The great euro swindle

Finally, the Eurosceptics have been vindicated. But will their dishonest opponents ever be held to account?

24 September 2011

12:00 AM

24 September 2011

12:00 AM

Finally, the Eurosceptics have been vindicated. But will their dishonest opponents ever be held to account?

Very rarely in political history has any faction or movement enjoyed such a complete and crushing victory as the Conservative Eurosceptics. The field is theirs. They were not merely right about the
single currency, the greatest economic issue of our age — they were right for the right reasons. They foresaw with lucid, prophetic accuracy exactly how and why the euro would bring with it
financial devastation and social collapse.

Meanwhile the pro-Europeans find themselves in the same situation as appeasers in 1940, or communists after the fall of the Berlin Wall. They are utterly busted. Let’s examine the case of the
Financial Times, which claims to be Britain’s premier economic publication. About 25 years ago something went very wrong with the FT. It ceased to be the dry, rigorous journal of economic
record that was so respected under its great postwar editor Sir Gordon Newton.

Turning its back on its readers, it was captured by a clique of left-wing journalists. An early sign that something was going wrong came when the FT came out against the Falklands invasion.
Naturally it supported Britain’s entry to the Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1990. In 1992, under the slow-witted editorship of Richard Lambert (in a later incarnation, as director general of the
Confederation of British Industry, Sir Richard was to become one of the most sycophantic apologists for Gordon Brown’s premiership), it endorsed Neil Kinnock as prime minister. It has been
wrong on every single major economic judgment over the past quarter century.

The central historical error of the modern Financial Times concerns the euro. The FT flung itself headlong into the pro-euro camp, embracing the cause with an almost religious passion. Doubts were
dismissed. Here is the paper’s supposedly sceptical and contrarian Lex column on 8 January 2001, on the subject of Greek entry to the eurozone. ‘With Greece now trading in euros,’
reflected Lex, ‘few will mourn the death of the drachma. Membership of the eurozone offers the prospect of long-term economic stability.’ The FT offered a similar warm welcome to

The paper waged a vendetta against those who warned that the euro would not work. Its chief political columnist Philip Stephens consistently mocked the Eurosceptics. ‘Immaturity is the kind
explanation,’ sneered Stephens as Tory leader William Hague came out against the single currency.

Even as late as May 2008, when the fatal booms in Ireland and elsewhere were very obviously beginning to falter, the paper retained its faith: ‘European monetary union is a bumble bee that
has taken flight,’ asserted the newspaper’s leader column. ‘However improbable the celestial design, it has succeeded in real life.’ For a paper with the FT’s
pretensions to authority in financial matters, its coverage of the single currency can be regarded as nothing short of a disaster.

Just as bad was the CBI, whose claims to represent British industry as a whole have always been dubious at best. By the mid-1990s a small clique of large corporations were firmly in control, and
they had the director general they wanted in the shape of the impeccably well connected Adair (now Lord) Turner, later to become chairman of the disastrous Financial Services Authority and chairman
of the Government’s Committee on Climate Change. Few pieces of conventional wisdom are ever too conventional for Lord Turner. His corporate bosses (Niall FitzGerald of Unilever, David Simon
of BP, British Airways’ Colin Marshall) claimed that an overwhelming majority of British businessmen backed the single currency — a vital propaganda tool for pro-euro campaigners. The
figures used to support these claims were, however, very flimsy indeed: they could only be sustained by ignoring the views of small businessmen, and in due course they were exposed — a
crucial early defeat for the pro-euro cause.


Now let’s turn to the BBC. In our Centre for Policy Studies pamphlet, Guilty Men, we expose in detail how the BBC betrayed its charter commitment, lost its sense of fair-mindedness and became
in effect a partisan player in a great national debate — all the more insidious because of its pretence at neutrality.

There is only space here to deal with a small amount of our evidence, but this is one example of BBC bias. In the nine weeks leading to 21 July 2000, when the argument over the euro was at its
height, the Today programme featured 121 speakers on the topic. Some 87 were pro-euro compared to 34 who were anti. The case for the euro was represented by twice as many figures, interviews and
soundbites as the case against. BBC broadcasters tended to present the pro-euro position itself as centre ground, thus defining even moderately Eurosceptic voices as extreme, meaning that they were
defeated even before they had entered the debate.

But this was not the worst of the unfairness. The Eurosceptics were too rarely given time to state their reasons for favouring sterling. Their position was too often covered through a paradigm of
deep, ‘explosive’, splits within the Conservative party rather than the merits of the policy argument. Again and again the BBC would lead its news coverage on scare stories that failure
to join the euro would lead to economic or industrial disaster. When those reports turned out to be false, it failed to correct them. In fact Britain was enjoying record levels of foreign
investment: but when Office for National Statistics figures showed this, the BBC made very little of it.

This is not to say that the BBC was consciously biased. It was simply that the high-minded attitudes of many BBC reporters and producers meshed only too well with the pressure groups. But this bias
went very deep indeed. As Rod Liddle, then editor of the Radio 4’s Today programme, said: ‘The whole ethos of the BBC and all the staff was that Eurosceptics were xenophobes and there
was an end to it. The euro would come up at a meeting and everybody would just burst out laughing about the Eurosceptics.’ Liddle recalls one meeting with a very senior figure at the BBC to
deal with Eurosceptic complaints of bias. ‘Rod, the thing you have to understand is that these people are mad. They are mad.’

