Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Joining the Euro - Why Never Is Right

According to a ConservativeHome survey, 65% of Conservative activists would NEVER vote for Britain to join the euro. I suppose the question that begs is who the 35% are who think that at some point in the future it is a possibility.

Never is word which politicians use very rarely. Most delight in equivocating and keeping their options open. But in my view, if you give up control of your currency, you give up your ability to govern. In the end you give up your ability to tax and spend because those decisions are heavily infleunced by a central bank, far remote from your own economy. And isn't taxing and spending what government is all about? You say what you're going to do and how you are going to pay for it. If you give up your ability to tax and spend you give up your right to govern. It doesn't happen overnight, but sure as night follows day, it happens in the end. Ireland is a country which is about to realise that.

The current economic crisis adds further weight to the argument that Britain should not even consider joining the euro. Whatever one thinks of what Gordon Brown has done, there is little doubt that his hands would have been tied to a considerable extent had Britain been in the euro.

So I stick to what I said when I was asked this question as a candidate. I would never, ever, vote for Britain to join the euro.


Anonymous said...

Oh dear..Camerons slow march to the right is gathering pace. No one but no one is talking about the Euro – except you. Gonna go into the election on an anti EU mandate. Good luck. Redwood, tebbit and all the other nutters can help with your campaign

Iain Dale said...

Idiot. It has nothing to do with being on the right. There are plenty of Labour MPs and supporters who totally agree.

Anonymous said...

Our economy is already heavily infleunced by a central bank, far removed from our own economy... its called the USA. Where have you been for the last few months? Control over our own economy and currency has long been out of our own hands. The financial crisis is a demonstration of how no one country is independent of global economic movements.

Having said that I am against joing the Euro at this stage. Although I think "Never" is too strong a word and it is careless to rule it out completely when in years time it may well be in the national interest.

ascotinlessables said...

Iain, isn't it time that the country had a grown-up debate about all things European? This has to happen at some time and frankly the longer it takes the easier it will become to push it back. Your comments about the economic debate in the Lords says it all. Our Laws are passed outside of our parliament and as a consequence it has lost nearly all of its relevance or is it just me?

Anonymous said...

'So I stick to what I said when I was asked this question as a candidate. I would never, ever, vote for Britain to join the euro.'

Iain - never is a long time and as the courts have decided 'a manifesto promise is not a legitimate expectation'

for example can we expect windmill dave to push through tory mep's leaving the epp? can we look forward to a referendum on the eu constitution (sorry treaty) if he were to be pm ?

Roger Thornhill said...

I guess the 35% were those who thought that anything...ANYTHING that tied the hands of Gordon would be better than leaving him free to wreck the economy as he has clearly done. Euro or Gordon? A false dichotomy as far as I am concerned.

But you are right, Iain. The Euro would be a major nail in the coffin of sovereignty, which is almost shut tight already.

However, Cameron is hardly reaching for the claw hammer and seems, AFAICT, to be sitting on the lid.

Colin said...

"And isn't taxing and spending what government is all about? "

No it's not Iain.

Tax and spend are merely two of the means at the disposal of decent governments to enable then to provide security and harmony for subjects and citizens. Most of us outside the political industry would rather more of you inside it would get that.

Colin said...

As a p.s. to my previous.

I agree, never is right, in this case. Think USSR. An extreme example perhaps, but an example nonetheless.

T England said...

Apart from the obvious reasons for not wanting to join the fleecing, dictatorship Labour call the EU is feelings!!

Yep feelings!

I dont want to FEEL like I'm ruled from over seas.
I dont want to feel like Britain is just apart of some, united states of europe.
But most of all, I want to feel I'm part of England FIRST, Britain second & in europe LAST.

Funny thing feelings, make you say & do what feels right, the EU just feels SO WRONG.

I'm English & always will be, what a great feeling :o)

PS. The time to stop talking about the nasty EU is when the idea is dead & buried.

Robert Donnolly said...

Sorry you are wrong on this. The five economic tests were all passed years ago and there are many Tory MPs who believe the Euro is the way to go - I suspect I speak to as many as you Iain, probably more, and it doesn't take long to scratch the surface.

Vindico said...

Er, I think you'll find we have done a pretty job at giving up our ability to govern ourselves alread. The Euro would simply be a visible final step.

Paddy Briggs said...

