for all Europe’s citizens.

        My particular complaint, is that it whilst the EU is roaring ahead with political and social integration, the other half of the EU concept, increased prosperity and employment for all, is just not happening, in fact we are going rapidly downhill.

  25. Barbara
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Will the EU bring on a United States of Europe? If they can without any objections, and that’s the point will countries object or have they now been brainwashed to such an extent they’ve lost the will to do it. Seeing the UK objecting and standing up for freedom and sovereignty might just make them think twice. So, our fight must increase with intensity, and those MPs who wish to survive the next election and stand up and be counted must join the fight too.
    We now will see more interest as the year ends and a new one begins; if they think things like gay marriage will make us forget they can think again, the same goes for immigration and the prospect of Bulgarians and Rumanians coming here enmass for benefits they are not entitled to. It will be interesting to see what Cameron will do about them. Allow them in and bring more expense, on housing, jobs, and schools, if he does he must be mad.
    This EU is a dangerous thing and will be hard to fight once set up, the poorer nations think they will be able to see paths paved with gold at the rich states expense. We will be asked to pay more and more to furnish these dreams, I say stop the rot now just tell them straight, no more money, no more immigrants, and no more silly laws will be allowed into Britain. Kick us out and make our day.

  26. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    I hadn’t realized that the second law of thermodynamics (increasing entropy) could lead to such nice poems, but do I find this a lovely poem.
    Applying the metaphor of this law, increasing entropy wouldn’t stop with Europe (the EU), it would also apply to the UK.

  27. They Work for US
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    The governing structures of the EU are a classic example of managerialism where many people who have no obvious useful talent have been able to insinuate themselves into positions of governance and influence beyond their wildest dreams..

    Since they have no electoral mandate they fear any kind of proper democracy. It is high time they went and their service to Europe regarded as self seeking treason.

    • uanime5
      Posted December 27, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      MEP and European Councillors are democratically elected so your lack of democracy claim is clearly wrong.

      • Edward
        Posted December 29, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

        But Uni, the posts with the most power, ie EU commissioners, are appointed by their national Governments.
        I never voted for Leon Brittain, Cathy Ashton nor Neil Kinnock, nor many others of this unique level of quality.
        I have never voted for anyone other than an MEP and their particular powers are carefully controlled.
        I would have some feeling of democracy if EU Commissioners were also elected by the people.
        Surely, you as a liberal minded democrat, would agree that this would be a better way forward.

  28. Peter T
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    In know that you like the Scillies but the helicopter service from Penzance is probably going to be removed/has been removed in the near future. What will all the school kids do?

    Reply: there are boat and fixed wing services. The local MPs need to work with the transport companies to ensure a proper spread of services.

    • Bazman
      Posted December 28, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

      Obviously private helicopter companies will be doing a jig at this unfair and ludicrous government subsidised competition finally being stopped and allowing free market forces to provide vastly superior helicopter services to thrive. A private school will now also be built further increasing the gains. The plan should be rolled out across all the islands in Britain with ferries next and tolls for bridges at real market cost. The bridges removed if demand is not there. The islands could then be sold to foreign billionaires.

      • Bazman
        Posted December 30, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

        Hello fantasists. wot Du U ave to say?!!

        • Bazman
          Posted December 30, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

          RAM IT!

  29. Posted December 26, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    We are social animals and, as such, must belong to a tribe.

    The widest tribal domain for most Europeans tends to be the nation state.

    I have no problem with people replacing this with Europe if that is their wish. This may happen in a few hundred years. However, there is no sign of it now and it cannot be forced by legislation or even by propaganda.

    In any case, I don’t think moves towards a United Stated of Europe will get very far as the Germans and other richer countries will not pay for it. In fact, I think the increasing divisions that will become apparent will re-enforce the nation state. My hope is that this doesn’t go too far and lead to conflict in Europe.

  30. bluedog
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    Interesting questions, Mr Redwood.

