Friday, February 26, 2016

Euro-madness

I would argue that a couple of decades ago a large part of the political elites of Europe were infected with the Federalist form of a kind of Euro-madness - a conviction well beyond anything that reasonable evidence suggested that we could build a paradise on Earth through vastly greater Euro-integration amounting to a United States of Europe.

True believers in that cause wanted to adopt the Euro, harmonise everything, and transfer as much power as possible to European institutions.

It was an article of faith for them that, for example, if Britain did not scrap the pound and replace it with the Euro, our economy might be seriously damaged.

Two decades on, and confronted with the reality that in the real world no institution is ever that perfect and that Britain has done very well sticking with the pound, that kind of Federalist Euro-madness is much less universal anywhere in the continent, and almost extinct in Britain, and those who think that way tend to keep their heads down.

But in many parts of Europe an older form of madness is taking root - the virulent form of Nationalism.

We saw it in 2014 in Scotland, when the SNP put forward an economic and foreign policy proposal which was downright delusional and 45% of one of the four nations of the UK voted for it. For the avoidance of doubt, I believe you could have made a perfectly sane and rational proposal for Scottish Independence, but the nonsense on stilts which the actual "Yes" prospectus put forward wasn't it.

We now know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that many of the warnings such as those on oil prices made by "Better together" and described as "Project Fear" by the SNP were all too accurate. Scotland is a great country, and it could have survived as an independent nation given a sensible plan, but it did not have one in 2014.

If those who voted on the basis of patriotism and that a great country like Scotland must be strong enough to look after itself had got just 6% more of the vote in 2014, it would have been one of the worst acts of political self-harm of the past century. Scotland would be about to re-start life as an Independent country with a catastrophic public deficit, mired in arguments about it's relationships with the rest of the UK and the EU, particularly about what currency the new nation should use.

There are some people who are courteously making an intelligent and constructive case for Britain to leave the EU, as my post last night gave an example, and what I am about to say does not apply to them. But far too much of the pro-Brexit case which is cluttering my inbox and twitter feed is as hopelessly infected with the nationalist madness as much of the stuff put out by the SNP was in 2014.

The "Leave" campaigns have been running a pre-emptive strike against the possibility that a "Project Fear II" might be deployed by Britain Stronger in Europe by dismissing everything the "Remain" side says as scaremongering, whether it actually is or not. Someone who I like and respect circulated this image today -


with the caption "What George Osborne thinks will happen to us after Brexit."

Actually the scaremongering from the "Leave" side has been every bit has bad as what has come from "Remain" - and there has been too much from that side too - with the ridiculous suggestion that if we don't vote to leave the EU then the TTIP trade deal might result in unwanted further privatisation of the NHS perhaps the most egregious of the many scare stories from both sides.

I am starting to wonder if I can take another hundred and seventeen days of this.

Dan Hodges has a piece today about nationalist Euro-madness which sane supporters of "Leave" should read on the Burns principle of

"O would some power the giftie gie us, to see ourselves as other see us."

I don't go all the way with Dan, I know perfectly well that there are sane and intelligent people on the Leave side making a constructive argument which deserves to be listened to.

But he's nailed the way other Leave supporters are coming over, particularly those parts of the leadership of UKIP which Nigel Farage is not trying to sack or demote.

But people who conform to the stereotype Dan describes in his article "Those saying we should leave Europe are infected with madness." do exist, they are making much of the running on the "Leave" side at the moment, and if you are a sensible "Leave" supporter, those who come over like that are discrediting your case.

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