Saturday, 21st November 2009
The Future of the EU... Can it Survive?
With the EU’s drive for power over our democracy and everyday life continuing unabated the Bruges Group held this conference to oppose the surrendering of our freedoms to Brussels
Saturday, 21st November 2009
The Great Hall, King's College London
|Morning Session||Afternoon Session||Evening Session|
Peter Davies, the Mayor of Doncaster, is dedicated to slashing costs and ditching political correctness. He is the first English Democrat to be elected to a key council position. His youngest son, Philip, is the Conservative MP for Shipley. Peter Davies is a member of the Campaign for an Independent Britain and talked on; The European Union and British politics.
Click here to listen online to Peter Davies
Christopher Booker is a columnist for The Sunday Telegraph. He is the author of the Bruges Group paper Britain and Europe: The Culture of Deceit. And also co-wrote Scared To Death: From BSE To Global Warming, Why Scares Are Costing Us The Earth.
Click here to listen online to Christopher Booker
Richard Conquest is an economist, hedge fund consultant and author whose research focuses on economic history, market developments and crises. Richard has also authored a number of publications on Eastern Europe and Russia. He has also served as the Chief Economist for a number of City institutions.
Click here to listen online to Richard Conquest
Professor Kenneth Minogue is a frequent commentator for radio and television on European issues, he was Chairman of the Bruges Group 1991-1993; he remains a member of the Group’s Academic Advisory Council. Professor Minogue discussed how the EU does not allow for powers to be returned to nation states.
Click here to listen online to Professor Minogue
Bruno Waterfield has been Brussels correspondent for The Daily Telegraph since December 2006. He has been reporting on the EU and European affairs since 2000, first from Westminster and then from January 2003 he has been based in Brussels. He is also a regular contributor to www.spiked-online.com
Click here to listen online to Bruno Waterfield
John Mills is the Secretary of the Labour Euro-Safeguards Campaign and the Labour Economic Policy Group. He is also the Chairman of one of the fastest growing companies in the UK, JML, which has extensive trading relations with much of the world. John Mills is the author of Europe’s Economic Dilemma.
Click here to listen online to John Mills
Ian Milne is the author of an analysis of the net economic costs and benefits for the UK of EU membership, titled; A Cost Too Far?. Ian Milne has had a forty-year career in industry and merchant banking in the UK, France and Belgium. He is the author of the Bruges Group publication; Lost Illusions: British Foreign Policy. Ian Milne discussed, Who Needs the Single Market?
Click here to listen online to Ian Milne
To read Ian's full speech, click here
Gerard Batten MEP is an expert on the costs of EU membership. He is a member of the European Parliament’s Security & Defence Committee, and is the UKIP spokesman on defence. Gerard Batten discussed the issue of immigration.
Click here to listen online to Gerard Batten
Dr Lee Rotherham is an adviser to the Bruges Group. After working for the Westminster Group of Eight rebels, he became adviser to three successive Shadow Foreign Secretaries. Lee Rotherham has also served with the armed forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He has been a Conservative Parliamentary candidate in the 2001 and 2005 elections. He has widely written on European issues. He is the author of EMU Understood and All At Sea; and co-authored the Bluffers Guide to the EU. Lee talked on, Ten Years On — Britain without the European Union.
Click here to listen online to Lee Rotherham
Speech by Peter Davies
Thank you Mr Chairman for inviting me to address this august body.
I may actually be a bit of a fraud this morning because I’m really not going to talk about Europe very much, I think you’ve got plenty of people here who know far more than I do and probably you know far more than I do, so I propose to make a very short reference to two things that I observe about Europe and then I’m going to talk about English politics and, dare I say it, finish off with a little piece about Doncaster, which is a town you should all visit quickly.
I don’t even know why I’ve been invited today, I’m sure you’ve heard every conceivable argument about the European Union and I cannot think that I would have anything to add to it. But we’ll just have a couple of words, these two things that occur to me. They are very simple and I’m sure the two points have occurred to you too.
Why have we joined the EU? Why have we thrown in our lot with this particular group of people when we are the oldest democracy in the Christian era? Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, all fascist states in my lifetime; the Eastern European new states in the European Union, all under communism for most of my life. France, until de Gaulle had no stable Government. If a French Government lasted for a year it was a resounding success. The Italians were little better. There is no history of parliamentary democracy on the mainland of Europe yet we tamely and naively surrender our own democracy to them. It is a complete and utter outrage.
Secondly, states in Eastern Europe escaping from the iron grip of the Soviet Union. What do they do? So sad, so sad to watch, they wonder off into the new iron grip of the European Soviet Union. Instead of being ruled by 15 unaccountable unelected people they are now ruled by 27 unelected people who they can’t get rid of. The only difference it seems to me between the state of the Eastern European states now and when they were under Soviet rule is the Gulag, but that appears to be coming shortly. The European Union does not tolerate descent.
So what can we do about all this? Well I think the solution is here in our own country. We have a democratic deficit. Now you would expect me as an English democrat to say what I’m going to say, but I mean it as an English patriot as well as a political individual. We must withdraw support from the three main political parties. There is not the proverbial cigarette paper between them, they are all the same. The policies are interchangeable resulting in the end of free speech, all fishing in the same pond for the same fish but the pond is getting smaller. They are totally discredited at both national and local level.
If you ever listen to Question Time or listen to any questions, a supposed debate, we get the Liberal Democrat, the Member of the Government, the apologies for the Government, sometimes not a member, some left wing academic, the two Wills, Will Hutton and Will Self will say anything. And then they’ll stick on a Conservative and guess who it might be? Ken Clarke or David Curry the expenses king, and this is debate. And then occasionally, just as a sop, Richard Littlejohn or Peter Hitchins might be allowed to be on the panel once every ten weeks. The whole thing is a charade and I don’t know about you, I no longer watch, I can’t be bothered, it’s a complete waste of time. But this is what political debate has been reduced to in our country.
Now you all know that politicians are discredited, I’ve said it and you know it. All snouts are in the trough both at national and local level. You all know the national situation, in Doncaster we have 63 Councillors earning £12,500 a year merely to attend eight Council meetings and to attend to one or two complaints from their constituents. They get an extra £6,000 for chairing a Committee which meets infrequently and if you’re lucky enough to be appointed to the Police Committee or that sort of area of activity, you get an extra £15,000 a year and there are other perks for them too. So not only do the people out there dislike their national representatives, they dislike their local representatives too. Local Government is equally a sham as well as national Government.
You may have noticed again if we take the television process covering these things, David Dimbleby, well he’s covering local elections, jumping up and down in his seat, oh the Labour Party have taken control of x, the Liberals have taken control of y, the Tories have snatched something from the Liberals... what’s happened? What’s the result of all this? Answer: nothing, no change, it doesn’t matter who’s in charge, the Council Tax goes up and nobody takes a blind bit of notice of ordinary people. There are few Councillors in any case with any real ability and most of them cannot cope with local Government Officers.
So we’re in a pretty poor position. All three political parties are remote; they exist in a cocoon completely out of touch with the views of ordinary people. Patronising too and contemptuous of widely held beliefs. Let’s take a few examples, capital punishment, the EU, law and order, prisons – prisons, who dictates prison policy, not the people, the idiotic Howard League for Penal Reform with about three supporters and two members. Immigration, Armed Forces, the message is always the same, we know best, you can’t know, you don’t have the evidence, your view is irrelevant, only our opinion counts, we are professional politicians.
I listened last week to a ‘debate’ in Westminster Hall on capital punishment between Stephen Pound Labour and Tony Baldry Conservative. First we had Stephen Pound, a nauseating character and a nauseating speech, wittering on about the fact that you couldn’t put somebody to death because they couldn’t be redeemed, they needed the possibility of redemption and he went on about this for about ten minutes. At not one point did he mention that the victim had no chance whatever of redemption.
There followed Tony Baldry for the Tories and I couldn’t tell the difference, if you closed your eyes you didn’t know where one had finished and the other one had started and that is what we’re up against. For goodness sake everybody, withdraw all support from these retched parties, they are useless.
Now on Thursday, to give an example of how the people are reacting, we had a bi-election in a Ward in Doncaster, the Rossington Ward, an old pit village, a Labour stronghold. Now the Labour Party won this election after they’d dragged people out of their homes kicking and squealing I am told to go down to the polling station by 85 votes from thankfully the English Democrats. But the point I’d like to tell you – this is a rock solid Labour Ward in Doncaster, the old Labour Party would have won this by about 2,000 votes – of the 10,000 population of Rossington 6.5% voted Labour on Thursday. That tells you something about the way politics is viewed by ordinary people. Most of them couldn’t be bothered to get out of their homes to vote its true, but the ones who did voted either for us or for independent candidates.
Let me finish with a short piece about Doncaster because again I think there are clues in what I’m trying to do in Doncaster for everybody else in the country to get rid of these people, certainly at the local level and possibly even at parliamentary level too.
Lots of people say well how the hell did you manage to win Doncaster against, particularly the Labour Party, but against the other two main parties too. It is true that I did not expect to win but the reason we did win is that we were the only party to put forward a set of identifiable distinctive policies that appealed to the electorate. The rest waffled. And again if you looked at the Tory manifesto, the Labour manifesto and the Liberal Green Independent use all three manifestos, again they are interchangeable, you couldn’t find a policy – that was a sort of game I put to the electorate – show me a policy from the other parties.
So we won because we put forward distinctive policies and people actually like our national policies because lots of people are fed up of paying prescription charges when they are free in Wales, they’re sick of paying tuition fees when they’re free in Scotland, they’re sick of paying for care homes when part of it is free in Scotland. We have a two-tier society; we have the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish who get their own Parliaments and get all the goodies and the English who pick up the bill.
So I’ll finish here with what have we done? What do the policies amount to in Doncaster? I recommend these to all of you. I’m bragging for a start, I reduced my salary from £73,000 to £30,000, no expenses, I haven’t claimed a penny. I drive myself around the town in an old banger, I don’t like cars very much and I travel second class by rail.
Do not swallow the universally accepted nostrum that the more you pay somebody the better you get, it is not true. Look at the banks and the colossal amounts of money that people have stolen there. Look at local Government Chief Officers, most of whom – well I better be careful, this may be being recorded – but most of whom you would find difficulty employing. I think what I would say is that people committed to serving society, to serving the general public, public service, are the people you want in positions like mayors or leaders of Councils, you do not want the shysters who the more money they see the more they want the job, MPs have been a good example of that, and you are more likely to get people of quality and commitment if you pay less money. The rest won’t be interested.
And before 1974 of course most people did my job for nothing and you got a better service and better Councils and less Council Tax or Rates at the time.
Right what else have we done, I axed Doncaster News, Politics on the Rates. This wretched thing came out every other month telling us how good the previous Mayor was when everybody knew the opposite and they brought the next copy to me with a blank for my mug shot and a piece about me and I said throw that away in the bin, £67,000 saved.
We then got rid of the chauffeur-driven car; again I would have had no use for it whatsoever. The chauffeur does tours of the Mansion House in Doncaster so he wasn’t made redundant but the car was. We’ve started – I’ve got to be careful again. Are the press in here? Are the Daily Telegraph in or anybody? Any poison pens of that ilk? – we’re getting slowly rid of translation services, which are divisive and unpopular with what we loosely call the indigenous population. What I’m doing is setting up English classes to promote community cohesion.
We’ve got two groups of people here, we’ve got some of the ethnic minorities who’ve been in Doncaster about 40 years and some of them, believe it or not, apparently can’t speak English and nobody seems to be bothered about that, in fact the Diversity Officers seem to think that’s a good thing. Now I think that is outrageous, what quality of life has somebody got living in England who can’t speak English. You can’t watch a television programme, you can’t listen to the radio, you can’t read a newspaper, you can’t talk to anybody in the street, you can’t even go into a shop and order a bag of nuts or something, its outrageous and it’s a disgrace that we sort of indulge this sort of carry on.
The second lot are of course the Eastern Europeans who are wondering in willy-nilly saying well right we’ve come for the jobs, we’ve come for the benefits and while we’re at it you can translate the documents so that we can get them. No thank you.
We’re also trying to end political correctness which infests our entire way of life. Doncaster has been celebrating Gypsy and Roma Traveller Month, black history month – that is racist. If I said white history month I’d be arrested. Human rights day, nobody says whose human rights, certainly not mine, asylum seeker and refugee week, international women’s day – no international men’s day. Abolition of slave trade day as though that’s finished, its still going on under the eyes of this Government in this country. These are on the way out along with lots of other things with them and the Diversity Officers who promote them.
Here’s something that might amuse the European sceptics; twin towns. Now I was always of the opinion that twins were two, not in Doncaster, twins were six. Six twins and they said the budget was £4,000, I tell you that that was a lie. Somebody who was going to Gliwice in Poland to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the war this year, they didn’t go and I said next year will be the 71st anniversary.
I got a letter, rather amusingly, from Dandong in China, another of our twin towns. It said ‘Dear Mr Davies’ and then a load of Chinese and then a signature. The trouble was I’d got rid of the translation services, but anyway there was somebody around who could speak Mandarin Chinese and he translated it for me. It said ‘I want to meet you by the side of the Yellow River’. So I wrote back and said ‘I’m not coming to the Yellow River and I don’t want to see you near the River Don, particularly since your treatment of Tibetan Buddhists’.
We then got the Herten mob from Germany, these were the last ones. They came for the St Leger, we put on £1,000 worth of hospitality for them – this is before I appeared on the scene the decision was made – and they didn’t even both to come on the day that the hospitality was provided, they said we’re not coming that day, we’ll come another day, can we still go to the races, no.
And Wilmington in Carolina was another of these twin towns. I’m having difficulty, I would have liked to have said they’ve all gone, that they have, but the 63 Councillors are doing their level best to save them and so I’ve got another two moves before they are finally finished. But it just shows you that Councillors, this is the sort of thing they find important. The people of Doncaster are all against twin towns anyway, the Councillors are in favour, you couldn’t make it up.
I’ve got about 4,000 emails from all over the world; believe it or not I’ve been invited to stand for President of America on a Davis/Palin ticket. But I tell you what, even I couldn’t face that.