    In the absence of a European demos, the only hope for the EU would appear to be to create one along the principles of ethnogenesis, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnogenesis.

    This is necessarily a long term project.

    The problem for the EU is that it somehow has to contrive a fusion across ethnic and religious fault-lines. The races at issue are of course the Nordic/Teutons, the Latins and the Slavs. The religious overlay consists of Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Christianity, spiced up with Islam. Reconciling these countervailing forces will be expensive, requiring extensive transfer payments to mollify national pride and a secular ethos that favours none of the denominations. All of which can be seen in the functioning of the EU today.

    The current EU hegemon is of course the Federal Republic of Germany with a population of 80 million, about 16% of the EU total. Paradoxically, the German push for political integration would appear like to work against the interests of Germany. As presently constructed, it is possible for individual member states to game the EU to the benefit of their own citizens. France does this with the CAP and Germany does it by driving down its labour costs within the Eurozone to become a virtual monopoly supplier of manufactures. Once a full political and economic union is achieved, these individual national policies will become unsustainable. Germany will be subject to the tyranny of the majority in the rest of the EU.

    Indeed, it is not fanciful to predict that Germany itself could become a rust-belt populated by (recent migrants from outside the EU-ed) just as parts of the northern USA have become a rust-belt populated by unemployed (low income people from ethnic minorities-ed).

    Full economic and political union in the EU could have the unintended consequence of causing mass internal migration. Germans may emulate the Visigoths and once again colonise Spain, seeking a better climate. German migration was historically eastward, but there is no reason why the trend should not be to anywhere that they can improve their living standards, with Italy and Spain as obvious destinations. And what if Turkey joined the EU? Would Occupied Constantinople once again become a magnet for European youth?

    The issue therefore becomes to what extent the existing nationalities will retain their distinct identity under a different political structure.

    UK would be well advised to retain its successful national ethos and trade opportunistically with the various parts of the monolith.

    As the Conservatives under Cameron seem to have a death-wish, the question arises whether the UK can retain its identity for much longer given the likelihood of a Lab-Lib coalition lead by Miliband and Clegg, both of whom are more cosmopolitan than British.

  31. alan jutson
    Posted December 27, 2012 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Ah yes the Scilly Isles

    A very nice place.

    Lots of things to do and see when the weather is good , not so much when the weather is grim, other than the crashing of waves (always interesting)

    A certain Mr Harold Wilson was also a lover of the Scilly’s, indeed he is buried in St Mary’s cemetery.

    Mr Wilson, a politician who was remembered for giving us a vote on Europe, but forgetting to tell us it was more than just a Common trading market.

    A Politician who devalued the pound saying “the pound in you pocket is still worth a pound” but forgetting to tell everyone it would not buy as much as before.

    A Politician who thought the “White heat of technology” would see us into better times, but then cancelled TSR2 the most advanced aircraft of the time.

    AS for the EU:

    They will seek ever more power and control, which they have to do if they really want a complete a “Union of Nations”, for without it, common laws, taxes, financial control, employment lawqs and the like, it will not work, and will fall apart.

    Whilst many politicians want a growing EU, I think the populations of many Countries will eventually rise up against it, so I give it another 10 years of messing about with all sorts of fixes, and then another 10 years of internal strife before it all goes tits up.

    It will not fail completely, as a number (a fewer number) of nations will retain a loose connection for trade and co-operation purposes which most ordinary people thought at the time was the original concept..

  32. David Langley
    Posted December 27, 2012 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    I remember when NATO was the new defence flavour. We went on numerous exercises with our member countries and realised that all our weapons and equipment was peculiar to each country and when we lined up in defence and wanted to use each others supplies etc, no joy unless you spoke each language and could use each others equipment instantly and seamlessly.
    Languages and battle procedures differed, and so it was really a shambles.
    Eventually most members adopted the NATO standard and the standards became commonality.
    Logic should say that all countries to be efficient and able to seamlessly cooperate with other should be the same.
    Do we want to live in a battleship grey world where all is standard and individuality ironed out? I dont think so. Anyway happy Xmas and New year to all the lovely people who contribute and to JR who has inherited the other JR,s big hat.

