Defending the EU and the Euro destroys political parties

Those parties the electorate would destroy, they first drive into coalition. There is a very European pattern of political change. The traditional establishment parties of the centre left and centre right become unpopular in government, they are driven into coalition, and the junior partners in the coalition often become extremely unpopular as a result. Mrs Merkel’s Free Democrat partners are no longer a force in German politics, and her latest partnership with the SPD in grand coalition is harming their electoral appeal.

The bigger issue is the ability of the Euro and the EU scheme to drive the traditional parties out of government, and then to leave them struggling as minor parties with very few seats. Normally when a political party discovers than one of its main propositions is unpopular it changes its view and seeks to get back in favour with electors. To win again Labour in 1997 had to accept Conservative tax rates and spending plans. To win in 2010 Conservatives accepted the minimum wage and social legislation put through by Labour. What is odd is that time and again the strictures of EU and Euro economic policy, generating high unemployment and little or no growth, are rejected by electors only to be upheld as policy by the traditional parties that suffer from the backlash.

The fall in support has been massive for several of the leading continental parties. In Germany the Labour party equivalent, the SPD used to be able to win more than 40% of the vote and form a government. Today it languishes on 22% in the polls. In Italy the PdL centre right party won 37.4% of the vote in 2008. In 2013 this had fallen to 21.6%. Their left of centre opponents, the PD, also fell from 33.2% to 25.4%.

In Spain the centre right party PP fell from 44.6% in 2011 to 33% in 2015, whilst the centre left PSOE fell from 43.9% in 2008 to 22.6%. Worst of all has been the performance of the traditional parties in Greece, where the economic crisis has been the most intense. There Pasok, the Labour party equivalent, collapsed from 44% in 2009 to just 6% in 2015.The centre right New Democracy fared a bit better, falling from 45% in 2004 to 28% in 2015.

In each of these cases the old cycle of government switching between the centre right and centre left depending on economic performance and political skill has been decisively broken. Both main parties in each of these countries has backed the Euro and the full EU scheme. All have supported and defended it continuously, claiming there is no alternative. The electors disagree, and are busy searching for an alternative that might break out of banking troubles, low or no growth and high unemployment.

I just do not understand why once great political parties accept these policies, when they are so clearly life threatening to them as election winning organisations. Why have the normal rules of politics been suspended by the EU? Why don’t these parties want to improve the lot of their electors and get back in touch with their former supporters?

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  1. Lifelogic
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    You say “To win in 2010 Conservatives accepted the minimum wage and social legislation put through by Labour.”

    They did not win in 2010, Cameron threw this sitting duck election against the pathetically weak Gordon Brown. This with his pre-election Cast Iron ratting and essentially a LibDim, green crap, pro EU, higher tax agenda. The country was actually crying out for a proper, lower taxes, smaller but far more efficient government agenda.

    The minimum wage and social legislation may be superficially popular politically, but as it harms the economy hugely it is not popular in the long run. People want what works in the end. Osborne’s national wage agenda is economic insanity. Yet the appalling Osborne still says he believes in free markets, he was repaying the debt and he even claimed to have kept his IHT promise. He clearly still lives in a dream world. Worse still Hammond seems to be more of the same.

    At least the public seems to have grasped the fact that parties like Labour and the Libdims (that just promise to spend more of other people’s money on almost everything are selling moonshine. Most now understand that increasing tax rates does not raise more tax, it just kills the economy and exports jobs.

    The public have also largely grasped the fact that climate alarmism and energy at three times the market rate is another job destroying racket too. Alas Theresa May & Philip Hammond do not yet seem to have worked this out yet.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 6:17 am | Permalink

      Mind you May and Hammond cannot even work out that HS2 is a basket case.

      Still at least our “overseas aid” and government “experts” have spent £250 million on a white elephant airport in St Helena.

      • Hope
        Posted December 17, 2016 at 11:13 am | Permalink

        That is exactly Tory party has done for years under Major and Cameron. It did not learn the lesson from Major’s disastrous term of pro EU and internal sleaze being acceptable at the swamp of Westminster despite an MP going to prison for perjury! It has got worse not bette under Cameron. Look at his shameless lie that he reformed the EU and so we should vote to stay in while anybody with th ability to read could see he was absolutely lying. Cheered on by current ministers and the current PM who consistently failed to address the public concern over immigration and the host of policies it affects.

  2. Dame Rita Webb
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    JR I will keep this article as a hostage to fortune for the years to come. Here is Dave speaking on February 22 : “If the British people vote to leave, there is only one way to bring that about, namely to trigger article 50 of the treaties and begin the process of exit, and the British people would rightly expect that to start straight away.” Its now the middle of December and still nothing has happened. We are promised something might happen in March. However I am certain that “due to unforeseen circumstances” the ball will be kicked further into the long grass in the Spring too. There is nothing under the May regime that would get me to vote Conservative, despite any of the orthodox voting behaviour texts saying that you should have my vote of people like me guaranteed. So if that the case I do not know where your core support is going.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

      The Remainders hope that (Supreme Court + House of Lords) will be their winning combination. The Supreme Court to say the government has to get a fresh Act passed by Parliament to confirm its consent to the service of the Article 50 notice, then the House of Lords to delay the passage of that Act for about thirteen months.

      Two synergistic elements, both unelected and therefore immune to “populism”; the elected MPs will most likely pass the Act the first time, but maybe not pass it again when the government seeks to invoke the Parliament Acts.

      That’s unless the Queen agrees to oblige Theresa May by using Royal Prerogative to create hundreds of new Lords to outvote the present pro-EU members.

      • Hope
        Posted December 17, 2016 at 11:16 am | Permalink

        I think it is clear Yeresa May wa plan B of the remainders and the stupid Tory party went along with it.

        Yesterday we saw the embarrassment of May at the EU. Why go? Send a junior representative to show how unimportant the EU is. Why not start playing hard ball back? Oh for a Donal Trump or Farage to be PM.

  3. Peter VAN LEEUWEN
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    I would actually prefer that parties stand up for their (europhile) principles and wheather the populist storms. That is the power of continental democracy versus the winner takes all systems. E.g. The Dutch is 100% proportional. At the moment the anti Islam – anti-EU populist Geert Wilders scores highest in the opinion polls. In a FPTP system he might get most seats in parliament, in a democracy he doesn’t.

    • rose
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      Dear Peter,
      FPTP is democracy. In PR the least popular party decides who will form the government, when it will fall, and what will be the makeup of the next government. We saw this with Herr Genscher and his FDP for twenty years. He was always the Foreign minister because that was what he wanted. Thsi is the system our least popular party here, the Liberals, want and is their only consistent policy.

      What exactly do you mean by “populism”? Do you in fact mean democracy? If so, why not call it by its proper name? The system has a distinguishing feature: you cannot always get the result you want.

      • pd
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 11:32 am | Permalink

        Populism = EU buzzword

        • Hope
          Posted December 17, 2016 at 11:17 am | Permalink

          Populism=democracy, sovereignty and patriotism all absent in the EU dictatorship. Racist policies against host nations to rid them of their national identity.

        • Hope
          Posted December 17, 2016 at 11:17 am | Permalink

          Note to EU: Populism=democracy, sovereignty and patriotism all absent in the EU dictatorship. Racist policies against host nations to rid them of their national identity.

      • Peter VAN LEEUWEN
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

        @Rose: it appears my response to you didn’t make it past the moderator, but in short I said that my experience in the Netherlands is quite different from the one you mention about Germany. Also I don’t see populism as democracy, and certainly not as “representative parliamentary democracy” the form which I favor.

    • libertarian
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 6:53 pm | Permalink


      Who might you vote for in the next Federal EU election Peter, any ideas yet? Which 5 presidents do you think will be elected by the Dutch people?

