The Game Is Up

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Telegraph writes that the German ‘yes’ vote yesterday, itself a foregone conclusion and irrelevant to solving the immediate Euro crisis, has actually a greater significance. Like the German Constitutional Court a couple of weeks ago, it’s a ‘yes’ to this bailout but a ‘no’ to any further integration:

The furious debate over the erosion of German fiscal sovereignty and democracy – as well as the escalating costs of the EU rescue machinery – has made it absolutely clear that the Bundestag will not prop up the ruins of monetary union for much longer.

The Germans, the paymasters, have reached their limit of EU integration and this is profoundly significant.

As Bundestag president Norbert Lammert said yesterday, lawmakers had a nasty feeling that they had been “bounced” into backing far-reaching demands. This can never be allowed to happen again. He warned too that Germany’s legislature would not give up its fiscal sovereignty to any EU body.

In a sense, the Bundestag vote was much like the ruling by the Constitutional Court earlier this month…what mattered was the Court’s implicit warning that Germany had reached the outer boundaries of EU integration, that German democracy is under threat, and its explicit warning that the Bundestag’s fiscal powers could not be alienated to Brussels.

Germans have begun to sense that the preservation of their own democracy and rule of law is in conflict with demands from Europe.

All of which means that Jean Monnet’s dream of a Europe with no nation states and no democracy is all over. When confronted head on with the choice of full integration with the EU or sovereignty and democracy, the people will inevitability choose the latter – nation states, territory, a sense of belonging are essential to human nature.

Monnet himself knew this, which is why he adopted a process known as ‘engrenage‘ or ‘gearing’ to facilitate political integration. By moving towards ‘ever closer union’ using what are essentially salami tactics Monnet hoped to achieve his goal without people noticing, until the very last minute. Then he hoped that we would all wake up under a fully-fledged union and say; ‘hey I like this new world order’. Deluded yes but his political project came very close to being realised.

And this is why the Euro crisis has been so significant; it has torpedoed completely the engrenage method.

Like everything else in the EU, the Euro was a trojan horse for ‘more Europe’ – a political project despite Peter Oborne’s assertions to the contrary. In a currency union you need to start with politics and end with economics. A currency union needs; one government, one chancellor, one budget, one economic policy and fiscal transfers from richer parts of the union to subsidise other less rich parts. A classic example of a largely successful economic union is the UK for these very reasons.

The EU however put the cart before the horse – it had one currency but 17 different budgets, economic policies and governments – and deliberately so. Knowing they wouldn’t get away political union first – because the pesky voters might get in the way, they hoped that the Euro’s flaws would facilitate it via the back door. They hoped that the Euro faced regular little ‘problems’ due to its inherent faults which then could be met with ‘more Europe is the solution’. And step by step it would reach its ultimate goal.

Unfortunately (for them) the current problems are so big that the engrenage method is woefully inadequate, instead countries are being asked to make one giant leap to full integration (the only workable solution) missing out all the little steps in-between. And one of the most important countries in the EU has just said nein in response.

It’s all over – “the train that is fortunately moving too fast for anyone to stop it” has been stopped. The fallout, the legacy, the problems will all remain with us for a long time yet, but the irresistible force of the EU has reached an immovable object, now it must begin its slow decline.

With deep irony the Germans have saved the rest of Europe from tyranny.

Rubbish

It’s conference season so we have another initiative, this time Eric Pickles proposing to reward councils financially who return back to weekly collections:

Town halls are to be shamed into bringing back weekly bin collections, it was revealed yesterday.

In a victory for householders, ministers unveiled a £250million fund to restore them.

Laughably, Pickles then says this:

‘Labour’s solution was to bully councils into fortnightly collections. My view is this goes beyond bins – it’s about a question of trust between politicians and the public.

A question of trust? If Pickles really meant that he would have said something like this instead:

Because of the EU landfill Directive and its subsequent targets to reduce landfill, councils have altered their waste collections accordingly. In order to return back to weekly collections the Government will pay the councils’ EU fines if their exceed their landfill allocation (currently £150 per tonne over). Don’t ask me where this money will come from, I don’t know.

Effectively this coalition government has increased our contribution to EU by £250m. Meanwhile, 1000 Royal Navy personnel will be made redundant today.

Another Plastic

Boris Johnson uses his ‘lovable buffoon’ routine well, even to the point of pretending that he can’t play football properly. But it’s an act that cleverly disguises a burning ambition to get to the top of the greasy political poll. He’s not to be underestimated in that sense – a mistake that Ken Livingstone made to his cost over the London Mayor elections.