Gay Pride, another contentious affair. I was accused of all sorts of things, a homophobe and is there a lesbianphobe I’m not sure. But anyway all I did was say the Council will not spend money supporting Gay Pride. You can come to Doncaster and have your celebration any time you like but I’m not paying Council Tax money for the event, perfectly reasonable – total uproar. Anyway it’s gone, well the march hasn’t gone but the money is not being spent and I’ve weathered that particular storm. But it again shows you the priorities of certain of our Councillors.
Now let’s go onto the Local Government Association. Now this is a Conservative-fronted gang with a Chairman, a lady from Bradford is one of my son’s constituents and he keeps saying to me be nice to Margaret Eaton, I find it very difficult. Margaret Eaton is a Bradford Councillor, Chairman of the Local Government Association. She earns £53,000 for being Chairman of the Local Government Association and I say Doncaster is not footing that bill so we are leaving the Local Government Association and the Local Government Information Unit and another gang called something Yorkshire something or other, I can’t remember what its called, but they are all going saving about £100,000 and Margaret Eaton can find a way just from somewhere else. That’s the same woman who was attacking quangos last week.
We proposed to reduce the number of Councillors from 63 to 21 saving £800,000 plus the cost of two elections in four years. There are nine Councillors in Pittsburgh, a similar sized town to Doncaster, 17 in Philadelphia that has a population of a million. Why we need 63 with a mayoral system I don’t know.
I have also found outrageously that Doncaster Council pays six full time Trade Unionists to do no work for the Council and gives them office space, total cost £270,000 and that apparently is going on all over the country. Look into it in your own local authority.
We’ve got an alternative health service where people have got stress counsellors, physiotherapists, something called manual handlers, I thought it was a massage parlour, I was nipping up.
We’re after antisocial behaviour, foul language in public, littering the streets, people being fined for this recently quite heavily and a Doncaster pastime of spitting in the street, which seems to be a sort of Olympic sport in Doncaster.
If I can briefly finish, Doncaster is going to benefit from this I promise. If I finish on something rather more serious, I discovered when I became Mayor that the output gap in Doncaster was £830 million minus; in other words the difference between what Doncaster should earn and what it does earn. Well in a very short space of time what we’ve found – this is incidentally as a result of 35 years of malign socialist governance in the town – business confidence in mid-July nationwide was minus 19%, in Doncaster it was plus 35% six weeks after I was elected. It’s now running at plus 54% and Doncaster is running way ahead of the rest of the country in business confidence.
This very week 6,600 jobs have been announced on major projects and I went to a showcase yesterday in fact where 150 new businesses, successful businesses were showing their wares. We have a thing in Doncaster called Success Doncaster and that was behind this particular development.
So I tell you get your own councils thinking on these lines, get some candidates, join the English Democrats by all means but if not do it through other avenues.
Doncaster I hope we will make the premier town in the North of England, it’s got the best place on the map. If you had a blank map of England Doncaster would be the place, it’s got fast rail networks, its got roads criss-crossing, its got an airport, its got access to the Humber Ports, it’s a terrific place to be.
So the upshot of all this is, let’s get out of the EU but at the same time Doncaster is open for business and going places.
Speech by Professor Kenneth Minogue
Obviously Peter Davies is the man we need to clean up local government and sundry other forms of corruption which are disfiguring our lives. And like you I abound in sympathy with him.
We all agree that the EU is a corrupt fraud into which we were betrayed by the Heath Government and the sooner we get out of it the better. Britain gave up its sovereignty unwisely. The essential point I think is that we are a common law culture and we are steadily being assimilated into a Napoleonic legal and administrative system.
Now we agree on all of these things but my concern today, and this is what I propose to talk to you about for the next 20 minutes or so, is with the broader question how did this dyer condition in which we find ourselves get going? Is this part of a betrayal of a wider heritage of freedom?
You see it seems to me that our generation and I think you mostly belong to it, have been simply appalling in declaring in the form of human rights and all sorts of other moral commitments that we know what is timelessly and eternally true and everybody ought to follow. So we have declarations of rights from international bodies, we have the EU as an institutional embodiment of that kind of thing. We have quite a large number of international bodies which guide us on questions like refugee policy and aid to foreign countries.
In other words what interests me is that we have, in the course of the period from 1945 in which we had been fighting to keep ourselves free of alien rulers, from 1945 onwards we seem to have accumulated an astonishing number of them of which the European Union is no doubt the central roadblock here but its by no means the only one.
And the point about it as far as I am basically concerned here is that it has no reverse gear. In other words there is a constant stream of moral commitments, administrative dictates, directives from the European Union and so on but we are much less well informed as to how we might change any of these if we were or if 27 nations were to agree that any one of these directives were undesirable.
Again you see if you formulate the whole thing in terms of timeless universal human rights, how the devil do you repeal a timeless universal human right? Now you might well say of course that human rights ought not to be repealed, they’re obviously a good thing. The point about human rights however is that they are a sort of vulgar popularisation of the moral life that the Anglophone societies have developed since Magna Carta and way back, that a conception of the moral life in terms purely of rights in which duty, responsibility, integrity, the virtues and so on are simply sidelined is obviously a gross and inadequate caricature.
In other words we have a very large number of commitments which we seem to have acquired because governments like noddy agree to be bound by them. Usually of course it is done by a division of labour which is familiar, Mr Davies talked about the death penalty, you can’t have the death penalty unless you have a judge, a jury, lawyers, prisoners and perhaps an executioner, you can’t have one person doing it.
Occasionally in other countries, Peter the Great sometimes carried out his own executions but he was an eccentric. We cannot do it and the only way in which we get ourselves lumbered by these commitments is if first governments sign up to the abstract specification and then only later, as with the convention on refugees for example, does it become clear what the circumstances changing mean about the impact of that particular abstraction.
So the question is how we have got ourselves into this fairly appalling situation. Well the orthodox answer is the world has become more globalised and interconnected and above all it’s the complexity argument. Climate change, global equity in economic affairs, international distribution of wealth, regulation of finances, they are all frightfully complicated and therefore they must be done at the higher intellectual level, the bureaucratic level beyond selfish national interests. So the complexity argument is a most powerful one.
But when people begin to talk about complexity and when they talk about ethics, what we ought to be doing, what you should always be thinking about is the correlative word ‘power’. What is happening to power as these particular responses to complexity and to ethical demands are made? And the answer in general is that there is a drift of power upwards towards an increasing number of rulers and regulators under whom we live and of which the European Union is our main example and possibly well and truly the most powerful one.
Occasionally we may suspect that problems are created purely for the advantage that may be gained from taking them over and dealing with them.
Now these problems, the problem of complexity and some of the moral problems are often perfectly genuine problems but nearly all of them lead to the destruction of our responsibility for leading our own lives. We seem to have blundered into a world in which authority with a capital A is everywhere around and its not authority in what any philosopher would recognise as authority.
But authority now can take our money and give us what authority regards as benefits and in return it can demand that we obey them, that we eat and drink what they think we ought to eat and drink, that we should choose our friends on government’s dictated principles, they should be ethnically distributed for example, that we should give up smoking, that we should according to one Minister, read to our children at bedtime for at least ten minutes and so on.
Endless bits of advice and in some cases regulation come to us. And the point is that these things come notionally from a democratic government but what we have are a set of rulers who think that we are not worthy of them and who want to make us worthy of them by telling us how we can improve ourselves.
The question I suppose is why we tolerate so much of this nonsense. And I think the reason in part is that a lot of people have been persuaded that obedience to alien bodies is actually a virtue, it is the decency of global citizens overcoming nationalist partiality and triumphing over narrow prejudices. It is I think of the essence of decline that feebleness can only prosper by presenting itself as a kind of virtue.
But the blanket under which we live gets worse, there is also political correctness, which as Mr Davies correctly fingered, is an important part of the veil of control under which we live. The elite orthodoxy dominates our thoughts and some of our lives and just as rights was a sort of grotesque parody of the moral life, so political correctness is a grotesque parody of good manners.
If it just means that we ought to behave decently to the individuals we encounter whatever social category they belong to, then there’s no problem and most of us I think do it instinctively anyway. If again it means that the generalisations that we make about particular ethnic groups: Jews are clever, blacks good at sport, East Africans have terrific lungs for running marathons and so on, that all of these generalisations are pretty imperfect.
In the paper today there is an interesting footnote, which is that Channel 5 tried a newsreader that apparently had some sort of facial disfigurement as an experiment. I have no problem with that, but the point of it was to challenge some of our stereotypes. That is to say there is a sort of authority and a set of media determiners living over us who want to improve us all the time even removing the stereotypes we have. I quite like my stereotypes and I also certainly know the limits of them but I think it’s an interesting question.
Much might be said about this question but recently the curtain of political orthodoxy was interestingly lifted. Orthodoxy has been getting into a frightful lather about the British National Party as a collection of nasty xenophobes. Well this might well be true; I’ve never met any of them. Orthodoxy affirms they must not be given the oxygen of publicity lest their vile beliefs might arouse dreadful echoes in the population at large. So called anti-fascist mobs, I mean they are the ones who call themselves anti-fascists, turn up balancing the British National Party, so there is always a sort of bit of media publicity. But it has turned out that the BNP has achieved a certain success at the polls. This means that they must be recognised as expressing on some subject or subjects, the opinions that quite of lot of people actually have.
Orthodoxy, the political correctness orthodoxy, has long kept immigration out of public dispute between the three parties but lo and behold the BNP gets a few votes and this veil of political correctness slightly lifts and Gordon Brown talks about immigration. It’s allowed gently into public discussion without automatic cries of xenophobia and racism following.
My central point is that we have lost much of our freedom and autonomy not only to the EU but also to other authorities and to powerful tendencies of thought in our society. We have in fact become a servile people, ready to obey and to be told what to do. And the question we might next ask is what is so wrong about this? If we become more biddable to what benevolent figures would like us to be, is that not a virtue.
The answer is I think that it destroys our capacity for enterprise and certainly for independent thought. We have become a rather weepy society eager to be told what to do. We have in other words become rather rigid and our capacity for virtue, particularly for what Shirley Letwin once called the vigorous virtues like self-control, courage, independence of mind, these virtues are now shadowed by benevolence and goodwill of a politically correct kind.
It’s significant that Europe is I think the only civilisation that is unmistakably a civilization but never was brought under the aegis of one single rule. It was for some purposes regulated by the Pope for a stage in the Middle Ages, but that soon broke down and then every subsequent attempt by any ruler to conquer the whole of Europe and to bring it into the form of one empire, they all failed.
And it is significant I think that the vitality of our civilization has depended upon a dialogue between the English and the French and the Germans and the Italians and the Dutch and the Swedes and so on. It has been central, we have often hated each other but we have also learned from each other. It is only this softly, softly, catchy monkey EU which has succeeded in creating something like an empire without the externals of conquest.
How is this new and servile status of the British people presented and justified? The answer in most cases is that it is justified as part of the important business of protecting the vulnerable, which these days constitute the vast majority of British society. They include women, the poor, children, gays, lesbians and transsexuals, ethnic minorities, immigrants, the working class, the aged, those in care homes and no doubt many other categories yet to be invented by opportunistic politicians.
This has transformed our conception of ourselves. In 1945 we regarded ourselves as a society of free and enterprising individuals who had just fought off a threat to reduce us to servitude by the Nazis. Today we have to recognise ourselves as a society of the vulnerable and the vulnerable in a whole variety of categories constitute I think almost the entire population except white males in full employment.
Now the interesting thing about this vulnerability, the other side of it, is that it tells us what a nasty society we are because why are women part of the vulnerable? Well because of brutish men who beat them up in married relationships. Why are children part of the vulnerable? Well they are part of the vulnerable because vile paedophiles are preying upon them. Why are homosexuals part of the vulnerable? Well because we’re so nasty that if anybody has a different sexual preference we make trouble for them and so on.
In other words the interesting thing about all this talk about vulnerability is that the other side of it is what a nasty lot we are and I think this should always be very clearly taken onboard. We may wonder what has happened to the Orwellian decencies which were celebrated in the first half of the century when the crime rate was about a tenth of what it is now and the Government was actually closing down prisons rather than having a crisis because it can’t find enough of them. So we have ended up I think as the objects of a set of bureaucratic processes and we are on a kind of slippery slope.
The last observation I can make is simply to say that we have in a sense been here before, but mind you we’ve been here before a long, long time ago. It was the end of the Middle Ages and in the Middle Ages people didn’t make law they believed that to have an identity was to be under the law. If you were a Christian you were under Christian law, if you were a Muslim you were under Muslim law and in England and in localities and so on you inherited laws.
Nobody made laws very much, occasionally there would be an inquest to find out what the law might be and by the end of the Middle Ages Britain had in a sense been stitched up with so many legal restrictions on property particularly, on people that an enterprising generation began to want to find a way of getting rid of some of these laws.
Now you might say why the devil did they not just ignore them and break them and so on? And the answer to that is that European States were not despotisms as in other civilizations where that would have been acceptable. What they had to do at that time was to find an acceptable way of repealing laws, getting rid of laws without actually violating them because they wanted to preserve the rule of law. And the response at that time was the emergence of the sovereign state; a sovereign was somebody who had this power to repeal laws.
This led on of course to absolutism in Europe and a certain amount of pretty masterful government in England. Nonetheless even Henry VIII was a sovereign power as King in Parliament and Parliament was of course to play a vital role in developing the way in which this went. Hobbs became the great theorist of sovereignty.
In other words this was a time when we responded to being as it were, stitched up by so many regulations that we responded by creating a new institution, the sovereign state and that’s precisely the thing we have lived by for hundreds of years and which is now being subverted by the current generation of rather servile people. I think we need the sovereign state back.
Speech by Ian Milne
Who Needs the Single Market?
In the beginning, in 1957, was the “Common Market”- broadly-speaking, the EC Customs Union, an allegedly free internal market protected by high-ish customs duties or tariffs.
On to this, in 1986, was grafted the Single European Act. This came into effect in 1992 and superimposed on the Customs Union a costly, tightly-regulated, allegedly harmonised internal market. The Social Chapter, the Working Time Directive, Elf & Safety, Tax Harmonisation, the current breaking-up of British banks & now the regulation of all the City’s financial markets are part of the pursuit of the Single Market.