      • Peter VAN LEEUWEN
        Posted December 15, 2016 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

        @libertarian: 2019 is still some years away. No need to decide on which party of group to vote for yet.

        • libertarian
          Posted December 17, 2016 at 10:32 am | Permalink


          So just to be clear your form of “democracy” is fine not to have a vote until some time in the future, maybe and then only for a toothless talking shop that has no power to influence the unelected government . Oh OK, next you’ll be telling me “populism” isn’t the same as democracy.

          I think democracy isn’t a term you understand

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Why have the normal rules of politics been suspended by the EU?

    Because the EU is profoundly anti-democratic. They think it is EU bureaucrats who should decide who governs these troublesome EU regions, in many cases they have achieved exactly that.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      In the UK the EU bureaucrats had the support of the vast Majority of MPs, nearly all the state sector, the Lords and of Hammond, May, Cameron, Osborne, Carney, Labour, Clegg, Obama, Major, the Labour party, the SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Libdims, the Tories, Jo Cox, the BBC and very many others.

      Their aim was to fully kill UK democracy dead.

      They very nearly succeeded and might well still succeed.

      • Hope
        Posted December 15, 2016 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

        And particularly England. As recently reported Cameron lied to the people over the delivery of EVEL allowing the SNP to vote on pure English issues,namely Sunday trading in England and Wales. You simply cannot believe a word Cameron, Osborne or their pro EU types say. I truly hope people will remember. One the next general election. I also think the SNP is in for a backlash as well. Do not underestimate the determination to thwart the will of the people by Traitorous MPs. Hopefully those who acted contrary to their constituents wishes will be given short shrift a the ballot. The swamp at Westminster is still strong. Another pay rise, another huge tax hike and the rest of us expected to have poor third world public services and dragged down for being prudent and doing the right thing.

        I do not consider JR thought this blog through properly when considering the left wing Tory party. We have an extreme left Labour Party and also an extreme anti democracy liberal party.

        • rose
          Posted December 16, 2016 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

          It would be a good idea if Mr Redwood would suggest to Philip Davies that on his new committee he take up the cause of under-representation of Englishmen in the Scottish Parliament. We all know how much Anglophobia there is on both sides of the border.

    • Peter VAN LEEUWEN
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

      @Lifelogic: This mornings blogs is about parties in Germany, France, Spain, etc. So you are stating here that Germany, France, Spain, etc. are ” profoundly anti-democratic”???

      • Lifelogic
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 2:13 am | Permalink

        The people in these countries in general are not anti-democratic, but the pro EU politicians and their establishments certainly are against and real democracy.

  5. Ian Wragg
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    And the very same fate awaits the Tory Party at the 2020 election.
    If by then immigration isn’t substantially reduced, if we don’t control our borders and if we are still under the ECJ yoke,ukip will ruthlessly exploit this to their advantage.
    I’m sure TM knows this and any perceived sellout will result in a Conservative wipe out.
    It looks bleak for the majority of Remainiac political class.

    • Hope
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      Ian, if the Tory govt intended to make any inroad on immigration it would have been down by now. It was a hollow promise and deliberate lie by Cameron. It is simply not possible for these reocord numbers to be entering our country without the consent of the govt.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 2:16 am | Permalink

        Indeed and Theresa May was the home secretary. She also lied to the nation that we had control of our borders in the EU through Schengen in order to try to trick them into a remain vote.

        She clearly took the electorate for complete fools.

    • getahead
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

      It will be the time that brexiteers of all parties will unite in the United Kingdom Independence Party.

  6. Lifelogic
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Brexit trade deal could take 10 years, says UK’s ambassador.

    I assume Sir Ivan Rogers someone who helped negotiation Cameron’s totally worthless EU deal and which so helped Brexit win the referendum. We should perhaps therefore be very grateful to the man. It is however clearly time for him to go.

    I cannot find out what he studied at Balliol, but I assume it was something like PPE, Modern History, Law or similar it nearly always is for these sorts. He also seems to have been:

    Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister
    Director of Budget and Tax Policy at HM Treasury
    Director of EU Strategy and Policy at HM Treasury
    Chef de Cabinet to the Vice-President of European Commission
    Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer

    Perhaps why we now have such an absurdly complex, wasteful and profoundly damaging tax system as well and why (counterproductive war on a blatant lie) Blair was such a disaster as PM.

  7. Richard1
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Interesting that our ambassador to the EU has “privately” (not that privately obviously) told the govt that a trade deal will take 10 years and then probably won’t get approved by EU parliaments anyway. If this is right it means it’s impossible to do trade deals with the EU. I would like to see clear and rigorous analysis by the govt of the consequences of leaving the EU with no deal on anything and operating under WTO rules. The big lesson from Mr Cameron’s attempted re-negotiation – which anyone who has ever done a commercial negotiation knows – is you have to able to say credibly to the counter-party that you are prepared to walk away. If the govt is put in a position where is ‘has’ to get a deal – or has to be a ‘member’ of the single market or customs union, the chances of success are much lower. We need to get comfortable with the walk-away option, then a mutually successful deal with the EU is much more likely.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      Indeed Cameron went into the “negotiation” having already fully surrendered. Still, at least, that meant we actually got the right referendum result.

      How on earth did he ever think his useless non “deal” was good enough?

      • Hope
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

        Our EU ambassador being Ed Lewenin former chief of staff to Cameron and another Europhile!

    • DaveM
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      I find his comments more interesting for the simple reason that he actually expects the EU to exist in 10 years!

    • zorro
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      And we can walk away. Offer them trade as now or MFN WTO where we would gain anyway. Remember we are not supplicants, we are a free people….. All these 10 year negotiation people are all the same – paper tigers – not got the stomach for what is needed, just like Cameron.


      • Lifelogic
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 2:18 am | Permalink

        Indeed. But can we trust May, I certainly do not.

    • turboterrier
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      @ Richard1

      We need to get comfortable with the walk-away option.

      Its the only option for a lot of people.

      • Richard
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 9:33 am | Permalink

        I agree, the walk away option is probably preferable. Who trusts these people to ‘negotiate’ something? They’ll only negotiate something we don’t want anyway.

        Besides, since we have a trade deficit with the EU wouldn’t some small mutual WTO tariffs benefit us? Bring it on I say, we need to return to balancing our trade as we did pre-1973.

    • alan jutson
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

      Richard 1

      Absolutely agree we have to have a walk away option, and also be prepared to use it.

    • getahead
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

      Trade deals can take as long as they like AFTER the United Kingdom has left the EU.
      That might be a good job for the self-serving CBI.

  8. Denis Cooper
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    “Why have the normal rules of politics been suspended by the EU?”

    Because the EU is fundamentally anti-democratic in an age when the accepted normal rules involve some form of at least notionally democratic government with universal suffrage? In fact on one analysis the EU and other supranational organisations may be seen as a reaction by the national elites to the spread of universal suffrage and the consequent loss of their power to the mass of the people. Having once conceded the power of the vote to the lower orders it is difficult for the elites to take it away again without setting up an overt dictatorship – not impossible, but difficult – but one alternative is to allow them to keep their votes but render them increasingly ineffective. Hence we wind up with a national Parliament which in theory is still the sovereign law-making body for our country, but which can nonetheless be told that some proposed laws would be “illegal” under so-called “international law”. Perhaps another question would be how it has come about that we have been routinely electing parliamentary candidates who do not actually believe in the sovereignty of the Parliament to which they aspire, even if in recent months some have found it necessary to pretend that they regard it as all-important?

    • Peter VAN LEEUWEN
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

      @Denis Cooper: This mornings blogs is about parties in Germany, France, Spain, etc. So you are stating here that Germany, France, Spain, etc. are ” profoundly anti-democratic”???

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 7:48 am | Permalink

        Even if you must insist on poking your nose into our affairs, do try reading the post carefully before you comment.

