More austerity please, we are in the Euro


             Strikes in Spain, dissent in Greece. The noises of protest are becoming all too familiar in Euroland, as people complain about the policies their governments are following. Euroland as a whole is in double dip recession.

              Euroland democracies no longer function well. Voters can change the people in office, but they cannot change the main economic policies.  The incoming Spanish, Irish and Greek governments, replacing the ones the electorates sacked, have to follow the same rules and live with the same loan terms as the government displaced.

              One of the oddities is the electorates tend to blame their national government and politicians rather than the EU government and the Euro scheme. In part this is because the national governments are better known and easier to protest against. In part if is because the EU offers the struggling member states some money from its budgets, and claims that the national government is making the main calls when evidence suggests the main calls are now made at the centre.

                  Policies designed to protect and preserve the Euro are now producing deep and long lasting recessions in several Euro countries. As a result these countries have a growing deficit as employment falls, reducing tax revenues, and benefit bills rise. Individual countries cannot devalue to improve the competitiveness of their exports. They cannot themselves print more money to try and stimulate more activity. They are locked in to the austerity packages.

               They are often attracted more to higher taxes than to lower spending. This can compound their difficulties. If they attack high income earners and profitable companeis too much they relocate elsewhere. Instead of raising the tax revenues, this lowers it by reducing the tax base. They also probably are encouraging more tax shy activity, with growing black economies.

                     We should expect more frustration with the austerity policies and the lack of progress in restoring growth. The extent of activity that is undertaken without paying tax or done through barter and other systems will act as some dilution to the anger.

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  1. Martin Cole
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    “The extent of activity that is undertaken without paying tax or done through barter and other systems will act as some dilution to the anger.”
    Like running Amazon, Google or Starbucks in the UK I presume you mean, personally I doubt it AND it is NOT just frustration across Euroland from what I observe.

    This particular statement in your post is particularly true for the UK:

    One of the oddities is the electorates tend to blame their national government and politicians rather than the EU government and the Euro scheme.

    Examining the circumstances, particularly as they relate to England, it is not odd at all!

    • Alte Fritz
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      We have for many years had transfer pricing rules which go to the root of the Amazon issue. They are substantially based on OECD guidelines. Whether HMRC is doing a good or bad job of applying the rules so that a proper level of taxable profit is determined, I cannot say, but don’t get carried away with your own propaganda!

    • Disaffected
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      Well said. People are conned by politicians who find it difficult to know fact from fiction when they speak. The FCO circular made it clear the public were being deceived b politicians for years over the UK membership of the EU. Do not blame the public fro being conned, blame your profession for cleaning up its act.

      How much has voting for AV, majors and police commissioners cost us JR? Who exactly was this for and why was it not incorporated with local elections to save money? Not national interest, Cameron and Clegg should be ashamed of themselves for wasting so much of our money and still saying there is no money etc etc. How much is Qatada costing us? Because of the UK law or ECHR?

      • zorro
        Posted November 16, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

        Shambolic and hopeless….this was a main part of law and order reform in the Conservative Party manifesto. A very poorly implemented communication plan which has not interacted effectively with the public. Too much reliance on ‘digital by default’….


      • Timaction
        Posted November 16, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

        UKIP took 14% of the vote in the Corby election against the dying Liberals on 5%. They are on the march and finally being reported in the mainstream media or at least ITV and and the popular press. Forget the useless BBC. The internet has opened peoples eyes to the lies our politicians have fed us over 40 years on the EEC now EU and its super state by stealthy increments. Mr Cameron will have to give us the In/Out referendum BEFORE the next election as he won’t be believed by anyone with anything less as his “cast iron” promises are only for fools.
        It was reported today that Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Poland want a Euro Headquarters for an EU armed forces. This is supported by the unelected Labour appointee, the quisling Baroness Ashton.
        Most former Tory voters know Mr Camerons Europhile policies and will be aware he will come back from the EU budget negotiations waving a bit of paper claiming a victory having caved in once more.
        If we were out we wouldn’t have to pay ………ANYTHING, we’d have our £11 billion annual net contribution to spend on Britain, £9 billion less annual bureacracy, 400,000 fishing jobs, 3,000,000 job vacancies with the repatriation of 3 million Eastern Europeans repatriated so our young people and unemployed can have starter jobs. No more agricultural policy but trade and friendship only.

        • A different Simon
          Posted November 17, 2012 at 11:24 am | Permalink

          No doubt the Europeans will want to apply “the precautionary principle” before getting joint armed forces to do anything .

          Is anyone still denying that this EU thing is about creating a country called Europe ?

          It’s quite possible that the US may decide that as a military super-power it is so far ahead of everyone else that the budget can be cut and it will no longer act as the World’s policeman .

          The House of Saud costs a lot of money to run to provide some sort of stability in the Gulf of Arabia .

          Countries which import essentials by tanker are going to have to police strategic sea lanes themselves .

          All these other nations like the UK which have been leaving the job up to the US could end up rueing dismantling their armed forces .

  2. Single Acts
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    Whilst your critique of the Euro is valid as ever, I can’t quite see how this

    “Voters can change the people in office, but they cannot change the main economic policies”

    differs much from the UK? The bid two and a half parties ahree on so much you end up having pointless arguments about gay marriage and other irrelevance because so much is off the table. For instance

    ~ State funded healthcare is substantially untouchable
    ~ State funded education is substantially untouchable
    ~ Tax over 40% of GDP is inevitable with all parties
    ~ Endless wars are optional but inevitable with all the parties
    ~ Central banking is never even discussed
    ~ Fiat currency and counterfeiting will be pursued to destruction
    ~ State broadcaster is compulsory despite horrendous behaviour recently including the decision to move away from charter obligations, i.e. 28-gate*
    ~ None of you can leave people alone without hectoring, cajoling, badgering and nannying us to death
    ~ EU exit is never offered by any party despite it never passing audit

    * Really, what would the BBC have to do for even one of you to say “Sorry, this model has failed, you are on your own and we are no longer going to jail people to fund you”

    • Jerry
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      @Single Acts: I really don’t want to rerun the recent blog/debate regarding the BBC but what about the failed free market press were illegal phone hacking and tapping up of contacts seems rife, and much of it is not even done in the name of news, just tabloid profits. What about these commercial media companies who move away from their obligation to their shareholders, please do tell me were any shareholder has wanted ‘their company’ to break the law, to do so would might make them feel like accomplices and certainly eats into the profits should the company need to pay fines or compensation etc….

      • Single Acts
        Posted November 16, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        Fair comments all.

        Don’t do business with ’em.

        • Jerry
          Posted November 16, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

          @Single Acts: Indeed, no one is being forced to watch TV…

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted November 16, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

        Jerry – Being publicly funded hasn’t made for an honest or objective BBC.

        Tapping into children’s voice mails is a far lesser offence than (individuals-ed)sexually molesting them – and then operating a decades long policy of cover-ups and the turning of blind eyes.

        All of us with a TV licence is a shareholder in the BBC – without the shares. We know how it feels to have an organisation do something we dislike and we don’t even get the benefit of a dividend.

        Imagine a Guardian reader being forced to pay for Fox News just because their TV set is capable of receiving it.

        • Jerry
          Posted November 16, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

          Tapping into children’s voice mails is a far lesser offence than (individuals-ed) sexually molesting them

          But the institution and the vast majority of people [1] that is the BBC did not know this was happening, did not approve of such actions by these individuals. On the other hand senior management from a certain commercial media group have admitted under oath to both knowing about the illegal phone hacking and/or the tapping up of contacts.

          [1] if there were people who knew then they may well have to answer for why they did not report their knowledge to the appropriate authority

          Imagine a Guardian reader being forced to pay for Fox News just because their TV set is capable of receiving it.

