Saturday, 10 December 2011
POLITICS/ECONOMICS: AN IGNORAMUS'S VIEW ON THE EU (EUROPEAN UNION)
Opinions are like arseholes: everyone's got one. A more accurate analogy, however, would be: opinions are like blood cells: everyone has millions of them. Doesn't matter how well or ill-informed we are on a topic, we've always got an opinion about it. This piece is, therefore, my thoughts, my opinions, on the EU and its current state.
2. How I got there.
I don't understand economics. I started taking it at A level back in 1964 and after several weeks gave it up for Religious Education, rather ironic given my long-standing militant atheism. I also took British Constitution A-level at which I was much better. So if I don't understand economics, I do have a modest grasp of politics and the political system.
I was born in 1948 at the height of the post-war baby boom and the shadow of the Second World War loomed large culturally and economically during my childhood. I'm old enough to even remember rationing. The rations were delivered to our door in a cardboard box, butter wrapped in greaseproof paper and groceries were still referred to in the house as rations for some time afterwards. Films about the war were popular in the cinema during the 50's and strips about the war were equally popular in kids weekly comics. All this combined to lead me to be of the opinion that a United States of Europe would a good idea to prevent war happening in the future.
Which is sort of what happened with the rise of the Common Market (or, more accurately, the European Economic Community -EEC- which ultimately became the EU). The drive to closer economic ties accelerated with the fall of the Iron Curtain, but it also resulted in the fragmentation of Yugoslavia and the horrendous events which followed.
3. Where I stand today.
Whatever the name, I've always been in favour of closer ties with Europe, indeed with every country. While I am deeply proud of Britain -a country where the acceptance of those who don't quite fit the perceived norm is actually practiced by the majority of its citizens rather than just paid lip service by its government and media- I remain an internationalist.
The problem is that the EU hasn't worked the way it was intended and this is becoming more and more self-evident. The organisation and the many organisations within it have grown out of all proportion to the work that they needed to do. They have become bloated and corrupt. The salaries of MEPs are inflated with perks, many unearned. Stories constantly come to light of MEPs signing in and then immediately buggering off to pursue their own interests. Powers are delegated to unelected bureaucrats with no responsibility to the tax payers who fund them. When, as rarely happens, a watered-down but decent piece of legislation does get passed, it is cynically ignored by any country (naming no names but one of them is France) for whom it is inconvenient except Britain which naively plays by the rules. The system has encouraged an enormous waste of resources and the spread of corruption. The EU is theoretically a wonderful idea that has been derailed by the vested interests of capitalism when a degree of socialism might have saved it.
The EU's refusal to control the banking system and limit international debt until it's all but too late and the internal failings of the Euro (which in theory I support) has lead to the current crisis where David Cameron has found himself and the UK isolated and no-one knows how this is going to end up. Ironically, as a lefty internationalist, I find myself, with my limited knowledge, supporting him so far.
The EU needs to be rebuilt from the ground up and based on firm clear principles and the chances of that happening is about the same as a snowfall in hell.
Sarkozy pointedly refusing to shake Cameron's hand at the summit.
Sod the French prat.