        • Peter VAN LEEUWEN
          Posted December 16, 2016 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

          @Denis Cooper: I don’t mind you trying to be condescending while trying to avoid answering my very simple question. Although you may not necessarily completely comprehend what democracy entails, I would enjoy you trying to answer the question: What is anti-democratic in the NATIONAL parties this blog is about.
          To make it really simple for you, you tried to react to this part:
          “”Why have the normal rules of politics been suspended by the EU? Why don’t THESE PARTIES want to improve the lot of their electors””

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted December 17, 2016 at 9:51 am | Permalink

            You’re still not reading what I actually wrote.

    • getahead
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

      Excellent synopsis Denis.

  9. Anonymous
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    “I just do not understand why once great political parties accept these policies, when they are so clearly life threatening to them as election winning organisations. ”

    Because the point is not to satisfy a voter group nor achieve anything in office but simply to achieve power for its own sake in accordance with what the civil servants deem acceptable. Even a tiny majority or coalition is a victory.

  10. Baron Hardup
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    What your scholarly research proves beyond any doubt is that Mrs May is totally right: Article 50 to be applied before 31st May 2017.

  11. alan jutson
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    far from keeping peace in europe, the eu will eventually cause unrest or worse if they continue with present thoughts and policies, which the people are rejecting.

    as always in politics as in many other fields, you have to have over reaction in order to get change.

    • Robert Christopher
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

      I think they already have.

  12. Roy Grainger
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    I think pinning the blame for these fluctuations in popular support specifically on the Euro/EU is a bit tenuous. Historically it is not that unusual for party support to fluctuate rapidly over a relatively short period and sometimes it turns out to be cyclical. For example the Liberal Party in Canada went from 40% in 200 elections to 19% in 2011 elections and back to 40% in 2015. The EU/Euro contributed to the environment in which these swings happened in Europe, but so did the 2007-8 financial crisis which it is hard to pin on the EU. The issue of personality is also important. The reduction in Mrs Merkel’s CDU and coalition partner’s votes in favour of the likes of AfD is more a result of her own policies on immigration which she implemented independently of the EU – the EU/Euro has been rather good for Germany overall anyway.

    • getahead
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

      You do not take into account the rise in popularity of the national independence parties Roy.

  13. A.Sedgwick
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    The change is underway in this country. The SDP, Labour Parliamentary Party with largely unwanted leadership and the Conservative Parliamentary Party well on the way to ratting on Brexit. UKIP will eventually split the Conservatives in Parliament. The nonsense of 80 Leavers trying to battle endlessly against the Conservative Remainers will be over. George Osborne is back and trying to look PM material again. On his speech and that debate I won’t go off topic but Syria is a huge tragedy and its cause probably started in 2003.

  14. hefner
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    That’s a possible narrative (the ability of the Euro and the EU scheme to drive the traditional parties out of government). But strictly speaking is it a EU problem or that of the EU forcing a particular type of “neoliberal” policies?
    And will the UK out of the EU apply any other policy (given that I do not expect anything from the present Labour)?

  15. Denis Cooper
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    I know it’s only a report in the Telegraph but I’m a bit uneasy about this:

    “The Brexit Secretary made it clear that the Government will decide how its immigration system will look before presenting the option to Brussels leaders.”

    What we definitely don’t want is for our future national policy choices on immigration to be in any way constrained by a new treaty with the EU as it is presently constrained by the EU treaties, so the plan presented to Brussels leaders should simply be “Our Parliament will decide our immigration policy and will vary it from time to time as it sees fit.”

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      Yes, Denis–Very much so–I too was brought up short over my bacon and eggs, in particular his use of the word option. Mind you my morale was increased yesterday by that brilliant and brilliantly simple letter in the Torygraph emphasizing the small proportion of our GDP (13%) that goes to the EU and the large proportion of British companies (94%) that do not sell to the EU (plus sole traders presumably?) and asking what the delay and fuss is all about. What proportion of the 13% do the Remainiacs think we’ll lose? Perhaps half for the sake of discussion as a worst case?? I cannot see that being very far wrong so the question becomes will we get back more than 6 or 7% from ceasing to burn money in contributions and from the extra trade with the rest of the world. The question answers itself. And of course the 94% will be jumping up and down at the lifting of the bureaucratic OTT EU regulations which at present they have to obey for the fun of it. I’ve never much grasped what there is to talk about.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 8:28 am | Permalink

        “What proportion of the 13% do the Remainiacs think we’ll lose?”

        Oh, all of that 13% of GDP and much more; even though the EU Commission has estimated that the EU internal market has added just 2% to the collective GDP of the member states, and according to one study the benefit to the UK has been below average at about 1% added to per capita GDP.

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted December 16, 2016 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

          Dear Denis–I don’t see how we can lose more. One might think from the Remainer drivel that the end of the trading world is nigh because as they see it our trade with the EU is the be all and end all but it just ain’t so and 13 % is the absolute maximum in that the other 93% has nothing to do with the EU. BTW I made no mention of tariffs on purpose because they export (net) to us so there is nothing to talk about on that front.

          • Leslie Singleton
            Posted December 19, 2016 at 4:46 am | Permalink

            87% I meant. Sorry

    • getahead
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

      I’m sure that all that needs to be presented to “Brussels leaders” is our resignation from the EU. As you say, immigration will be controlled by the UK .

  16. LordBlagger
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    30% of tax is going on servicing the debts that politicians in the UK have run up [and hidden off the books]

    Until you address the debts, it is just going to get worse.

    Same with the Euro. The solution is devaluation, and that means ripping off the public by destroying the value of money.

    For the UK debts, 90% are inflation linked. You can’t devalue the money to pay a value linked debt. You have to rip them off even more by defaulting on the value of what they are owed.

    Both involve politicians screwing the public out of money

    • acorn
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

      National account taxes will be circa £658 billion this year. Net General Government interest paid will be circa £37 billion. I make that about 5.6%. Keep in mind that the Treasury pays itself £13 billion interest on its own Gilts that are theoretically, still being held by its own bank, the BoE, in its APF.

      The off “general government” balance sheet, Gilt like pieces of paper issued, are not debt, they are Treasury “liabilities” of zero cost; but, are better than Gold for the zombie banks they are propping up. This will sound stupid until you understand how “fiat” currency accounting works; and accept that we no longer use Gold as a base currency.

  17. turboterrier
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Very good entry John

    Across Europe more an more people are totally disenchanted with “old party politics” and the parties like the Labour Party has done nothing to generate a belief from the electorate that things will be better as it still pursues the old political dogma it has run on for years and like a lot of the “original” parties the electorate have lost faith hence their poor showing in the polls. The SNP in dictatorship Scotland are rapidly heading for a train smash as they haven’t listened to the people and the electorate are slowly sliding away as the realise that Independence will not be the panacea for all that ails the country.
    If the papers are nearly half way right it would appear that the MSPs are getting totally miffed off with the way that the senior politicians are perceived to be dealing with the UK leaving. The major countries that you mention are all facing troubled electoral times ahead and it is not going to get any better for them. The new world demanded by the electorate is upon them and they do nothing. The EU has become a very bad card school and for a lot of the members it is decision time do I hold, fold. walk or run and the way the potential fallout from all this unrest it is time for Mother Teresa to lift up her skirt and run. The UK is on the SS Euro Titanic and the time for moving the deck chairs around has got to stop and get off before we get into the lifeboats before the panic starts.
    It is so sad that so many of our politicians still have belief in the EU being unsinkable. if they really took notice they would realise it is destroying itself from within.


  18. Tweeter_L
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    And presumably if all parties hadn’t supported the EU in General Elections over many years, giving effectively no choice on the issue even as were were taken more deeply into the political union, we wouldn’t have arrived at the situation where a Referendum was the only way of expressing the opposing view.

