William Cash and a German led EU

William Cash has recently published a good book on the evolution of the EU, entitled From Brussels with love. With his co author Radomir Tylecote he charts the rise of the idea of a political union in Europe from its origins just after the end of the 2 nd World War. He also delves much deeper into German history and thought to establish the origins of Germany’s idea of technocratic government, on very different lines to the Anglo Saxon impulse to democratic and majoritarian rule.

It is a useful source book to understand why Germany twice tried to create a wider united Europe by force. It shows  how  the peaceful bureaucratic approach to European Union shares some of the same aims but seeks to achieve it by very different means.  The emphasis is on the elite class of politicians, senior officials, leading business people, leading academics and opinion formers coming to an agreed view of the world and ensuring it prevails.  The peaceful version of this that underlies the EU rewards all those well educated and insider people who are willing to go along with the group think and are prepared to promote a wider Union.

Reading the book reminded me of the frequent conversations and meetings I used to have to have with Germans  in the run up to the creation of the Euro. They were quite sure they could persuade me of the wisdom of the scheme, as they hoped I was intelligent and well educated like them so would be able to see it from their point of view. I always seemed to disappoint them. They never engaged in trying to understand the  very  grave reservations I had about the wisdom of embarking on a single currency without a political union to back it up. On one occasion when I argued that a large majority of the German people wanted to keep the Deutschemark, they summed up the attitude Bill describes. They told me the polling of the business and government elites showed 70% support for the Euro scheme, so it would go ahead regardless of the 70% of the German voters who disagreed.

Bill’s book offers many useful insights into the longer term history of the EU project. It also reveals much about the German governing mind, and its different approach to our democratic clash of opinions.


  1. mickc
    August 13, 2016

    “Europe” has no tradition or ethos of democracy and civil rights or coping with the sometimes contradictory results created.
    The UK is entirely unsuited to being a member of the EU.
    A current example is the banning of the burqa in France. That the State should prescribe what a citizen may wear is anathema. The leaders of the Enlightment would be horrified….as should we.

    1. Lifelogic
      August 13, 2016

      That the State should prescribe what a citizen may wear is anathema to me too.

      In general it is anyway, but then should some women be force to wear things by their parents (above a certain age), their religious leaders and later their husbands?

      Also it is absurd of the French to keep shutting down street markets. They are doing exactly what the terrorists want them too and making matters worse. It achieves nothing as there are endless other targets and they cannot all be banned.

      1. ksb
        August 13, 2016


        Banning the wearing of certain clothing does not stop the reason behind wearing it, it effectively bans the person.

        Whilst this is fine for private land, where the landlord/owner should be free to decide who and what they welcome onto their property, for the government to start blacklisting items of clothing is a slippery slope.

        Whether they are forced to or if the action is through cultural/religious imperative is entirely another matter.

        1. Hope
          August 14, 2016

          There are places where it should be banned ie court rooms, airports, schools. Segregation of women and men should be banned not supported by politicians. It is our custom and manners to take off hats and scarfs in buildings. Yesterday a Canadian judge refused to hear a witness unless she removed her Niquab. Quite right. Non verbal communication is essential in knowing if someone is telling the truth or not.

  2. Lifelogic
    August 13, 2016

    Indeed. The problem, as so often, is that the elites and the allegedly “educated” are so often totally deluded, suffering from “group think” and out of touch with reality. Education so often is just another name for indoctrination. It is often modified by the politics of wanting to sound nice or political correctness. We even saw this in the maximum alcohol guidelines for males and females being equalised which is clearly contrary to all the science.

    The BBC for example is deluded on almost every issue. On climate alarmism, the enforces “equality” agenda, on the non existent gender pay “discrimination”, on magic money tree economics, the size of the state, selective schools, the EU, endless government support for “the arts” and so much else,

    The “educated” have rarely looked at the reality and numbers themselves, indeed most are largely innumerate with little or no understanding of science at all. They have just learned the establishment consensus of the time.