  33. Pleb
    Posted December 27, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    The EU is nothing more than a forth richt. Call a spade a spade folks.

    • uanime5
      Posted December 27, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

      If the EU is the Fourth Reich then why is it in Belgium rather than Germany?

  34. niall clarke
    Posted December 27, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    Sadly for those who love the Scillies, the recent loss of the helicopter service seems to have messed up many Christmas plans and more importantly added to the isolation of the islands for those who live there. Its a shame all off-shore islands are not treated equally. I can’t imagine why, hardly something to do with them not (currently) being celtic?

    • alan jutson
      Posted December 28, 2012 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      niall

      Agree the helicopter service withdrawal must be a bit of a blow, not just for the islanders use, but for tourists too, which will of course mean less tourism income for the islanders.

      Our first trip to the Scilly’s was by helicopter from Penzance.

      Choice, was a 20 min flight, or a few hours in possibly rough seas in a smallish boat.

      You can always fly by fixed wing aircraft from a number of airports (we have also flown fron Newquay), but then its the usual airport experience, although the flight is good.

  35. Bazman
    Posted December 28, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    I wonder what the story would have been had she been from a council estate on benefits having two children by two different men and on the third husband?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/celebritynews/9768458/Third-husband-at-37-Thats-very-RocknRoll-Kate.html

    A woman in the Daily Mail who saves two grand from her benefits is seen as a sponger. The reality is that she saved £40 from her £140 after rent and living expenses.
    This right wing obsession with personal freedom does not extend to gay marriage it seems. Are we supposed to listen to lectures from these newspapers and their right wing supporters on money and morals?

  36. Derek Emery
    Posted December 28, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    The EU is the world’s best navel gazer. It’s only real interest is in itself, always has been and always will be. It has never had any real interest in being a competitive economy in world terms as its primary interest will always be in central control by its unelected rather than being involved in the messy world of world competition. The messy world of competition can never fit with EU left liberal political principles where central control dictates what can happen.
    This is well illustrated by OECD predictions for future growth up to 2060 which shows EU countries being the low growth area of the world with average growth rates of less than 2%. The EU may crate a united states of Europe but in economic terms it has to be a failure. With low growth rates job opportunities for the young well educated are limited largely to dead men’s shoes leaving many frustrated at lack of opportunity. We can expect the EU to become the world centre for a perennial brain drain as young leave to the rest of the world for the job opportunities that only growth can bring. OECD predictions are that the average growth rate for the rest of the world will be over 3% so that’s were nearly all future jobs opportunities will lie.
    Even EU companies are already making large investments in facilities in the rest of the world in preference to in the EU because being in a high growth area translates to much higher profit growth possibilities.

    It’s impossible for the EU to change its political principles as it is not a democracy whereby the elite in charge lose they jobs if they do not deliver what the public want. The elite will always be there and will never change their principles. Hence its future is as an economic backwater supplying educated talented graduates to the rest of the world where nearly all the jobs will be.

    The impetus for the young to to leave must increase over the decades due to the ever worsening ageing demographics inside the EU. Those who stay must face an ever-increasing tax burden to pay for the ever-rising costs of the old from a small working population.

    The dream of the EU elite does nothing for the wants and needs of the public. It will become the place to leave from for those with skills and education wanted by the rest of the world.

    • Bazman
      Posted December 28, 2012 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

      Is this about banking and bankers?

  37. Neil Craig
    Posted December 29, 2012 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Most eras of progress (eg Ancient Greece, the Italian Renaisance, Europe in the age of sale) existed when the cultural area was larger than the political units and innovaters felt able to choose which government to settle under. This is the opposite of rmpires or the EU. With hindsight the greatest achievement of the British Empire, & there are a list, may be its peaceful dissolution into separate countries while maintaininmg a common culture.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
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