For 50 years, British politicians have justified EU membership on the grounds that it’s vital for our trade. Remember the phrase “Common Market” ? That’s what MacMillan & Heath told us we were joining in the 60s & 70s. That’s what the Yes camp told us the 1975 referendum was all about. And, though she may bitterly regret it now, Mrs Thatcher, believing – wrongly – it would increase British exports to the EU - allowed a huge increase in majority voting in 1986 with the Single European Act. Heseltine & Clarke told us the EU was all about trade in the 90s and early 2000s. And, to the extent that anyone – including the Conservatives themselves - knows why they think we’re in the EU, it seems to be because of trade. Or saving the polar bears. Or something.
Can all these Prime Ministers & politicians have got it right ? Or is it all bunkum ? Let me give you seven facts about our trade with the world which should help us to answer that question: are the politicians right, or is it all bunkum ?
FIRST, the Customs Union. Back in the 60s, with high-ish tariffs (i.e. customs duties) worldwide, customs unions seemed to make sense. Now, tariffs are low. Over 90 per cent of British imports are now tariff-free, and what tariffs remain are very low. Tariffs are only charged on trade in goods; they’re not charged at all on trade in services or income. And trade in goods is only around half of total trade, the rest being in tariff-free services & income. What’s more, the cost of collecting those low tariffs on goods is greater than the amount of tariff actually collected. In other words, Customs Unions have lost their raison d’être: they’re redundant.
The Europeans haven’t noticed, but non-Europeans certainly have noticed, which is why, outside the EU, there are simply no significant customs unions at all anywhere in the world – full stop.
SECOND, the cost of belonging to the Single Market. If, as politicians claim, we’re in the EU because of trade, then it must follow that the hidden costs of exporting to the EU are absolutely colossal. If you just take the sterling amount of our net contribution to the EU, and divide it by the sterling value of our goods exports to the EU, the hidden tariff is 4.8 per cent. If you take our gross contribution, it’s 11.6 per cent. And if you include the non-budgetary costs of EU membership, which dwarf even the budgetary costs, the hidden tariff ranges from 40 per cent of our goods exports to an even more staggering 80 per cent. What that means, ladies & gentlemen, is that for every ten pounds of goods we export to the EU, British taxpayers pay on top a hidden tariff of up to eight pounds.
Incidentally, it may not be a coincidence that under Gordon Brown’s heroic stewardship of the British economy, we are sliding down the EU Prosperity Rankings. In 2004, measured by GDP per head, we were 5th; in 2008, we were eleventh, and in 2009 we’ll be even lower.
THIRD, the trade deficit. We have a massive structural trade deficit with the EU. In other words they sell far more to us than we sell to them. But we trade with the rest of the world in balance: our imports are more or less covered by our exports. In just the last 5 years, 93 per cent of our alarming trade deficit with the whole world has been accounted for by the EU. In 2008 we were in deficit with 17 of our 26 EU partners. Cumulatively over those 5 years our deficit with the EU was £153 bn; with the Rest of the World it was £ 11 bn.
The consequence of this massive deficit with the EU is jobs; huge numbers of British jobs being exported over the Channel. Ruth Lea, the highly-respected economist, has estimated that the result of this deficit is an extra two million or so jobs, many of them highly-skilled, in Germany, France & other EU countries, that might have remained in this country were it not for the deficit. That is a huge number in the context of our own unemployment rate.
Another distinguished economist, Patrick Minford, reckons that for the UK, being in the Single Market does for her industry what the CAP does for our agriculture: in other words, there is a causal connection between membership of the Single Market & the trade deficit.
FOURTH; Over 90 per cent of the British economy is NOT involved in exports to the EU. Putting it another way: exports to the EU account for less than ten per cent of British economic output. Within the 90 per cent not involved in exports to the EU, over ten per cent is involved in exporting to the Rest of the World. The remaining roughly 80 per cent is down to us British residents trading with each other; and yet that 80 per cent still has to impose on its activities the whole of the hugely costly Single Market legislation and regulation.
FIFTH; British exports to the world OUTSIDE the EU are growing far faster than British exports TO the EU – in fact 37 per cent faster since the turn of the century. And here’s the funny thing – we don’t belong to any so-called Single Market outside the EU.
SIXTH; at present, less than half our exports go the EU – roughly 40 per cent. And because of the faster rate of growth of our exports OUTSIDE the EU, by, say, 2020, the split of our worldwide trade will be something like two-thirds outside the EU, one third to the EU. Talk about the tail wagging the dog; or of putting all our eggs in the wrong basket.
SEVENTH; Guess what? You don’t even have to belong to the Single Market to export to the Single Market. The USA, not an EU member, with zero votes in the EU Council of Ministers, having to export to the EU over the EU tariff barrier, sells more to the EU than we do, without paying a cent to Brussels or imposing one iota of EU regulation on its domestic economy. China’s not far behind, and it too has zero votes in the EU Council of Ministers. Closer to home, Norway & Switzerland, not EU members, export far more in relation to their GDPs or populations than the UK.
So there’s the evidence. Let me summarise.
Customs unions have lost their raison d’être: they’re redundant.
The costs of belonging to the Single Market are simply colossal.
Our massive trade deficit with the EU. Coincidence ? No way.
Over 90 per cent of the British economy is not involved in exporting to the EU, & that proportion’s growing.
The huge differential in the rates of growth of our exports outside the EU and to the EU: around 40 per cent faster outside.
The split of our worldwide exports between countries outside the EU & to the EU itself: 60/40 now, soon to be 70/30.
You don’t have to belong to the Single Market to export to the Single Market.
I asked at the beginning whether politicians had got the Single Market right, or whether it was all bunkum. I have no doubt whatsoever what the answer is: Bunkum. As an international businessman, I believe – as I’ve believed for decades – that we don’t need the Single Market. I believe we should leave the EU & the Single Market. Wimpish British politicians say we’d be discriminated against. That too is utter bunkum. On UK withdrawal, would the rest of the EU discriminate against UK exports ? Of course not: they have far too much to lose. They sell far more to us and in any case it would be illegal under the rules of the World Trade Organisation.
Wimpish British politicians also claim that, outside the EU, the UK would “lose influence” in the Council of Ministers. Well, at present, as a result of 37 years of swallowing successive treaties, UK influence in EU deliberations has shrunk to a measly 8 per cent. That is our vote in the key EU decision-making body, the Council of Ministers. What’s the difference between 8 per cent and zero per cent ? Damn all. In practice, 8 per cent and zero per cent are the same. Outside the EU, would we “lose influence” with the Single Market ? No. There’s no influence to lose. Would it matter ? No. The proof ? The US has zero votes in the Council of Ministers but still manages to out-export the UK to the EU.
Could we afford to leave the EU, which accounts for roughly 40 per cent (soon to be 30 per cent) of our worldwide trade ?
That’s the wrong question. The right question is as follows. Can we afford to have 40 per cent (soon to be 30 per cent) of our worldwide exports going to the most highly-regulated & lowest-growth continent on the planet: the EU ? Can we afford to have 40 per cent (soon to be 30 per cent) going to a continent which is costing us an arm and a leg to belong to ? Can we afford to have 40 per cent (soon to be 30 per cent) of our worldwide exports going to a continent which will soon account for less than 5 per cent of world population ? To the only continent on earth whose population will not just have aged significantly but declined absolutely by 2050 ? The answer is surely: No.
Speech by Christopher Booker
It’s lovely to be here, there’s a lovely atmosphere about these conferences. Although I arrived late coming up from the West Country I’ve met already at least 10 or 15 old friends and one of them said to me she’d been to three Fabian Society conferences and she said the contrast, it was absolutely stifling and the nice thing about this conference is that people are telling jokes to each other. You don’t get much of that at a Fabian Society conference and I bet there aren’t going to be too many jokes at Copenhagen when they meet next month.
I just want to say one final thing because I was really terrifically taken when I walked in and saw this – I don’t know what’s behind it – you gave it applause quite rightly because its quite a mark of the Bruges Group, I wont say coming in from the cold, but you know what I mean, the august Daily and Sunday Telegraph and I would like to say what a pleasure it is for me to meet Bruno Waterfield, who I’ve never met, we’ve talked on the telephone, we’ve exchanged emails. I read regularly of course and admire his stuff, he is the best Daily Telegraph Correspondent in Brussels that the Daily Telegraph has ever had. And if I tell you that one of his predecessors was Boris Johnson, I’m sure you know what I mean.
The timing of this meeting is impeccable because as we all know there are two great historic events due in the next few weeks. The first, which we’ve all been looking forward to for so long, is the moment when the European constitution finally comes into force, bless it. And the other one that I have already referred to is the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change.
Now the first sign that we’ve been given through the media in the last couple of days of what this new constitution is going to mean for us all is of course the fact that it is finally revealed to us the identities of the great President of the European Council and the even greater High Representative/Foreign Minister, this lady that nobody until two days ago had ever heard of except people working in the Health Authorities in Hertfordshire.
There was an odd thing of course, for months and possibly for years – no definitely for years – we’ve been told that the whole point of the European Union having a President, a permanent President of the Council, was that he was going to be some great world figure who could stride the world stage on a level with the President of the United States and so forth. And then suddenly something funny happened. After we’d been told you know it might be Tony Blair – I mean let’s face it he’s the nearest thing to a world statesman that we’ve got in Europe and he is definitely the man – and then suddenly something happened and we were told oh no, no we don’t want some kind of celeb who’s going to stride around the world, what we want is a safe pair of hands, we want someone who’s a Chairman for the Parish Council, basically that’s all we need, a quiet man and so we have got Mr Van Rompuy.
Bruno will now tell us – as someone who lives in Brussels for his sins or rather for a certain amount of money from the Daily Telegraph – authoritatively how we should pronounce Van Rompuy. I know that the BBC pronunciation unit must have been working overtime and you could hear Sarah Montague really trying to get it right and she certainly didn’t do it as well as Bruno.
But it reminded me of the days years ago during the Maastricht Treaty when that was in the news every day and the Today programme was saying what a wonderful thing it was. The BBC, the pronunciation unit had obviously given out instructions that they were all to pronounce it ‘Maastreect’. So dear old Sue ‘McGhastly’ as we used to call her in Private Eye, what was she called, Sue McGregor, every day week after week we’d hear going on about ‘Maastreect’. And I remember watching a Panorama programme about the same time and it was shot in Maastricht and they were interviewing people in a café in the town where the Treaty was signed or negotiated and all the citizens of that town called it Maastricht and there was Sue McGregor ‘Maastreect’.
Anyway, enough of Maastricht, we’re dealing with Mr Rompuy or Mr ‘Rumpy’. Yeah I’m afraid we’re all going to make jokes about Mr Rompuy, I’ve been doing it for weeks already and it’s tasteless and it’s vulgar and we must slap ourselves down for it.
But we must not underestimate Mr Rompuy, as I think Bruno is going to enlarge on later, but I am going to talk a little bit about him. Bruno actually knows much more about him than I do because he’s seen him at first hand. But it is no accident that Mr Rompuy was the preferred candidate of the European Commission and indeed of France and Germany for the job of President of the European Council because although he is obviously totally obscure to the rest of us in the outside world, our friend Rompuy is by all accounts of those who know him, a pretty clever and very ruthless political operator.
There’s a famous story of how once – when he was engaged in one of those life or death battles that they have in Belgium politics where they all love each other so much – he saw a very tense meeting was due to take place so Mr Rompuy changed the locks on the room so that the MPs who were his opponents couldn’t get in. And by this kind of device and others he won his battle as indeed he has won quite a few during his rather strange political career.
Now not the least reason why brother Rompuy was the candidate of the Commission and France and Germany, but particularly of the Commission in rising to the top of this selection process that we’ve all admired so much for its democratic content. The reason why he was such a favourite candidate is that he is of course, as we’ve been learning over the last two days, a very passionate believer in the political integration of the European Union. In fact he has already been identified with one phrase, what does he stand for? He stands for ‘more Europe’. And he has given us some clues as to what his ‘more Europe’ consists of such as EU identity cards and EU licence plates on cars and more singing of the EU anthem and more waving of the European flag and more EU sporting events.
Now those of us – and I think there are probably quite a few in this room who are familiar with the history of this strange thing, the European Project – will think that all this has a leadenly familiar sound because they’ll remember way back in the 1980s there was a chap called Adonnino who produced a report which was adopted by the European Council in 1985. And the purpose of Adonnino’s report was to suggest ways in which we could promote a greater sense of European identity among the citizens, that’s all of us.
And what was on Adonnino’s list? Well the flag, the anthem, registration plates of cars, EU teams in sport – exactly what Rompuy is saying today – and in other words it’s the same old list that we’ve had kicking around for the last 25 years. We had EU passports – that was the very first of them actually – EU identity cards, all these things have been talked about for so long. More Europe in schools, that’s going to be a very interesting one, we’ve already got quite a lot. More Europe in everything in short and this is the only tune really ultimately that they all like to sing.
When Richard North and I were writing that book, which was referred to earlier, The Great Deception, which I dare to say is still the most comprehensively researched account of how the European Project has developed over the decades yet published – one of the things which struck us was that the more you look at the history of this thing, the more you realise that there’s only ever been one core agenda to every single thing it has done. Its only intention right from the start has been to create more Europe. It doesn’t matter what they’re doing, directives, regulations on fishing, you know all the million and one things that they put their hands to and of course all the treaties. But everything ultimately is all centred around that one purpose which is to extend the power of the new central authority and to eliminate the sense of national identity, undermine the power of nation states of course, suck away the power of national parliaments, marginalise the power of national electorates, all of this has got to be replaced with the new European identity, new European institutions run by this new strange super national form of Government, which is like nothing the world has ever seen before, and is of course ultimately accountable to no one but itself.
Now if that’s been the purpose of all these things, what was its goal? We were never told what it was all going to be ultimately about but of course we’ve seen more and more, as more and more of it has been put together, we have seen that the aim is to create what is in effect a country called Europe with a Government called Europe with its own currency, its own judicial system, its own armed forces, all the attributes of a state, a new super power to step out onto the world stage in its own right. And of course the ultimate goal, it’s a symbol of all this, all this toiling away for 50/60 years, the ultimate prize which was to symbolise what they’d achieved was to have that constitution, which is why for nearly eight years they toiled away, they negotiated away, they went through every kind of contortion, they ultimately even had to change its name, oh dear they had to call it the Lisbon Treaty but that’s what they wanted, they wanted a constitution because it was the ultimate symbol that they had the as it were – not super state, I try to avoid that word – but they had the super Government.