So as a Tory we can expect the usual Tory Eurosceptic nonsense to appeal to the grass roots and indeed Boris doesn’t disappoint:

“In those days, the column appeared on Thursdays. On Wednesday afternoons he would typically seek inspiration by visiting his Westminster staff in the annexe room, where he would play a game to find the best idea. On occasion this would descend into a competition to suggest the theme most likely to produce catastrophic consequences for his career. One of Boris’s favourites was: ‘Why David Cameron is a complete c**t’ – indeed, he was so enthused, he even started to compose an introduction beginning: ‘One thing that has become apparent to me in my years of Parliamentary service is that David Cameron is a complete c**t’. Another time, it was, ‘Why I believe in a European superstate’.”

And here’s Boris rambling on about the Lisbon Treaty and the need for a referendum.

However…

From the way he talked during the fun and games, it was clear that Boris preferred the views and company of those inhabiting the more pro-European and left-leaning reaches of Toryism rather than the ones at the opposite end of the spectrum. ‘Boris and I got on because we have similar dislike of most members of the Conservative party,’ explains Chris Cook – one of David Willetts’ aides, also based in the annexe room. ‘He’s clearly not on the right wing, but actually quite Europhile in Tory terms. He liked to come into our office to gossipand bitch about the right-wingers, particularly Liam Fox, or indeed anyone else he thought had screwed up the party that week.’

The Tory injection moulding process continues unabated.

No Surprises

In news as unexpected as seeing bears heading towards the nearest wooded area clutching newspapers, the German parliament has backed the expansion of the European bail-out fund, in an apparent ‘crucial’ vote this morning.

This is the same package that was discussed in July – it’s only taken a couple of months. Meanwhile the Eurozone crisis has moved on, The vote is irrelevant.

Italy has paid a record Euro-era high for bonds, the Greeks are still revolting, oh and Spain is still in trouble.

More Than One Idiot Last Night

You can tell the Euro is in deep trouble when it leads the BBC news headlines for days on end – which it has done. Newsnight last night covered the crisis extensively, but much is being made of Peter Oborne’s contribution where, among other things, his persistent use of the word ‘idiot’ to an EU apparatchik led to the chap walking off.

Richard North is not impressed with Oborne’s performance and I agree completely. Fair enough about calling the EU man an idiot – given the devastation this crisis will cause I’d be tempted to use much stronger terms – but Oborne’s no eurosceptic. He’s claiming the victory won by others.

Oborne wrote in April this year:

For the past 20 years, the Conservatives have been the only major Eurosceptic party in Britain.

Anyone who thinks that is an idiot. Oborne continues in the same article:

It is already safe to say that Ed Miliband’s Labour Party is considerably more Eurosceptic than at any time since that Delors speech in 1988.

Anyone who thinks that is an idiot. This from the Evening Standard two days ago:

Ed Miliband today came under pressure to back a referendum on Britain’s EU membership as a way to split the coalition government…[but] sources close to Mr Miliband said that a referendum was not a “realistic prospect”.

Then Oborne writes:

This meant [Tory Eurosceptics] felt so isolated that they were afraid to speak out – the main reason why David Cameron has gone out of his way to close down Europe as a subject of debate.

Close down the debate? Yep with the help of Oborne. As proved nearly a month later when we get this from Oborne:

David Cameron has the makings of a truly great prime minister. Many of those in No 10 end up as essentially irrelevant figures, but a small few attain genuinely heroic status, says Peter Oborne…So the ambition of the Cameron Government is beyond praise. If it achieves half of what it has set out to do, it will come to be seen as one of the great reforming governments of all time. Personally, too, the Prime Minister is setting about his mission with grace and charm…

“Ambition beyond praise…?” Anyone who thinks that is an idiot. Oborne is praising the same government who has integrated into the EU faster than previous one. Not my words

This is a Conservative-led government. The Conservative Party’s policy, clearly set out in our 2010 Manifesto, was to start repatriating key powers from Brussels. Instead we are transferring new powers to the EU faster that the previous Labour administration did. Eurosceptic Conservatives — who form the majority of the Party’s rank and file — are entitled to be appalled by the Coalition’s EU policies.

Oborne is part of the problem, as Richard rightly points out:

Peter Oborne – who kept EU issues out of the media, and played along with Cameron who sought to suppress discussion on the EU.

Oborne, like many Tories, do not advocate EU withdrawal but are instead using the Euro crisis to pretend that they are Eurosceptics. He is a classic Europlastic – an idiot. The only small comfort is when everything goes up in flames, he’ll be the first to melt.

Blackout

Former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Miliband, used part of his conference speech to bash the energy companies for their prices. This would be the same idiot who wanted to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by the middle of this century and whose policies have directly led to energy price rises.

However in proof that God has a sense of humour, Miliband’s speech suffered from a power cut – meaning all the live feeds went down:

Ed Miliband’s landmark speech to the Labour conference was dealt a massive blow today when the live link went down just five minutes into his address to the nation.

After a two-minute opening during which he rattled off five jokes, the Labour leader declared he was going to ‘get down to business’ – but almost immediately the screens went blank, and those watching the BBC and Sky were cut off from the speech.

Oh the irony.