When I was working with the BBC on the Analysis programme about single currencies (to be broadcast again on Sunday at 9.30pm), I could find no-one well known in the UK political world to defend the Euro. The BBC asked on my behalf various senior Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians to come on the programme. They explained that we were looking for someone who would either defend the Euro as it is currently structured, or who would say what reforms they thought the EU should make to create their ideal Euro. These were not trick questions. It was not an invitation to an unfair or unpleasant party political debate. It was a chance for a well know EU enthusiast UK politician to tell us what they like about the modern Euro.
Their refusal sums up all that is wrong about the EU debate in the UK. There are no well known advocate who will ever come on and make an honest case for the UK being properly involved in the complete and true European project. There was not even anyone prepared to defend what much of the rest of the EU wishes to do together without us. As the Euro is now at the heart of the EU project it is difficult to keep defending the EU without acknowledging the prime role of the Euro and at least arguing it is right for those in it. They will not acknowledge that you need to belong to the Euro if you are part of the aims and ambitions of the EU. They do not wish to talk about political union, though it is a major topic for our partners. Some go so far as to deny that ever closer union means just that, and confine themselves to saying we are not going to join the Euro. They of course wanted to do just that not so long ago.
Many of the defenders of the EU are also strong critics of austerity policies who believe in large state transfer payments. It is curious that they lose their principles and their tongue when it comes to the harsh austerity policies visited on Greece, Spain, Portugal and others as part of their Euro discipline. It is also curious that there are few voices of condemnation of the mass unemployment and the high youth unemployment in the south of the EU, and no remedies ventured within EU and Euro rules on how to right those wrongs.
I tried again in the Commons yesterday to encourage the parties who favour our continued unchanged membership of the EU to defend the institutions of the EU and the policies being followed in the Eurozone. No-one even tried.
You can listen to ‘Currencies and Countries’ here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06mcfdp.