The whole point about it is its very hard to define because it’s never been done before and I hope it will never be done again in the history of the world, but what they’ve created in a sense of course is a new country, what Jean Monnet used to call all those years ago, the United States of Europe. And of course in the end they had to ram it through without doing that thing, which is the last thing they ever want to do, which is to consult the wishes of the peoples, apart from the Irish who were told to do it twice as we know.
Now they have got at last the man who for a long time we were told was going to be the figurehead symbolising this moment when the constitution comes into play and we have a President, someone we can all look up to and that all the world can see represents Europe. And it was going to be of course that world statesman Mr Blair in some people’s minds, particularly his. Gosh didn’t he look disappointed yesterday, it was so funny seeing him getting into that car. But little Mr Rompuy is the man we’ve got and he’s fine, because although he is a zombie he is actually a pretty clever zombie and he has been programmed to say the only thing which matters to them all which is ‘more Europe’, so that’s what its all about.
But there is still one enormously important power which most self-respecting Governments take for granted, which the European Union has not got. Can you guess what that is, exactly; the power to levy direct taxes. Now how can you be a Government without the power to levy taxes, I mean they’ve got all sorts of indirect taxes, bits of VAT and so on but what they haven’t got is the power to say we’re going to have taxes which we take money out of your pocket as citizens of the EU and put it into our pockets as the EU itself, as Brussels.
So guess what is top of Mr Rompuy’s wish list when he arrives in Brussels. Yes, you’re quite right, you’ve guessed it; he believes its time for Europe to be given the power to levy its own taxes. And guess what is Mr Rompuy’s excuse for doing this, for levying these taxes, yes you’ve guessed it, I’m sure most of you have guessed it or know it, everything our Government does – the EU Government he suggests – should be funded by green taxes levied on fuel, on transport, on airline travel, on almost everything we do including breathing out CO2. And all of that of course is to be done in the wonderful noble cause – who could object to it – of saving the planet from that runaway global warming which in recent weeks had in America and China and several other parts of the world been dumping record falls of snow.
Hey you’ve got my book; I have to hold up this book now. I’m sorry this is shameless but no it is relevant because it’s what I want to talk about now because it is very relevant to what is happening in the EU. This book, The Real Global Warming Disaster, which I have just published, tries to tell the history. There are lots of books about global warming, this is the first one I think which has really tried to say how on earth did we get to this extraordinary situation we’re in today where it has sneaked up to the top of the whole of the world’s political agenda as if it’s the only thing that matters and yet, and yet... well we’ll get onto the ‘and yets’ because as we all know there are huge massive question marks over this extraordinary phenomenon.
Now one of the things that strikes you when you look at the political history I mean with scientists to start with – and they became rapidly quite political scientists and there were only very few of them back in the 80s who got this thing really going. Then some politicians jumped on the bandwagon, particularly Al Gore in the United States, but the first Government which saw right away that this was an absolutely ideal cause for it to champion way back in 1991 was what in those days was still called the European Community. It was only the following couple of years later it became the European Union. But they realised that this was the absolutely superb cause, it was everything that the EU to be could want because what could be more noble than saving the planet – its international, the environment doesn’t stop at frontiers.
All the arguments we heard, the EU wanted to jump on the environmental bandwagon, the global warming bandwagon right at the start because really it was just another example of what had always been their agenda in everything it did, it was more Europe. It would give an absolutely amazing excuse for all sorts of new laws and regulations and powers and all being done in the name of this one altruistic wonderful cause of saving the planet and nobody could possibly object to it.
So in 1991 they laid out the template for how they were going to do this all that time ago, we’re talking about nearly 20 years ago. It’s a long document which I describe of course in the book, where they lay out how they’re going to go for renewable energy as opposed to fossil fuels, they’re going to go for recycling waste, they’re going to go for improving the energy efficiency in homes – lots of double glazing and all that. All this was being laid out back in 1991. And in 1992, guess what, they produced another document which laid out the proposals, which was adopted by the Council of Ministers, another document proposing that there should be an EU-wide carbon tax, a carbon tax on everything where CO2 had to be emitted so all that was happening as I say nearly two decades ago.
And actually what they had in mind was a power grab, which really in some ways made the single market and the single currency, which were the two other great power grabs of the 1990s, it really made them look like child’s play because the environment and global warming there is just literally nothing that you can’t get your tentacles into if that is the cause which justifies what you’re doing.
And that’s why we’ve seen over the last 18 years climate change rising ever higher up the EU’s agenda, that’s why we’ve seen our leaders so carried away by the cause that they want to see our countryside covered in windmills, those thousands of highly subsidised windmills which produce amounts of electricity which are absolutely derisory, that’s why they want to see cars driving on biofuels which actually provide less energy than it costs to make them, that’s why they want to take the lead in setting up the world’s first Carbon Emissions Trading Scheme, which will eventually double our fuel bills without making the slightest difference to the amount of CO2 that the human race emits into the atmosphere, that’s why they’re asking us – well not asking us, they are forcing us – to use those nasty inefficient mercury-filled light bulbs which are so popular, which produce absolutely virtually – not absolutely but virtually – no savings in energy use and that’s why they’ve been forcing us to pay for those wholly pointless – not directly them, but our Government as usual obeying the orders of the real Government over there in Brussels – that’s why they couldn’t abolish those ludicrous home information packs, which anyone who had anything to do with property knew were a complete waste of time but the fact is that we had to keep on with them because they’ve got that energy efficiency certificate thing built into it which is a requirement of a European Union directive.
Coal fired power stations; all the lights in this room are being kept on by coal fired power stations. We’re going to run out of coal fired power stations quite soon, we’re going to lose 40% of all our energy supply in the next ten years. And what we really would like to be able to do is to build more coal fired power stations: clean nice scrubbers remove all the filthy sulphur dioxide and so forth, but we’ve got to pay out billions of pounds to the supply companies. They are allowed to build these – some of them anyway – but only if they find a way of taking away all the CO2 and putting in a pipe and taking it off into the North Sea and burying it in a hole in the ground, which is a wonderful practical thing to do and is going to cost us as I say billions and billions of pounds. The latest bill from Ed Miliband is 9.5 billion, that’s just for four of them and that’s not going to keep the lights on. But its going to double the cost of electricity from coal fired power stations but what the hell, I mean you know its just money isn’t it that we pay, not Ed Miliband.
So as I describe in my book, we are actually at this moment at a very interesting point in the story – and by the story I mean the story of global warming – because at just this moment where we are being told in every direction of these absolutely colossal bills we’re all going to have to pay. I mean electricity is not going to be doubled; it’s going to cost ten times as much if they get their way with all the measures they’re proposing.
Did you see Adair Turner was it the other day proposing £3,300 tax on every new car? It just keeps on going; I mean they’re just pouring out of the woodwork in every direction. But at this very same time just as we’re facing bills, the International Energy Authority did estimate last year that all the measures being currently proposed were going to add up – this is for the human race, not just for Britain – to $45 trillion. $45 trillion, that’s two thirds of all the annual GDP in the world.
Actually, if you look at what they’re proposing, if you look at dear old Ed Miliband’s Climate Change Act, which is now the law of Britain, which was passed by our Parliament or by the House of Commons third reading. 463 MPs voted for it, only three voted against it. The Climate Change Act requires this country to cut its CO2 emissions by well over 80% over the next 40 years. Now quite a lot of us in this room, certainly including me, won’t alas be here to see it, but the fact is that the only way you could conceivably do that, cut CO2 emissions on that scale at the moment is by closing down pretty well every form of economic activity that’s going on in this country. There is no other way to do it.
I mean cars – forget them, trains – forget them, aeroplanes – forget them, electric lights – forget them, factories – forget them, computers – forget them. Everything we do now is dependent upon computers: hole in the wall, you know just everything: Tesco. There just isn’t going to be, if that Act which was supported by 463 of our gifted and respected politicians, who we’ve all come to respect even more in recent months as we learn what they’ve actually been getting up to instead of getting on with taking sensible decisions about the running of our country, the contempt which the British people now feel for their political class is absolutely fathomless isn’t it. You all know that and you could go to any street in the country, north, south, east, west and you would find people saying the same things.
And part of the reason for that, a very important part of the reason why they have so completely degraded themselves is because they’ve increasingly not had a proper job to do because they’ve been shovelling more and more of what we originally thought we were electing them to do in terms of their powers, shovelling it away to people who are not sitting in Westminster although some of them are sitting in Whitehall. Because let us never forget, the European Union is not a conspiracy by foreigners against Britain, it is a conspiracy by the political class against the citizens. Copenhagen in two/three weeks time, 20,000 politicians, officials, environmental activists paid for by taxpayers, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, they will all be there in their thousands and the media, the compliant media. The Sunday Telegraph won’t be there in the shape of me I don’t think but I bet The Daily Telegraph will be.
This is a secret, I don’t want Bruno to be listening here, but have you noticed how odd it is that The Sunday Telegraph allows me – and I’m very grateful for it – to write week after week very sceptical articles about global warming. Then you turn to The Daily Telegraph and something very odd has happened to that paper on this subject and I’ve asked occasionally, can you explain why it is that we have Mr Geoffrey Lean writing half pages every week, sometimes two, why Miss Louise Gray every day is recycling some Friends of the Earth press release telling us sea levels are going to rise by 100 feet or that all the butterflies will be extinct. All this hysteria that they’ve been whipping up for Copenhagen – when I say they I mean the organisers and the whole sort of warmist lobby – but the Daily Telegraph for some extraordinary reason has decided to go along with it just at the point where the whole thing is falling apart.
That is so weird, in journalistic terms, I mean by all means back a horse when you think its going to win the race but just at the point when the whole climate change fraud is being exposed as never before, where the temperatures are sloping down.
The point I was making to someone earlier, the ultimate point about what is wrong, why the whole climate change global warming hysteria is suddenly hitting the buffers, we can’t any of us, nobody knows what is actually going to happen to world temperatures over the next 100 years, certainly the warmists don’t know, nobody knows.
But what we do know, we know one terribly important thing and this is absolutely the key to everything that’s going on at the moment, is that the case for global warming, which has been bought hook, line and sinker by pretty well every politician in the western world not to mention The Daily Telegraph, the whole of that case rests on one thing, it rests on the predictions of computer models, very, very expensive super computers costing anything up to £3 million each. And they feed their data into the intergovernmental panel on climate change, which actually we’re told it consists of 2,500 top climate scientists. Actually it consists of, if you peel away all the people who aren’t scientists and certainly aren’t climate scientists, you ultimately get down to about 50 people who all know each other, work with each other and who are being currently exposed by this wonderful leak of hundreds and hundreds of documents from the University of East Anglia, the Climate Research Unit. Which has been hilarious if it wasn’t so serious because there you have finally confirmed, what a lot of us who have been following this story have been suspecting for a long time, is that you’ve got basically a very small number of people who know each other, Americans and Britons, they are the people who drive the IPCC, who write its reports, and they have been deliberately – and this is what these emails confirm – deliberately fiddling the evidence.
We guessed that they were; we could see quite a lot of evidence that they were. What we didn’t see until now was emails from one of them to another saying we’ve got to tinker around with these figures, we’ve got to make the temperatures look as if they’re going higher than they are. I haven’t written about it yet but its going to be written about and heard about an awful lot between now and Copenhagen.
Now it begins to look, as we know the whole point about Copenhagen is that everyone ultimately has got to agree – not just the EU and the Americans and the Australians, but the Chinese and the Indians and the Brazilians and the Russians and everybody – and its quite obvious even the organisers are now admitting that Copenhagen is going to fail in its most important goal which was to set fixed targets. Everybody’s got to do what Britain is doing and say we’re going to cut our CO2 by such and such a figure. It’s simply not going to happen. The Chinese and the Indians and the Brazilians are all saying, listen we’ve got to catch up with you guys in the west, we’re certainly not going to cut our emissions although we might be prepared to consider it if you pay us hundreds of billions of dollars a year, that’s what its all about and that’s why the thing is not going to reach agreement.
So actually even Mr Obama, even the great saintly President of the US is not going to be able to go to Copenhagen and say I can deliver because the Senate is refusing at the moment to pass the Cap-and-Trade Bill. So guess which is going to be the only Government in the world which is going to go to Copenhagen saying whatever you ask us to give, all those hundreds of billions of dollars, we will empty our pockets and not only that, we will cut our own emissions by such a savage amount that we wont have an economy left to make the money that will enable us to pay it to you.
That Government is the one of which Mr Rompuy has just become the President and how appropriate it is that at just the moment where the great European constitution that they worked for and craved for so long, eight years they took to get that thing onto the table, at just the moment where it comes into force, where Mr Rompuy is elevated to the top of it we are looking at a very strange situation where Mr Rompuy is proposing this carbon tax to solve a problem which never actually existed and he dreams that that is going to be the next stage of more Europe.
And at just the point where the whole climate change/global warming fantasy is beginning to leak out steam like a balloon losing its force – we’re going to hear an awful lot more about it over the next few years – but basically it has crested and it is on the way down. And at just that point how appropriate it is that the European Union should at last enter onto the world stage with a constitution and a President, Mr Europe; Mr Rompuy you couldn’t have come at a better time.
But I will say this, my final word, confronted with such a farce, such a degrading spectacle as we have all been witnessing for far too long, isn’t it time that the British people began to learn how to recover our self-respect.
Speech by Bruno Waterfield
I would like to thank the Bruges Group for inviting me speak here today. I’m not really a member of your tribe and I’m not really here to issue any comfort blankets; I’m probably from a different tradition. One of the reasons why I value Christopher’s work so much is its essentially contrarian, it’s a contrarian very liberal tradition I would say so I hope in that tradition of being contrarian you will be tolerant when I say things that perhaps you may find uncomfortable.
What I really want to do is review what I see as one of the most significant developments in the evolution of the European Union and its political expression. When I was coming in on the bus to Central London this morning I was just thinking about how yesterday morning, on Friday morning, lots of little functionaries and bureaucrats all across the land must have woken up with a little smile on their face; I mean Catherine Ashton it could be you.
Here we have a woman who has moved from one quango appointee to another to another. She started off in Hertfordshire Health Authority, she moved to the House of Lords, probably the biggest quango in Britain, then to the European Commission and now to a newly created post of High Representative for Foreign Affairs. There’s a hope for every bureaucrat, every backroom pen-pusher, maybe the EU lottery wheel will turn for them next.