          As for Fox News, but those wanting to watch any of the other channels on the Sky entertainment-extra package have to do just that!

        • A different Simon
          Posted November 17, 2012 at 11:28 am | Permalink

          Nicely put .

          Pity license holders don’t get to ratify the recommendations of the remuneration committee either .

      • outsider
        Posted November 17, 2012 at 2:59 am | Permalink

        Dear Jerry,
        If you want media companies to do the right thing by their shareholders then the majority of all “quality” daily and Sunday newspapers should be closed immediately because they invariably make losses. Is that what you are wanting?

  3. alan jutson
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Indeed all you say is true John.

    The problem the people have with the politicians, is that it is they who promised the earth, but did not outline the true cost.

    It is politicians who made the uncosted promises to get elected, thus it was the politicians who were not honest in the first place.

    We have had our fair share of such behaviour here as well, the dream of the Welfare State, but always at someone elses cost or expense.

    A policy of borrow against the future, so that we can spend today.

    Now the cat is out of the bag, we have had to admit that borrowing so much, for so long into the future, on pie in the sky growth figures. is simply not sustainable, indeed, it is like trying to pay back a huge interest only mortgage on a very small house with little equity when your earnings are limited, and your increasing age means your ability to earn as before is also reducing and you cannot afford the interest payments, let alone the original sum borrowed.

    The simple fact is that politicians have simply got to start to live within the country’s means and tax take, and the electorate have to understand that you cannot continue to get something for nothing.

    The problem is that such a large proportion of the population now rely upon the State for financial help and support, that they would rather still believe in the fantasy that someone else will always pay.

    Continuing and growing civil unrest ahead for many Country’s, which can then lead to real problems spreading far and wide, as history has shown.

    Very worrying times.

    • Bob
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      @AJ – ” it is like trying to pay back a huge interest only mortgage on a very small house with little equity when your earnings are limited, and your increasing age means your ability to earn as before is also reducing and you cannot afford the interest payments, let alone the original sum borrowed. “

      And you are forced to leave your front door open to any waifs and strays that happen along who might like to avail of your hospitality, and you are giving money to your neighbour (who incidentally has a nicer car than you) because he neglects his children.

      • alan jutson
        Posted November 17, 2012 at 10:43 am | Permalink


        And they can sit at home all day, laugh at your efforts, whilst commenting, why bother.

  4. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    The continental democracies have all, also at elections, chosen to remain in the euro, including my country (the Netherlands). I doubt Britain is in any position to lecture the continent about democracy.

    Reply: You still need to explain the waves of General strikes, protests and the rest, showing considerable displeasure with current Euro based policy.

    • Edward
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      The problem Peter, is that national Governments in the EU and the EU itself, believe they can tax more, borrow more and spend more to obtain growth, prosperity and low unemployment and plainly this is a failing policy.

      Nearly 12% of all EU citizens out of work now, and rising.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted November 16, 2012 at 10:31 am | Permalink

        @Edward: I could agree, but have to observe that these problems are not unique to the eurozone. After all, the UK isn’t in the eurozone, is it?

      • Christopher Ekstrom
        Posted November 16, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

        12%? More like 23% if “able-bodied” still has any meaning. The Dutch are a sad & much reduced nation thanks to Euro enthusiasts like van Leeuwen.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      Perhaps you could explain the mechanism which gave you the choice to remain in the euro?

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted November 16, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

        Dutch national elections 12-09-2012.
        A vote for the PVV would have been a vote to leave the euro.
        The PVV held 16% of the seats in parliament at the time, a minority, but a much larger minority than UKIP ever had in your “democracy”.

        • zorro
          Posted November 16, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

          Peter, you have a point. The Tory/Lib Dem coalition will probably make people think again about FPTP. People are seeing themselves disenfranchised and PR will be the only way to ensure that their vote will count. After this government, noone will be convinced by the argument that you will get smoke filled rooms, as they clearly have it with FPTP.


        • Lindsay McDougall
          Posted November 16, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

          Once again, you are sneering at our first past the post system, which favours the big battalions but does result in having locally elected MPs and not someone from those dreadful Party Lists.

          As it happens, in 2014 UK MEPs will be chosen using a party list system. It’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that UKIP will top the popular vote in those elections. In fact, if you gave me 10-1 against that outcome, I would bet a tenner. I assume that you would rejoice at such a democratic outcome.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted November 16, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

            @Lindsay McDougall: I only “sneered” as I felt provoked by British comments on continental democracies “not functioning well”. You may come to realise that there is an awful lot of sneering going on by British about continental developments. It only hardens opinions and is bound to produce backlashes. As a Europhile, I’m no fan of UKIP at all, but I have to give it to EU democracy that such parties as UKIP are given a platform as well. I’m not in for your bet. I will try and respect that you as Britain will run things your way as long as we can run affairs our way.

        • Sean O'Hare
          Posted November 16, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

          The PVV held 16% of the seats in parliament at the time, a minority, but a much larger minority than UKIP ever had in your “democracy”.

          If we adopted PR then I would guess that UKIP might well have 16% of the seats, especially after the next election.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted November 16, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

            @Sean O’Hare: I forgot to add that after 12-9-2012 they are down to 10% of the seats in parliament, so no win for the anti euro vote in Holland.

    • Alan
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      In my view, the reason why we do not have so much social unrest in the UK is that we have an economic policy – devaluing the currency – that lowers peoples’ wages and devalues their savings without most people being conscious of it. There are a few muted complaints about the resulting inflation but not enough unrest for people to come out on the streets.

      In the long term I think this makes it more difficult for us to sort out our economic problems, but in the short term it is less painful than the measures the Eurozone countries have to use. If the Eurozone countries can restructure their economies in the short term they could gain a lot, and we might start to wish that we had similarly confronted our problems more directly.

      If we can achieve similar or better improvements without social unrest then that is an argument for not being in the Eurozone. If we are not doing as well as the Eurozone countries by 2017 the referendum result might not be what the Eurosceptics hope for.

      • zorro
        Posted November 16, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

        QE is the reason why the government can keep paying the benefit bills. If we were in the Euro, they would be cut back severely with our huge annual budget deficit and debt…..


        • sm
          Posted November 17, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

          Alternatively, if we had been in Euro would the UK have sunk it or been forced to leave it and possibly also the EU?

          I sometimes suspect we were kept out only to avoid that outcome.

      • martyn
        Posted November 16, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Permalink


      • A different Simon
        Posted November 17, 2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink

        How long do you think it will be before the brown stuff hits the fan ?

        People will be too old to work and have no savings and still owe money on the mortgage .

        We are already at a stage where less than 1 in 5 private sector workers will be able to support themselves in old age on the state pension alone and will require a benefits top up .

        About half the people I know are struggling to pay the basics and are unable to save anything for old age . Some of them are drowning in debt .

        Without any surplus there is very little money to circulate in the economy .

        The costs are socialised onto the middle earners because the top earners and corporations are unwilling to pay sufficient tax to sustain a safe country with the result that the middle earners who can are leaving the country .

        Sooner or later the UK is going to have a financial correction . I don’t see that the UK is in that much better state than Greece and we are definitely in a worse state than Italy and Ireland .

    • Peter van Leeuwen
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      @Mr. Redwood: It is displeasure with current “austerity based policy”, not “euro based policy” the latter a typical British knee-jerk reaction on anything emanating from the continent. The austerity based policies don’t seem to be working very well, according to many trade unions and social democrats. In a multi-party democracy like ours, this leads to interesting debates, now that the Dutch equivalents of Tories and Labour have formed a coalition government. However, even the left-wing SP (socialist party) doesn’t advocate leaving the euro, neither do all the other parties except one, but would you like to align yourself with the extremist populist Geert Wilders?