    In subjects like engineering and science people are often kept in touch with reality as if they get it wrong the bridge collapses, the patient dies or the plane crashed. Less so in the climate change alarmism area (as the prediction are so long range and driven more by politics and state grant availability).

    Indeed even in medicine we have seen massive and many group think errors in understanding despite the real evidence. With appallingly misguided treatments and advice given out by the consensus (in the past). Indeed even now it seems that dietary advice (in relation to type II diabetes and weight loss) has been very misguided with the low fat agenda.

    I would go so far to say that the elites are far more often wrong than the “uneducated” public. The ERM, the EURO, the recent counter productive wars, the millennium dome, open door immigration, wind farm lunacy, HS2, the Brexit vote (despite the huge bias from the BBC and the establishment) as good examples.

    The public would rightly be in favour of selective schools and would not tolerate such a total lack of deterrents in the criminal justice system, such high taxes or so many clearly very dangerous people with serious mental health issues wandering freely.

    The “educated” George Osborne clearly things that the national minimum wage is a good plan, making taxes ever more complex and ever higher, endless red tape, ratting on IHT, taxing landlord on non profits, the apprentice tax and stamp duty (a turnover tax) of up to 15% is a good plan. Just how deluded and foolish can one be?

    Let us hope we see no more of this failed ex-chancellor, he can spend more time with his Order of the Companion of Dishonour.

    I shall order Mr Cash’s book.

    1. Lifelogic
      August 13, 2016

      Not yet available on Amazon it seems.

  3. The Active Citizen
    August 13, 2016

    Sounds like Sir William’s book will be an interesting read.

    “It also reveals much about the German governing mind, and its different approach to our democratic clash of opinions.”

    One might equally well argue the same for the French mind, albeit with a different historical perspective. In both cases there has been a ‘dirigiste’ mentality which is at odds with the British way.

    French government, civil service, and top professions are still dominated by graduates of one or other of the small number of ‘grandes ecoles’ – elite universities. I believe some of them still have a ‘French only’ admissions policy, regardless of EU laws.

    Whilst the French typically decry the UK as a class-ridden society compared to the magnificence of the French spirit of ‘egalite’, the dominance of the grandes ecoles makes Oxbridge seem like part of a positively Corbynesque utopia by comparison. There exists the continued view in elite French circles that a governing class must direct the affairs of the nation correctly.

    Perhaps this is why France has a “Code du Travail” (employment rule book) running to over 3,000 pages. It’s most definitely why one of my businesses which is based in France has no employees, only directors. Employing someone in France these days is an insane proposition for small businessmen used to British entreneurism and world trade.

    Both Germany and France are wonderful countries in so many ways and it’s easy to find national aspects to praise. When it comes to their political traditions, however, it isn’t hard to see why the French and Germans created an EU which was never suited to the traditions and mentality of the British people.

    This was of course evident to many of us decades ago. Fortunately our gently-rebellious voters (not a concept familiar to many of our continental cousins) saw through the nonsense of this arrangement and were finally given the opportunity to express their opinion on 23rd June this year.

    1. Andy
      August 13, 2016

      I agree. It is a pity that the Political Class here did not have the honesty to ask us if we wished to be consumed into a ‘United States of Europe’. Had the promise of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty been honoured we could already have a different relationship with the EU.

  4. Jerry
    August 13, 2016

    Well Mr Cash’s new book could be an interesting read! Not because of any suggested phobia of Germany but because as there is far more commonality between Germany and the UK even before that imported via our Royal families (apparently 50% of England’s gene pool contains Germanic Y chromosomes), thus this book might also explain why the UK tried to rule much of the world (not just Europe) via our so called Empire – which was, for to long, far more about us exploiting both the native people and their natural resources, often rewriting history and natural logic to justify such acts.

    If the UK ‘ran the EU’, in the way some accuse Germany of trying/doing, moulding it in our own image (as we tried to do in the mid 1980s), how many would have voted for Brexit – just a thought.

    Also, how many government policies in the 1980s went ahead in the UK because 70% of businesses wanted them even though 70% of the UK voters -had they been asked directly- would likely not…

  5. Ken Moore
    August 13, 2016

    In summary William Cash pretty much endorses the view of Nicholas Ridley that the EU is ‘just a German run racket designed to take over Europe’.

