Brexit: yes, it’s personal

 

One of the things that most struck me about the arguments made by the supporters of Brexit during the EU referendum was that they seemed, in their essence, to be based on emotion. There were many arguments put forward for Brexit that presented it as a rational economic choice, but these arguments were clearly secondary, almost an afterthought, to the ones based on British exceptionalism and distrust of anything foreign.

And yet when you pressed Brexit supporters, as I quite often did, on these points and suggested that perhaps those of us supporting the EU both in the UK and in other Member States also had an emotional attachment to the project, this was pooh-poohed out of hand.  It was implied that, whereas the UK was entitled to indulge its childish Anglo-centric sentiments, foreigners would bow to practicality and Brexit would prevail. This is the basic construct behind the “German carmakers, prosecco” argument, essentially that neither German nor Italian exporters would want to lose the trade with the UK and therefore they would put pressure on their governments to come to an agreement. Likewise, I often heard it said that Spain depended on what was called “British expats” for so much of its income that it would do nothing to upset the Brexit applecart.

Time has proven that these arguments are not only irrational and patronising but actually wrong. It is childish and limiting to recognise your own emotions without recognising them in others too.

Due to my background, my father was an EU immigrant, my mother was English, I grew up in Spain. Even in the early stages, I could see Brexit would pretty soon blunder right into this obstacle, that the cheap arguments being made that “the EU will soon fall apart” were nothing but wistful thinking, failing to take into account the psychological factors at play in other EU nations. My personal commitment to the EU project is based both on emotion and rationality, I am not shy to admit that, and so is that of the Member States.

This week German car manufacturers have made clear that they are prepared to take a financial hit in order to continue to support their own national and international project, the EU. Germany, a country that was strong enough to bring about its own personal reunification and its leader, the dauntless Ms Merkel, were never going to be intimidated by Brexiteers’ ersatz patriotic posturing and our worse than second-rate politicians.

France under a newly elected president is gleefully confirming its commitment to the EU project.

Likewise, Spain, immediately used the chink in the UK’s armour exposed by Brexit to secure EU concessions on the future of Gibraltar. Yes, Spain also has patriotic sentiments concerning its territorial integrity. Furthermore, we should remember that if the UK quits Spain stands to take its place at the EU top table.

Thus, Brexit is not only utterly inadequate and inept when it comes to economics and finance, but also, and perhaps decisively, when it comes to emotional intelligence.

The UK government’s woeful mishandling of the future of EU citizens in this country confirms this. Our government seems to believe that it can get away with treating the citizens of other powerful nations as if they were chattels, to be bartered in a hostage-taking process. The EU will not tolerate this. We need to recognise that other nations also have feelings and a sense of pride and honour, that they are just as protective of their citizens and their culture as we are of ours.

Yes, Brexit is personal for Brexiteers but it is also personal for Remainers such as myself. And, further afield, for the Member States, the economic and political well-being of the EU is also personal.

Common sense says the emotional illiteracy displayed by the UK government does not bode well for us in the negotiations.

 

 

* M P Hoskins is a new member

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63 Comments

  • Peter Martin 10th Jul '17 - 5:39pm

    Time has proven that these arguments are not only irrational and patronising but actually wrong.

    It hasn’t. It’s early days yet and there’s a lot of bluffing going on at the Poker table in Brussels.

    It’s quite rational to argue that the fiscal requirements of the Stability and Growth Pact create a tendency towards recession, or even depression, in the EU. The only antidote for EU countries is to run a high export surplus. Either way the EU is not a good market for UK exports. There’s a high trade deficit with the EU which in turn creates a budget deficit for the government and puts us into ever increasing levels of debt.

    There were similar prophesies of doom when the UK chose not to sign up for the euro. Does anyone still think that was a good idea? Let’s just wait and see on how the Brexit talks go. We’ve been dealt a reasonable hand. We don’t just want to throw it in just yet!

  • Russell Kent 10th Jul '17 - 5:58pm

    M P Hoskins. Absolutely right; the emotional pull for citizens of other member states is paramount. Brits seem to forget the reason the EU was established; two world wars within living memory, countries occupied, millions dead, the continent devastated. What is now the EU was established to try to avoid war on the contitnent of Europe again. The Balkans notwithstanding, it has thanks in no small part to the EU (and NATO/US military).