      The way I see the general wave of general strikes is still a form of Europe coming together, trade unions organise these protest as much as possible on a pan-european, at least cross-country scale. You just have to hope that popular (or populist) anger will never turn on Britain as an ultimate culprit in the financial crisis. This would serve no purpose of course, just like keeping banging the “leave the euro and evaluate” drum serves no purpose. Of course this 3% limit in the stability and growth pact feels like a straight-jacket now and economists and politicians differ on the measure of flexibility to apply, no governments in Europe (or America or Asia) are suggesting to break up the euro. It is in fact the very process of democracy which makes the coming together of Europe (i.e. the eurozone converging) so painfully slow. Having seen her EP address, Mrs Merkel understands this. Does Mr Redwood?

      Reply: I do not need to align myself with any continental party. I want my country to negotiate a new relationship with the EU,and let the continent get on and do as it wishes. Most UK citizens believe we would be better off out of the current EU than staying in on current terms, so we need to sort it out and vote on it.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted November 16, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

        @Mr Redwood: although we seem on opposite sides (at least of the NorthSea), here I would agree with you. No country should stay in the EU against it wishes and departure has happened before (Greenland).

      • Jerry
        Posted November 16, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

        @PvR: “It is displeasure with current “austerity based policy”, not “euro based policy the latter a typical British knee-jerk reaction on anything emanating from the continent.”

        But that IS the current Euro policy! These cuts are being directed from Brussels and the ECB, Greece (or any of the PIIGS) either makes the cuts called for and gets the EU bail-out or they don’t and thus get nought from the EU – and the IMF is not much better.

        It’s also got s*d all to do with the UK either, it is typical of the EU though to blame anyone and everyone other than themselves for their own Brussels born crisis – the only thing the UK has ever done is warn the EU that the Euro can’t work.

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted November 16, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

          @Jerry: I respectfully disagree. The 40bn cuts the Netherlands government now wants to apply is directed by the stability and growth pact signed for in the Maastricht treaty by the Dutch government. The Dutch government, copied in a letter to the FT in August 2011, asked for a function like the one now carries out by Olli Rehn. Your apparent mistake is in thinking that the EU is “someone else”, “some foreign power” while it actually is yourself, the referee you created yourself (as Britain) together with others, by signing and ratifying these treaties. To blame some outside power is “islandic” behavior, you could have left yesterday by repealing your own 1972 EEC act of parliament in Westminster.

          • Jerry
            Posted November 17, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

            @PvR: You seem to be replying to something I (nor anyone else) has said… But I guess confusion and bluster is as good defence of a lousy hand of Poker as anything!

      • zorro
        Posted November 16, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

        ‘You just have to hope that popular (or populist) anger will never turn on Britain as an ultimate culprit in the financial crisis.’…….Oh right, so what is the UK guilty of?…..Having an opinion which might differ from others? That’s a democracy….


        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted November 16, 2012 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

          @Zorro: Many people (economists and politicians), rightly or wrongly, believe that the laissez-faire total capitalism, which became popular since Thatcher and Reagan, is at the root of the financial crisis that started in 2008.

      • martyn
        Posted November 16, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

        Peter – agreed. Every word.

    • martyn
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      Did we feel the need to explain to our Dutch friends and fellow Europeans why the UK was going up in flames two years ago?

      • zorro
        Posted November 16, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

        A bunch of chancers, a lot of whom were already known to the police, took advantage of some general lawlessness when they saw that the money tree might not be infinite….


        • zorro
          Posted November 16, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

          They should have been given a free whiff of grapeshot instead….


    • Jerry
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      PvR: Have they, do tell us when the Dutch held a referendum on staying in the Euro, they have not because no country within the Euro would be allowed to, when even Greece can’t have such a vote what chance the Dutch!

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted November 16, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

        We’re not in Switzerland, we live in a parliamentary representative democracy. We vote at elections. So do you. You may not like that kind of democracy, well, you could consider moving to Switzerland.

        • martyn
          Posted November 16, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

          They can’t move to Switzerland because they are not in the EU and therfore don’t believe in freedom of people between member states. That’s why we are stuck with them in the UK.

        • Jerry
          Posted November 16, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

          Sorry, so was that an admission that you told us a lie,. that the Dutch have never actually had a vote on the Euro?…

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted November 17, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

            @Jerry: If you fail to even understand what parliamentary democracy is, how can I entertain a dialogue with you?
            No doubt you had a referendum before you moved from shillings to pennies? Or before you decided to sign and ratify the Maastricht treaty? You really baffle me Jerry.

          • Jerry
            Posted November 17, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

            @PvR: You sstated as a fact that the Dutch have been asked if they want to keep the Euro, they have not, what you actually meant was that they were asked if they wanted a government – not the same question. It is you who needs to find a clue as to what democracy is.

      • Alan
        Posted November 16, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

        But I think it is true to say that when they hold elections they consistently elect parties that advocate staying in the euro. Being in the euro seems to be popular, not unpopular.

        • lifelogic
          Posted November 17, 2012 at 11:17 am | Permalink

          Popular with the state sector, the BBC and politicians but not so popular with the other 80% who have to pay for it all.

      • uanime5
        Posted November 16, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

        The Dutch could have voted overwhelmingly for the party that was campaigning to leave the euro but choose not to. This indicates that they don’t want to leave the euro, just like the poor polling by UKIP indicates that the UK doesn’t want to leave the EU.

        • martyn
          Posted November 16, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

          uanime5 – absolutely.

        • Jerry
          Posted November 16, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

          Or, it might be that whilst they would have liked to leave the Euro they were warned off, just like the Irish wanted to reject the Lisbon Treaty but were told to keep voting until the people accept what the EU want…

          Also, don’t forget, those eurocrats were very craft, whilst there is an entry method into the Euro there is no exit method, so technically once in there is no leaving!

          • uanime5
            Posted November 17, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

            Your conspiracy theory is fooling no one. The Dutch weren’t “warned off” by anyone, and the Irish were free to continue rejecting the Lisbon treaty as long as they ran their economy well and didn’t need a bailout.

            Any country can leave the euro by simply creating another currency because the EU can’t force a country to remain in the euro.

          • Jerry
            Posted November 18, 2012 at 9:23 am | Permalink

            @uanime5: What do you not understand, asking what government you want is not the same as asking what currency you want -or any other single issue, the party that wanted out of the Euro also came with other (unacceptable) baggage and that is why it wasn’t elected.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted November 17, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

        @Jerry: The only Dutch party which advocated leaving the euro as its main campaign item held 16% of the seats in parliament and went down to 10% on 12-9-2012. I cannot see that as a ringing endorsment for leaving the euro.

        • Jerry
          Posted November 17, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

          @PvR: Was this at a general election or a referendum on a SINGLE question with regards the Euro?…

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted November 18, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

            @Jerry: As I have said before the Netherlands is not Switzerland, it doesn’t even have the possibility of deciding by referendum, even the 2005 referendum was a consulative referendum, MPs cannot give their responsibility away and hide behind a referendum. There must be articles about continental democracies on internet, which you could study if you’re so interested.

          • Jerry
            Posted November 18, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

            @PvR: The UK is not Switzerland either but that has not stopped us from having referenda, same with Ireland, and even your near neighbour France. So I will ask again, were the Dutch asked directly if they wanted to keep the Euro -stop ducking the question PvR- a simple Yes or No answer will suffice.