Difficult for me to conceive that somebody as politically clued up as you Iain could make such a nonsensical post. Hard to know where to begin but I suppose the truism that you never ever say “never” in politics is a good place. Assuming that clean living and good luck preserves you for us for forty years (or more) and that towards the end of that time (maybe as a Senator in a reformed Upper House!) you have the opportunity to vote on the matter are you so clairvoyant that you know today in 2008 what the circumstances will be in (say) 2040 that you can declare now that you won’t vote for the Euro then? Of course you can’t be – and it is a delusion to think that you can.

But aside from the absurdity of precluding anything – at least anything as borderline as a currency option let’s just review the reasons why, IMHO, the answer to the Euro question is not “Never” but “Now”. In economic terms it is perhaps borderline. The last year or so we in Britain would have been much better off in the Eurozone – before that perhaps not. Over time it probably evens out. Lower transaction costs and currency value certainty have to be traded for a bit of loss of flexibility in economic management. 50/50. The case for the Euro is however much more about commitment than it is about the swings and roundabouts of exchange rate vacillations. Are we Europeans or not? Answer – of course we bloody are – what else can we be? A small island off the shores of Europe doing our own thing – how quaint! If we are Europeans shouldn’t we be at the centre not on the edge (in influence not in geography of course). Answer yes again. Can we influence things effectively if we stick to the Pound? Of course not!!! End of argument.

Jason O'Mahony said...

Iain, why are so many eurosceptics obsessed with the idea that the Euro is bad for Ireland? Up until 1979, when we joined the EMS, we were pegged 1:1 with sterling, the difference being that we actually have a seat at the ECB!
Let us be honest. There are both pros and cons to joining the Euro for Britain, and Britain does not need to join. But for small countries like Ireland, who have to trail larger neighbour currencies anyway, it makes perfect sense. We trade with other countries, and the buying power of the Euro matters in terms of our ability to force UK suppliers to trade in Euro.

Another Day said...

I have always been against the Euro - it diminishes the power of our own Government to act in a crisis and places economic policy at a supra-national level where the interests of Europe outweigh the interests of this country. If the econmic cycle of this country is out of synch with Europe (or in practice, France and Germany) then we just sink further and further into economic woe.

However, being anti-Euro has nothing to do with being right wing or anti EU. That is the huge problem with Labour and the Lib Dems polarising the debate on Europe in this country. Everything is portrayed as pro or anti EU. If you don't agre with everythng European then you're anti-European. Being against specific polices is a normal part of having sophisticated political views.

Bob Piper said...

To back up what Mr Dale says above, I (to use a Heseltine phrase because I don't like saying 'never') can not envisage any circumstances where I would vote to hand over control of our economic policies to an unelected and unaccountable European Union.

scallywag said...

I doubt that the Eurozone would want GB anywhere near it right now...

Roger Thornhill said...

paddy briggs: If we are Europeans shouldn’t we be at the centre not on the edge (in influence not in geography of course). Answer yes again. Can we influence things effectively if we stick to the Pound? Of course not!!! End of argument.

If we keep the pound we have control over our taxes, currency, debt, interest rates or whathaveyou. If we are in the Euro, we have almost zero. End of Argument.

The Euro will condemn the UK to Statism and that bland, inflexible sludge of faux Centrist Social Democracy that hides the Fabian agenda of full-on Socialism.

Johnny Norfolk said...

The EU is run for French and German interests only. The sooner people realise this the better.

Max said...

Try telling Sarkozy he's "given up his ability to govern"- I think he'd disagree.

I agree with the never say never approach.

ruth kelly's plaything said...

Iain, you said: 'And isn't taxing and spending what government is all about?'

As another poster has said - it is not! Not what it is ALL about, anyway. It is only a means to an end, and the end is what really matters - what sort of society we want to live in: one where Stafford Cripps's man in Whithall knows best or one where government is more servant than master.

I'm also disturbed by the succour that lefties will draw from those words, inferring as they wrongly but inevitably will, that more tax/spend = better government. (Not your fault how your words are construed by the terminally bewildered, but to be borne in mind.)

And as for the EU: why on earth does no serious poitician ever mention the appalling situation of it being unable to get its accounts approved by auditors for nine years in a row? That fact alone removes any credibility or authority it might otherwise appear to have.

Word ver: unanger - wrong in my case, at least.