In truth the Eurosceptics were only too sane. Politicians like Margaret Thatcher, John Redwood, David Owen, William Hague and Bill Cash were mocked — often very cruelly — at the time.
But they grasped with stunning clarity the problems the euro would bring. They deserve full credit for their courage and foresight today, and our gratitude too.


Speaking in the House of Commons in 1936, Winston Churchill — then himself a marginal and widely scorned figure — uttered the following words: ‘the use of recriminating about the
past is to enforce effective action at the present’. So what are the lessons we should learn from the British argument over the euro?

First, we should cherish that very British trait, eccentricity. Study of the public discourse at the height of the euro debate shows how often pro-euro propagandists isolated their critics by
labelling them cranks. Here’s just one example, taken from the Observer columnist Andrew Rawnsley’s column on 31 January 1999: ‘On the pro-euro side, a grand coalition of
business, the unions and the substantial, sane, front rank political figures. On the other side, a menagerie of has-beens, never-have-beens and loony tunes.’

Most of Mr Rawnsley’s ‘substantial, sane, front-rank political figures’ came together 12 years ago at the launch of the Britain in Europe campaign to take us into the euro —
Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson, Michael Heseltine, Ken Clarke, Charles Kennedy, Danny Alexander. So here’s another lesson: be wary of cross-party alliances. Again and again it is the lonely and
cussed figures who stand outside the establishment orthodoxy who are vindicated over time.

One urgent lesson concerns the BBC. The corporation’s twisted coverage of the European Union is a serious problem, because the economic collapse of the eurozone means that a new treaty may be
needed very soon — plunging the EU right back into the heart of our national politics.

The problem is that the BBC’s record is dreadful. It simply cannot be trusted not to become part of a partisan propaganda operation: just look at the membership of the BBC Trust. Both its
chairman, Lord Patten, and the vice chairman, Diane Coyle, took a heavily partisan position in the euro debate.

The facts concerning Lord Patten are well enough known, but we have unearthed very troubling evidence of bias and misrepresentation concerning Ms Coyle in her role as economics writer for the
Independent ten years ago. Here’s an example of her prejudicial analysis: ‘The defenders of sterling are, in the main, a group of elderly men with more stake in their past than in our
future. They clothe their gut anti-Europeanism and Little Englandism in the language of rational economic argument.’

Of course Ms Coyle is welcome to voice whatever unfounded and insulting assumptions she wants about the motivations of Eurosceptics — but they call into question her membership of the BBC
Trust. The presence of Lord Patten and Ms Coyle as the two most senior figures of the BBC Trust, with a statutory duty to enforce impartiality, is unacceptable, all the more so because of the
BBC’s disastrous past record of bias and prejudice.

Finally, it remains essential for our democracy that the pro-euro point of view should be heard. But first of all the euro supporters need to tell us why they tried to put Britain on the calamitous
path of joining the single currency. Let’s consider the remark made by Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, that those he labelled as anti-European isolationists or nationalists
were ‘enemies of growth’.

For five years Mr Alexander ran the pro-euro campaign, and had he had his way would have steered Britain directly to economic catastrophe. How dare he denounce Eurosceptics in this way? It’s
way past time for the pro-euro supporters to be called to account.

Guilty Men, by Peter Oborne and Frances Weaver, will soon be published by the Centre for Policy Studies with a foreword by Peter Jay. Frances Weaver is a freelance writer and researcher.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • Anonymous

    A bit of a reminder for those who feel ‘vindicated’ from 16 Sept 1992


  • Widget

    The BBC is a disgrace and should have it’s license to print money from taxpayers revoked.

    If they had to sink or swim in a truly commercial market, they would not indulge for long in their ivory towers.

  • Steve

    Excellent article.

  • Joe

    The Euro sceptics who denounced the Euro should be honoured and the left who embraced it shunned

  • M. Rowley

    The BBC can never be trusted on the issue of Europe as they have previous for this sort of thing. In the early 1970s the European Movement – like Britain in Europe, a broad coalition of pro-European politicians and business leaders – conducted what amounted to a conspiracy and squeezed the BBC into adopting an editorial line denigrating and de-legitimising those opposed to entry into the then Common Market. In this respect they were extremely successful in marginalising those dissenting voices, portraying them as reactionaries and ‘little Englanders’. As ever, the BBC is simply part of the problem, and not the solution.

  • perdix

    Thanks. Have bookmarked for future use. The FT has long struck me as corporatist, big business oriented, bureaucrats know best. Also they don’t want to upset their Continental readers by giving space to Eurosceptics.

  • Minnie Ovens

    Your chances of ever getting these dreadful egotists to admit they got it wrong are minimal.
    As always, like Adolf Hitler, they are right and all the rest are wrong….even when proven wrong.

  • Freeborn John

    The Economist should also be listed among the guilty men. Like the FT it has been wrong about the key economic issue of the age for two decades.

  • Douglas Carter

    Well… nice article but just wait just one teeny, tiny moment.

    …’…any faction or movement enjoyed such a complete and crushing victory as the Conservative Eurosceptics’…

    …’CONSERVATIVE Eurosceptics?’…?

    There are more people than just them who have been fighting that battle.

    Credit where credit is due, please…

  • SaneLynch

    An article vindicating those who were against joining the euro and not one mention of Gordon Brown? Surprising that. And, if you think The Vulcan is sane you are living in a dream world.