    It would be interesting to hear John Redwood’s and view on whether Mrs Thatcher was right to sack Nick Ridley – in private he must have supported Ridley?.

  6. agricola
    August 13, 2016

    Where German elite think, and for that matter the same from France, have misjudged matters is that in this day and age information is not the privalege of the few. However herd like people may appear, it is not long before they begin to realise that there are options. On Brexit we have demonstrated an option led by the people. If carried through cleanly ,compassionately, and swiftly it will offer guidance to all those in Europe who historically are new to democracy. Information will give them the power they require to counter the traditional group think, your leader knows best approach they have suffered in the past. There is every sign that this is a growing reality among the populations of the EU.

  7. Des
    August 13, 2016

    Thank you for pointing out the book, I will look forward to reading it. Were there not similar comments made by a colleague of yours about 30 years ago? I cannot remember the name but he was a direct speaker as I recall.

    I’ve had a number of conversations with my professional colleagues, including European ones when I work there, who cannot understand Brexit. They appear utterly bemused. They are, or perhaps more pointedly, people who regard themselves as an elite. As professionals they are masters of their craft and are happy to trust professional politicians and technocrats in the same way. I’m not so sure.

    I have been repeatedly frustrated explaining that democracies and markets work very well using raw, unbiased, unprocessed information and that “ordinary people” are usually better than experts when dealing with complex problems. This is tacit knowledge …the wisdom of crowds etc. It has been extensively studied.

    My colleagues look kindly at me and shake their heads as you might at a child who insists at picking up a sandwich rather than use a knife and fork. (This thinking has implications for innovation but that’s another story)

    I’m not a lawyer but my understanding is that in Germany (as in many EU countries) they don’t have a jury system. Youngsters go to University and become expert technical judges in time. This insight may be in Mr Cash’s book but I think this is fundamental to understanding why countries who have a common law system sit more happily with democracy as I understand it. After all Mrs M was born in the DDR – maybe she was persuaded that is democracy as in its title.

    A culture that would be happier that an expert judge rather than a jury of peers imprisons their son or daughter merits more analysis in the context of EU politics.

  8. Ian Wragg
    August 13, 2016

    The Teutonic mentality is entirely different to ours. Conformity and order rules.
    We would never accept rule by an unelected bureaucracy. Hence the vote to leave.
    We of course have the movers and shakers telling us what’s good for us. Stupid Izzard and Geldorf to name a couple.
    Clowns like that did more for leave than you can imagine. Italy next.

  9. Enough
    August 13, 2016

    Unavailable on Amazon today.
    Hope it mentions Coudenhove Kalergi prize.
    Merkel and Heath being amongst the past prize winners.

    1. David Powell
      August 14, 2016

      Try Blackwells. I’ve just ordered a copy.

  10. Caterpillar
    August 13, 2016

    Needs to be released as a cheap ePub/pdf/paperback. Physical version is currently unavailable on online book retailers.

  11. Shieldsman
    August 13, 2016

    “On one occasion when I argued that a large majority of the German people wanted to keep the Deutschemark, they summed up the attitude Bill describes. They told me the polling of the business and government elites showed 70% support for the Euro scheme, so it would go ahead regardless of the 70% of the German voters who disagreed”.

    We currently have many MP’s and Lords from Lib/Lab/Con parties saying we are the elite, we are part of the 48% who wished to remain in the EU, we cannot accept a simple majority vote for the outcome.

    David Cameron’s initial argument for a renegotiated membership was that the EU and the EURO were not working. He implied that if he could not fix it we could leave. The under lying problems of the EU which still continue today were never fully explored in the Referendum debate, by the media especially the BBC.

    1. Lifelogic
      August 13, 2016

      Indeed the BBC behaviour on this and nearly every other political issue has been hugely biased & unforgivable. It still persists.