            Asking a population what government they want is not5 the same and if the Dutch political system can not offer referenda then you really can’t lecture anyone about democracy! But that said, it might also go some way to explain the democratic deficit found within the EU, considering which country the EU has its main offices in and thus from were many eurocrats also come from…

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

      Peter – “I doubt Britain is in any position to lecture the continent about democracy.”

      Just as well that we’re not in continent then.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted November 18, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

        @Electro-Kevin: I never suggested that you were in-continent
        a curable condition nonetheless 🙂

  5. Pete the Bike
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    If taxes and regulations were cut at the same time as spending economies would boom throughout the EU. Capital would reallocate efficiently, labour could redeploy to productive use instead of public sector waste.
    Instead we have the ridiculous situation where the Euro is undermined daily by money printing, taxes and regulations strangle any sort of growth, capital is monopolized by government with their counterproductive and harmful spending policies, statists call for more interference by politicians and it seems to occur to nobody that the entire crisis throughout the western world is 100% due to government meddling in every aspect of life. Look at the Soviet Union for proof that central planning does not work – ever. The free market solves all economic woes but after decades of pro government propaganda most people are terrified of freedom. They long for someone to run their life and can’t see it’s the road to ruin.

    • uanime5
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

      There isn’t any money printing in eurozone, you’re thinking of the UK.

      Also the free market couldn’t solve the 2008 financial crisis, that required the state to save the free market from itself.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted November 17, 2012 at 1:14 am | Permalink

        No, it didn’t. There was no need for the State to bail out Lloyds and RBS. You have been told many times that we should have sent administrators into these banks and done full due diligence before anybody bought any shares. That way the shareholders would have taken the full hit and British taxpayers would have saved £33 billion – the amount we have lost because Labour paid too high. Why do you persist in potraying gross government folly as saving the free market from itself?

        • uanime5
          Posted November 17, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

          Under your solution anyone who had money in these banks would have lost it when the banks went into administration, so a large number of the British taxpayers would have taken a massive hit.

          I portray this event as the free market being saved from itself because the greed of the free market cause huge amounts of harm to itself that required Government intervention to prevent a depression.

          • Edward
            Posted November 19, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

            You’ve not heard of the bank deposits guarantee scheme then?
            Account holders would not have taken a massive hit, wrong again as usual
            Para 2
            If save the world Gordon had not interfered with the “free market” by rushing to nationalising the failing banks they would have gone into administration. They would have been taken over by successful banks and we would not be where we are now with multi billion pound national liability

      • Richard1
        Posted November 17, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

        A free market solution in 2008 (a crisis caused in large part by state directed monetary & regulatory policies) would have been better. Shareholders and bondholders of banks could and should have borne the burden of bailouts. The statist Gordon Brown made the problem in the UK worse and more long lasting than it need have been. Had there been a proper free market there never would have been a financial crisis.

        • uanime5
          Posted November 17, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

          Did the shareholders and bondholders of banks even have enough money to bear the burden of bailouts? If not then they still would have needed a Government bailout.

          The financial crisis occurred because there was a free market. Had this market been more heavily regulated banks wouldn’t have been able to gamble so much money on risky investments and wouldn’t have only focused on short term profits.

          • Richard1
            Posted November 19, 2012 at 11:07 am | Permalink

            A restructuiring could have been effected without govt funds just as in any other business – creditors would have had to take losses. Large rights issues underwritten by bondholders would have been the source of funds.

            The market was not free – central banks manipulated the price of money causing a credit bubble and regulation allowed levels of leverage in banks which the market alone would never have allowed. No other business can fund itself (or get its accounts signed) with leverage of 50x. In the case of the US it was the semi-socialist model of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac allied with govt insistence on sub-prime lending which casued the crisis.

            We need proper free markets

  6. lifelogic
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 7:46 am | Permalink


    You say the extent of activity that is undertaken without paying tax or done through barter and other systems will act as some dilution to the anger. I hope so.

    Clearly this is often the only way the people can get the government to spend and waste less. The democratic control mechanisms simply do not work any more. The state sector has become a tumour feeding off the private sector and in many countries has no effective control on its growth.

    Tax avoidance and barter, far from being immoral or morally repugnant, as some foolish politicians content, is in fact highly moral. This particularly where the money saved is then spent well (it is hard to spend it worse the most governments do – just look at the £60Billion wasted by save the world Brown on RBS and the other banks).

    This Barter etc. is perhaps the only control over this state sector tumour that individuals now have left in much of the EU.

    • Christopher Ekstrom
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      There was one silver lining to the re-election of Dear Leader Nobama: the US economy wont be re-bounding to save Euroland. Global depression is more likely than ever. Mr. Romney might just have bailed Europe out.

    • zorro
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, starve the Beast….


      • Bazman
        Posted November 17, 2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink

        It’s like the story of the man who tried to teach his horse not to eat to save money. The horse did eventually learn but sadly died soon after. lifelogics fantasy of a legal black economy is being allowed by large corporation not having to pay corporation tax. May be his dream of the British peasants living off the land might be the way forward? Peasants like this still exist in Russia growing what they need and selling some for money or barter to buy what they cannot grow or make. Ah! The romance of it. Sadly not reflected in the brutality of their existence on less than $30 a month. Can’t see that being tolerated here even if there was enough land.

        • Bazman
          Posted November 18, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

          Needs a response …… If you cannot supply one stop writing your fantasises.

          • zorro
            Posted November 19, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

            If I don’t starve the Beast, it will end up eating me as its appetite gets bigger……the word you are looking for to describe your comments is ‘fantasies’…..


          • Bazman
            Posted November 20, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

            If you think that driving the population into pverty and desperation is going to stop you from being eaten you are the fantasist. You would not last five minutes under your own right wing regime. You are protected n by your own circumstances and middle class welfare not you own intelligence and wit that’s for sure. Personal? You bet it is.

          • Bazman
            Posted November 21, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

            Can you understand that zorro?

  7. Alan
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    I think democracy in the Eurozone is working: the people want to stay in the euro and they elect politicians who will do that.

    The implication of the article is that what the Eurozone nations need to do is to leave the euro, devalue their currencies, and print more money. Then they would be as successful as the UK.

  8. APL
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    JR: “The noises of protest are becoming all too familiar in Euroland, as people complain about the policies their governments are following.”

    This is our ‘Arab Spring’ and it is for exactly the same reason the Arabs revolted too. People in Europe are increasingly are finding they can’t afford to live.

    The problem is, the underlying cause was excessive borrowing – leading people to believe they were affluent when in fact they were nothing of the sort. We have had the credit boom – this is the new reality.

    JR: “Euroland democracies no longer function well. ”

    Neither does non Euroland (UK) ‘democratic’ system s function either. We have recently changed a government, but still have the same policies.

  9. Martin Ryder
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    It is not Euroland, it is La-La Land.

  10. Leslie Singleton
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    How did they, and we for that matter, manage when all there was was Gold? I don’t mean Paper Money based on a Gold Standard, but plain old vanilla physical Gold. There was no scope then, as there is no scope now in the Euro, for individual countries to devalue and print money. They certainly did manage of course. Maybe there is something to learn?? Personally I think the language and cultural barriers, not to mention the various people’s hating and fearing each other, might have something to do with the present patent failure rather than all the clever Economics.

    Reply: When we had gold and silver currencies governments clipped coins and debased the metal content

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      Comment on Reply–Yes that’s true enough but were not clipping and debasement simply cheating rather than a basis for International Trade? I have the impression that even without this (marginal?) wrinkle Gold would have worked.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted November 16, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

        Further comment on Reply–Pondering over the bacon and eggs it occurs that what I describe above as cheating would presumably have applied everywhere meaning I find it hard to believe that if a country decided (How it would have measured this is another question–Maybe we measure too much for a start??) that its competitiveness was not up to snuff, it, alone, would have mounted a combined internal operation to clip and debase.