  • DavidH

    If the pro-Europe crowd want to salvage any credibility, they need to start differentiating between pro-Europe and pro-Euro. There must still be arguments for close economic and political cooperation in Europe, even though the mechanics of a single currency now appear to be a total disaster. Maybe the Euro should be a currency that can be used by business on top of all the national currencies, rather than a replacement for all those national currencies? Let businesses get on with running on Euros but don’t let the governments in on the party?

  • Archie

    Congratulations, Mr. Oborne, Ms. Weaver! This has to be one of the best reasoned articles I’ve ever read in The Spectator. Isn’t it wonderful to be proven correct?

  • Andrew Smith

    Good article.

    I wonder how many Tories now claiming to have resisted the Euro actually did so and with what energy over the years. Remember William Hague only promised to stay out of the Euro for a single parliament, it was not for him a matter of principle and clear economic analysis. He allowed the pro-Euro lobby to claim that all we needed was “the right rate”.

    Just as with the fall of Communism, so with the Euro now and the EU soon, those who supported these alien concepts and attempted to destroy Britain in the process will never apologise. How many apologists for Communism have you heard retract?

    Recently Max Hastings’ mea cupla about his 30 years support for the EU still reserved his former view that “them up there” know best for “us down here” over what to do now; actually we are in charge and we did not and do not want any of these things.

  • Dogzzz

    They will not apologise claiming that at the time that they were in favour of joining, that NOBODY could have predicted what happened. By ‘nobody’, they mean ‘rational people who agree with them’. Anyone who was actually predicting this nightmare was offensively labelled as a ‘xenophobic little Englander’, or ‘a nutter’.

    The BBC and those pro EU types on the left (sadly including the PM) are equally as wrong and intransigent and arrogant about ‘human induced climate change’ too.

    Normally I would not be concerned about politicians and commentators being wrong about only two policies. But with the EU and climate change, you have two areas of concern which dictate ALL the other policies of Government.

    It is crucial therefore that we elect politicians who are correct and realistic about BOTH the EU and Climate and can then set policies accordingly.

  • Dogzzz

    “An article vindicating those who were against joining the euro and not one mention of Gordon Brown? Surprising that. And, if you think The Vulcan is sane you are living in a dream world.”

    Well, John Major deserves the credit for going against the FT, the BBC, Labour and the liberal democrats to secure the UK opt out of the Euro. That took bravery and guts and should be applauded. Gordon Brown and Tony Blair chickened out of holding a referendum to secure entry to the Euro (and if they had thought for a second that they could have won it, they would have held it), so deserve no credit whatsoever for their cowardice. They were both ardent supporters of the Euro and repeatedly stated that they would have liked to join “when conditions where right”. Therefore they can take NO credit whatsoever for keeping us out of the Euro.

  • tb

    Gordon Brown kept the UK out of the EURO so he wouldn’t loose the control he had over the government.

    Right result for the wrong reason.

  • Matt

    This is Exhibit A of the way that the left debased political debate for a number of years by preferring to caricature the character and motives of their opponents rather than engage in a debate on the issues. The BBC was the gleeful chorus – and often the conductor – of this effort. The consequences of this way of “doing politics” are plain for all to see.

  • Andrew Smith

    Dogzzz says “Well, John Major deserves the credit for going against the FT, the BBC, Labour and the liberal democrats to secure the UK opt out of the Euro. That took bravery and guts and should be applauded. “

    Actually it was the threat from Jimmy Goldsmith and the Referendum Party which focussed Major’s attention. Once Major had agreed to a referendum on any proposal to adopt the Euro, Labour had to follow.

    Where credit is due is to those who have kept the issue alive so the politicians could not dare to ignore that referendum promise, no matter how many others they did feel able to ignore.

  • Simon Stephenson.

    SaneLynch : 9.59pm

    “An article vindicating those who were against joining the euro and not one mention of Gordon Brown? Surprising that. And, if you think The Vulcan is sane you are living in a dream world.”

    There’s a strong case being made that Brown’s refusal to join the pro-Euros was little to do with principled scepticism about the Euro argument, and a great deal to do with an unprincipled desire to trade his support for concessions from Tony Blair that would strengthen Brown’s own position of power. The well-known phrase “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” could be rewritten as “there’s no such thing as a Gordon Brown commitment that doesn’t come with a hefty price tag in favour of Gordon Brown”.

    So those trying to make out what a great public service Brown did us by opposing Euro entry are talking tripe. If Tony Blair had been a Eurosceptic, you can be certain that Brown’s adopted position would have been as an enthusiastic supporter of Euro entry.

  • Yam Yam

    Let’s hope that these ‘guilty men’ will succumb to similar ephiphanies concerning mass immigration, multi-culturalism, abortion and the denigration of marriage, to name just as few of the other areas where time and experience will soon prove them to have been on the wrong side of history.

  • Simon Stephenson.

    I’ll expand on the observation I made on Fraser’s “Is it time we left the EU” thread of a few days back. The reason there’s so much frustration in politics, and why we seem unable to make any headway, is nothing to do with politics having become more difficult, or issues more intractible. It’s due to the breaking down of the distinguishing barrier between advocacy and expression of personal belief. The essential pre-requisite for the establishment of triangulation and the Third Way as the “new” politics was the blurring of the duty of the politician to use advocacy only in support of genuinely held personal beliefs. This blurring allowed politicians to grossly overstate their arguments, to belittle their opponents and their arguments, and to portray themselves as “all things to all men” – all the time passing this off as genuine personal principle and belief, in the comfort that if it all went pear-shaped they’d be able to to re-portray it as no more than advocacy. This is the path Blair, Heseltine, Clarke, Clegg etc are following over their Euro strategy.

