Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Euro Hell – thank God for Sir James Goldsmith

His Grace was more than a little irritated a few days ago when Benedict Brogan heaped praise upon John Major for keeping is out of the euro and so guarding us from the economic horror that has befallen Greece and Ireland.

So irked by the suggestion that we had the former prime minister to thank for our economic salvation that His Grace was moved to tweet on the matter.

But Mr Brogan was unequivocal:

Yes we are not Greece, or even Ireland, but without the freedom to act independently does anyone really think that with our level of exposure to the bank crisis we would have escaped intact? So who gets the credit for our escape? Recently it has become fashionable to give Gordon Brown the gold star, arguably the only one of his short administration. It was the then Chancellor after all who stopped Tony Blair from taking the UK into the single currency (although given his enthusiasm for taking Britain into the ERM, Mr Brown’s euro-scepticism was said by some to be shaped largely by Ed Balls).

But surely we have to go back further, specifically to John Major, whose dogged all-night resistance at Maastricht in December 1991 secured for Britain the single currency opt-out that kept us clear of the evolving mess and made it easy for a Labour government to stay out of EMU.
And then he goes on to heap praise upon ‘the Bastards’; the euro-sceptic Tories who rebelled over Maastricht and suffered the indignity and humiliation of having the Whip withdrawn. They were Rupert Allason, Richard Body, Nick Budgen, Christopher Gill, Teresa Gorman, Tony Marlow, Richard Shepherd, Teddy Taylor, and John Wilkinson. In the House of Lords Baroness Cox also defied her party, and voted against the Treaty.

All brave men and women, for sure.

But no, Mr Brogan, we do not have them to thank for keeping us out of the euro.

And yesterday, Ed West reiterated the Brogan line, adding only that ‘we should also thank the Right-wing press’ (by whom he happens to be employed).

He explains: ‘…without pressure from the Daily Telegraph, Mail, Express and Sun, Tony Blair would probably have signed us up.’

No, Mr West. By that time, Tony Blair was bound by the same pledge as that which prevented John Major (or Ken Clarke) from ditching sterling and grasping the euro with both hands: a referendum.

And this was not the brainchild of Major, Blair or any of Maastricht rebels: it was the hard-fought strategy and policy proposal of Sir James Goldsmith, who, while UKIP were fighting among themselves like ferrets in a sack, poured millions of his own billions into founding the Referendum Party to contest almost every seat in the 1997 general election (unlike UKIP, he did not stand against known euro-sceptics). The strategy was simple: to win the election, give the people an instant referendum, and then immediately ask the Queen to dissolve Parliament and call a general election. This was not about power, but democracy.

Ed West is undoubtedly right that those who stood on the Referendum platform were labelled ‘Little Englanders, xenophobes, extremists’.

And few endured this more than Sir James, who invited His Grace to dine with him on a number of occasions at his London residence near Hyde Park. And very stimulating those conversations were, too: "Why should ‘a grocer’ intervene in British electoral politics?"

Because he could.

And he was a patriot who seemingly cared about the fate of the United Kingdom more than the political class who appear intent on its destruction.

Ed West hits the nail on the head with Ireland’s religio-political heritage:

Ireland has a historical attachment to continental Europe, as liberator from British rule, but it perhaps goes even deeper than that, back to its monks’ preservation of Western civilisation during the Dark Ages. Ireland, more than most countries, feels itself profoundly European and its Catholicism was always a part of that. It is not entirely a coincidence that as Christianity faded Ireland adopted a replacement ideology – the dream of Brussels. Or the world’s biggest suicide pact, as I think of it.

The Irish political elite, progressive in social and cultural issues, naturally loves Brussels’ social agenda, which is hostile to the Church, religion or any moral opposition (warning sign No. 1). That explains why seriously devout Catholics in Ireland joined with the far-Left and the ultra-nationalists in opposing the Lisbon Treaty.
And yet Pope Benedict XVI preached a contrary sermon, as did the Commission of Bishops.

And so does the Church of England.

Euro-scepticism is heresy. Recalcitrants are not simply ‘oddball, imperial throwbacks suffering from dementia’; their ‘swivel-eyed extremism’ renders them unfit for public office.

Almost as much as the Christians.

So God help you in public life if you happen to be both Christian and euro-sceptic.

As Sir James lay dying at his home in France, His Grace sent him a letter thanking him for his political intervention, and for securing the British people a referendum at least on the matter of the single currency.

Of course, His Grace also wrote of more pressing eternal matters, which Sir James was kind enough to acknowledge just a few days before he went to meet his maker.

Let us never forget that we owe this man a huge debt of gratitude. It was not any professing-Christian politician who saved Britain from the euro and the image of that horror: it was a Jewish businessman and financier who cared more than a little about democracy and liberty.