        • waramess
          Posted November 16, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

          Bacon and eggs, Ahh………

    • zorro
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply – John, yes, but you could have a gold standard where the value of a pound note was fixed to a value of gold. Talking about clipping coins is a bit old hat and easier to detect nowadays!

    • John Doran
      Posted November 17, 2012 at 7:46 am | Permalink

      & other rogues clipped coins as well.

    • Bazman
      Posted November 17, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      Even today their is discrepancies in the amount of physical gold that exists and what is on paper. Show me the money.

  11. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    JR: ” One of the oddities is the electorates tend to blame their national government and politicians rather than the EU government and the Euro scheme.”
    Not odd at all given that there is no mechanism for removing or changing the EU government. That is the underlying evil of the EU; it is anti-democratic. Much of what you have written applies also in the UK.

    • APL
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      Brian Tomkinson: “Not odd at all given that there is no mechanism for removing or changing the EU government. ”

      It does help that all the mainstream parties either deliberately don’t put the European Union into the forfront of domestic politic, or are so rabidly EUrophile that in the case of the Lib-Dumbs, their electoral success* speaks for itself.

      Yes, they have MPs but they benefit from a rump of lifelong liberal voters, I doubt that the demographic of the Liberal core vote has changed much since pre SDP merger.

      The Lib-Dumbs are still trading on the name and good reputation of the old Liberal party.

    • uanime5
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

      You can change the EU Government by voting for different MEPs or a different Councillor.

      • outsider
        Posted November 17, 2012 at 3:06 am | Permalink

        Dear uanime5,
        You seem to be making this assertion without any evidence. That may be because the constitutional arrangements do not provide any evidence for this delightful fantasy.

        • uanime5
          Posted November 17, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

          Dear outsider,
          Elections for MEPs is in 2014, election for the UK’s councillor is 2015 (it’s commonly know as a “general election”).

          Your failure to do basic research regarding the EU keeps making you look like a fool.

      • Richard1
        Posted November 17, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        Are you a UKIP 5th columnist?

        • uanime5
          Posted November 17, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

          No I’m just well informed; unlike the majority of people else here who don’t seem to know what the EU Commission is, what it does, or even how many commissioners there are.

  12. Rick Hamilton
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    It’s not just the austerity policies that cause outrage – it is also the utter waste and contempt for cost control within the EU and all its institutions. The stupid shuttling of the parliament from Brussels to Strasbourg, the lack of action when the auditors refuse to sign off accounts for yet another year, the untaxed bureaucrats dreaming up endless regulation, the fatcats like Ashton with her entirely unnecessary diplomatic ‘service’. Who do they think they are? Can’t they see the anger of the taxpayers who fund the madness? I can understand countries that are net beneficiaries wanting the EU budget to be maintained. But is there not a single minister in the whole shambles who gets irate at the waste and tries to stop it?

  13. waramess
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    So long as the governments of Europe, including the UK are willing to exclusively pursue policies of contraction then there is no chance at all of any recovery. All well and good to try bridging the gap with tax rises but this in itself is yet another policy of contraction.

    More government spending will lead to further contraction: consumption without production is exactly what the unemployed do, and should they at first glance seem to aid employment and therefore the economy,by hiring a cleaner, they clearly do not.

    Resources must be returned to the private sector, not released to build more wind farms and high speed trains, and until this is clearly recognised spiralling unemployment fuelled by the absence of growth, will be the order of the day.

  14. martyn
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    I thought we were locked into our austerity package as well. Why is the austerity that you talk about in Europe different from the austerity in the UK?

    I do think you should come and talk about this and your general views at our comprehensive. As a parent I can make the necessary arrangements. I know that you want the students to invite you but the oldest are only 16 and probably somewhat intimidated. In this respect they may differ from the 17/18 year old sixth formers at Eton that have already invited you.

    Reply: I do get invitations from my local comprehensives from the teachers which I do accept.

  15. Winston Smith
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    “Euroland democracies no longer function well. Voters can change the people in office, but they cannot change the main economic policies”

    Unwise words in the present anti-political climate in the UK. 18% turnout in Manchester to elect an MP, the worst since the War. Dave’s latest disaster sees Police Comissioners elected on less than 6% of the vote. The same failed politicians standing.

    I can see big problems, next year, as Christmas is hit by a large scaleback from the public.

    • David John Wilson
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      It is interesting that the results of the PCC elections are not publishing the number of spoilt ballot papers nor including these in the turnout. Many people like myself who objected to this election being policitised and discouraged good independent candidates deliberately spoilt our papers.

      • uanime5
        Posted November 16, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

        According to a report by the BBC in the Thames Valley area 13.3% of the population voted and 3.3% of the ballots cast were spoiled.

        I suspect it will difficult to know the total percentage of people who voted and ballots spoiled until all the votes have been counted.

      • John Doran
        Posted November 17, 2012 at 7:56 am | Permalink

        Some people did not want to dignify these PCC elections by turning out.
        Some were afraid that even spoiled papers would be counted as part of the turnout.

        What, pray, was wrong with the old Police Authorities?

        Individual PCCs will be under huge pressures from suppliers chasing lucrative contracts. The Whiff of fraud will soon stink up this concept, I fear.

    • zorro
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      The PCC fiasco does not surprise me. There was hardly anything in the media about it. There was some stuff on the internet, but I’m afraid it has the general whiff of incompetence which is all too easily associated with this government. They have not argued the case/principle strongly enough in public.


      • The First Martyn
        Posted November 17, 2012 at 6:56 am | Permalink

        It didn’t surprise me, either. I suspect that those responsible primarily responsible for implementing the Bill i.e. the civil service mandarins fundamentally objected to it and did as little as possible to promote it.

        Similar, perhaps, to the introduction of the Poll tax, which was so badly structured allowing councils to pretty much charge what they liked that the ensuing discontent caused its ultimate failure. Some never learn – that was historically the third attempt to introduce a poll tax and on each occasion the grand plan crashed and burned…..

  16. Acorn
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    “They are often attracted more to higher taxes than to lower spending. This can compound their difficulties. If they attack high income earners and profitable companies too much they relocate elsewhere.” [JR] There is little evidence that high income earners up sticks and move because of tax. It is usually the ones who have been tipped off that the law is after them. The Metro-Elite look after their own, because, as the Daily Mail says today “they are the people who know best”.

    Peculiar to the UK, a lot of finance high income earners are non- domiciles, who pay £30k to HMRC, to stop the Border Agency doing a bit of extraordinary rendition on them. Some of them have gone home due to redundancy. Some can’t go home and have been forced to give up the non-dom bit and come clean. They will be OK though; they have all the London multi-million pound property estate agents, on speed dial.

    Changes in market conditions move factories not taxes, which are mostly negotiable when not simply avoidable. But, we should start thinking about cashing in on southern Euro States, particularly foreclosed residential property. It won’t be long now before the peoples of Greece and Portugal, to name but two, will go back to living in caves. The EU is doing a far better job of it than Hitler ever did. Economically, these two once great empires will have a status slightly above a few sub-Saharan African States; with less flies. Start getting your cash together, preferably in US Dollars; shortly to become the preferred currency of the little people in the southern EU. 😉 .

    • Acorn
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      JR, please can I repeat this on your site, it may be of interest.

      R95 Unleaded was circa US$952 / tonne CIF. Use 1362 litres per tonne for R95. FX was US$1.587 / £. Diesel is US$973 / tonne CIF. Use 1195 litres per tonne. So you should have got R95 retail price = product 44 pence / litre + 57.95 duty + Distribution and margin say 9 pence (more for diesel, its heavier) + VAT on all that 22.2 = 133.15 which would be 133.9 headline.
      Note: there are 4.546 litres in a UK gallon not 3.785 as in your US gallon. Correct, the tax is much higher at 60% rather than the US average of 11%.