    We had always believed court advocates to be no more than carrying out the process of presenting the best case for their client, quite separate from their personal beliefs, but with politicians that the primacy was with the personal belief, and any advocacy skills used in presentation needed to recognise this. We surely have enough evidence of the failure of “new” politics to insist that we go back to where we were before.

  • Simon Stephenson.

    Re-reading my 2.00pm post, it’s just struck me that what happened in politics with the blurring of belief/advocacy was the removal of the moral hazard to a politician mis-stating his case for party advantage or personal advantage. No longer could his fibs or his exaggerations come back and bite him, because he could always fall back on the claim just to be acting as an advocate. And of course, just like in the financial world, the removal of moral hazard not only encouraged outrageous behaviour, because there were no penalties for failure, but made outrageous behaviour compulsory to anyone who wanted to participate. It’s become difficult to survive in politics, and impossible to prosper, without following the same amoral tactics of those who are blazing the trail.

    If cheating at cards carries no penalty, it becomes the case that the only way to stay in the game is to cheat, and to win one needs to learn how to cheat at least as well as the rest of the players. And this is what’s happened in finance and in politics.

  • Terrible But True

    The full extent of the ‘uniqueness’ imposed and deployed by the media monopolist entity that claims to speak for the British public is rather laid bare, and not in a good way for democracy. Already many aspects of free speech are being crushed within their ‘improvements’ .

  • David Preiser

    The Biased-BBC blog has been saying this about the BBC’s biased championing of the euro (and the EU) for ages. Do keep up.

  • Idris Francis

    Chris Huhne, who still dreams of joining the euro, was a prominent FT journalist in the early 1990s.

    In a 1/1 conversation with me at a fringe meeting I told Richard ?????, then DG of the CBI, previously Editor of the FT, that the FT had been wrong on every issue since the late 1970s. His response in 2007 or 2008? That the coming recession might yet force us into the euro whether we wanted it or not!

    When I asked Kate Barker, then head of CBI economics, later member of the MPC, why her speed advocating joining the euro contained no numbers she replied that the many effects of joining were subject to such wide margins of error that it was impossible to know what the consequences would be – but that she and the CBI wanted to join anyway! Her later letter to me complaining about my quoting her words, astonishingly, confirmed them!

    John Major – whose sole economic credentials were I believe a postal correspondence course in book-keeping, was mad keen on the ERM, said in Scotland in August 1992 that there was no question of leaving the ERM and that if we did, interesrt rates would go UP (!!!!) He increased bank rate from 105 to 12% to 15% in his last desparate attempt to stay in – and the markets belly-laughed.

    Despite that, he was mad keen at Maastricht on signing up for the euro and it was Norman Lamont who stopped him – Lamont has never been given the credit he deserves for that or putting in place the first steps of our recovery.

    Ed Balls told me 1/1 at a fringe meeting that he and Brown were keen to join the euro “as soon as economic conditions were right” and it is clear that Brown’s back of the envelope in a taxi 5 tests were invented just to get back at Blair. The idea that these two idiots should be praised for keeping us out of the euro is absurd as others have said.

    Most praise should go to Goldsmith and Business for Sterling – of which I was a founder member through contacst at IoD membership and the IoD was always right on this one.

    Also, resistance to the euro was if stronger within UKIP than the Tories – UKIP’s logo remains to this day the £ sign. Hague’s refusal like Howard’s was always time limited, UKIP’s was unconditional and permanent.

    For the 19 years I have been fighting the EU, to get out while we still can, my greatest fear was that the elite, the big business people, the City and others most affected would fail to come to their senses.

    I did not see Peter Oborne at the Time to Leave the EU debate on Tuesday, but what was most encouraging was not just the 4/1 vote in favour of leaving but the evident status and quality of the 550+ audience – clearly opinion formers, employers, etc etc. By far the most impressive and clearly prosperous (still)audience I have seen in 19 years of liteally hundreds of meetings. And when they vote 4/1 – up from 3/1 before the speeches, I know its all over but the shouting.

    My ccntribution from the floor was

    “I was an exporter and I understand the ecomomics – and I want OUT.

    More importantly, a fundamental point. In this country we have the democratic principle that no Parliament may bind its successors. In the EU we have “ever closer union” and “aqui communitaire”

    Here we pay Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition to provide dissent – there MEPs like Daniel Hannan have been fined £1000 for showing dissent and told by Mr. Pottinger that “Dissent is not allowed”.

    (turning to the audience) “Ladies and gentlemen – I want to live, and I want to die, in a country where dissent is not only allowed, but welcomed.” and sat down.

    Anyone here want to live in a single European State in which dissent is not allowed, and penalised? The whole of man’s progress since ancient times has depended on dissent and argument, largely from those who were seen at the time to be eccentrics.