    • getahead
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

      Truly excellent point Tweeter.

    • ChrisS
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      This is the fundamental problem in Brussels where a cosy coaltion between almost all sides in the European Parliament ensures that the people have no alternative choices to vote for.

      It happens in countries as well, Germany being the most obvious example. The Grand Coalition keeps Mutti Merkel in charge but there is no serious opposition at the moment.

      However, the AfD will grow stronger if there is no change of course at EU level.

      Effectively there is the same pro-EU consensus in France, the FN being the exception and Le Pen is becoming more popular by the month.

  19. Bert Young
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    The introduction of the Euro changed the political landscape ; national identity has become subsumed into a middle road representation system . The period of the Cameron/Clegg alliance typified wishy washy politics and drove the public to despair . The size of Europe , the diversity of its people , the variance in economic conditions , the cultural differences all add substantial weight to the impossibility of its existence .

    Watering down of Political views into a centrist stance alienates large sections of opinions . Dreams disappear in the morning as the cold light of dawn appears !.

  20. Antisthenes
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    The normally popular main stream parties are losing support because they are constrained by the one policy that they must maintain above all others. That is to forever feed the voracious appetite of the dependency state. Allied to the fact that because of the necessity to be able to maintain that policy the state has had to take considerable power unto itself which is a corrupting force. Made more so by years of the same political parties being the only choice voters have when choosing who governs them. A cosy arrangement has sprung up which we now call the establishment. Giving us self serving and narcissist politicians of poor quality whose idealism clouds their judgement. There are of course exceptions fortunately but they have only been able to slow the rot not stop it in the UK and hardly at all in the rest of Europe.

    Right leaning governments cannot undo the damaging counterproductive progressive/socialist policies the left implemented or advocate or at least only do so cautiously. As to do so would not be acceptable to the electorate as they see that which the left have forced them to be given is now their right and privilege. The UK is not immune to these problems but are less effected by them because the EU collective mindset(which is the worst of establishment attributes all rolled into one entity) has not fully contaminated it. Although the referendum tells us nearly half the population is suffering from the disease. Another saving grace is we have not succumbed to a voting system that ensures coalition government most of the time. This allows the UK the breathing space to undo more of the harm the left does than is possible on the continent.

    • Antisthenes
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      Populist parties demand the impossible so will probably be no better maybe even worse than establishment parties if they gain power and will quickly become establishment themselves. If the SNP and the new Greek government is anything to go by. However their very presence and threat are probably good for politics and the democratic process. It will force establishment politicians and parties to reevaluate themselves and perhaps understand their considerable short comings. However I am not hopeful if the state of the current Labour party is any indication of what self reflection does. I am not sure turning itself into a populist party will work too well for them as they are barking up the wrong tree.

  21. Peter Wood
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Good Morning,

    The EU is not ‘fit for purpose’ for the UK; they want a federation not just a free trade association.
    May I suggest you make an effort to emphasise to the German car makers that their UK market rests in the hands of 3 EU appointed negotiators, 2 Belgians and 1 French, (why 3!)and if they don’t like that they should make the appropriate representations to Mrs. Merkel.

  22. formula57
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Part of the answer to your interesting question may be revealed by the disappointing history of Mr Hollande, the Miliband of France made tragic by actually gaining power. Recall he arrived ready to lead a grouping of fellow EU leaders who wished to end the so called austerity policies of the Evil Empire. That initiative ended of course virtually as soon as it began when Mr Schäuble refused to comply and the others were not strong enough even collectively to force a change of the rules.

    The great unanswered question about the Euro project is “What did the Bundesbank expect to happen at the stage it has now reached and how did it expect Germany would be advantaged?”. It is fanciful to suppose either that the legendary capabilities of the Bundesbank did other than allow it to foresee the course of events that have transpired or that it would be left not knowing what to do now. We have of course yet to see though.

  23. mick
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 11:01 am | Permalink
    What part of leaving the eu don`t these muppets understand, do they honestly think for one moment that if they were allowed special arrangement with Brussels that allows them to keep free movement that people would stay in London or Scotland, get real and get use to the fact we are LEAVING THE EU, and if you cannot except the fact, then i surgest you buy some suit cases pack them and go live in europe BYE-BYE

  24. norman
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Some rhetorical questions:
    1. Why do we in Britain have an institution called the Mother of Parliaments, which was more or less copied across the world?
    2. Is a healthy and beneficent democracy the fruit of something deeper in the soul of a nation – often born out of, and preserved, through the shedding of blood?
    3. Is true democracy bound up with national sovereignty (of which currency is a key part)?
    4. Is the EU antidemocratic, or simply in transition towards a new superstate, which could ultimately then become fully unified and democratic? Would we be ‘free’ under such a democracy, in the manner that we have known it in recent history?
    5. Does free movement between the constituent nations of the EU have the effect of erasing national identity?
    6. Would that eventually entail the imposition of one language, in the way that Greek was the cultural language of the ancient world, even in Roman times?
    7. Is the EU, in fact a revived Roman Empire, with ‘feet of iron and clay’?

    I think its pretty clear what the answers are: to say that Brexit is of seismic importance to our generation would be an understatement – our last chance to preserve what’s left of our cultural identity. What an amazing event the Referendum was! Now you know why I, and many others of my ilk, voted the way we did!

    • Peter VAN LEEUWEN
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      @norman: I’m rather glad that we in the Netherlands didn’t copy your clearly defunct parliamentary (winner takes all) system. If you cannot see it in the UK, look at the US, your former colony and realise that 2 million more votes were given to Mrs. Clinton and still Mr. Trump gets to rule the country. So with your first rhetorical claim you’ve already already lost your audience.

      • rose
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 12:48 am | Permalink


        The Americans have their Electoral College because, like you, the Founding Fathers didn’t trust the people.

        • rose
          Posted December 16, 2016 at 11:25 am | Permalink

          Our system is quite different: we are not, as they are, electing a constutional monarch who then goes on to choose his own administration from wherever he likes (he can have Mickey Mouse for his Secretary of State if he wants). We are choosing someone to represent us at our parliament, which makes the laws, and it is from those representatives that the administration is formed. FPTP is the only democratic way to do this.

          It doesn’t really matter how you elect your representative to the EU parliament because that is a sham parliament which doesn’t make laws and doesn’t provide the administration.

        • rose
          Posted December 16, 2016 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

          The other reason for the Electoral College is that the individual States didn’t trust each other. In fact they hated each other and would have rather had the English back. The last thing they wanted was to be dominated by New York.

          When you get your EU Federal States you will probably have the same system.

      • libertarian
        Posted December 17, 2016 at 10:42 am | Permalink


        Oh dear, so tell us how many people exactly voted for Rutte as PM?

        A position by they way that was only formally adopted as part of the constitution in 1983. Then you can go on to explain who also elected your head of state

        Being pompous about other electoral systems when yours is as bad and a compromise fudge is quite frankly pathetic.

    • Mitchel
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      7) Is the EU,in fact a revived Roman Empire,”with feet of iron and clay”?

      More likely a revival of the Germanic attempt to revive the Roman Empire-that is The Holy Roman Empire(of the German People) forcibly cobbled together by Charlemagne,with the title bestowed upon him by the then Pope while the real Roman Emperor continued to rule in Constantinople,causing a split between West and East that continues to this day.

      Charlemagne is considered by EU enthusiasts to be the “founder of western culture” and an annual prize is awarded to those who have done most to promote this revival.The first recipient being the infamous(to Eurosceptics)Count Coudenhove-Kalergi.It has also been awarded to Angela Merkel more recently.

      • Mitchel
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 10:34 am | Permalink

        annual prize -The Charlemagne Prize.