    • uanime5
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

      According to Adam Smith in Wealth of Nations after Poland, Spain and Portugal were the most economically backwards countries in Europe. So there problems existed long before the EU.

      He didn’t mention Greece though it may still have been part of the Ottoman Empire.

      • Acorn
        Posted November 17, 2012 at 8:44 am | Permalink

        Agreed, that’s why they wanted into the EU. they thought they couldn’t lose.

  17. Bill
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    ‘The extent of activity that is undertaken without paying tax or done through barter and other systems will act as some dilution to the anger’. Yes, I was in Italy earlier this month and people are taking several jobs which are paid by cash in hand and in this way keeping their families fed. Of course, this ‘black economy’ is not taxable and so does not contribute to the payback of European bail-out money. Ironically, Monti, imposed by the EU, was more popular and respected than that clown Berlosconi who has been democratically elected.

  18. Bill
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    PS The people I was with judge their progress by looking at the exchange rate of the euro to the US dollar. If the euro strengthens, they judge Monti to be doing a good job.

  19. Martin
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    I don’t recall anybody in the UK voting for Sterling devaluations either (and not many bothered voting for Police Commissioners either….).

  20. Richard1
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    It is interesting that in spite of the hardship there is not much Euroscepticism in Greece, nor pressure to leave the Euro. You’d expect the opposite. That is the result of years of corrupt & incompetent socialist government, doing in fact much what the Labour party is now suggesting we do here – i.e. use lower borrowing rates than might otherwise prevail to invest in ‘infrastructure’ and other favoured causes and jobs. People in Greece must have no confidence in their own politicans to sort out the mess they are in. Dire as the EU remedy is, they appear to prefer to be ruled from Brussels than by people they elect at home. We should remember that when we in the UK are urged to borrow and spend more and told not to worry about going the way of Greece.

  21. C WHITE
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    In Greece in June the voters were frightened into voting for the pro-bailout parties. SYRIZA which opposes austerity came second and recent polls show that they now lead.
    If there is another election I expect there to be an anti-austerity majority although Communists will not join a coalition and other parties would not form a government with openly neo-Nazi Golden Dawn which is now THIRD in polls on 14 %. (I don’t think that even this will shock the Europhile elite out of ‘there is no alternative’ mindset.) SYRIZA may form a minority government, especially if another party which has been formed in response to the ‘I’m in hole .. I keep digging’ approach of the traditional parties – the Centre-Right Independent Greeks will go into coalition.

    • uanime5
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

      Unless Greece can survive without continued bailouts any anti-austerity parties will ultimately fail when the books need to be balanced.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted November 17, 2012 at 1:20 am | Permalink

        Greece could survive by leaving the Euro, converting all their Euro debts to new drachma and creating a bit of inflation. That would be a partial back door default but at least they could get their economy going again. The UK should be promoting that option, and not just for Greece.

        • uanime5
          Posted November 17, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

          Given that you can’t convert a debt into another currency without the creditor’s consent Greece will be stuck with euro debts even if it leaves the euro.

          • Lindsay McDougall
            Posted November 20, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

            If the creditors were given the choice between a total default and my solution, what do you think their response would be? The IMF thinks that Greece is already past the point of no return with regard to its total sector debt. Its solution is that European creditor Member States take a “haircut”, as some private sector creditors already have. What are your proposals for Greece?

      • outsider
        Posted November 17, 2012 at 3:23 am | Permalink

        If you remember, a Greek journalist was prosecuted for publishing a list a wealthy citizens with Swiss bank accounts that the Greek government was sent by Christine Lagarde but did nothing about. He was acquitted. Now he has been re-arrested on the same charge thanks to “a technicality”.
        If I were a young Greek, revolution would sound pretty attractive. Sadly, both the Greek Far Right and Far Left have sordid histories.

  22. Barbara Stevens
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Euroland is not democratic at all, the Commission rules and all MEPs follow quietly their demands. There is only UKIP who make waves, and question the meaning of many of their policies. Conservative MEPs have consistantly voted with the parliament on issues the domestic government is against. There is no consistantcy with any of them.
    No wonder then, the proposed election of Commissioners this very week has been ignored by the majority of voters, the apathy and general mistrust of MPs and MEPs is rampant within the UK.
    Who can blame them. Bringing in another layer of which has to be paid for, at a cost of 100 million the elections are a shambles; it could have been done via a police board in each area already up and running, given greater powers to higher and fire Chief Constables. We don’t need one person to do that and its hardly democratic, a local police board would have reflected all and would have been much better for democracy.
    That’s my main point, we have had these ‘Commissioners’ foisted upon us, and we pick up the salary bill. Its just the sames waffle, we get from MPs, MEPs, and now single Commisioners for large areas they have no chance of seeing over. Call this democracy, I don’t think so. Euroland as set the scene for less democracy and it appears we are following suit bit by bit.

    • Alan
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

      The Police Authorities were not elected. The Commissioners are elected.

      Not voting does not indicate opposition: it indicates consent and agreement, and a willingness to accept whoever is chosen by others. Silence always implies consent.

    • uanime5
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

      Well you have no idea how the EU works. The European Parliament has the power to oppose the Commission.

      The UK’s Commissioner was chosen by the Prime Minister, it was not foisted on the UK by the EU.

      • martyn
        Posted November 16, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

        Quite right. One of the most common myths about the EU neatly dealt with. Thanks.

  23. pete
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    “Voters can change the people in office, but they cannot change the main economic policies” -doesn’t that sound a bit like the UK?

    I see little difference from the model of Brown economics, heavy borrow hide off books, build up huge problems for our kids with no real excuse like a world war to what we have now under the current administration.

    The legacy of voting a Blair govt is going to be felt for decades to come.

    On your general observation of Euro land I agree – it seems that the EZ is trying to become a centralist planned state not too dissimilar to the model tried by the USSR whilst these other economies in the far East steam ahead.

    No amount of observation by the UK will make a jot of difference – if the EZ countries think it is best to stay in the EURO then let them get on with it.

    The Euro-sceptics are right in my opinion, time to break away and replace those trade agreements that the EU has with other countries and put our own in place.

    Then negotiate a free trade deal with the EU like Norway and prepare to pull out.

    Move the trans shipment function (which somehow is counted as exports to Holland) to Norwich/Harwich/Southampton/Cardiff and away we go, free to trade with who we want, not who the EU tells us we can trade with.

    • uanime5
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

      Norway has to obey all EU law and pay some EU taxes. Expecting the EU to give the UK everything they want in exchange for nothing is little more than a fantasy.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted November 17, 2012 at 10:51 am | Permalink

        If you don’t ask, you don’t get. It’s not only me who wants the equivalent of repealing Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon. It’s most of the UK business community.

        • uanime5
          Posted November 17, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

          Unless the rest of the EU agrees then don’t expect negotiations to go the UK’s way.

    • John Doran
      Posted November 17, 2012 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      I agree totally Pete.

      The EU is on a course to bring down the living standards of Europe until we’re level with the living standards of the developing countries.

      Let’s leave the EU, having developed our trade with the rest of the world to a volume sufficient that we can easily weather any retaliation in tariff rates, or regulations, or whatever the EU may throw at us.

      The EU is a poisonous marxist trap.

  24. Tom William
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Why does the general public in the afflicted EU countries not blame the euro or the EU government?