    All praise to them, we need more, not a totalitarian rule book predicated on the idea that the man in the Ministry knows best. He does not, and more often than not he is worst of the lot


  • loki50

    The BBC does not haver a licence to print money, merely a licence to steal from virtually every household in the country. It uses the proceeds of extortion to produce propaganda for the extreme wing of the labour party and mindless “bread and circus” fodder lull the voters in the UK into a mindless torpor necessary to make these policies seem sensible.

  • ashley mote

    I decided against asking for the floor at Tuesday’s splendid meeting. Christopher, Dan and Freddie were winning hands down. But I was tempted to say to the two EU supporters (Dennis MacShane has been beyond redemption for years)that if they had seen what I had seen of the EU’s corruption and obsessive interference in UK affairs during my five years in the Brussels lunatic asylum they would not speak so lightly of it. As I am sure Dan does to this day, I received an endless stream of bitter complaints about the effect of the torrent of new regulations (I refuse to grace them with the word ‘laws’)from the EU and their destructive impact on countless businesses, individuals and communities. And I could do precisely nothing to help any of them. As MEPs we were an empty, expensive charade of a talking shop. Gandhi said it first, and best – “you cannot be masters in someone else’s house”. Much more when my memoirs are published next year. Ashley Mote (Independent MEP, SE England, 2004-09)

  • The False God

    The Euro isn’t so much as a currency, as much as it is a mutual suicide pact.

  • william elbel

    Why does half the population spell lose (looze) as loose (loose)?

  • Michael C Feltham FFA, FFTA

    As always it is a great pleasure to read Peter Oborne and enjoy his intellectual integrity, economy of words and pragmatism.

    There have been more lies, misrepresentations and nonsense written about the Euro and EU membership, perhaps than almost anything else on the planet: and it has been proceeding for probably forty years!

    I have on file a copy of correspondence between Edward Heath and a Tory grandee, wherein Heath was cautioned about his misrepresentations on then EEC membership and his policy of selling the concept to the electorate as a Trading Bloc, only: the grandee stated that the reality would return to haunt the party in the future. Heath, of course, dismissed such concerns.

    In 2001, from deep concern, I wrote a short book, supported by the university business school,to which I was then attached, clearly explaining the absolute realities of putative Euro membership for Britain, since quite obviously, the earlier referendum for continuing EU membership was valueless, as the electors had been brainwashed by biased and sycophantic mainstream media and thus being bereft of critical basic facts and core realities.

    The only person I received serious and significant support and encouragement from was Prof. Patrick Minford, ex Treasury “Wise Man” and Eurosceptic.

    The short work received rave reviews from the carefully selected mixed group of pre-readers. Indeed, one, a businessman keeps his tatty proof copy on the bookshelf for reference!

    No one wanted to publish it: and no mainstream media or press resource was even interested even where I offered it gratis!

    No: they fully intended to pursue their separate campaigns of lies, distortions, misinformation and utter ignorance.

    It is then no wonder that this spavined and wholly dysfunctional monetary mechanism, the product of nightmarish political ideology now struggles to survive.

  • Cogito Ergosum

    People can be right for the wrong reasons: e.g. Gordon Brown opposing the euro because he would lose control of the British economy. Indeed in the 60s and 70s this was the position of most Labour politicians. The Conservatives supported the concept of free markets, which appeared to be the European position.

    But nearly half the British public saw through Brown’s pretensions; they saw an embittered, narrow-minded man who should never have been trusted with the position of Prime Minister.

    It has to be said that so many anti-eu campaigners come across as little Englanders who would rather be king of an impoverished island than part of a wider group. This again is instinctively recognised by the great non-political majority. There were analogous arguments in Scotland in 1707.

    If there were a referendum on Europe, it might turn out like the AV referendum. The noisy campaigners lead at the outset, but the British instinct triumphs in the end. The current European order seems about to fall flat on its face, because it has tried to go too far too fast and without democratic assent. Maybe now, or soon, will be the right time for a referendum.

  • Douglas Denny

    Amazing !
    So some more journalists have woken up at last to the real world, instead of living in the virtual reality of the European Union and its ludicrous Eurozone.

    I knew the rampant pro-EEC/EUers – and especially the BBC (Brussels Broadcasting Corporation) – were mad, bad, and dangerous over a quarter of a century ago when the Single European Act was signed and sealed in 1986 – allowing for the first time in British history for hundreds of years a breach of the sovereignty of Parlaiment and interfererence by foreign interests through ‘Qualified Majority Voting’.

    It was blatantly obvious it was the thin end of the wedge for the removal of national sovereign powers, and hopefully for them, eventually the beginning of fiscal /economic controls too. Then their task of taking-over would be complete. Thank Goodness for Britain keeping out of the Euro ! Maastrict and the Euro currency was just another stepping stone on the path with all this lunacy.

    It was obvious from the start the Euro currency was impossible to keep together with a straightjacket of one interest rate fits-all. The truth is the political elite ( who take no notice of mere voters) thought it would force “ever-closer-integration” politically, and to Hell with the serious economic problems it might cause.
    Well they have been hoist by their own petard! Good! Their idiocy is there for all to see – and for all to take note and beware for the future.

    So, Mr. Oborne and Weaver have woken up at last ! Perhaps they should have listened to the American Nobel Laureate in economics: Milton Friedman, who predicted in 2000 the Euro currency was BOUND to fail in a timescale of between five and fifteen years.
    I guess he was a bit more prescient that these daft journos who can be guaranteed to ALWAYS be wrong.