And this is the kind of alchemy of the European Union; its kind of special magic in a way is to take the very base matter of somebody like Lady Ashton and to create her into a figure on the world stage. And of course to make this incredible miraculous journey she has never had to go through the trouble of facing an election to public office.
I’m not really going to talk about our friend Herman because Christopher has dealt with him I feel. I want to focus just a little bit on the Ashton case in my opening remarks because it’s a very, very significant event. By appointing Ashton to a post in the Council, one of the two most powerful posts in the EU, the EU has dropped one of its most important conventions and one of the most important conventions and part of the whole mystique of the Council, which is the most important and powerful institution in the European Union, is it is composed of people who have at some time been elected. They are usually former Foreign Ministers or something like that, I mean they may not be particularly interesting, they may not be particularly talented, but at some point to create the mystique and the sheen of democratic legitimacy people have to be elected.
So Catherine Ashton is unique on two counts; she is unique because she is occupying this newly created post and she has broken the convention that, for people to be the public persona of the European Union outside of the Commission, they should have held public office. Now this is a very, very important political event, much more important in fact politically than either of these two posts: the President of the Council or the EU Foreign Minister.
If we cast our minds back to the Laeken Declaration of eight years ago, a Declaration that was signed by Tony Blair, David Miliband was one of the people who helped draft it. And that Declaration noted that voters feel that deals are too often cut out of their sight and they want better democratic scrutiny. And then you look at the process, the culmination of the Laeken Declaration was the appointment of these two posts, this was an entirely secret process compared to one of the candidates, the former Latvian President, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, as being like the workings of the Soviet Union. Miliband compared our journalistic speculations to who was or who wasn’t in the running as a Kremlin neology, an entirely private and closed process.
And with that process leading to Catherine Ashton’s – I’m really hammering this point – the final pretence of the Laeken Declaration, the final pretence that the EU even needs any form of democratic legitimacy has finally been removed. Default secrecy is the practice of the European Union and default secrecy is always the practice of institutions that feel unable to represent the public. And the final pretence that the European Union represents the citizens of Europe has been dropped with the appointment of Baroness Ashton and that’s an amazingly significant event and we should not be blind to the significance of that moment at 7:30 on Thursday night over truffled mushrooms when they gave her the job.
Public debate of course allows the merits, certainly of candidates, for political posts or public office or alternatives on policy to be discussed and it allows us, the public, to weigh and to assess policies on the basis of political principles, on the basis of even sectional class or national interests as well. And as soon as you take politics out of that public realm then you start to produce individuals and policies – as Christopher very ably showed us on climate change – you begin to produce people and policies that are more and more estranged from the real world and more and more actually destructive to politics. So at the moment of appointing Catherine Ashton, who is quite frankly a fairly ridiculous figure, is actually an amazingly destructive moment for the European Union as well as the confirmation of eight years of what’s been going on with the Lisbon Treaty.
So really what I’m arguing is that the European Union isn’t really a super state, the European Union has emerged as yes some institutions, but more importantly a practice of a unique kind of state craft for the 21st century. It’s a state craft that is based on cooperation between political elites in terms of state authorities, public authorities in countries and the most important quality it has is the active exclusion of and hostility to the public.
So the structures of the European Union, and we saw it in this kind of farcical job selection, have evolved to provide maximum political privacy for elites – why do I call them elites, because I’m not just talking about elected politicians, I’m talking about the very powerful oligarchs and civil servants, senior Police Officers and all the rest of it who are very much engaged in the European Union – so as well as providing maximum political privacy for these people it also provides maximum insulation from the public. The EU is a public-free zone.
And for me, when you start looking at the European Union in this way, you can actually see that the real substance of the whole Lisbon Treaty constitution debate wasn’t so much the creation of new European Union institutions. After all that really started with a single European Act, which is in a way much more of a significant treaty in terms of institutional and legal forms and then the Maastricht Treaty.
The real issue of the Lisbon Treaty and again its real defining moment wasn’t the creation of an EU Foreign Ministry – I mean there is a legitimate argument to be had there about whether there is a need for a European foreign policy – the real Lisbon Treaty issue was the political evasion, that as an established point of policy and political practice and as quite a substantial project for a period of at least five years and the politicians particularly of the largest three European Union countries evaded the public by not holding referendums on a treaty because they realised that any kind of popular vote would disrupt this process of maximum political privacy, expediency and streamlining is always the word that they use.
And the reason why they had to do that, I just want to quote Sarkozy speaking to a closed meeting in the European Parliament in November 2007, he made it very, very clear, I mean he said France was just ahead of all the other countries in voting no, it would happen in all Member States if they had a referendum. There is a cleavage between people and Governments. A referendum now would bring Europe into danger; there will be no treaty if we have a referendum in France, which would again be followed by a referendum in the UK.
So it was a very explicit, certainly amongst themselves, I mean no one ever wrote it down, it certainly wasn’t a manifesto that you could take to voters, here it is our manifesto, we will define a political period for the next five years by excluding you from politics, its not a vote winner. But this is the real substance of Lisbon, I think it was this political evasion, ignoring of the French and Dutch referendums, the bludgeoning of the Irish into a second yes. It is the defining characteristic of the Lisbon Treaty; you can forget all the flim-flam about primacy of EU law, the European diplomatic corps, the real political substance was this conspiracy against the European publics.
There is a great story that Jens-Peter Bonde, the Danish politician, former MEP, leader of the June Movement and the man in many ways behind the Danish no in 1992; a very, very interesting man. He was involved in the convention that gave rise to the EU constitution and he tells this wonderful story, the convention wanted to insert a clause into the next EU Treaty that all EU decision making and all EU policy documents and papers that lead to decision making should be in the public domain. And he argued that they should always be in the public domain unless in every case specific derogation or exception is made. And it was the view of the convention that that should be inserted into what would become the constitutional Treaty. But of course the final text had to go through this presidium, this group of Ministers chaired by Giscard.
And Bonde tells this great story of going in to see Peter Hain, and Peter Hain was one of the British representatives on the convention, he was the Europe Minister at the time, because they were lobbying hard and they needed at least one big country to support this kind of principle of openness to be inserted in the Treaty. And Peter Hain is quite a nice chap, he’s very kind of liberal and he’s got a bit of a rebel past, so when Bonde came in and asked him will you support our kind of openness clause, Peter Hain said well of course I can, I like the sound of that, I do like the sound of that. And of course instantly at his elbow was the civil servant who plucked at his sleeve and said, ‘well excuse me Mr Hain, Britain does not support this clause’. Because of course if you opened up the EU to public scrutiny you would remove the political privacy for European’s elites to cut deals to make their life convenient. In effect you’d subvert the whole kind of process, so it’s the most difficult and impossible reform for the European Union to make.
And I see the development of the EU, and this is why I thought Christopher’s points about the relationship between the rise of the European Union and developments in British politics and state structures is very, very important, because we increasingly see that political structures, including Parliaments, both at a national and EU level, have become a machine for transmitting decisions taken by the enlightened bodies above us down to us so we the voters become bystanders effectively. And we are increasingly regarded as an unwelcome presence, so people will talk darkly of the rise of nationalism and of populism. There is a fairly explicit hostility to the idea of public debate which has been very much stigmatised in the European Union as something dangerous and something uncontrollable.
And the increasing reliance of our political classes on structures like the EU and various national equivalents comes at a moment when our leaders and the political establishments across Europe are more and more unable to take voters with them. Europe’s political classes have become so reliant and dependent on the unprincipled and antidemocratic practices of the European Union and the bureaucratisation, the legalisation of politics, that they are actually very badly equipped – they even speak an entirely different language if you ever read any EU documents – for fighting and winning referendums or any other kind of votes.
Because of course as I have mentioned, nothing is more opposed to the conventions of political practice in Brussels than the cut and thrust of debate. Because the whole idea of debate and the whole importance of the public sphere as a sphere for debate is that that kind of politics very quickly escapes and becomes an entirely independent creature from the desires and the wishes of rulers who sometimes want to ask their people to go along with them for something and then these troublesome people have the irritating knack of making up their own minds and the answer happens to be no.
So that facet of the EU, I would like to argue that that kind of founding principle of the EU with the selection of these jobs and with the process of the Lisbon Treaty, has become more and more explicit. It has actually revealed the European Union to be a Union of rulers united in mistrust of the people, not a Union of peoples.
In fact, I’m sure many people in this room – because it has a rather totemic kind of significance for people of a certain political tribe –will remember that the European treaties always used to have a phrase ‘an ever-closer union of the peoples of Europe’. It always used to have that in there and I always rather liked that declaration, it sounds nice and idealistic. In fact you know that has now been dropped. The Lisbon Treaty is the first treaty since the Treaty of Rome that does not talked about an ever-closer union of the peoples of Europe because even the bureaucrats realised that after the French and Dutch referendums that would be in bad taste.
So as I was saying, the gloves are off, the pretence has been dropped. The European Union is quite explicit that it is not a union of its peoples; it is a union of its rulers run for their convenience and not ours.
What I want to argue is that today there is a new political divide and there should be a new political divide between those people who accept that political processes and decisions should be taken away from voters because the people can’t be trusted and those who do not. And to wrap up I really want to say that the EU question is constitutional in the true sense of the word, its not about the European Communities Act 1972, its not going to be about the Conservative sovereignty bill, its constitutional in the true sense of the word because it is about the nature of politics. It’s about who participates in politics and for whom political structures are organised and the EU really crystallises that for me. So for me debating the EU needs to become an argument about what politics should be in opposition to how it is.
And I just want to finish maybe by saying some more uncomfortable things. We’re going to hear a lot about political renewal next year; you know there will probably be a new Government and that new Government, whether it likes it or not, the issue of Europe will loom large for it, but without politics assuming this more kind of constitutional character the EU, which is very resilient in terms of its structures, will continue to survive and prosper because maybe people aren’t asking the right kind of questions.
When people talk about better off out or withdrawal, you’re not really confronting the real issue of what politics is in Britain because actually the way that politics is in Britain and the various extrusions and practices of the British state that have helped give rise to the European Union, and the most powerful people who run the European Union in all of its institutions are British civil servants who are very much Whitehall men and women. And it’s that outlook very much that comes from Whitehall and some of the less democratic elements of the British political system. Catherine Ashton is a product of that.
So what I want to say is that if you want to really get to grips with the European Union, it really means getting to grips with politics. And I think that means we have to ask ourselves some very uncomfortable questions indeed, for example why is it that we have a House of Lords that can be a springboard for somebody like Catherine Ashton?
Speech by Gerard Batten
Thank you very much everybody. Can I say Christopher Booker is the only reason I still go on buying the Sunday Telegraph. And of course he’s quite right, the European Union is the only organisation that would appoint a President called Rompuy and then demand that everybody cuts their emissions at the same time.
I think the title of today was ‘Can the European Union survive?’ Well of course unfortunately it very closely resembles a Soviet Union and the Soviet Union survived for 70 years or more and they had a totally incompetent economics system. And the European Union is a parasite on the back of the capitalist system, on the free market system so the danger is that it actually might survive a lot longer. And I think the question might be more apt, can the UK survive the European Union.
Now I was very disappointed that Tony Blair wasn’t appointed the new President because in view of what he did for our country he’s about the only person that could have destroyed the whole thing for us, but we have to live with Mr Rompuy I’m afraid. And of course does anybody seriously believe that Dave Cameron is going to make any difference to this whole thing? He’s not a silly man, he knows that the power has now all gone to the European Union, I don’t feel that this is anymore about power, it’s about position and privilege and is there anything left to be plundered from this country by him and his friends before the whole thing goes belly up.
Now having said that I’ll get onto the subject I was supposed to be talking about which is immigration and what I don’t want to do too much is to dwell on the problems because I think we all know what the problems are, but what I would like to do is to say a bit about what I believe the solutions are. But let me have a brief recap on the problems. I did write in actual fact an immigration policy paper for UKIP about two years ago, it hasn’t yet seen the light of day in its entirety but I hope that it will do very soon in one form or another.
Now what I did was something on the history of immigration first, it’s a complete myth that this country is a nation of migrants. There actually hasn’t been a great deal of migration into the country between 1066 and 1945; there were migrants that came in but they were small in proportion to the overall population and they integrated fairly quickly and successfully.
Since 1945 to 1971, we had roughly about 1.2 million people into the country. 1972 to 1996, roughly about 4 million, but since 1997 to 2008 – and I’ve yet to update the most recent figures – about 6 million. So we had over that period, from 1945 to 2008, about 11.2 million people came into the country.
Now since 1997, if you count the people that also left, we’ve had a net gain of about 2 million people, but the current net gain is running at about 200,000 people per annum, which is adding a million people to the population every five years or the equivalent of needing to build a new city the size of Birmingham every five years.
Immigration has been uncontrolled, unlimited and indiscriminate in the real sense of that word. Now that was not entirely due to the European Union, there has been no controls on immigration, no real controls from immigration outside of the European Union either. But we know we’ve had a big wave of immigration since 2004 when new countries joined. The candidate countries who are lined up to join the European Union including Turkey, including the Ukraine, if you sit in the European Parliament you will know that those countries are going to join eventually, it means that another 157 million people will have the right to come to the UK if they wish as a result of those countries joining.
Now we know from recent revelations by Andrew Neather, a Labour adviser, that this policy of deliberate uncontrolled immigration, well the policy was deliberate. The Government report in 2000 called for immigration to change Britain’s cultural makeup forever for political reasons. So was that the purpose of immigration, well it seems that it was and that’s what occurred to a lot of people like me and you I’m sure as we’ve watched this over the years. Its intention was to destroy national identity, national loyalty and to create a so called diverse and multicultural society which would be easier to subsume into a United States of Europe.
Now the benefits of all this immigration of course was the driving down of wages for the poorest people at the bottom end of the economy, while fuelling a property boom that kept the economic bubble ballooning. Now it’s a rare policy that benefits the socialist and capitalist extremes of the economy at the same time, although for a limited duration and now the chickens are coming home to roost.
Now Britain has been transformed in many ways and in some parts of Britain now it’s almost as though you are in a foreign country. In the 21st century in Britain we now had the blessing of Sharia law being practiced in some parts of the country with demands that it increases and spreads.