    Because, if it ever crosses their minds, they believe that membership of the EU is a mark of distinction, like being a member of an exclusive club or, more likely, like being in a premier division football club. To leave would seem like failure or relegation.

    They have been told that the EU is “the future” and sadly they believe it.

  25. Bert Young
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Peter V. L may not like it but Europe is falling apart . There is sufficient evidence to show that Northern Europe is not prepared to hand out to Southern Europe . The differences in the cultures and state of the economies are not possible to bridge and no amount of politicking in Brussels is capable of welding things together . The dream of a united Europe is one thing , the practicality of making it happen is another . I am a fervent supporter of a European Common Market and a great believer in maintaining the various differences that do exist . I don’t want the Dutch to be like the Italians any more than I would like the French to be like the Germans .

    • Alan
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

      Actually the evidence so far is that the North is prepared to lend to the South. They don’t like it, and they make a fuss, and say this is the very last time, but they keep on paying.

      Maybe that will go on. Maybe the Eurozone won’t fall apart. Maybe it will become a united superstate. Maybe it will be prosperous. Then what do we do?

  26. Pleb
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    If Greece could exit the Euro and devalue then its holidays would once again undercut Spain. Greece could then find growth. At the moment Turkey is a cheaper holiday than Greece. They could recover within two years and holiday makers generate jobs. Jobs feed people and produce taxes. This is self evedent to me.

    • Alan
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

      That’s probably true. But remember their savings, wages, and pensions would be devalued. They wouldn’t get loans from Germany so they would have to default. And maybe the Greek central bank would devalue the currency again and again. Maybe they don’t want that.

    • uanime5
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

      Given that the cost of getting to Greece would be much the same don’t expect devaluation to result in massive growth. Especially when most other countries haven’t recovered to their 2008 level.

    • Jerry
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

      “Pleb”, you couldn’t be more spot on, except for one thing, Spain would be a competitor as I suspect they would be doing the self same things! Back to the future, the 1960s here they come (again)…

  27. Pleb
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Corby by-election result
    Andy Sawford, Labour: 17,267
    Christine Emmett, Conservative: 9,476
    Margot Parker, UKIP: 5,108
    Jill Hope, Liberal Democrat:1,770
    Gordon Riddell, BNP: 614

    • Jerry
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

      So much for a UKIP breakthrough then….NOT.

      Even more so when one takes the PCC elections into account, independant candidates often coming above UKIP in the results (if not actually winning).

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted November 17, 2012 at 1:27 am | Permalink

      Is Corby full of mysoginists then? The Lib Dem lady did manage to save her deposit on the 3rd recount. Add the Conservative and UKIP votes; it would be worth adapting Conservative policy on Europe so as to acquire much of the UKIP vote, would it not?

      • Jerry
        Posted November 17, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

        Err, more people voted Con than UKIP, surely it for the UKIP to modify their policies, if not seek re-admittance to the Tory party…

        • Lindsay McDougall
          Posted November 17, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

          No, Jerry, I’m not falling for that one. In most elections, 52% of the voters incline to the centre left, 48% to the centre right. Since Euroscepticism as a doctrine is popular, it seems a good way of boosting the centre right share. Even so, the centre right cannot afford to split its vote. If I were in DC’s shoes, I would get the Conservative manifesto policy right, then back the UKIP candidate in any constituency in which a Europhile Conservative candidate refused to endorse that policy; a certain KC comes to mind.

          • Jerry
            Posted November 18, 2012 at 9:30 am | Permalink

            Lindsay, you can spin it how ever you like but the FACTS stay the same, your beloved UKIP is unelectable (not one MP in Westminster 18 years remember), they polled less than the Tories in the by-election and less than i8ndependants in the PCC elections. Yet UKIP spin doctors like you still expect it is for others to change, get real…

          • Lindsay McDougall
            Posted November 20, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

            Jerry, as acting Chairman of Hook Conservatives I am not a “UKIP spin doctor”. I am simply a Eurosceptic Conservative who wants victory at the next General Election – and who has a fair idea of how to obtain one ON MERIT.

    • Martin Weaver
      Posted November 17, 2012 at 6:15 am | Permalink

      Mr Cameron may in public dismiss UKIP’s performance in Corby as a protest vote but in private he must know that a performance anywhere like this across the country at the next general election will hand the keys to Number 10 straight to Ed Miliband.

      • Jerry
        Posted November 17, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

        UKIP came third, not second, it is for UKIP to accept that they can not get elected and where ever they stand all they7 do is allow Labour in.

  28. Kenneth
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    After years of supporting our membership of the eu and dismissing opponents, the BBC has today run strong editorial campaigning against the “democratic deficit”

    Here is the link:

    Sorry, my mistake, the piece is a complaint about the PCC elections.

    I thought for a minute the BBC was going all mainstream on us.

  29. Christopher Ekstrom
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    “Voters can change the people in office…”
    Remind you of an island to the north of France?

  30. sm
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    Voters cant change major economic policies.. we cant change any policy unless it is has already been agreed behind closed doors.

  31. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    A good post, but try to follow the arguement where it leads. Euro membership is killing growth and inducing recession in all of the uncompetitive Club Med countries, and adding to their debt. So it is in their interest to leave the Eurozone, even though they don’t realise it yet. It is also in the UK’s interest to prevent the formation of the 17 Member State Federal Europe that Germany is Hell bent on creating.

    Why, therefore, do we not put two and two together and make four? It is in our interest to persuade as many countries as possible to leave the Euro zone. We should pursue this goal by diplomatic means and work out a package of incentives that we can afford in order to bring it about.

  32. uanime5
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    Given that the UK is heading for a triple dip recession we’re in no position to criticise Euroland’s double dip recession.

    The people of Spain, Italy, and Greece are blaming their national Governments because the national Governments are continuing to mismanage their country’s economy. The reason these people want to remain in the EU and euro is that is provides stability that the national governments cannot.

    As devaluation and printing money hasn’t improved the UK there’s no reason to believe that it will help the EU.

    Higher taxes are supported because many people expect the Government to provide them with a basic level of support; something that can’t be provided with lower spending.

    John do you have any evidence that high income earners and profitable companies are able to relocate? The last time I checked companies such as Tesco weren’t able to relocate all their stores to India and their managers for the UK were firmly rooted in the UK.

    Low salaries encourage the black economy if people can’t afford to buy goods in a regular shop. If people have a sufficient amount of money they almost always avoid the black economy and chose reputable providers.

    Reply. Just look at the sharp decline in self assessment income tax since we went from 40 to 50 per cent

    • uanime5
      Posted November 17, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

      Was there a similar decline in non-self assessed income tax?

  33. Jon
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    I remember watching a program on their attitude towards the euro. It showed real support from people on mainland Europe towards the euro and I don’t think it was a biased program. From Greece to Germany there seemed to be real public backing.

    There was one thing I did note. Take the Germans they interviewed, they saw the euro as not having to distribute wealth. What information people are fed is dependent on what country they are in, their media’s view and the politicians from both sides. What people talk about here in terms of the euro is not quite the same over there. We can say here that a move towards a single state/country required re distribution but that is a not a language much known about over there, or not yet.

    The Greeks support the euro as much as the Germans do but each is fed a different story. At some point those two different stories need to come together as one. The truth can’t be fudged for ever.

    • Jerry
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

      @Jon: “The Greeks support the euro as much as the Germans do but each is fed a different story. At some point those two different stories need to come together as one. The truth can’t be fudged for ever.

      Those two stories, and all the others, have started to come together, they are all using the “F” word now – Federalism – not only does there need to be monetary union but there needs to be political union too, the once unmentionable is now talked about openly.

    • outsider
      Posted November 17, 2012 at 3:35 am | Permalink

      Hence the mutual admiration between the European Commission and the Liberal Democrats Jon.