    Journos – wake up at the back there !!! The Euro currency is about to fall apart! …. and hopefully the EU with it in due course!
    The sooner the better! Time for Britain to get out – fast.

    We in Britain have a Commonwealth and the rest of the world to build bridges again and trade with: we don’t need a moribund, failing, desperate European Union with its currency that is sinking in a sea of debt and despair.

    Douglas Denny.

  • Dave

    Is there a parallel to AGW.

  • Simon Stephenson.

    william elbel : 6.45pm

    “Why does half the population spell lose (looze) as loose (loose)?”

    Yes, it’s most strange isn’t it. It’s by far the most common mis-spelling – I reckon that the incorrect loose appears more often than the correct lose – yet there are far more difficult words that are got right much more regularly. Could a part of it be that lose and loose are both words in their own right, so spell checks don’t highlight them when used incorrectly? The spelling of Miliband as Milliband happens frequently, as does Osborne as Osbourne – again, as proper names, perhaps spell checks don’t pick up the errors.

  • Graphite

    Douglas Denny
    September 22nd, 2011 8:18pm

    “We in Britain have a Commonwealth and the rest of the world to build bridges again and trade with . . .”


    From New Zealand: Don’t bother.

  • Simon Stephenson.

    Cogito Ergosum : 8.10pm

    “People can be right for the wrong reasons: e.g. Gordon Brown opposing the euro because he would lose control of the British economy. Indeed in the 60s and 70s this was the position of most Labour politicians. The Conservatives supported the concept of free markets, which appeared to be the European position.”

    My recollection of the 60s/70s and the EEC is that it was mainly the Tribune left of the Labour Party who were anti-EEC – as you suggest because they saw it as a sell-out by socialism to the markets. Leading Left-wing “No” campaigners were Cabinet members Tony Benn, Michael Foot, Barbara Castle and Peter Shore and also that Premier League Euro-trougher, and hater of the House of Lords, Baron Kinnock. But it was never more than about a third of the PLP who were anti-EEC when Labour was in government.

  • Sam

    The Conservatives – Fooling most of the voters all of the time:


  • Mark Matis

    This is why some of us over here in West Pondia support the death penalty. HOW MANY LIVES have they destroyed with their excellent adventure? And how many MORE will be destroyed before they are through?

  • ramon leigh

    The best (and only) method of avoiding media single points of view is to have competing media. I don’t know whether the BBC receives govt funding, but if it does, that must stop. Govt funded media tends to, guess what?, protect the govt. It’s obvious now that those who pushed the euro were operating far ahead of their knowledge of same.

  • Michael C Feltham FFA, FFTA

    “We in Britain have a Commonwealth and the rest of the world to build bridges again and trade with: we don’t need a moribund, failing, desperate European Union with its currency that is sinking in a sea of debt and despair.

    Douglas Denny.”

    Regarding the Commonwealth, Mr Denny, your tense is rather wrong!

    “Had”, one would suggest, as against “Have”.

    Heath blithely junked Britain’s special relationship with major Commonwealth trading partners and the raft of benefits, including, critically, the Preferential Tariff agreements.

    Not surprisingly, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Canada et al had to find new markets: and they did, most successfully.

    Additionally, instead of relying on Britain for hard manufactured good, those nation states set to and created their own manufacturing industries.

    Building bridges with the rest of the World, eh?

    To sell them precisely what? Over-saturated flat developments and cookie-cutter Barrat houses?

    One of the core realities of paddling up a one way street and blindly chucking away the paddle is when one wants to return!

    Heath similarly discarded Britain’s most useful membership of EFTA: which actually provided Britain all the main benefits of the glowing advantages Heath misrepresented and sold to the electors with none of the associated costs.

    For Britain to turn itself around, win back overseas markets and create products others want to buy and create and maintain global competitive advantage is a very long process which is beyond the short termist mindset of the money men in the City and the politicians: neither of whom actually understand real business and technology in any case.

    They are simply lip servants to nice ideas.

    My 2009 analysis of some of the associated issues here:


  • Crow

    A fine rant that ends with the pitifully limp claim that the euro would have steered Britain to economic catastrophe. How exactly would that have been different from our current economic catastrophe? Looking forward to reading that analysis.

  • Val Duncan

    Crow..A fine rant that ends with the pitifully limp claim that the euro would have steered Britain to economic catastrophe. How exactly would that have been different from our current economic catastrophe?

    The only difference I can see is it wasn’t the euro, it was Blair and especially Brown purposely wrecking the economy, Blair so the EU could swarm in and take over and Brown because he was a headcase.
    Cameron, Clegg and Osborne are just carrying on where they left off.

  • Michael C Feltham FFA, FFTA


    “A fine rant that ends with the pitifully limp claim that the euro would have steered Britain to economic catastrophe. How exactly would that have been different from our current economic catastrophe? Looking forward to reading that analysis.”

    Simply put, it would have added yet another monetary and economic catastrophe.

    Remember, Britain retained and still retains the unilateral ability to set base Rate/s and regulate money supply: as well as regulating various aspects of bank lending and control: essential levers for moderating and controlling any fiat monetary system.

    No doubt under the Euro regime, Brown would have borrowed even more sovereign funds!

    Which would have exacerbated the present Government Debt problems.

    Additionally, Britain has managed to contribute little thus far to the various EU bail-out and sovereign debt crisis: if Britain had have been engaged in the Euro mechanism, then the additional cost of contributing to such as the EFSF would have been immense.