Now according to some demographers the English will be an ethnic minority in their own country within two to three generations, 50-75 years, and this is all courtesy of unsustainable population growth which is completely the result of unlimited immigration. If there was no immigration the population would stabilise or slightly decline, which I think would be a good idea given the journey I had on the Tube this morning when we were packed in like sardines and wherever you go in the country you have the same problem; trying to put more and more people into a limited space.
Now that doesn’t mean that we are anti-immigrant, I started work for two Polish immigrants who’d come across with the Free Polish Army, I married an immigrant, she is now a naturalised citizen, my children are part of the statistic – I can’t remember the exact figure now, 25% or 50% of the children born in London are now to mothers of foreign origin – well mine were, I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t have a problem with immigration, nor does my Party; the problem is about the scale and the type of immigration.
Now how do we then fix the problem? Well what I’ve done is laid out a 20 point plan for my Party about how this problem can be fixed. I wont go through them all but let me summarise the main things that I think any Government that’s serious about this has got to do to get it under control.
I think the first thing that we have to do is to make a statement that the age of mass immigration has to come to an end. Any future immigration must be strictly controlled and limited and it must be for the benefit of the British people and not for the benefit of immigrants.
One policy I did suggest which the Party has adopted is a five year freeze on all future immigration while we deal with the current situation, get it under control and deal with our illegal immigrants.
Now to do any of that we need to regain control of our borders and of course to do that we have to leave the European Union. None of the things that I’m going to suggest today will be possible if we’re members of the European Union and of course we also then also need to remove ourselves from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and put sovereignty back with our own Parliament and our own Supreme Court.
Now we have to introduce border controls with a strict visa system where we check people in and we check people going out, so if people come in on holiday or they come in on work permits we know that they’ve come in, if they don’t leave, we issue a warrant for their arrest. When they eventually turn up we deport them and we then put a limit on them coming back of five or ten years. Only when we do things like that will people start to respect the law because they will know that there is a penalty for disobeying it.
Now we need to remove the illegal immigrants in the country, we must state clearly there will be no amnesty or what will happen to us is exactly what will happen to the Spanish where they give an amnesty to the illegal immigrants and then they get another wave coming in because that sends out completely the wrong message.
But of course what the Government have done is to create a problem which almost has no solution because there are probably upwards if not more than a million illegal immigrants in this country and they’ve created a problem which they intend that nobody would be able to fix in the future. And what I would suggest is that we require all illegal immigrants to register with a Police Station and state their status; are they working, are they paying tax, are they paying insurance. If they are paying tax and insurance we would consider them for permanent residency under a work permit so that they could stay, if they are not paying tax and insurance we’d want a very good reason if we didn’t deport them and anybody that doesn’t register should be automatically deported if they are found along with their dependents. And I think that is the most humane way of dealing with that issue.
Now the work permit system, the Government has obviously proposed a work permit system but its useless because it only applies to people outside the European Union, it wont be enforced anyway but people from the European Union can come anyway and of course as I’ve said, there are literally millions of people with the right to do it and millions more on the horizon. But we need a work permit system where people are given leave to come in and work for periods of time, a year, two years, three years, they do a specific job to fill a gap in the economy and at the end of that time they will also then have the right to apply for permanent residency if they wish and if its justified we can give it to them and of course they can then apply for citizenship in the long run.
But what these measures would do would be drastically cut down the number of people who are coming here without our permission and without us saying whether it’s a good idea for them to be here or whether they can stay. And of course they must be to fulfil genuine gaps in the economy when we let people in because how can you have an economy that is supposedly dependent on mass cheap immigration when you’ve got 2 million upwards people on the dole not working.
Now the other thing we need to do is to withdraw from the European convention on refugees. We have to decide what a proper refugee policy is and how many people we allow to come under that. We need to repeal the 1998 Human Rights Act because that stopped courts dealing with terrorist suspects and illegal immigrants. And of course we need to reintroduce the primary purpose rule under immigration where people who want to come in, for example as brides and husbands of British citizens, have to prove that there is a relationship already in existence and that they are not coming in just in order to gain entry to the country and its benefits.
I think we should also introduce one of my ideas is an undertaking of residency, so when we give someone the right to live here, to work on a semi-permanent basis, that they actually sign up to say that they wont break the law, that they’ll be a good citizen, that they will respect our democratic and tolerant way of life. So if they break that, like for example we’ve had many examples of militant Islamic teachers preaching what we would believe to be extremism, we can then kick them out of the country without going through a big rigmarole of them demanding that we respect their human rights and we can’t actually do anything with them.
If this country is worth coming to then people have to respect the right to be here and we have to have sanctions. And of course what we should do also is end the official promotion of the doctrine of multiculturalism, which is divisive. If people want to come to this country then we have to presume they want to live under a western liberal democracy. If they come and say they want to practice Sharia law then we have to say to them, sorry you’re in the wrong place, go and live somewhere where they practice Sharia law; this is not the place to do it.
I believe that if a political party puts a programme like that to the British people it will be voted on by or it will be accepted and approved by a majority of people and many of the people who would accept it and approve it will be immigrants themselves because I can tell you I actually go around and campaign during election times and talk to people all the time. Some of the most vociferous comments and objections to the current rates of immigration I get are from people who were immigrants, maybe first or second generation, who actually came to this country, had to work very hard to establish themselves and now see people flooding in, getting the benefits, driving wages down and they’re as unhappy about this as anybody else.
Now to sum up, in short we have to stop mass immigration, we have to integrate and assimilate the people that we’ve already got, we have to build a cohesive society based on one language, one law and a common national identity, a respect for our legal and political institutions and that can be irrespective of people’s ethnic identity. A multi-ethnic society can work because we’re all people and if we agree in the same values broadly we’re going to get on. Multiculturalism doesn’t work because it’s about divisiveness and separateness and jockeying for position and privilege and power.
I believe that’s a sensible, non-racist policy, I hope that the UK Independence Party is going to be putting it forward and I hope that a lot of people are going to vote for us in the next General Election.
Speech by Richard Conquest
At various points in today’s proceedings the issue of can the EU survive has been addressed. And it seems to me that the first point is as a political entity can it survive, and mention was also made of the end of empires.
I think there’s one interesting distinction to be made between for example the disappearance of the Habsburg Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Tsarist and German Empires as a consequence of war, I think more interesting is the disappearance of the Soviet Empire because it was not in a state of war. It collapsed under the weight of its own economic inertia and corruption and I can very much see that this is the route that the EU, the EU SSR is already destined to follow.
As for the survival of nations such as ours, I think that maybe we’re not really proclaiming our own talents in the way we should. Again mention has been made, albeit very briefly, of what happened in the UK, in England in particular in 1642 and what happened in the glorious revolution in 1688, that England basically conferred upon world politics the concept of the separation of power, the independence of the judiciary and by degrees popular democracy. And these are all fundamental principles of British political culture that are being traduced by the EU with the approval of our ruling elite.
So I think it’s those great principles of British political culture that we should most proclaim rather than worrying too much about immigration or more peripheral issues.
Now in economic terms the survival of Europe is I think much more open to doubt because I do not believe for one moment that potentially 27 countries, different political economic structures can be subjected to one interest rate policy and one exchange rate policy. And the evidence is growing day by day that although the Euro is strong against the US dollar we know there is talk of it superseding the dollar as a reserve currency. But within the Euro itself there are tremendous tensions building up, which will I believe end up finally with an enormous crisis. And the reason for this is that to have one interest rate for the 16 nations of the Euro with very different economic structures, political cultures, at different stages of the business cycle it is quite simply economic madness.
And the country that I’ve really chosen to prove this is one that is not yet in the Euro but is an aspiring country and that is Latvia because the destruction done to the Latvian economy by the adoption of an inappropriate monetary policy is absolutely disastrous.
You can see that the growth rate of the Baltics, since they recovered from communism, has been pretty stratospheric, their growth rates have been much higher than the EU in general. Now that tells me that their central banks should have been in control of a rigid monetary policy but it wasn’t the case. Because they adopted a fixed exchange rate regime against the Euro, they effectively handed over control of their monetary policy to the ECB and the Swedish banks. So they should have had very restricted monetary policy, they didn’t, they had a very lax monetary policy more orientated towards Germany than their own economic circumstances.
Now it’s true that in the run-up to the introduction of the Euro inflation differentials within Europe – and inflation differentials are always the killer, the nemesis of fixed exchange rate regimes – there was a tremendous convergence of inflation, that’s true and that facilitated the introduction of the Euro. And the Latvians aspiring to become at various times members of NATO of the EU for some unknown reason and even more absurdly of the Euro itself, decided to fix their exchange rate against the Euro. Now that told the banks that there was no longer an exchange rate risk in lending money to Estonian households, to Estonian corporates or to the Estonian Government, all the Baltics in fact.
And so there was a monetary orgy. Lithuania did much the same thing but maybe one point should be made, even though the Lithuanians for example has been rigid against the Euro there’s still a very big degree of volatility against the dollar implying an artificiality in the whole structure.
Now here you can see the consequences for Latvia that there was an orgy of lending, particularly by the Swedish banks meaning that Latvian households were taking mortgages in Euros, in Swedish krona building up colossal external debts. And of course the time came when the whole bubble burst and the whole business of an over-lax monetary position, the adoption of an ECB monetary policy for a country like Latvia where it was absolutely inappropriate, now they are reaping the consequences of this erroneous monetary policy.
You can see it’s a picture that is not confined to a small country like Latvia; exactly the same thing has happened in other countries such as Spain and indeed Ireland. They had very high growth rates and very lax monetary policy, asset price bubbles and the inevitable bust. And this is what happens as I say when you try to pretend that one monetary policy is appropriate to very different economic conditions in different countries.
You can see again, just to emphasise the point, that in a small country like Latvia with a rather undeveloped financial sector, the easy availability of credit cards, of bank overdrafts, of mortgages where 20 years ago no such things existed meant that there was a tremendous consumer boom and the inevitable consumer bust. As you can see house prices have simply collapsed and mortgage lending has actually gone into reverse.
And the final reckoning according to the IMF, I mean we know that the credit crunch has been pretty bad even for Western European countries although they are now starting to recover, but for example this year Latvia and the Baltics are back to post-Soviet growth rates like the good news is that this year its only going to be for example in Latvia, the GDP will be minus 18%.
Now this sort of situation hasn’t been seen since the communists were booted out 20 years ago. And so again, I’m saying that inappropriate monetary policy has made matters much worse and it’s not simply in Latvia, it’s also in several other Eastern European countries and of course countries like the Republic of Ireland and Spain.
Now the unemployment rate in Latvia is going to hit possibly 25% and it is really an economic disaster for them and if this doesn’t tell us about the politicisation of money then nothing will.
Now there’s one differentiation, moving from the inappropriateness of one interest rate, I wanted to then turn to the inappropriateness of one exchange rate because all the ten members who joined in 2004, unlike us and the Swedes, they don’t have any choice in the matter, they have a treaty obligation to join the Euro. But again I would question this. Is it sensible for countries with trade deficits of 20% of GDP to fix their exchange rates against their strongest competitors? I think any rational person would say this is the economics of a madhouse.
Now the reason I put this one up is when politicians talk pompously about the irrevocable fixing of exchange rates, basically they’re talking through their hats, they haven’t a clue what they’re on about because its not the nominal exchange rate that matters, it’s the real effect of the exchange rate (REER), which is a test of competitiveness. And what you see in the case here of Latvia is that competitiveness has disintegrated because of inflation and other tests of competitiveness against Germany in particular.
Output per man hour, productivity, unit labour costs, earnings per hour, and in these terms the Baltics have thrown away the great advantage that they initially had in their labour markets, it’s all gone. And this is a situation which also applies to the southern rim of the Euro zone; particularly Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and the Republic of Ireland, all of them have suffered dramatic losses of competitiveness with predictable consequences.
Actually one thing, maybe you could say it’s a good thing in the case of Latvia, which is this one, the crash of the economy has been so deep that the volume of imports has virtually halved meaning that they’ve actually moved into current account surplus but that’s not much comfort to the 20% of the population who are at present unemployed.
You can see these are projections of the IMF up to year 13. They are now outdated of course but Baltic States current account deficits with balances as percentage of GDP, usually people say that the United States deficit of 5% to 6% of GDP is unsustainable. Well in that case what does that say about the Baltic States and indeed other Eastern European countries and countries like Greece, which has a current account deficit of 12% of GDP, three times that of the United States and yet they are supposed to be sustainable within the Euro. It simply does not add up.
As they’ve accumulated huge debts in foreign currencies, these debts of course have to be serviced. And so if you find that you’re paying 15% of your gross domestic product servicing your overseas debt you are in a pretty ruinous situation and it seems one that Gordon Brown is determined to achieve for our country as soon as possible.
Now within Euro zone itself, this is a basic measure of competitiveness, unit labour cost in industry. You can see that Germany, because it has this extraordinary discipline in its labour market, unit labour costs, because the unions are content to accept zero increase in wages while Germany’s industry improves its productivity measured per man hour, whichever way, it doesn’t matter, German industry is an absolute powerhouse and for that reason unit labour costs in Germany are under tremendous control.
In the rest of the EU it is not the case and the two that are obviously tremendously vulnerable for loss of competitiveness are Italy and Spain, but they are by no means alone in this. And this means that these countries also are in deep current account trade deficits, even France is moving inextricably downwards.
And for the weaker members, I would suggest particularly Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal; the EU is now exerting a centrifugal force, which is tending to throw them out rather than to attract them by economic gravity inwards. The opposite process is happening because the Euro has not brought about economic convergence; it’s brought about economic divergence, which means that these countries are going to find it increasingly difficult to live within the Euro zone.
Here we have again the real effect of exchange rates. You can see that the likes of the Republic of Ireland and Greece their competitiveness is disintegrating within the Euro zone, while that of Germany is, as I say, I mean the performance of the manufacturing, the industrial sector in Germany is awesome.
So it’s a problem that is not confined to aspirants like the Baltic States, it’s a problem that exists big time within mainstream Europe itself. But of course the ECB, what do they say, oh we don’t have imbalances in the Euro zone, which suggests one thing and that is utter dereliction of duty and incompetence.
Here you see that particularly during the run up and the introduction of the Euro, the competitive position of a number of countries has disintegrated leaving them in a situation where they are incurring ever more massive current account and trade deficits and these are all the tensions which are building up within the Euro which in my mind at least certainly raises the question of its survivability.