  34. Martin Weaver
    Posted November 17, 2012 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    “One of the oddities is the electorates tend to blame their national government and politicians rather than the EU government and the Euro scheme.”

    And somewhat ironic that at the base of all this civil unrest, police baton charges and tear gassing across Europe are the economic policies of the European Union – a body recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

    At least we’re spared the ultimate irony: the European Union being awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics.

  35. David Langley
    Posted November 17, 2012 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Most of the Southern countries in the Euro Zone love having the Euro. The people when asked want the Euro so therefore they are locked in to the EU. They do not want the austerity programmes just the easy borrowing and spending that having the support of bailouts and free non repayable loans gives. They remember the good times when Brussels lashed them up with largesse in incredible amounts and their politicians and banks sucked it up without regard to the future payback. As long as Brussels gives they will take, and thereby worsen their position to the point where we all know its not their problem anymore just the banks. Predictions of Euro collapse will be delayed indefinitely as long as the Euro elite keep financing them with money from the Northern countries, both in and out of the Euro through their “banking mechanisms”. Why is it that democracy is such a struggle, the sight of armed police beating daylights out of protesters in the streets, when they are supposed to be public servants and paid for by the very people being beaten up is crazy. Who has encouraged the public disorder, it is obvious who.

  36. Mike Stallard
    Posted November 17, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    “One of the oddities is the electorates tend to blame their national government and politicians rather than the EU government and the Euro scheme.”
    So what are we going to do about it?
    We ought to get ordinary people to listen to our arguments. There is an overwhelming majority of thinking, clued up people, who know how very awful the EU actually is.
    Unfortunately, the argument is going by default.
    Most people think that Nigel Farrage is mad, that the EU is boring and that anyone who wants to leave Europe comes out of the ark. In other words, they are about ten years out of date.
    We badly need a campaign which is full of influential people who can speak definitively about what we ought to do – and fast before the referendum is carried by default.
    We need people like the BBC News and the Guardian on board too. Why can’t they see how out of date they are?

  37. Christopher Ekstrom
    Posted November 17, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    Who can the public trust? “Influential people” have mostly gutted the UK. The firmer the stance, the more Churchillian, the more one is consigned to the looney bin brigade. Today if a figure of Churchill’s type arose he would be universally denounced for his intransigence toward dear Herr Hitler. We have lost the plot & only events might provoke a decent & normal response. England after the UK. But for now it’s clear Satanic forces have set the stage for much & many horrors to come…

  38. theyenguy
    Posted November 18, 2012 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    The world is passing through peak wealth, peak credit and peak capital as global growth and trade ebbs away on the failure of neoliberal finance, specifically debt creation and carry trade investing. Credit, that is trust has traditionally been between lender and debtor; now a new trust will come out of regional framework agreements to establish a New Europe. Crony Capitalism and European Socialism are being replaced by Regionalism. The global economy is being supplanted by economic production and trade within regions. As Jean-Christophe Maur of the World Bank Growth and Crisis Blog notes, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Milton Friedman, whose Free To Chose doctrine underwrote Neoliberalism; now the Prize was awarded for regional integration. Traditional money is dying; the new money of diktat is rising to provide security, stability and sustainability in a New Europe, which will come as leaders meet in summits to waive national sovereignty and pool sovereignty regionally. Regionalization is a process that is commencing worldwide, as China Media News reports Chinese FM inaugurates new economic cooperation department.

    When one rejects the subjective view of Austrian Economics and Socialism which comes from the worship of one’s own will, Colossians 2:23, and then looks with the objective vision of Christ, Ephesians 4:17-21, which comes from accepting God’s Sovereign will, Philippians 2:12-13, and comes to the global economics viewpoint of Christ, Ephesians 1:10, and takes the perspective of bible prophecy, Daniel 2:30-33, then one can see the vision of John the Revelator for a Federal Europe rising from the Mediterranean PIGS sourced sovereign debt crisis; it’s as DailyFX writes Draghi Backs Move Towards Federal Europe. Finland with its AAA debt rating might be able to escape the black hole of a European Super State, as Reuters reports Finland to resist any rush to federal Europe. It’s very likely that the United Kingdom, having its own banks, the City of London Financial District, and its own currency, the British Pound Sterling, will depart a Brussels and Berlin centric Europe. There be many European Federalists; these write books like For Europe: A Manifesto for a Post-National and Federal Europe, by Guy Verhofstadt, president of the European parliament’s liberal ALDE group and Daniel Cohn-Bendit, co-president of the parliament’s Green group. We are moving very quickly towards a Federal Europe which will see a budget czar and monetary pope appointed and taking effective control of all European member state budgets. Jean Pisani-Ferry asks in Project Syndicate, Federalism or Bust for Europe? I reply that God determined in eternity past that there will be no democratic Federal Europe, only a Federal Europe characterized democratic deficit; Greeks cannot be Germans, yet all will be one living in austerity and debt servitude, in the totalitarian collectivism of a One Euro Government; the EU will be a type of revived roman empire where authoritarians rule over the entire continent from Brussels and Berlin. Nigel Farage in King World News has it right as he relates We are headed to a One World Government.

  39. Derek Emery
    Posted November 19, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    China, India and the rest of the developing world will eclipse the west in a dramatic shift in the balance of economic power over the next 50 years, according to research by the OECD with most EU countries including the UK having growth of less than 2% pa average.

    It makes no different how the EU organizes itself as it will still be weighed down by debt combined with low growth and ever-rising aging costs supported by a declining workforce.

    The EU dear energy policy. Companies need to be in high growth markets with low costs to maximize profits. Some EU companies have already opened branches in the rest of the world and more will do so in the future to achieve good growth and to escape high EU energy prices.

    Low growth equates to poor opportunities for young graduates to progress as it becomes more a case of waiting for dead men’s shoes. Combine this will high young unemployment in much of the EU and you have a perfect recipe for a brain-drain. Merkel thinks it will take 5 years of austerity to solve the EZ problems. Some analysts see that as very optimistic and ten years plus as near the mark.

    While the EU vacillates in low growth the rest of the world will continue move on and become even more competitive. India and China alone will produce around 135 million graduates by 2020 when the EU is emerging from its austerity and low growth. This will mean considerable competition for the advanced products that the EU makes and is likely to mean downward pressure on EU graduate work and salaries as has already happened for skilled work.

    In areas of the UK where the retired population is high there tends to be less opportunities for work as companies move away as it is harder to find employees. This effect will be a large scale in the future ageing EU.

  40. Derek Emery
    Posted November 19, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    It’s interesting to read Spiegel online to get the central European interpretation of the crisis. This is illustrated by the article “Prison of Debt Paralyses West.”

    Financial markets and especially banks are seen as the direct cause of the crisis and never spendthrift politicians or their governments who have racked up debt after debt with no thought of the risks.

    On that basis should I sue the banks if I become bankrupt due to borrowing more than I can afford? It can’t possibly be my fault for being a spendthrift can it?

    I love their definition of the market.
    “The market” is not some group of experts, nor is it the last resort of collective reason. It is an orgy of irrationality, arbitrariness, waste and egoism. I take this to be shorthand for world markets not being under the direct control of the EU ruling elite.

    It points out the the combination of company, private and public Western debt has growth at twice the rate of economic growth since 1985 and is now three times the world gross product i.e. the only way the West can generate economic growth is by having their consumers, companies, and governments take on ever increasing debt with payback deferred to the distant future.

    There is some wonder that world might not come round to fit the EU elite’s worldview and they might have to change their worldview to fit the world. I suspect that it will be the very last resort for them to even contemplate this possibility.

  • 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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