  • Eddie-G

    Zero mention of Gordon Brown anywhere in this? For all Gordon’s sins, he was against joining the Euro, and I don’t see how it was simply about loss of influence, given joining the euro meant giving the ECB powers that had already been delegated to the Bank of England.

    The Euro referendum, as I recall, was a collision of buffoonish nationalism versus policy nonsense. I don’t particularly remember the media coverage, I was a monetary policy nerd back then, and like anyone who had studied their Mundell-Fleming would conclude, the euro looked like a bad idea. Never foresaw that the crisis could become this deep, but the system has been blinking red for over a year, and it seems literally no-one will face up to the desparate flaws of the current arrangement.

  • Kevin

    This is a very necessary article. The more names are named the better. I remember having the same experience with pro-euro colleagues at the turn of the century. Believing that our membership was “inevitable”, they rested their entire economic theory on an appeal to the guffaw.

  • Veritas

    Well I read Mr Oborne’s booklet and found little in it of interest and even less that was original – Correlli Barnett advanced a similar and equally misguided thesis in The Collapse of British Power and The Audit of War. As for the Guilty Men (the original not Oborne’s efforts) it, like Oborne’s feeble tract, overlooked the absence of a viable alternative policy. I suspect that the judgement of the BBC, the FT and the Economist will be found to be based on a rather more firm intellectual footing than that of the semi-detatched ranters of UKIP and its fellow travellers.

  • Pirran

    @Freeborn John

    I’d have to agree. The Economist seems to have suffered the same fate as the FT and as a long-term subscriber, this has been a matter of some anguish for me.

  • Rick Spencer

    As de Tocqueville was the arbiter of all questions about Democracy, I look to Milton Friedman as the arbiter of all questions concerning free market economics. Friedman voiced the opinion that it would eventually fail, and in probably ten years. He was correct about its demise, but not on its duration. Not by much though!

  • Simon Stephenson.

    Eddie-G : 3.34pm

    “Zero mention of Gordon Brown anywhere in this? For all Gordon’s sins, he was against joining the Euro, and I don’t see how it was simply about loss of influence, given joining the euro meant giving the ECB powers that had already been delegated to the Bank of England.”

    But this assumes that Brown would have placed the issue of the Euro above the needs of his personal power-struggle. Just about all that has been written about him, and the events of 1997-2010, indicate that this is highly unlikely.

    If you want to give Brown credit for following a policy that happened to coincide with what he saw were his interests at the time, then you’re at liberty to do so. For me, as far as national politics is concerned, Brown is a worthless individual whose Stalinist methods detract from the ability of good minds to plot best paths. As indeed are the others who see his methods as an appropriate way for politics to be conducted.

  • Simon Stephenson.

    Val Duncan : 1.46pm

    “The only difference I can see is it wasn’t the euro, it was Blair and especially Brown purposely wrecking the economy, Blair so the EU could swarm in and take over and Brown because he was a headcase. Cameron, Clegg and Osborne are just carrying on where they left off.”

    In five years of searching, yours is the first comment I’ve read that agrees with my thought that perhaps Brown’s policies were a deliberate attempt to bring about economic chaos in this country. No one else, apparently, is prepared to accept the possibility that our democratic system could include a Party which would allow such a person to become its leader. It appears to be a thought too far that we may have had a Prime Minister who believed that the best thing for this country was to be brought to its knees economically, for democracy to be suspended as a reaction to this “unforeseen chaos”, and for our system of government to become the sort of Big State tyranny in which G Brown was the latter-day J Stalin.

    Just imagine if Labour had won in 2010 – we might never had had another free election ever again.

  • Archie

    Well indeed, Michael Feltham, FF etc., etc. The more that I read of Heath’s apparent fanaticism, the more I’m inclined to believe a theory from the wilder shores of conspiracy, i.e. that he was indeed a deep-cover SD agent.

  • Simon Stephenson.

    Archie : 1.56am

    Would he need to have been an SD agent to believe so strongly in the long-term necessity to the UK of being part of the EEC, that he saw the telling of a few white lies to overcome “irrational opposition” as means that were justified by the end? Even if one believes that his actions were wrong, why does it seem to be impossible to accept the thought that his fault was playing God and overruling the precautionary principle, rather than that he was motivated for personal gain, and/or loyalty to a foreign power?

    Do we really believe that the filtration of our democratic system is so perfect that we have no need to worry that power may be gained by those who are so motivated by their ability to “do good” that they will do bad in order to gain the right to implement their ideas.

    Look at Blair and Brown, and their respective followers.

  • Philip H.

    I am dreaming of the day when we have a real Conservative PM with a spine in office. I hope the first thing he/she does is get us out of the EU completely. Second – shut down the BBC!

  • Christopher Mahoney

    The EU and EMU are political tools, invented by the French, to devlop a European superpower to challenge the US. Generally, to be pro-Europe is to be anti-American. This is why Europe and EMU are not rational political and economic policies; rather, they are a religion. To criticize Europe of EMU is to be a crypto-pro-American. Also, notice that Europhiles are also religious Warmists. These are derivatives of Marxism.

  • Mladen

    I don’t know why all the fuss. For countries which can handle own accounts, Euro is great. Guaranteed no inflation because there is no excessive printing of money and currency is steadily catching up on dollar as reserve currency of choice. For countries which cannot balance own budgets, there won’t be printing money. If you want to do it – leave Euro.