Now one measure of the way that the problem is now coming to light is in the bond market. You can see that for the years in the run up to the introduction of the Euro in the years when the Baltics fixed their exchange rates against the Euro or the dollar initially, there wasn’t much difference in the yield on ten year Government bonds implying that people thought that the risk in Estonia was very similar to the risk in Germany let us say. But since the credit crunch wiser counsels have prevailed and you can see that the cost of debt service for the weaker economies like the Baltics has shot up even when the cost of debt service and bond issuance in Germany has actually declined. So the markets are saying something that the politicians don’t want to hear and that is basically this situation is unsustainable.
And within some of the bigger Euro zone countries, you can see that again doubts have hit the bond market big time. The risk perception of countries such as Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece has increased enormously and with it the price that they have to pay for their foreign borrowing and even their domestic borrowing.
Well I think that is my case. I will conclude by saying that what it means is that in economic terms a number of countries cannot afford to stay within the Euro. But at the same time, in financial terms, they can’t afford to leave because if for example the Baltics abandon their fixed exchange rate regimes and devalue it, then the price of their external debt will be elevated to such an extent that they would be bankrupt as nations and Greece and Italy are in exactly the same situation. If the lira was reintroduced and devalued by 50%, which is what would happen, then the Italian State would be bankrupt.
So what do you do, accept the economic pain in order to preserve what’s left of your financial position or throw caution to the wind, devalue and face almost inevitable default?
And the one person in Europe who has seen the danger of this is Jean-Claude Juncker and that’s why he is trying to find some way by which countries such as Germany and the Netherlands can begin to underwrite the state debt, the sovereign debt of countries like Greece.
So it’s a very, very messy situation but one that is entirely made by erroneous policy; erroneous interest rate policy and erroneous exchange rate policy. The problem was entirely avoidable, it’s completely manmade and if you asked any of the elite of Europe who brought this disastrous situation about for any kind of explanation or solution, I don’t think you’ll get much of an answer.
Thank you very much.
Speech by John Mills
Well thank you very much for inviting me to your conference and I am particularly pleased to be here because sometimes you get the impression that Eurosceptics are all on the right of the political spectrum, whereas that really isn’t true at all.
If you look at the way opinion polls show people’s preferences, it’s pretty clear that there must be a majority of Labour voters who are Eurosceptic and I must say even within the Labour Party itself I think that a good deal of the enthusiasm for the EU is a bit skin deep. Most Labour MPs for example I think are much more concerned about issues like the National Health Service and education than they are about the EU. They follow the party line because that’s what everybody in the Labour Party and that Parliament seems to do pretty well these days but I think a lot of this is skin deep.
I must say you’ve certainly had a variety of speakers here today including the Mayor of Doncaster, who I didn’t entirely agree with all the time but I must say I was interested to hear his experience of trying to cut expenditure in Doncaster. And I have spent - apart from anything else that Helen told you about – I spent 36 years as a member of various local government organisations, including a large London Borough. And in the 1970s I was the person who was in charge of the financials of the Borough and we hit the buffers as Boroughs do and we had to have some fairly drastic cuts.
So trying to do this in the strategic way we asked all the Chief Officers what could be done to reduce their expenditure and the Director of Works was asked what the effect would be of reducing the grass cutting budget by one third. His response, less grass would be cut. Reducing the weed killing programme; if the weed killing budget is reduced undoubtedly less weeds will be killed. The weed killing situation in the Borough may well get out of hand. So you can see that cutting expenditure in local government or anywhere else actually isn’t as easy as you might think.
But turning now to the Euro, I think there may be some interesting news in looking at the Euro and I wouldn’t altogether be surprised if the Euro in the end turns out to be the EU’s Achilles’ heel and leads to much more of the type of arrangements in Europe that a lot of us would like to see, I’m sure everybody in this room here. And I think the starting point is to just look at what’s happened to currency unions that have been set up over the last 150 or so years.
Now there have been loads of them, the EU is not by any stretch of the imagination the first time that this has been tried. The first major one was called the Latin Union and it was set up in 1865 and it involved France, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland and later Greece. Now there was a good deal of pressure at the time to get Britain to join the Latin Union and both the Economist and the Times welcomed its introduction. In fact the Times described it, believe it or not, as the most important step in the progress of civilisation, which wasn’t a very good move because the Latin Union struggled on for about 15 years and then started to disintegrate. There was a crisis in Italy which precipitated this and in the end it broke up in serious recrimination and folded up completely about 20 years later.
Now this has been followed by lots of other examples; the British Empire in its day was a great one for currency unions. We have one in East Africa, with Tanganyika as it then was and Uganda and Kenya. There was another one in the Central African Federation, which in those days was Rhodesia and Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia. There was one in the Caribbean which involved Jamaica and various other countries there. And not just in the Anglophobe world did we have these kinds of arrangements. The Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia believe it or not had a currency union, which lasted for about five or seven years and then collapsed. Believe it or not Egypt and Syria had one as well, improbable as that may seem.
Closer to home there’s an interesting example of what happened when Czechoslovakia broke up, there was intention then that they should go on having the same currency but within about six weeks of Czechoslovakia breaking up into the Czech Republic and Slovakia they went their separate ways. The Soviet Union of course in the days when it existed before communism collapsed had the ruble as the currency right across all its constituent parts, but the first thing that all the countries there did, once they became independent, was to set up their own currencies.
Another interesting example is Ireland and the UK. Ireland and the UK shared the pound or the punt for a very long period of time, but then eventually about ten years or so before the EU came into being they diverged and went their separate ways. A similar example actually to the ones that the previous speaker mentioned in Latvia was what happened in Argentina and the USA, where there was an intention by everybody to lock the currencies absolutely rigidly in place to try and get a grip on the Argentinean economy and that in the end came spectacularly to Greece, Germany and Austria, although they were separate countries, had the same locked exchange rate between them until they both joined the EU.
And perhaps more relevant to all of this is the experience of the EU itself or the European Economic Communities it then was, with the snake which lasted from 1969 to 1975 and the European Monetary Union which lasted from 1979 to 1993. Now what happened in the EEC or in the snake and the EMU was an absolutely classic example of why currency unions don’t work. Because what you had was Germany, as Richard Conquest has rightly said, with great labour discipline and trade unions who were not pressing for large wage increases and very high productivity, excellent training schemes and stellar export performance. And then you had other countries which just couldn’t cope with this at all.
And gradually what happened was that the disparities in performance between these various countries got worse and worse and what then happened, which is a very important effect, was that the performance of the whole of the economic area went down. When both the snake and the European Monetary Union started growth rates across the whole of the EEC as it then was, were around about 5%, by the time they collapsed in the snake’s case only six years later, in the EMU’s case a bit longer than that, the growth rate was down to just about nothing.
And the reason for this is absolutely straight forward. What happened was that the German economy exported to absolutely everybody else, drove them into balance of payments deficits, the only way they could try and deal with all these was to deflate, which meant higher and higher levels of unemployment, lower and lower rates of economic growth. As Germany exported most of its output to other European countries what then happened was that the German export markets collapsed because other members of the European Union couldn’t afford to pay for their imports and the whole of the growth rate of the area went down.
And the political crisis that triggered this off, and you remember our own exit from the European Monetary Union in 1992, was a political crisis which led to these organisations breaking up. And it was the disastrous results of these various efforts to keep the currencies separate, you know still the Deutsche Marks and the peseta and so forth, but to lock them together, which led to the Maastricht Treaty determination to set up the euro.
Now why do all these currency unions go wrong? Undoubtedly the major reason is that you finish up with different rates of inflation in different countries. Just masking it all by calling everybody’s currency the Euro doesn’t alter that position if inflation rates in Italy and Spain and Greece and Portugal and Ireland and all the countries that Richard Conquest mentioned, have been substantially higher than they were in Germany. And the result of all this is, as you’ve seen from the figures that were up on the board just a minute or two ago, is that Italy and Spain are now about 30% in inflation terms above where they were when the Euro came into being.
Now what is really crucial isn’t so much actually the consumer rate of inflation, it’s what happens to the export industries and that’s where the shoe is really pinching in those countries and did do during the snake and the EMU. And these are then accentuated by different political policies and social priorities. Its very interesting that if you look at where monetary unions have tended to work, they’ve tended to work relatively well in countries which share the same language, have the same sort of institutions for example Britain and Ireland and Austria and Germany and they work worse where there are big divergences in languages and cultures.
There are often very different political traditions in a lot of countries. If you look at the homogeneity of the way German Governments on the whole have run the consensus and the unity of purpose which they have exhibited and compare that with what’s gone on in countries like Italy, you can see why you finish up with very different policies with different results on the economy. There are other things which cause huge divergences, for example changes in energy. If one country discovers a large reserve of oil in its area and other ones don’t this has big effects on the exchange rate, which are extremely destabilising and then there’s always crises of one sort and another to accentuate all the other difficulties.
And generally speaking the reason why currency unions tend to collapse is there just simply isn’t the political cohesion and social cohesion and even more important the tax capacity to hold them together. Because if you’ve got countries like the United States where some areas do relatively well and others do relatively badly, but you have the Federal Government moving resources around, you can shield the areas that aren’t doing so well very substantially from the resources of the other ones. But the EU just isn’t in that position for reasons I’ll explain in just a minute.
And also the other really key things about currency unions is they all start off with a great fanfare of trumpets with everybody being very enthusiastic and encouraged by initial progress its made and gradually things get worse and worse as time goes on.
So turning now to the EU and the Euro, how does all this impact on what the future is likely to be? Well one thing I think is absolutely certain and that is that we’re going to go on seeing varying inflation rates in different countries and in particular it is very likely that Germany is going to go on being extremely efficiently run in industrial terms with very high exports both outside the EU, which is one of the major reasons why the Euro is so strong, and also internally and that this is going to drive everybody else into balance of payments deficits.
And these effects are already very clearly visible in the case of the weakening of economies: Spain, Italy, Greece, Ireland and Portugal. And there’s also the side show in Eastern Europe where I have to say all looks extremely like Argentina to me and although, for reasons I’ll tell you in a minute, I think it may be quite a while before the strains really overwhelm the whole of the Euro area for the countries that haven’t yet joined. And where the impact of the Euro has been as disastrous as it has in all the Baltic States I shall be very surprised if they don’t in the end get forced into some sort of devaluation before the rest of it all cracks up if it does.
And the other reason why the EU is in bad shape in all this is because the amount of redistribution there is within the EU between countries is pretty small. It was 1.27%, its now gone up a bit, I think its about 2% or something now, but this is way less than what you get in genuine states which are the United States or our own countries, UK and France, where typically in Europe the amount of money that goes through the Government’s hands is about 45%, which is available for redistribution of one sort and another and even 25% in the USA, but something like 2% in the EU. And even of that 2% a lot of it is redistributed the wrong way through the Common Agricultural Policy with poorer countries paying relatively speaking to richer ones, so if you deduct that out of the 2% you’re left with even less.
There was a report that was produced in 1977 by McDougall, which suggested that you’d need at least 7.5% to 10% to hold a single currency together in Europe and at the moment there’s only a tiny fraction of that.
But there are two things which make it more unlikely that the Euro zone will break up than was the case with these other currency unions I’ve just described. And these are first of all there is a very determined political class in Europe about which we’ve heard plenty today which may not be reflected in the views of the average voter but the people who actually hold the levers of power in Brussels are undoubtedly going to throw absolutely everything behind trying to avoid the Euro zone breaking up.
And the second thing that makes it particularly difficult to see how it would fail is that in many ways the key was thrown away when the Euro zone was set up because it is actually a very different situation where you’ve actually got your own currency still there, which is still the case in the Baltic States, where the original currency you had just isn’t there anymore at all and has to be recreated from nothing.
So what’s likely to happen? Well I think there are some things as I say you can be pretty certain will be the case, tensions are almost certain to get worse because of these differential rates of inflation. And when you think about it, if there’s a 30% difference now in the cost base in Italy and Spain after ten years, what’s that going to be after 20 years and are we going to have a 60% difference. You saw how pretty well linear that graph was, how it this difference in competitiveness had been eroded away. If we get up to 60% difference we really are going to get well beyond the stage where unemployment is at its present levels, you’re going to be in the much more disastrous territory that the Baltic States are moving rapidly towards at the moment.
Now one of the effects of all this may be that there’s a big drive by the political class in Brussels to get the EU to adopt a much larger economic role than it has done up till now, and we’ve heard mutterings today about the idea that there should be direct taxation to the EU. And I’m sure there are some people in Brussels who would love to have the EU running Social Security, running education, running defence and all these other big spending operations, which might produce some sort of redistribution.
I have to say that with the credibility of the European institutions right across the board being where it is, despite the best efforts by people in Brussels, I think the chances of huge switches in revenue and expenditure processes of that sort being undertaken within the timescales are pretty unlikely.
So what is then going to happen? Well I think it’s possible that nothing very much will happen that there will be some apathy right across the European Union, that what will happen is that people will just accept that what goes on is what it is. A bit like, to be candid with you, is the situation in this country over the EU where there’s massive dissatisfaction, but the fact is there’s no effective way of channelling this and I have to say if David Cameron and the Conservatives get elected in next May or June, aren’t we going to see a radical alteration in our relationships with the European Union, I’ll believe it when I see it.
I don’t think it’s going to happen, I think they’ll be as trapped as all the other Governments we’ve had over the last few years and the present attitudes to Brussels and that nothing very much will change. And that may be what happens over a long period in the European Union.
But it may be that this wont happen, it may be that what will happen is the banks will burst and that we’ll find one way and another, either by very non-conformist political parties coming into power or by the development of serious social unrest and if unemployment is 10% or 20%, its just about liveable with, if it gets up to 40% or 50% it is just completely impossible to live with that. It may be that the banks will burst and something will happen.
Now it will be a very messy situation if that does happen because there will be vast amounts of debts that are denominated in Euros which are going to have to be paid and I think that the impact on the Treasuries of Governments that finish up in default may be completely unbearable. But bear in mind also that the costs of very, very high levels of unemployment and Government deficits and all the rest of it are very, very high as well so there may be, a bit like this country here, our own country, faced with a very difficult choice between cutting the Gordian Knot now and getting back to some sort of stability over a period of time or letting the situation get worse and worse to a point where its as bad as it would have been if default had taken place.