  12. brian
    August 13, 2016

    Germany has played its hand well. It has avoided costly wars, sought protection under NATO, protected its businesses ( the takeover of Mannesman mobile by Vodaphone was described as a takeover by “locusts”), ensured a cheap money policy in the EU and entrenched an undervalued currency to favour its exports.
    The EU is evolving into ( a greater Germany? ed)

  13. oldtimer
    August 13, 2016

    Interesting. The idea of ruling elites thinking they know better than anyone else is not confined to the German ruling elite. It is, I suspect, a universal characteristic. In a relatively benign environment it can be a very successful model for government – Singapore is the outstanding example under Lee Kuan Yew, post indeoendence, as was Hong Kong under a colonial goverrnor. But these were compact city states. In a malign environment then disaster can follow. The UK democratic model is relatively rare in the world. I think the recent referendum result was a reassertion of the right of people to be heard over the voices to the metroplitan elite in this country who thought, and still think, that they know best.

    1. mickc
      August 14, 2016

      With respect, Hong Kong is not a good example. There was little “elite” control. It was effectively a “nightwatchman” state.

  14. Colin Hart
    August 13, 2016

    If you design and build the best cars in Europe, you are inclined to believe you can design and manage the best monetary (and political) system in Europe. Combine that with guilt about your past (the Kaiser, the Fuhrer and the Stasi), a horror of populism and extremism and an innate belief that you know best and have all the answers.

    1. ian wragg
      August 13, 2016

      I would take issue with design and build the best cars in Europe. In many respects German engineering and efficiency is a myth.
      I have worked for GE, Siemens and Alsthom and the American technology is far superior as are its turbines and generators.
      the equipment we make at Stafford is generally better. German equipment requires more and costlier maintenance.,

      1. Colin Hart
        August 13, 2016

        But it is a myth the Germans subscribe to. And the political system they have signed up to also requires costly maintenance – and is unsustainable.

  15. Mark Watson
    August 13, 2016

    Very interesting. So in other words the Germans still want to impose their world view on everyone else as it is in their psyche.Thank God we are getting out.

    August 13, 2016

    Large parties such as the Labour Party, Tory Party, SNP, and charitably the LibDems,if they operate in a democratic manner, can only fear Entryism from one anothers members. Why? Because only those parties would have sufficient numbers to enter a rival party in numbers which could have any effect whatsoever in voting on any issue above that which concerns only the tiniest village branch of a Party.

  17. alan jutson
    August 13, 2016

    Brexit the movie also highlighted a little of the history of the EU and why it was founded, not in as much depth as the book you suggest, but long enough to contain sufficient information, and short enough to retain interest.

    The moaning Remainers should google it and view it.

    I will look out for Bill Cash’s book for holiday reading.

    August 13, 2016

    No mention then of America’s control over Germany politically and economically post-war? No mention of the American veto even at local council level on such projects as the building a bridge at Dresden across the River Elbe? Last time I heard, a couple of years ago, ( 2014,— 69 years since the end of the War ) the German local authorities still did not manage to persuade the Americans to allow the building of the bridge which was designed and planned decades ago.

    Well, that is just one aspect. ,The fact is the German political set-up is just that, a set-up. They lost the war.No doubt it is a tad uncomfortable for young British people to contemplate that such control over Germany is still in place. One could look at the pathetic “philosophies” and “literature” coming out of Germany and that fed to their people. Being Green is the only acceptable radicalness. To be a Peacenik of course as one might expect is virtually encouraged by the German government. Indeed, organised grants from the “German” controlled EU give money to such groupings and despite it all being complete nonsense, the industrial and political Green pollution from Germany has seeped into all European mindsets causing great harm to us all.
    America, by contrast, has managed to resist much of the “Being Green” sabotage of industry and progress. Remarkable.

    During the height of Green-ness in Germany-the- War-Loser, there was a remarkable demonstration in West Berlin. Most of demonstrators wore suits and ties. It figured much in Anarchist newspapers at the time.They were “The City” people. What were they protesting? …
    They were demonstrating against demonstrations. Confusion of mind.