So, please, let us eschew the Major hagiography and redacted history which credits the scurvy politicians. We owe our euro salvation to one man, who single-handedly popularised the whole referendum concept: Sir James Goldsmith. יִתְגַּדַּל וְיִתְקַדַּשׁ שְׁמֵהּ רַבָּא


Blogger Timothy Belmont said...

I greatly admired the late Sir James - Jimmy - Goldsmith.

A huge character, larger than life, he certainly cared about his country and was often right in his instincts about the EU.

17 November 2010 at 11:15  
Blogger Gawain Towler said...

Your Grace,

As so often you take the words out of my mouth. (Admittedly better crafted and more coherent words than I would have come up with).
In those days Jimmy was all we had - I disagreed with much in The Trap, but his generosity of spirit on this matter, as with so much else shome through.

So yes, raise a glass in his memory, rather than that of Major or the press.

You are right about UKIP in those days, but we have moved on. However our country owes Sir James a huge debt of gratitude which I fear it will never giove him.

17 November 2010 at 11:57  
Anonymous Elliot Kane said...

He got my vote at the time, I know that much. I admired the man. Still do.

I hadn't really thought that he may have kept us out of the Euro before, but what Your Grace says makes sense.

17 November 2010 at 12:22  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

I’ll be honest, I once thought EU integration might be a good thing (I can hear your laughter)! I am not yet a fully fledged Euroskeptic but I share misgivings with many here about the democratic deficit and the lunacy of the Euro. If we were to withdraw from the EU what are the real implications, not the swaggering imperialist claims that some indulge in, but the actual effects on our trade, our currency and our standing in the world and in Europe?

17 November 2010 at 12:36  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Mr Graham Davis tells us:

'I’ll be honest, I once thought EU integration might be a good thing...'

Presumably this means that you are not usually honest in your comments on this blog?

17 November 2010 at 12:47  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Pity the acorn fell so far from the tree though...

17 November 2010 at 12:50  
Blogger steve said...

@ Graham

Well consider we are the French car industry's second biggest market. We buy a considerable amount of German built Fords.

Our European cousins need out trade and our markets more than we need them. So the Spanish loose their fishing grounds, do you think the French and German will care? The border between us and the Republic will once become a source of black income as the Micks play both ends against the middle....

17 November 2010 at 12:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace

'And yet Pope Benedict XVI preached a contrary sermon, as did the Commission of Bishops.

'And so does the Church of England.'

Again and again our churches abandon have abandoned us to our fate.

But if we turn away from our wrong-doing God will welcome us with open arms and save our country.

The time has come for that land of saints and scholars, Ireland, to wrench itself away from the Eurozone and join with us in the Sterling zone.

17 November 2010 at 12:59  
Blogger Mcgraw said...

What a mess the euro is in now.
Austria refusing to contribute all be a paultry 300 + million.
The German electorate speak the same language as their Austrian cousins and maybe feel the need to follow suit.
It will be a diffucult thing to sell them politically.
They know they will have to pay more.
Further interesting developments may await.
Or maybe i'm wrong.

17 November 2010 at 13:24  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Jimmy Goldsmith also wrote a very good little book entitled The Trap. It warned of the dangers of letting China have unrestricted access to our markets and how it would unravel our societies......

The Trap

17 November 2010 at 14:00  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

It’s a fair cop Anabaptist, yer got me bang t’ rights!

Good points Steve

17 November 2010 at 16:15  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...

Amen indeed.

17 November 2010 at 16:26  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Graham Davis @ 12.36 - well I applaud you, it's brave of you to say so!

17 November 2010 at 16:54  
Anonymous JayBee said...

His Grace uses "hell" in the title of this post. Appropriate indeed for the EU has often been described as the spawn of the Devil.

And speaking of the Devil, it is ironic that Europe's Web of Debt was shown in a diagram somewhat resembling a Pentacle:-

This statistical work of art quantifies the scale of the eventual Euro-catastrophe.
There was no foundation of sustainable economic convergence amongst member states at Euro launch, and none now, so, when debt convergence becomes reality, the Eurozone will subside down a conduit of its own making all the way to Euro Hell.

The gravity of this event will create a massive "black hole" for the rest of the global economy and
send Camerons's "Happiness Index" into meltdown.

17 November 2010 at 17:19  
Anonymous PaganPride said...

JayBee - please do not link the Pentacle with the Devil! It makes it a little inconvenient for you when you find out that it was the symbol for the Virgin Mary and worn on many a crusader's shield - mind you that was before you all got scared of fairy tale witches :)

18 November 2010 at 11:08  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In early 1995 I tried to convince Sir James to his ally in fighting NAFTA and GATT, Ross Perot to start a party with a one-plank platform:to put an initiative amendment in the U.S. Constitution so it could thereafter be altered by an initiative process. After it was successful the party would be desolved. So my idea was clearly the inspiration for his Referendum Party.

Dan Weiner PhD (U of Chicago ,physics)

17 July 2011 at 01:45  

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