  • Carl Chapman

    It seems that the EU elites are the only ones left pushing the Global Warming Scam. Most of the money for the “science research” comes from the EU. The EU has directives about closing down working power stations and replacing them with wind and solar. The developing countries and the US want no part of it. Obama can only proceed by stealth using the EPA, because even the Democrats are now against cap and trade.

    My theory is that the EU and the Global Warming Scam will collapse together. If the Euro goes first, probably because of Greece, then the EU elites will be so hated that Europeans won’t listen to their rubbish about Global Warming. Talking about using more debt to build windmills will just make people angry. When the Germans find out how much Merkel has committed them with guarantees, they won’t be listening to talk of spending on windmills. Or the scam could end first. This winter is likely to be very cold in Europe. Germany has shut down nuclear power stations. Britain relies on power from France as Britain has no spare capacity for cold weather. France’s nuclear power stations can’t supply France, Britain, Spain and Germany during a freeze. If there are extensive brownouts and blackouts this winter, no-one will be in a mood to listen to the EU elites. Talk of giving money to the PIGS while factories are shut and people freeze due to power outages will make people angry.

    Either way, this northern winter should be the end of the Euro and the Global Warming Scam. The scary bit is what the EU elites will do to hang onto power. Will they try a fascist power grab, silencing all criticism, as part of an emergency?

  • Archie

    Simon Stephenson: I confess that the thought of politicians with a Messiah Complex has briefly crossed my mind, particularly with regard to Blair, but it is so………unBritish, hence my thoughts on Heath. Brown was obviously unbalanced and the scandal is that his erstwhile colleagues permitted him to carry on regardless. Labour don’t do “leader removal” like the Tories, you’ll agree.

  • BigMax

    “Very rarely in political history has any faction or movement enjoyed such a complete and crushing victory as the Conservative Eurosceptics.” ?

    Well it’s nice that the Europhiles (from all parties) have gone a bit quiet for the time being. But “crushing victory”? No powers have been returned to parliament, our fishing waters are still controlled from Brussels and we are still in the EU.

  • Ron Phillips

    I no longer refer to the BBC by that name: I call it The Ministry of Propaganda. Orwell would have been very proud to see his predictions embodied in the BBC of 2011.

  • EC

    Outstanding, Fraser.

  • Jeff Parkes

    There are at least two kinds of bias; the type ably portrayed in this article and another ‘by omission’. UKIP for years have been warning about the ultimate folly of the euro – did UKIP get a mention – NO IT DID NOT!

  • Doppleganger

    Great performance on Newsnight – lion and donkeys springs to mind. Hope you interview Cameron in a similar way and move on from your past rosy view of him.

  • fpbelgio

    This article is pathetic and uninformed. Probably the so-called journalist should explain how well it worked for Icelanders to have their own currency in order to avoid financial collapse. That is, assuming he knows what Iceland is…

  • Stuart Seacole Smith

    A very interesting article, putting the all-too-infrequently heard other side of the story. One of the early comments that The Economist needs to be put under similar scrutiny was also spot on. Of course, the Economist is owned by the FT, so it’s not surprising that a similar line is taken.

    I still find the Economist and FT interesting reads, but the political colour to their economic commentary, and increasing trend towards commenting on “issues of the day” (almost always from a left-liberal perspective) are getting more and more tiresome. Generally, I’m not particularly interested in what some wonk the Econimist has dragged out thinks of gay marriage, immigration, carping about Berlusconi’s bunga-bunga parties, or the various tittle-tattle and nit-picking niceties of politically correct etiquette. And their plug-hole and black-hole type cover pictures are getting wearisome too. Actually, the more I think about it, the more I wonder why I bother with it! Because there are a few gems sprinkled here and there I suppose.

  • william

    to be honest, im an american. however, i have lived in mainland europe now for the last 10 years. no im not in the military, nor do i work for the government.

    i remember when the euro craze swept through europe. people would gather and talk about it very excitedly. they would all talk about how great this was and how things would get better. a utopian vision was born.

    i would sit rather silently and not get involved. i had residency at the time in germany, and now in italy – but not permanent residency. so i have an interest in what goes on, but i do not have a vested interest in what goes on. sometimes people would ask my opinion. i would respond have you read the constitution for the eu? they would tell me “no”. i would ask – dont you think its important to at least read what you are going to be voting on before you vote? they would tell me “no”. i would try one last time and ask them if they wanted to buy a car but couldnt see it first. then i would drop it.

    my point is that i sat as a somewhat disinterested outsider watching. the euphoria was nice. however, it was never grounded in any facts. not one single person i have met in my 10 years in europe has ever read the constitution for the eu. not one. not then, not now.

    i guess the people who voted yes to the eu now get exactly what they deserve for voting on something so important and critical but not investing the time to do even the most basic of research. unfortunately, im along for the ride 🙁

  • Brian Ogilvie

    A masterpiece – speak truth to power !

  • runnymede

    first class article. sadly I see no chance that this mixture of incompetents and quislings will be brought to book

  • PaD

    It is now 2016..and thus article gas been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt.
    I do hope Peter Oborne is still making comment the nearer we get to the referendum..and his opinion is for BREXIT..

    • PaD

      Woops typos..!