  25. Ed Mahony
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    The problem is that people tend to lurch from one extreme to the other: either maintain the status quo of the EU or completely abolish the EU (or either completely remain in the EU as it is or else completely get out of the EU).
    The best is surely to keep what is best about the EU and get rid of the worst / the rest. Problem is that a pragmatic approach governed by ideals, like this, always requires more effort and imagination than a purely ideological approach but brings greater results in the long-term.
    Therefore, i think, we need to stop calling ourselves Remainers or Leavers but Reformers. People who recognise the economic and general geopolitical benefits of being in the EU whilst reforming its worst aspects (this is not the same as getting concessions for the UK but rather reforming the whole EU for the benefit of all including ourselves), in particular free movement of people, countries not being allowed to spend their own payments to the EU, and more.

    • getahead
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

      The economic and general geopolitical benefits of being in the EU don’t exist to most people Ed. Which is why they voted Leave.

    • Mitchel
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      The EU is incapable of reform and Europe is currently-and for the foreseeable future-a geopolitical irrelevance.

  26. Ed Mahony
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    I also think many of the EU’s harshest critics are misdiagnosing a fundamental problem with Europe (as opposed to the EU) at the moment. Yes the EU has its problems (but its harshest critics won’t admit to its benefits of which there are many both economic and geopolitical).

    But a key, fundamental problem with Europe at the moment is that we’re being challenged, firstly, by an extremely competitive China, and, secondly, by the advancement of technology that is putting many working class people out of work.

    People focus on the decline of the EU’s GDP, over the years, but they fail to focus also on the decline of GDP, over the years, in the US and Japan, both obviously outside the EU. The decline is partly cultural in origin, and partly technological in origin. I mean after WW2, the Japanese worked famously hard. Like the Chinese now. But more recent Japanese generations, not so hard.

    In fact, if you look at exports, Germany exports way more than Japan – both overall and in terms of per capita (something like a whopping 3 times more). And let’s not forget the obvious (although so many do), Germany is inside the EU, and Japan outside. Let’s not forget that Germany exports a whopping 2.5 times more to the US than the UK, Germany exports a whopping 3 times more to China than the UK, Germany exports a whopping 4 times more to Japan than the UK.

    So we need to be pragmatic in diagnosing the real problems and not fall on ideology, resulting in false, overall diagnosis. And having used pragmatism to diagnose the correct problem then we use pragmatism and ideals, as opposed to just pure ideology again, to come to the best solution.

    • Robert Christopher
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

      The EU wants EVER CLOSER UNION, no matter what the cost, and we, meaning everyone, cannot afford it financially, as you so well explain in your post. In addition we are finding that our social problems are unsolvable on our present course, yet there is no letup. Having over 1000 demonstrating in London for Sharia Law, while we see the Swedish Police crumbling under obvious ‘social pressure’s, denied by their Establishment, and the number of serous crimes within Europe, those who take an interest are wondering where it will lead.
      What makes it of more concern is that the EU Elite appear to care little about this and are planning to be as spiteful as they can, which is quite spiteful, to Britain because of Brexit. And the Eurozone and Schengen, EU constructs, just make the situation worse by adding extra layers of bureaucracy!
      To have the London Mayor say that terrorism is part and parcel of living in a big conurbation, while may be true, is something that would have been unheard of, even twenty years ago about Britain.
      We are losing local library services and children’s centres while we sending money to countries that can afford nuclear deterrents or put combat aircraft on their own aircraft carriers. What is that all about?
      Then there is a report that says Holland is scooping up up to £2billion annually from our exchequer because of EU rules.
      I do hope that the Government is getting prepared for battle, because battle it will be!

    • getahead
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

      It’s about sovereignty Ed, not trade.

  27. Elliot Kane
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    You are trying to apply logic to a pseudo-religion, John.

    Many politicians do not see the EU as something that they accept as a matter of logic and pragmatism; they have faith in the idea of it and believe in it as if it were a secular deity.

    This is why no amount of disaster or failure ever leads to the adoption of common sense. To question the tenets and actions of the EU when they are obviously disastrous may be perfectly logical, but to too many adherents of the Europhile faithful they are heretical.

    This is why nothing has been done about the Euro, nor about the many obvious failings of Schengen. It is also why the EU is so resistant to any kind of reform or change. We are not dealing with rationality, but with faith.

  28. rose
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    “I just do not understand why once great political parties accept these policies, when they are so clearly life threatening to them as election winning organisations. Why have the normal rules of politics been suspended by the EU? ”

    Nigel Farage said if the EU had to apply for membership of itself, it wouldn’t be accepted, because it isn’t democratic. That is the paradox at the heart of the EU. It is made up of democracies which then can’t be democratic because otherwise they would reject the main planks of the EU and have to leave.

    Here we have a similar problem: why do the main parties persist in bringing in getting on for a million people a year now, when the electorate doesn’t want that and never did?

  29. Denis Cooper
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Rather amusingly there’s a bar chart here:

    showing what “50 leading policymakers and influencers”, “including ambassadors, business leaders and politicians from across the Continent and the U.S.”, reckon will be the biggest threats to European stability in 2017, and top of their list is “POPULISM” with 48%, a long way ahead of “LACK OF ECONOMIC GROWTH” on 18%.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

      Very amusing. Another example of people being unable to distinguish between cause and effect.

    • rose
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      And migration down at 12% and terrorism at 6%!

  30. Tad Davison
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps it is an indication that people generally won’t stand for being conned and shafted indefinitely, and resent being lied to and railroaded into something for which they have no real appetite.

    Those parties who had always harboured evil intent and kept the real truth from us, conspiring as they did to steal our sovereign birth right, deserve everything they get.

    My eldest daughter is an excellent and very talented tattoo artist. I am sure she would accept a commission to tattoo ‘REMAINER’ on the foreheads of all those who would still have us chained to the EU, and we would then know exactly who and what we were voting for come election time. I would bet any amount they would sink without trace into oblivion.

    Tad Davison


  31. Mark Watson
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    I simply can’t understand it.We keep being told it’s to stop WW3 in Europe,but to be honest the EU nearly started that when it interfered in Ukraine.
    Great Britain didn’t start either World War but we had to intervene to sort it out,twice, so excuse us EU if we stand back and let you get on with it, again.

    • Ed Mahony
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      ‘We keep being told it’s to stop WW3 in Europe’

      – Sort of.
      Yes, it’s about geopolitics: building up a safe and stable Europe in general, not just preventing a large war but also smaller conflicts, and to prevent soft and hard dictators getting back into power and so on. And conflict in Europe is inevitably going to affect the UK, whether we’re in the EU or not.
      But there’s more to geopolitics than peace + security, important as that is. There’s also the economic side as well. By creating a safe and stable Europe, we build up trading partners to export our goods to. Ireland is a great example of this. 40 years ago, Ireland was relatively poor. Now relatively rich. And a great country to export to. The same could apply to the rest of the Europe. But it takes time. Especially for countries such as Greece and Italy that need to change their work cultures (Spain, for example, has changed radically over the last few years).
      And with peace, stability and relative economic prosperity in Europe, we can work together on serious threats such as Russia, terrorism, mass migration from Africa and Middle East, and more. And we can work together on big commercial, scientific and cultural projects that are too big for one country to do on their own.
      The benefits to the EU are numerous.
      But at same time, the EU needs to be challenged to reform. To be flexible and to evolve. And not to remain a static beast based on ideology as opposed to pragmatism and ideals.

      • a-tracy
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 10:17 am | Permalink

        “Ireland is a great example of this. 40 years ago, Ireland was relatively poor. Now relatively rich”

        Isn’t this all a bit con trick though Ed, sure certain Irish people are doing very well out of their new economy but the UK had to step in and borrow £8bn for them, we’re all being led to believe we’re “relatively rich” when we’re living off borrowed money, spending over our means, spending over what we can create. There will be a day of reckoning.

        • rose
          Posted December 17, 2016 at 12:17 am | Permalink

          Also the Irish have long exported their poverty to us.