    World War Two. The Germans lost. Many on the allied side even at senior level actually contemplated (more extreme measures ed). Ordinary people, here, were angry , very angry, that the British government sent food to help “the starving Germans” especially as rationing of food here did not stop in its entirety until about 1950. But even so, the pain and walking wounded on our streets, the list of names we all knew at the front of the local church, ….it took its toll on our capacity to pity the Germans. Few, except intellectuals separated fighting nazis to fighting Germans. It was War.

    The British Establishment took the UK into the EU. They were clever and well-educated enough to understand what they were doing. The British Establishment, though too many of them WERE..years ago, German fifth columnists, entered us into the European project without their arms being twisted up their backs by German plotters.

  19. Colin Pritchard
    August 13, 2016

    I was fascinated by your description. Seems to be out of print. Pity.

    August 13, 2016

    President Obama, head of a major economic competitor to the EU: a major economic competitor to every nation-state within the EU; a major economic competitor to all those peripheral nations benefiting geographically and economically from the EU was and is absolutely in favour to the point of unprecedented disgraceful and grossly impolite intervention in our referendum debate all for REMAIN….an economic and political relationship forbidden to himself by the American Constitution so as to protest the American people.
    Ones “takeaway” as is so inelegantly put via translation into American- English, is the above.

  21. Ed Mahony
    August 13, 2016

    I worked with Germans in a high-tech company for over 3 years. I was impressed by their work ethic. And that’s what we need in this country. To return to work ethic. And where we make things (high-tech) and export them. Instead of being so focused on financial services (of course, important).

    I think GREED has become more of a motivator than WORK ETHIC in this country in recent years. Don’t know the reason for this. Perhaps, because we’re overly dependent on the money markets as opposed to the hard graft of creating stuff (where there’s more satisfaction than looking at charts on computer screens and just making transactions in money, that kind of thing – the kind of thing that might lead a trader to ‘sell his granny’ as someone said in the blog comments here).

    The Germans are far from perfect. But I think WW2 haunts them. The Germans want to be better people than the WW2 generation. And work ethic (and social responsibility – not hand outs, social responsibility as in treating your workers with dignity, treating your boss with respect, treating the old and the vulnerable with the care they deserve etc, as well as love for country and justice – both at home and abroad) goes with that. Bit like British Quakers, to a degree, and their sense of work ethic (and social responsibility).

    So I think the basic problem in this country is existential. On the one had the problem of GREED (instead of work ethic) / selfish individualism, and in which we look to the raw capitalism of the USA for inspiration (not saying everything about the USA is bad, far from it). (And the other, narcissistic SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT – deriving not from the USA, but form European left-wing socialism / liberalism – or rather, the politics of the left helps to feed this sense of entitlement).
    We cannot build a sustainable economy on greed or sense of entitlement.

    So I feel more much comfortable and at home with German (and Dutch and Nordic,, and some other parts of Europe) soft-right-wing Conservatism and capitalism than more right-wing American Republicanism and capitalism. Not just because of politics/economics/social issues but also culturally (and geographically) as well.

    Reply These sweeping generalisations are unfair and unhelpful about people in general. There are many hard working UK citizens. Anglo Saxon capitalism still generates a large share of the new products and services which improve our lives.

    1. Ed Mahony
      August 13, 2016

      ‘Greed is good’ – Boris Johnson (I believe he said this).
      No. Greed is not good. Never good (there are short-term benefits, yes, to the individual and society, but in the middle to long-term you get boom and bust and economic instability in general). But hard work / work ethic is good. And hard work / work ethic is what the Conservative Party is all about / or should be). It is NOT or never should be about greed (or feeding a sense of entitlement as the socialists / sometimes liberals do).

    2. Ed Mahony
      August 13, 2016

      I said our financial services are important. Of course, they are. But what I was really objecting to was comments such as Boris Johnsons’ ‘greed is good.’
      And I was also commenting how our economy is so focused on financial services instead of being more focused on manufacturing (and exporting) high-tech stuff. Too much focus on the financial services leads to a brain drain in other sectors of our industry as well as leading young people to think that making lots of money in the city is the ultimate career goal in this country. When it should be more about starting up your own company and/or being the MD of a British company that makes stuff (high-tech preferably) that gets exported around the world.
      None of us are perfect. But the ideology ‘greed is good’ over ‘work ethic’ mixed with an over-emphasis on the City whilst neglecting high-tech manufacturing needs to be challenged if we’re to have a more balanced and stable economy.