But if does take place then I think what you might find is that Europe finishes up by being much more of a two-speed place than it was. It is difficult to believe that you could have a really major default across a significant number of the Members of the European Union and it would still stay the same organisation as it is now. It does seem to be at least possible that the results of all this would be that you would finish up on a hard core of countries probably mainly around Germany, the Netherlands, maybe Denmark, possibly even France and that you’d find that the other countries, particularly the Club Med ones, the weaker ones we discussed earlier on, have to be pushed into some looser kind of relationship with Europe which may be very much what all of us would like to see.
What are the timescales? Very hard to tell; if you look at the lifetime that most of the currency unions that have been set up in the past, the weaker ones have gone to the wall in about six or seven years, the stronger ones have lasted 20 years. My guess is that we’re going to be looking more likely at 20 years than a shorter period of time.
But it seems hard to believe that nothing is going to happen. It does seem to me that some time over the next ten years we are going to see a really major crisis developing in Europe and that may be the opportunity that we’ve all been looking for for quite a long period of time now and suddenly we’ll find its arrived.
Speech by Dr Lee Rotherham
The conference is entitled The Future of the EU... Can it Survive? Sadly yes.
Let me begin by explaining my particular vantage point. Some months ago at the Taxpayers’ Alliance I was tasked with coming up with a text of a book. That book had to explain how the lives of people would be different, better if the UK were outside of the EU. I expanded this to develop a broader analysis following the trends that are pushing the EU along the flow like a matchstick of history. It sounds like a difficult task but less than you might expect if you are, like all of us here today, a keen observer of the Brussels scene.
Some of you may be familiar with the works of Isaac Asimov. A particular favourite of mine is the Foundation series, in it a scientist named Hari Seldon reveals he has developed a technique to predict future history based on the macro group actions of the mass of human beings. As such he foresees a pending dark age for humanity as the empire fragments and he seeks to limit the damage by using his predictions to affect the result.
In our case in fact the exact reverse is true. It is possible for the last 50 years of the development of the EEC to track the decision making not of a mass of people but of the micro-elite who have governed European integration to predict not a fragmentation but the mechanisms of a simulation. There is a basic set of laws behind the EU that allows us to scry how it would develop. Let’s here dip into a few of them:
Law 1: The impetus of ever closer union. We all know it; it’s been in their treaties for as long as we can remember. The starting point guidelines behind the EEC were centred upon the steady accretion of powers as the project gathered speed. The EEC’s founding fathers knew that the public wasn’t ready in the 1950s for a federal Europe; it wasn’t even ready for a military alliance as the French Parliament demonstrated by rejecting a European structure that included a re-militarised West Germany.
So integration had to be achieved if not imperceptibly, at least with such a degree of gradualism no one could argue that any one individual treaty was where the balance of power definitively shifted. If no finger could point, no critical mass could rally and counterpoise to block the project. All the while each passing directive added to the authority of the Commission, each Euro spent added to the dignity of the 12 star flag, each court case visited by the European Court of Justice added to the reach of the community. The EU, the EEC, the EEC a secretor of time designed to weather a long process.
Law 2: The illegal is never impossible. If a referendum is lost ignore the result, if a Commission is voted out of office keep it in place anyway, if its term of office expires keep them signing off directives regardless, if a treaty has not been signed pass laws as if it were. In short like a headless chicken the EU will continue to survive for a while even when it is officially dead.
Law 3: A binding conspiracy; its like one of those horror movies, we know what you did last summer in Lisbon. Once the thing is a done deal everyone has signed their soul away and there is no going back. Everyone who hesitates about signing beyond what is considered reasonable jiggery-pokery about getting extra fish or council votes or MEPs becomes a heretic. In such circumstances of capitalism and tribalism the EU will survive until failure is catastrophic.
Law 4: Suppress the costs, talk up the Euros. With a budget of hundreds of millions of Euros a year whose murky depths a past Bruges Group paper was I think the first to fully explore, the EU makes maximum use of a major PR programme, it exploits it to sell the nebulous advantages of EU membership, not least the grants, and particularly the money thrown at what are called opinion multipliers. These are vulnerable target audiences such as children and the old that can talk to and convince the others. With decades of such practice in play the public is aware of EU grants as a supposed and in some countries actual boon for their public but they are less aware of the costs. Who was aware for instance that Peter Mandelson’s own Directorate-General estimated that red costs of Brussels are running at double the benefits of the single market? Hardly surprising if you think about it.
Take the UK, we export one tenth of our business to the EU, a tenth elsewhere in the world and trade internally for the remaining four fifths. But for one tenth of our business, trading incidentally in deficit, the remaining nine tenths of our trade also has to carry the red tape costs. There isn’t yet a great public awareness of these costs so the EU is not quite yet under the critical and withering spotlight here.
Law 5: It’s someone else’s fault. The EU still continues to get away with being able to define itself, its successes and failures, in relation to the other. It may be playing with the phantoms of the past: Prussian militarism, Alsace-Lorraine, narcissism, Franco, the Greek Colonels, Stalinism, genocide or for that matter, chimney sweeps, the 80 hour week and war famine. It may be playing with the shadows of the near present particularly in the Balkans or the Great Lakes for all that the EU didn’t do in either case.
Or it may be in the perils of the present and the future: Wall Street, Islamic terror, Red China, The Pentagon. By blaming others or setting itself up as a fair mirror alternative to a grim silhouette, the EU continues to get away with a multitude of sins across much of the continent. As such Brussels still has some goodwill points in its bag for a number of potential critics even if long memories are slowly draining away.
Law 6: The one-way state; finally the biggy. Once surrendered powers can never be returned, opt outs are mere derogations, even the UK opt out from the Euro is legally only a temporary device albeit one with no given timescale. In such circumstances the EU is a centripetal state. Stellar physicists will tell you that stars will implode before their death glory explosion as a Stella nova. The centralisation of power is still so far away from creating an overwhelming clash in any Member State that the red giant’s expanding motion will continue for some while yet. There is simply no elasticity in the model to provide an alternative, say as in the Austro-Hungarian or the Norwegian-Swedish histories for a trend in the other direction allowing the structure to widely break up.
A case in point is the response to the Laeken Presidency Conclusions. These set up the convention on the future of Europe with a mandate that included the option expressly stated of bringing powers back. That part of the mandate was ignored, worse than ignored; it was deliberately eluded like an uninvited wife at a bigamist’s wedding reception. The fact that it was ignored was itself ignored; hence today we have the Lisbon Treaty with a mechanism to take even more powers away through the passerelle clause, through a sort of whirlpool of unaccountability. With mechanisms such as that in play, of course the EU will survive that bit longer, it will continue like a Boa constrictor until all life in its prey, the democratic nation state, is spent and then it will try to swallow it. Only at that point will it discover, unable to disgorge, that it will choke. We are still some way off that yet.
This process marks a dangerous divergence from other federal systems such as Canada, Australia, India, Indonesia or even Micronesia where the division between centre and province or state or island is much more clearly marked. Each is the product of a decision made at a moment in time, perhaps subsequently amended, but set as the result of measured needs and circumstances.
Canada’s constitutional settlement today is the result of Confederation in 1867, itself the reaction to the fear of a Union invasion following the American Civil War. Notwithstanding the gradual handover of powers from the colonial power, namely Britain, between the salient dates – and I kid you not – of the Halibut Treaty of 1923 and the Canada Act 1982 and set in the context of an incessant debate over according Quebec sufficient weight to protect its particular status, nevertheless you have a delineated series of treaties and events in which at all times the federal power structure was clearly defined. Such countries have a more settled agreement not a permanent state of ratchet power grab. There is no such thing as the acquis communitaire or the creeping behind occupied competencies because powers can and do go either way.
True, there may be shifts to the federal centre in times of war such as World War II or crisis such as 9/11 or with the development of new technology, think of television, radio and the railways. However, the shift is more open and the subject of considerable and considered argument over whether something really needs to be handled centrally. Cast your mind back to the huge debates of the founding generation of the United States and the genuine democratic flow that followed the ovations of Madison, Hamilton and Jefferson, how so very different from the obfuscations and lies that have flowed from politicians over a Lisbon referendum.
In the case of the Indonesian constitution some federal powers in particular over petroleum were actually handed back to provinces a decade ago. A similar debate developed in the framing of the Iraqi federal constitution, but never so with Brussels even in the face of failure. Like a hit and run driver, the answer is to accelerate away, not stop and take a look and deliver at least some first aid to the victim. Thus we can foresee more integration for the EU yet and with it a continuing drive to exist as every setback and spasm triggers a further squeeze from the constrictor.
So there we have it, the EU continues to push for integration with no escape valve, but despite repeated blasts of billowing smoke from the exhaust pipe currently insufficient explosive force to blow the engine. Its elites continue to support and endorse the project spending money and goodwill to convince the public that it’s for the greater good.
So now, to return to this conference’s main question, I don’t think the EU is damned to imminent oblivion. If you want an allegory to picture of it think of it in the terms of the lifestyle of an addict, perhaps as a gambler pushing on with more throws of the dice and parlously raising stakes despite all good sense screaming to the contrary. Or perhaps the intoxication and ultimate self-destruction suggest a condition more akin to alcoholism. Either way, until Europe’s liver finally packs in, until a real scare wakes the leaders up to the dangers that accompany their actions, European integration will continue. The EU has already been rushed to hospital on more than one occasion over the last decade but the wrong lesson has been learnt, integration will accelerate. However, that doesn’t mean to say that the UK has to be a part of it.
Technically of course there is a way out, we explore it briefly in the book and whether you play it diplomatically or brutally the UK can leave the EU at any time of its choosing. Nor, increasingly, is there any doubt as to the merits of leaving. Thanks to the sterling work over long years by economists, political exiles and campaigners it is starting to sink in amongst the general public and the commentariat that there is a bill attached.
The fraud, the corruption, the abstracts of the loss of democracy have already started to sink into the public psyche, the tide is now lapping around the ankles of the federalists as the public is taking stock of the sum costs. Whereas in the past people might think of EU membership as at worst a zero sum game, consecutive research over the past decade is starting to make its mark while the revealed tally of costs annually mounts.
I pay particular tribute of course to the Bruges Group and I doubt whether there is a single person in this room who has not played a valiant and significant part. In fact I had you all in mind in the garden party scene in the book. I’ll leave you to discover that bit.
Increasingly as I say, the public have seen glimpses beyond the triumphalism of the British success that was the single market, the dim recollections of past arguments about the UK needing to be in the EEC in order to be able to sell its wares. Just as the EEC has moved on so has the world, while tariff barriers have dropped away globally even between the EU and non-members, the actual cost of doing business within the 12 star boundaries has increased.
In place of the Iron Curtain we now have a red tape tapestry. Too often, instead of an information highway, we find a bureaucratic Post-It note. A civilisation that despatched merchant explorers through ice-bitten wastes and dengue-ridden rivers is sinking into an economy of Belgium grunny loo attendants.
The red tape, the bureaucracy, the burdens are increasingly being set against the claimed trade benefits of membership, benefits that under WTO agreements are increasingly ephemeral especially for a country where burdens affecting 100% of business are intended to benefit only 9% of it.
We could put that another way, for every pound a single market generates in liberalised trade, EU bureaucracy costs the country two back; or how about this way, total red tape from the EU costs as much as the total amount of trade the red tape is supposed to regulate. In those circumstances just about any trading arrangement would be better than the one we are currently in, even before you factor in the damage caused by the common fisheries policy, the wreck of the common agricultural policy and the 6.5 billion and rising annual bill just to belong to the madhouse.
In this light the logical first step for any Government would be to run a serious cost benefit analysis of EU membership as MPs and peers like Lord Pearson have in the past recommended. A fair analysis would remove the sting from the European issue, either one side or the other in the current debate would be rebuffed.
Either everyone in this room would be proven wrong and we can concentrate on making the EU a more democratic and accountable place rather than wasting time arguing about deficits or we would, as I rather suspect, be proved right, in which case massive renegotiation or withdrawal, effectively in the circumstances the same thing, are the only options left on the table. But these would be taken from a position both of strength and of unswervability before an expectant public mindful of its lost revenue. A fig leaf, a slight shuffling of the treaty deck would not suffice. From that all things become possible.
Consider what form of association we could then demand of our trading partners or reflect again on what elements so currently wrong with our present deal we should then revoke. This list will be a long one but as we note in the book, Britain’s current form of association with the EU, that is to say full membership with a scattering of opt outs is not the only possibility.
We could choose to take the Norwegian model, establishing an internal market association without full EU membership. Some have accused that option of being like a ‘fax democracy’, to some extent they have a point, though given that the Norwegians as a country of four million, still control their key industries of oil and fish, they seem to have at least gotten their priorities right.
Also to be fair, some past Norwegian Governments have been very keen on full EU membership, so perhaps this model was a political halfway house that some in Oslo saw as a useful stepping stone and indeed possible motor for winning a future referendum on those very democratic grounds.
But in any event we don’t have to take that option; we could take something more along the lines of the Swiss option, a symmetric food trade agreement. It’s fascinating to learn that of all the European States only the Swiss seem to have actually costed their relationship with the European Union. As a useful Global Vision paper points out, they worked out in 2006 that their current arrangement was costing one ninth of the bill of full membership.
Then again some people claim that the Swiss don’t get everything their own way so maybe we should look elsewhere and we can, we can look at Turkey’s Customs Union or South Africa’s asymmetric Free Trade Agreement or Georgia’s Partnership and Cooperation Agreement or Macedonia’s non-reciprocal trade preference agreement or Japan’s most favoured nation terms or heaven help us, we could even look at a trading settlement with North Korea. There are such a mass of options on the table.
With Syria the context is a broader one of developing Mediterranean free trade. Even within similar treaty formats there are different terms. The arrangements with Mexico for instance, carry provisions on cooperation in mining, with Canada there is more interest on seals. The point is that there is such a wealth of opportunity to statesmen of vision if only we can find one in a position of power somewhere to be propelled by widespread public outrage. That’s a separate debating lane to poodle down on another day.
But ladies and gentlemen, I wish to conclude with a tinge of optimism, a twist of lime-flavoured hope. At some point, and it may be very soon, the true cost of British membership of the EU will become widely known; its democratic cost, its financial cost, its social cost, its entrepreneurial cost, its global cost, its historical cost. Stand ready because the dawn of final realisation come that fine morning will swiftly hit the land, even politicians will have to wake up because just pushing the snooze button will no longer be an option.