          Our wealth per capita is now lower than theirs.

      • Richard
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 10:53 am | Permalink

        ***And with peace, stability and relative economic prosperity in Europe, we can work together on serious threats such as Russia, terrorism, mass migration from Africa and Middle East, and more.***

        Hang on a moment, more EU (which you dub ‘peace, stability and relative economic prosperity’) has been largely responsible for the problems of mass migration from Africa/Middle East and significantly (not entirely) responsible (thanks to it’s feeble answers) to the terrorist threats we see today. Without open borders the efforts of A&ME migrants would be largely wasted and most of them wouldn’t bother. And without somewhere to ship them out to Italy would think a bit harder before picking up thousands of these people in the Med and bringing them in.

        ***And we can work together on big commercial, scientific and cultural projects that are too big for one country to do on their own.***

        What are these projects that are too big for the UK to do alone? As for ‘cultural projects’, no thanks.

      • libertarian
        Posted December 17, 2016 at 10:48 am | Permalink

        Hi Ed

        Please explain to me where you do business in what market sector and what is “safe and stable” about the EU as a place that you sell your goods and then tell me why the USA , Australia, Canada, New Zealand, etc etc aren’t safe and stable places to do business in goods.

        Oh and on the peace in our times schtick. There have been 35 wars, revolutions, insurrections, coups and separatist terrorist campaigns in Europe since the formation of the EC at the end of WW2. So its not working very well either

  32. John
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    If my memory serves me before the EU in its current form existed the Right would argue for free bi lateral trade deals and the Left would be against it for fear it could take jobs away.

    Now the Conservatives are saying we will be a beacon for free trade in the world and that is unopposed by the Left. Leaving the arguments aside about merits of it, its just strange that the likes of Corbyn are not opposed.

    • Richard
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      In my opinion the Conservatives could argue either stance. Really the opposition to free trade by the left is conservative. Zero-tariffs free trade as you say is generally thought as economically ‘right’ but at the same time not conservative.

      I would love to hear what our MP’s really think about zero-tariff free trade (and big trade imbalances) vs as free trade as possible but using tariffs to balance trade. Strange that you rarely hear these things discussed, historically I think they were. I guess that’s another symptom of our EU membership where such topics aren’t really worth debating.

      • John
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

        Agree and not only are we missing out on the debate in Parliament on the merits or otherwise of tariff free trade and punitive tariffs for ‘dumping’ but were is the debate out infrastructure.

        Take fishing, we will need expanded if not new ports. We need places to service trawlers and larger wholesale markets and interconnectivity from those greater trading hubs. Where should they be? Apparently the North East has plenty of Labour MP’s, are they getting in there? At least Andy Burnham was on about opportunities, the debate needs to move on to how best we prepare rather than re running the debate. I suspect some may pay the price for not putting their case forward in time to come.

  33. Lifelogic
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    A good item on the world at one just now, with Tim Harford trying to estimate the huge financial loss to the country of presents that people did really want, had to change or where they would have far preferred the money and to buy what they did want. Needless to day the loss is huge I think it probably well over 70% of the amount spent.

    Of course being the lefty BBC they did not carry the argument a stage further to look at the even worse situation of government waste. Here people spend other people money (after already wasting a lot on collecting it and the consequential damage that also does) on “presents” for other people. Here they care not what they spend nor care not what value the recipients get. At least the present buyer is using their own money are trying to get something the recipient wants. This is not so with government at all. Here have a free parking ticket, a free tax investigation or a 6 hour wait on a trolley at A&E and just be grateful mate.

    Except that I suppose they might occasionally care slightly where politician are just trying to buy votes. Things like Gordon Brown’s the absurd baby bond “gifts”!

    • a-tracy
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      Don’t feel too bad about the baby bond gifts Lifelogic, the way our politicians work, they won’t be able to get a student loan until their baby bond runs out!

  34. zorro
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    So John, why do you think (best guess ?) that they engage in this lemming type behaviour?


    • rose
      Posted December 15, 2016 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      Because they only talk to likeminded people.

  35. Prigger
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    “…once great political parties…”

    Fewer people nowadays accept they were great.

    Blair speaks of going for the centre ground to achieve electoral victory.Many voters associate such with dishonesty, especially since he has annunciated it so blairfacedly.

  36. Pragmatist
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Political movements in the ascendancy, this time ours, carry an inevitable arrogance. Their success leads them in believing they are objectively correct.”Why can’ t the other parties accept reality?”
    Reality, in political terms, is governed by how long and with what enthusiasm the electorate recognises it as reality.
    An MP or Councillor losing his position may say hurtfully ” But the reality is….”
    The reality is…he lost his seat.

  37. Taxing Times
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    More C-Tax rises including add-ons. Difficulty in giving provision for older people despite massive immigration in unprecedented numbers despite: ” young immigrants are necessary to finance an aging population”
    A third of a million extra contributors net this year and Council Taxes are rising with Tory Party approval. Abject failure of the Tory government!

  38. Andy
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Interesting analysis. In Greece ‘Pasok’ was always, to me, ‘Andreas Papandreou Inc.’ and it survived his death by less than 15 years. Afraid I was not a fan (I knew him slightly). Syriza is basically the ‘New Pasok’ with many of the same old faces. One hopes that Syriza’s mishandling of the Greek economy will do for them too.

  39. Titanium
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Mainstream parties have fallen into a self-made trap.
    Proverbially, all politicians are liars…How do you tell when a politician is lying? His lips move!
    BUT. Whenever a politician of a certain hue says something seen as outrageous..even if he is grossly misquoted with the most horrid inferences made egs. “It is racist”; “It is fascist”; “It is “….phobic” “He is the most despicable human being ” then that politician is seen and later matter what he says as telling the absolute truth of what he believes to be true”
    He becomes Titanium! ( apologies and a polite bow to Pierre David Guetta 🙂 )

  40. acorn
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    So could we sum up by saying western style neo-liberal democracies, have passed their sell-by date? What was the Brexit vote actually trying to tell UK politicians; and, was it any different to the reaction in other EU and US constituencies?

    For me, the answer to the above is summed up perfectly by Bonnie Tyler.

    “Where have all the good men gone and where are all the gods? Where’s the streetwise Hercules to fight the rising odds? Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed? Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need. I need a hero. I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night. He’s gotta be strong and he’s gotta be fast And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight. I need a hero. I’m holding out for a hero ’til the morning light. He’s gotta be sure and it’s gotta be soon And he’s gotta be larger than life!”

    The US has got its “larger than life” Donald Trump. Where is the UK equivalent? Much better still, where is the EU 28 equivalent. The guy who can scrap the EU and its Euro currency and resurrect EFTA, to be a copy of the extended sixteen nation ASEAN trading agreement.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      Well, under Article 2(c) of the EFTA Convention:

      one objective is “to progressively liberalise the free movement of persons”, in between (b) on free trade in goods and (d) on services and investment; so one would not entirely escape the fallacious and unacceptable EU dogma of the indivisible “four freedoms” by fleeing to EFTA.

      • acorn
        Posted December 17, 2016 at 7:51 am | Permalink

        Read the last sentence again then look up ASEAN and RCEP. Then use the EFTA or EEA structure to implement it.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted December 17, 2016 at 11:44 am | Permalink

          I read it before with sufficient care to think that EFTA does not need resurrection, as it still exists, but it would need fundamental reform to break the link between trade and immigration.

    • a-tracy
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      Well it isn’t PM May is it!
      I properly cringed yesterday when that video circulated of her looking bullied and not able to cope with that, spinning her bracelet on her wrist desperately looking around for someone to return her smile.

