Brian Monteith: No place for Euro in independence

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It’s a busy week for news; all those football teams going and losing on penalties; there’s the women grunting at Wimbledon of course; and there’s the Rangers soap opera – that makes River City look good (and that’s some feat).

But of course the real news that will actually have any tangible influence on our lives is the European summit which, like all of these summits, we neither understand nor care to know about. It all looks so dull, so stitched-up, just another tedious jolly for politicians in very expensive suits and hand-made shoes (Angela Merkel excluded).

Yet again its dominated by the desperate need to save the Euro currency – or rather the economies of the countries that thought it was a good idea – for the Euro could be saved tomorrow if they just changed it into what it really should have been from the start – a Super-Deutchsmark that the northern European countries like Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and maybe France could have used.

Such a currency might well have worked and the nations in it could well have prospered – but the Euro is not an economic idea, it is a political concept and that’s why the financially flatulent southern European countries were bullied into being part of it too.

Right from the off the expenditure of Portugal was breaking the imaginary rules – and others like Spain and Greece have simply learned the lesson that the prudent nations would let them misbehave to keep the political project on the road. They knew that eventually they would be bailed out by the leaders of the Northern European nations even though their populations had never really consented to the idea and certainly don’t like the fact that while they work harder and have poorer pension rights they have to transfer their taxes to other countries.

This failing Euro is of course the same currency that Alex Salmond was so keen on an independent Scotland joining that he made speeches about it and visited cities in Spain to proclaim what a great currency it was.

He’s not so much changed his tune as forgotten the words. Like Harry Palmer in The Ipcress File, he’s feigning the idea that he always loved the British pound Sterling and has no memory of the Euro. Salmond wants to join it though, just later, see, when it’s all been mended.

That’s because Salmond doesn’t really want independence at all, he just wants to substitute the rule of London politicians over a growing state with rule by Edinburgh politicians over an even bigger state.

If Salmond wanted real independence he’d want it not just from London but from Brussels too, he’d think the Euro is something never to be joined and the pound sterling would go too. Scotland would look to have its own currency and survive like other independent nations do, like Norway and Switzerland.

The Euro is the antithesis of independence – for all the solutions that are now being put on the table offer some sort of compromise or trade-off of national sovereignty – in some cases even for countries that are not part of it (like the stupidly named Robin Hood tax for instance, which would actually take money from British people’s pension funds as they are managed through transactions and give it to greedy European politicians to pay for their continued mistakes).

No sooner had Spain been bailed out the other week than they were already saying they need more. As UKIP leader Nigel Farage so brilliantly explained as he silenced the clowns opposite him in the European Parliament, who has to pay to bail Spain out? Why all the other countries, including Greece, Italy, Portugal and Ireland. But they are broke, so they have to borrow the money at ridiculous interest rates to help Spain, making their own situations far worse and meaning, of course, that they will again need help too in the near future. It is an utter shambles (his speech is on Youtube and I recommend you watch it if you can.)

Germany will, in the end, pay more money to help the countries that hawked their futures to buy votes, but it will come at a price and that will be greater financial control from Berlin. Forget all the talk of stimulus spending to create jobs, the European economy is becalmed by its own contradictions. All of Europe has been giving itself welfare payments that it couldn’t afford; only some countries ever worked hard enough to pay for them – usually Germany, sometimes Britain and a few others. Europe has made employment heavily regulated and thus more expensive – then had to finance the resulting welfare provision it can’t afford.

Meanwhile international competitors – and not all of them in the developing world, but places like Australia and Canada too – are able to get their economies moving because they are more free and less expensive.

The Euro was never a bad concept for those countries that wanted to operate it as an economic idea – but it is a political front for European unification that makes a nonsense of independence that everyone in Scotland, nationalist or unionist, should have nothing to do with.