  22. Kevin
    August 13, 2016

    JR writes: “[T]he elite class of politicians…”.

    What is “elite” about politicians, Continental or otherwise?

    1. ian wragg
      August 13, 2016

      Many who go into politics have no useful talent and opt for the gravy train. many start at local level and work up the greasy pole because the majority of us prefer to exercise our skills and knowledge.
      As a politician if you follow the party line you can be almost invisible whilst drawing a public salary and amassing a large pension pot.

  23. Ed Mahony
    August 13, 2016

    Lastly, this is the kind of European Conservative and businessman, business people everywhere should try and emulate – the late, grate Frits Philips – and the sort of Conservative work ethic and social responsibility we need in this country.

    Mr Philips was declared Dutch entrepreneur of the 20th century. Besides this accolade, he played a key role in the development of the famous, Dutch technology company of his name. Frits was/is a well-loved figure in Holland because he created jobs and treated his workers well. He helped the people of Eindhoven in general. And he risked his life to save the lives of many Jews during WW2.

    Frits Philips was a great man. But we can all be Frits Philips from one degree to another. It’s possible. He is proof of that. But it does require extra effort, patience, guts, imagination, and sense of fair play. Instead of just being satisfied with the status quo. That is if we’re really serious about creating a sustainable and stable economy.

  24. peter
    August 13, 2016

    Again, seems unavailable? But I enjoyed the cover (at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Brussels-Love-Radomir-Tylecote/dp/0956434665 ) a throwback to the old-stylee James Bond artwork!

  25. Alexis
    August 13, 2016

    I must admit, the bureaucratic approach described as ‘peaceful’ in paragraph two, comes across as only controlling, domineering and dictatorial.

    Everything is ‘peaceful’ in such an environment. Just as long as everyone obeys the people with the power: ie, coming to an agreed view of the world and ensuring it prevails.(!)

    I am glad, and unsurprised, that your intelligent and truly well educated mind caused you to challenge the groupthink on the euro.

  26. Again
    August 14, 2016

    Sounds like They were trying to recruit you.
    Have read there is only about 1000 of Them.
    Perhaps the sane intelligent, once they understand the long existing agenda, will come up with a peaceful but winning plan.

  27. lojolondon
    August 14, 2016

    Exactly, John – all us democratic types cannot understand how Merkel can blunder along the same path while her support base collapses – but the explanation is there. Similar to the MSM / Westminster Elite / Guardian / BBC ‘bubble’, they think they are correct, and all the people they meet agree with them, so they make no attempt to understand the feelings and opinions of the ‘plebs’ and so they continue on the path to political suicide.

  28. Lindsay McDougall
    August 15, 2016

    I suspect that our vote to leave the EU will have one hugely beneficial side effect: if the Germans, the French and the EC want to establish a European Federal SuperState, they will have to do it by democratic means. The first move would be to hold consultative referendums in each of the EU Member States currently in the EuroZone or legally committed to joining it in future.

    The question on the ballot paper might be:
    “The European Commission proposes the formation of a European Federal State, based on the Euro, the comprehensive economic, monetary, fiscal and financial union proposed in the 5 Presidents Report, and the military co-operation authorised by the Lisbon Treaty. Do you wish your country to join such a federation?”

    Issues that would arise during the campaign would surely include:

    (a) What sort of currency would the Euro be:
    – a hard currency with no fiscal transfers?
    – a hard currency with fiscal transfers from rich states to poor ones?
    – a soft currency with the ECB buying junk bonds (backdoor fiscal transfers)?

    (b) Would Germany be too dominant?

    Once the results of these referendums were in, there might be a case for some sort of federal union between the nations saying “Yes”. The next step would be up to the continental powers, not us, although we would have a foreign policy interest.

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