      I actually think the bullying charities should talk about this video as a perfect example of how children should deal with this sort of exclusion and isolation in groups, one of the biggest and most unreported bullies tricks to upset someone. The strongest children learn to cope with this, the truly independent thinkers, the alphas by just getting on with their day without being bothered at all about it, leave the room and come back later once everyone was seated, or typically nowadays get out their phone and get busy doing something they enjoy. People pleasers, group members, team players like May who was always sort of in the choir, girl guides, school parliament, team sports etc. who have never been bullied a day in their lives just can’t cope and will do anything to fit back into the group.

    • Mitchel
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      In answer to your first question,yes!

      Europe, I’m afraid, does not have the equivalent of Trump.We may have to rely on Vladimir Putin to do the job of destroying the EU – and it is a case of vita mea,mors tua I believe.

      Mother Russia to the rescue.


      • hefner
        Posted December 18, 2016 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

        Gee !!!
        Are you feeling at ease writing that?
        Have you ever visited Russia? Gone to its shops, seen what normal people pay relative to their income, and (tried to) talk to the people (admittedly the tourist guides in my case).
        Maybe you are a case of too much RT?

  41. Mike Wilson
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    I am puzzled by the basis of this article. Mr. Redwood seems to think that both the Labour and Conservative parties have some sort of right to always exist and to always play pass the parcel with power.

    My observation is that playing pass the parcel with power between these parties has not served this country well. Where is the long term view? What is the plan to deal with globalization? Instead we get things most people don’t want – like HS2 and an absurdly priced and financed nuclear power station.

    Labour and the Tories continuously tinker with health and education -with the outcome that neither are very good. Money is constantly wasted and frittered. Whose bright idea was it to spend 5 thousand, million pounds on 2 aircraft carriers? Look at the water cannon – money just peed away carelessly. With thousands spent fitting stereo(?!) radios so the police could hear the news? Don’t they have their own radios? Could they not get the news on their mobile phones?

    And what about the debt? £2 million, million pounds by the end of this parliament! Run up by Labour, the Coalition and the Tories. Why do people think that endless government by these parties is good?

  42. Chris S
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    “Why don’t these parties want to improve the lot of their electors and get back in touch with their former supporters?”

    It’s quite simple, really. The traditional governing parties have all adopted an arrogance attitude – telling voters that their generally elitist politicians know best and then they have adopted policies that their original supporters don’t agree with.

    You could have no better example than the UK. At least the Conservative party reluctantly conceded the referendum but only after Cameron adopted deeply unpopular policies like all the Green Crap, uncontrolled immigration and a love affair with Brussels.

    Labour still doesn’t get it – their arrogance is built around a totally flawed view that they haven’t won an election because they have not been Left Wing enough. The view held by the other half the party is that their Left Wing policies are correct for the country and the voters better support them because they are right !

    Well they won’t.

    All over Europe, voters are waking up to the heinous idea that Brussels and the Euro have serious, and probably terminal flaws but nobody is listening.

    Their politicians are so convinced they are right that they will do absolutely anything to keep the show on the road and that includes breaking their own rules and ignoring the outcome of legitimate votes like the Dutch one on Ukraine. For millions in mainland Europe, Merkel’s very own Migrant crisis was the last straw. Voters can see that the EU has no answers to this catastrophe and they know that Multiculturalism and integration
    simply don’t work, although they are being told the opposite.

    The result is Brexit, increased representation for Right-of-Centre parties, Trump and possibly Le Penn as well. The Italian and French general elections might well be a turning point. It will only take one inconvenient outcome for the whole house of cards to collapse.

    Politicians have to start listening and doing what the people want them to do.

  43. Professional Losers
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    MPs, not all of them, care much whether their party gains power.
    *#* Farron MP Lib Dem leader knows one more “deal with the Devil” ie any party, is an end to his career and the Lib Party. He would rather “respectably” lose and keep his MPs with one or two more.
    *#* SNP MPs, would prefer to nearly.. beat the English. It’ll secure their MP-ship election after election. A victory would end it after five years maximum…in anyone’s Parliament
    *#* Benn Labour MP can only survive if Labour fails in or out of power.Also his followers need a total failure but surviving in their constituencies.
    *#*Hammond Tory MP only survive if it’s FAIL but he is seen to have tried honourably. A successful win..a successful Brexit proves him incapable of sound judgement.
    *#* Abbot MP .Doubtful her career would survive five years past a Corby/Labour win. She is not good at telling lies about “successes” which she knows are not.

  44. Simon Coleman
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    This article is so simplistic. Political parties are really destroyed from within, as the Conservatives were from 1993 to 2005. Only when they began to re-unite again under Cameron – under pretty much the centre-right, pro EU agenda of John Major – did they advance back to power. As for the real reasons for the destruction of the Major government, don’t look to pro-EU policies but, instead, to policies (and people) much closer to home.

  45. Educator
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    Ms Dalia Grybauskaitė Lithuanian President said something odd to Sky News prior to Mrs May’s hunkering down with the chieftains of the EU nations at European Council summit in Brussels.
    She said Mrs May would have difficulty because she would need to negotiate with 27 and not just one.
    I thought the Remainers said the beauty of the EU is that there is ONE ring to rule them all, not 27?

    Ms Grybauskaitė is probably right, she has a BA in Science/Arts from Leningrad A.A. Zhdanov State University also working in a factory at the same time; and a Doctorate from Moscow Academia of Sciences and later studied at The Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Washington, D.C., Between 1991 and 1993, Grybauskaitė worked as Director of the European Department at the Ministry of International Economic Relations of the Republic of Lithuania. During 1993, she was employed in the Foreign Ministry as director of the Economic Relations Department, and represented Lithuania when it entered the European Union free trade agreements. She also chaired the Aid Coordination Committee (Phare and the G24). Soon afterwards, she was named Extraordinary Envoy and Plenipotentiary Minister at the Lithuanian Mission to the EU. There, she worked as the deputy chief negotiator for the EU Europe Agreement and as a representative of the National Aid Co-ordination in Brussels.

    Mrs May has a degree in geography. So she knows where it’s at.

    • rose
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      Ms Dalia Grybauskaitė’s problem is that she is losing her people to Free Movement. At the last election there the anti Emigration Party swept to power from nowhere.

  46. Maureen Turner
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    “Why are the normal rules of politics being suspended by the EU?” Perhaps it is a result of a slow dawning realisation that those who govern us are not always the honest brokers we expect them to be. The voter never thought the Party they voted for would consider selling our sovereignty out to a semi democratic EU but they did just that and repeatedly, hence much of the trust we had in the political class has taken quite a kicking.

    The UK Conservative Party was perhaps the best political vote winning machine this continent has produced. It is certainly the oldest right of centre Party in Europe. Can it be put back together? Yes of course it can but it’s going to have to take a long hard look at what it stands for and for me number one priority must be getting shot of our EU membership as fast as possible.

    The core vote of both major Parties can no longer be taken as a given. Over the last decade there has been splintering or a breaking away from Parties which shouldn’t be surprising when you consider the values they once promoted have changed more than a bit. Mr. Cameron after he was elected in 2010 declared himself to be a liberal Con. whatever that may imply, perhaps similar to Mrs. T’s so called wets. Certainly most of his time in office seemed to involve peripheral matters rather than tackling the big issues.

    If the current PM can extricate the UK from the EU speedily and cleanly I would imagine she could serve two terms but if our departure involves access to the single market by continuing to accept open borders then who knows how the Con. Party voter will react in 2020. Interesting times indeed.

    • ChrisS
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      “who knows how the Con. Party voter will react in 2020.”

      A very high proportion of them ( including me ) in constituencies where the Conservative candidate supports any deal that includes FOM, budget contributions, the European Court and no independent trade deals will vote for UKIP as will millions of those who were previously Labour supporters.

      Not sure of the outcome in seats but it will be something like a greatly reduced number of Labour seats in the North and a loss of some by the Conservatives in the South. The beneficiary will be UKIP.

