Last week Parliament felt better about itself. Parties and politicians who had been craven before the media suddenly found voices. They united to speak out against the Murdoch press. Labour and Coalition jostled to be the more demanding. By the end of the week Parliament had got what it said it wanted – an Inquiry into the press, the resignation of Rebekah Brooks, the promise that both Murdochs would attend a Parliamentary Committee, and the withdrawal of the bid for Sky Broadcasting.
Many Parliamentarians used lurid language to describe the alleged horrors of what has happened. I agree that where crimes have been committed they need to be investigated and prosecutions brought. I agree it was in bad taste to hack into the phones of victims of tragedies, and I hope proper apologies are made.
It came as no surprise for me to learn my phone had been hacked, just as I have been followed and subject to eavesdropping in the past as journalists seek to find a story, even where there was none. If you are in public life you need to keep some sense of proportion, and to object only where the lies and distortions are excessive.
I just wish Parliament could show similar resolve to speak out and achieve something about a real threat to our democracy, our capacity for self government and our freedoms – the European Union. Instead, the natural federal majority in the Commons usually holds sway. The Euro is crashing around us, a crisis of confidence in the loans of some foreign governments is weakening banking systems, and the EU simply demands more tax revenue and more borrowings to try to patch and mend the mess it has created. They are going to press ahead with more power for the Brussels centre, as they wrestle with the world markets who scent victory.
I am concerned that Parliament is yet again breaking for a long summer period, when all sorts of trouble could brew on the continent. I would like the Euro zone to move quickly and positively towards resolution of its crisis. Either they need to create more of a single government, and accept responsibility for each other’s debts and borrowing levels, or they need to eject the weaker members from the union. Either way, the UK must stay well out of all this. We cannot afford a penny of ours to be wasted on Euro bail outs, a point I have made often and voted for in the Commons. We should use any move towards a more integrated Euroland government to demand less interference from Brussels in our own affairs. They need a tighter commitment, we need a looser arrangement.
Unfortunately it seems unlikely there will be an early solution, as Germany, France and European Central Bank are unable to agree on how to proceed. As they drift and dither, so more damage is done to the struggling Greek economy, and to the weaker European banks. I am glad to have helped keep the UK out of this mess. It will do more damage than the Exchange Rate Mechanism, which was a dry run for it. The costs will be counted in many lost jobs, broken businesses, and squandered opportunities. The UK will find the going a bit tougher when it comes to exporting to the continent, but at least we are not locked into a failing system, which will cost the ones who are a great deal of economic grief as well as public money.