      The outcome may be that only the Conservatives can run the country but in coalition with UKIP.

      Let’s hope Scotland votes for independence in the meantime and we won’t then be saddled with the complication of 50+ SNP members trying to exert control in England.

      As you say, interesting time indeed !

  47. Purple Passages
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    Headline today in and a bit from its extravagant, a tad over-wrought ,mayhap, view on a Brussels nosh-up:-.


    “Donald Trump is like the similarly entrepreneurial Harry Lime in The Third Man. Everyone is talking about him but like Orson Welles’ character, you don’t see him until near the end.

    If Aleppo is Banquo’s ghost sitting in bloodied, silent judgement at the Council feast, Putin is.

    From far up the river, his Heart of Darkness exerts a malign influence. He is accused of manipulating the US elections, the Brexit referendum, and French, German and Dutch politics.”
    Mrs May should have her own bottled water supply with tamper-proof caps and her own security-sealed salt and vinegar crisp sandwiches. No conversations and negotiations which will be remembered by the 27 are likely.
    # She should pack her own luggage before returning through British Customs

  48. Norman
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    @PvL: Thank you for your comment Peter. With respect, your definition of democracy would seem to depend on a head count alone, and therefore will always lead to ‘ruling by committee’. The advantages of the FPTP system, as I see it, is that you get more decisive government. And if they get it wrong, they know they will be out next time, so its still democratic. I believe this has worked well in the UK hitherto, although it’s now faltering – perhaps for the very reasons JR draws attention to. Social demographics have no doubt been a big factor in the UK, too, in the past, and there are a number of other important factors that shaped our politics in a distinctive way, compared to the Continental model. Which is what its all about!

  49. US Royal Family
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    A Brit would say this wouldn’t I, but CNN are being uppity that Trump is installing what appears to be his whole family into the Whitehouse, wife, daughters, sons, son-in-law..the lot. They say it is not quite unprecedented as something happened like that in America in the 18th Century. ( news for many Brits who never knew the USA had anything before the 19th ( only joking 🙂 )

    But we all recall the Bush dynasty , father and son, with an attempt this time with another Bush, and the Kennedy family appear to have wanted a dynasty too. Of course Hillary wanted to be the second Clinton as President and it is said Obama’s wife may try for the Whitehouse some day.

    We Brits should be flattered. Our American cousins are making attempts at a Royal Family. With Trump and family this is the nearest they have come to it.
    Let’s be serious about this: Royal families..for all their drawbacks generally last. We can all see what happened in Europe and elsewhere when they are suddenly demoted or removed.
    So, we should hope The Donald will be the first step in the USA, for quite some time, in having a proper country.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      As I understand although it was actively discussed the Americans decided that they did not want to replace King George, the third of that name to be king of Great Britain and Ireland, with King George, Washington, even though he would probably have made an excellent king of the United States. The question being, what kind of kings would they get in the essentially unlimited time after Washington had departed? And likewise they decided they did not want to continue with the parliamentary system of the mother country after they had cut the apron strings.

  50. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 1:38 am | Permalink

    Perhaps the choice for the EU is stark. Either a European Federal State based on the Euro, the 5 Presidents’ Report and the military features of the Lisbon Treaty is endorsed democratically, or the EuroZone collapses.

  51. British Ex-miner
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 2:09 am | Permalink

    Just watched another of Donald’s Thank You rallies on the net this one December 15, 2016 – Hershey , Pennsylvania ( PA ). He’s still banging on about coalminers, bringing back “clean coal” but this time he’s added an important new shout to the miners and it was a shout directly looking to the miners as a group in the audience “Get your shovels ready!”
    A haunting phrase. He HAS to deliver.

    Sometimes I wonder gone daft, for he seems to read my mind and my tweets. Only a few evenings ago I tweeted a question to an online Trump supporter in America ( Twitter is wonderful by the way ) I asked: How should a Brit, trying to be polite, address him: MR President-Elect or President-Elect of simply Mr Trump?”

    She answered: ” Oh we colonials don’t stand on ceremony, just call him Trump 😉

    Well in the rally Donald said ” People used to call me Mr Trump, now they call me Mr President-Elect” Errr. Just call me Donald,.. it’s ok”
    Donald it is. The Donald, on Sundays

  52. Alice
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 4:20 am | Permalink

    C’mon Commentors on JR’s Blog, did any of us expect, no really expect ,or even imagine the response of the Leave vote would be Tim Farron ( he is the LibDem leader by the way)’ s call for a second Referendum? Mr Lammy MP’s announcement that the vote didn’t matter for he knew best? Or varieties of soft,hard, medium, grey or blue white and red Brexits? Or beyond the ken Ben Bradshaw MP’s declaration of a Russian plot in regard to the vote?
    We never knew, did we, that our society had gone barking mad? We thought it was just a normal difference of opinion.

  53. Mr Clock
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 5:08 am | Permalink


    The West 0 1 Russia

    “This isn’t the end of it” ….Boris ( speaking as his name indicates for both sides of this jolly good match over the past thousand years ..or so )

  54. Denis Cooper
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Isn’t it quite typical that for the EU the top priority for the UK’s withdrawal negotiations is how much money they can screw out of us?

    “Britain will be handed £50bn exit bill by EU when Theresa May triggers Article 50, chief negotiator for Brussels warns”

    One might have thought that it would be for accountants to work out how much we will owe when we leave, if anything, and that would be just a minor part of the negotiations, not occupying much of the two years notionally set aside for negotiations; in fact, they could do that as a separate exercise on the periphery of the negotiations on rather more important matters like trade; but, no, for them working out our tab will be the top priority and apparently nothing else will be negotiated until that has been settled.

    • ChrisS
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

      Denis, to counter the bill they will undoubtedly present us with, we will have a credit for our share of every bit of property and equipment owned by the EU.

      Given that the EU occupies at least half of the city of Brussels, that must be quite valuable real estate.

      Not sure what if any value we can put on the Parliament in Strasbourg though !

      I am getting quite concerned that there will be a lot of waivering during the 2 years of uncertainty. I only hope that our negotiators play hardball because the likelihood is we will be royally shafted if we don’t threaten to just walk away.

      I simply can’t understand how they can possibly make an argument that we can’t have decent access for our goods and services without FOM and budget contributions. The only difference between us and almost all of the countries with which the EU has some kind of free-ish trade deal is geography.

      Whether we are 22 miles from Mainland Europe or 3,000 miles should make no difference. It’s all Bullshit

  55. Denis Cooper
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Mr “7%” Clegg, in a sympathetic interview on Wednesday:

    “It’s just not true to say that the free movement of people is some biblical principle since the dawn of time. That’s not the case. The freedom of movement doctrine has evolved over time, not least since the creation of EU citizenship and numerous court cases since.”

    Well, it was in Article 3(c) of the 1957 Treaty of Rome, the genesis of the EU:

    and apart from many other recent reaffirmations of that fundamental, quasi-religious, principle it was only yesterday evening that Tusk referred reverentially to the:

    “indivisibility of the four freedoms”

    as an article of faith, a central tenet of the creed of the other 27 member states on whose behalf he was speaking; so who is telling the truth here?

    When you are dealing with fanatics who say before any negotiations have even started that they intend to be intransigent on a dogma which they must know is anathema for most of the British people, that trade and immigration must be indissolubly linked, and clearly mean what they say, then there is really no point going into negotiations hoping for any compromise on that.

    It would have been far better for everybody if Cameron had faced up to this reality during his so-called renegotiation, instead of taking bad advice and trying to dodge round it by concentrating on the secondary issue of eligibility for welfare benefits, which in the end in fact descended into tertiary and even lower order issues, and had then come back and told us the unvarnished truth, and said that this was the best he had been able to do and he would now leave it to us to decide whether or not to swallow it.

  • 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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