    I live in the Netherlands. I lived in Germany for 20 years. My children were born in the Netherlands, my daughter is married to a German. All of my friends, acquaintances, colleagues accept there are faults with the EU, that it is not perfect. But, and this is a massive but, they would rather have the EU in place than not. And if the UK is determined to leave via Brexit then ok, but EU citizens would rather you (yes, you I am British, but I am a European and will take Dutch nationality if Brexit happens) leave than the EU break up and chaos potentially return to the continent.

    Peter Martin, like so many others, underestimates the emotional pull the EU has on the majority of its citizens.

  • Spot on, so glad you’ve written this article. Absolutely it’s personal, which is also why I & so many others felt a real sense of grief at the result of the referendum – and to this day, feel a real sense of anger. Look big may the Lib Dems continue to be our voice & our champions

  • *long (rather than look)

  • Dear MP i wish you where an MP, your article is sensible and rational, but because it does not proclaim we are special in some way the brave Brexiteers will try to rubbish it. I’m afraid they do feel the UK is special and will get a better deal because we are special. Eventually reality will bite them and they will get very angry because they didn’t get a better special deal that other countries wouldn’t get because err we are special and they are not. They still bleat on about Germany needing us, what for? too sell us cars, the problem with that is Germans are good at selling cars too the world and if they have to close some plants well there are a number they own in the UK.

    It is I’m afraid a feeling of specialness based on what the UK used to be and winning two world wars. Experience will eventually teach us we can’t live on past glories but it’s likely to be a painful lesson and many of the brave Brexiteers are unlikely to get to the end of it.

  • Peter Martin 10th Jul '17 - 7:44pm

    @ Russell Kent,

    I don’t know if I’m being under-emotional but the argument that we all have to share the same currency to avoid killing each other doesn’t quite do it for me. The highest death toll in WW2 was due to the conflict between the USSR and Germany. So are you suggesting the EU should expand to include Russia? If not, why not?

    The EU, or rather its predecessors the EC and EEC, was fine when everyone had their own currencies which preferably should be allowed to freely float. It’s been the move to the euro, and the rules of the appallingly named Stability and Growth Pact which apply to non euro countries too, which has, not to put too fine a point it, stuffed the EU.

    So, sad though it might be, and sadness is an emotion we all can share, the EU just isn’t working for us. The trade imbalance is putting us into too much debt which is quite unsustainable.

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th Jul '17 - 7:57pm

    It seemed to me to be exactly the opposite way round. It was almost impossible to have a rational argument on the EU because of the way as soon as you said something in favour of membership of the EU, anti-EU people would accuse you of having some sort of extreme emotional attachment to it, a common line being that anyone is favour of membership of the EU was someone who sings the “Ode to Joy”. This squeezed out any idea of balance, that one might consider arguments on both sides and on balance be in favour of membership. It gave the impression – and perhaps that was the idea – that the obvious rational line was to be against membership of the EU, and that those who supported membership of the EU did so only for irrational reasons.

  • @ Peter Martin
    I don’t know, David Davis was sounding off about ‘the row of the summer’ only to capitulate completely the very first day on the sequencing of the talks. Meaning basically
     Citizens’ rights;
     Financial Settlement;
     Other Separation issues.
    in that order. In other words mouthing off following by abject surrender. To me that looks WEAK because it’s allowing the other side to set the agenda.

    And the order does not bode well for the trade deal the UK says it wants to discuss. The UK has made a poor offer on citizen’s rights which means the talks have already bogged down and there are 20 months to go, the clock is ticking and not it our favour. Tick-tock.

    The next point is the divorce settlement. Tick-tock, tick-tock…

    Even if we had good cards as you say we do (what would those good cards be?) will we have time to play them? And this morning Verhofstadt has gone on record to shoot any notion of a transitional period out of the water. UK must leave in March 2019 before the EU elections in May 2019. Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick bloody tock…

    Seems we’ve underestimated the EU. They’re playing poker, we’re playing snap with our pants around our ankles.

  • Frankie,
    I don’t see the UK as special. Some leave voters do. Some just see Britain as a bit more like Norway or maybe Australia than say France. I don’t pretend to know how anyone else thinks and also your “brave brexiteer” is , like something from an old NME post bag or something Nick Cohen would say in one of his many meltdowns. .

  • Little Jackie Paper 10th Jul '17 - 8:58pm

    Huntbach – ‘and that those who supported membership of the EU did so only for irrational reasons’

    Sorry Matthew, but you’ve lost me here. I can’t possibly claim to speak for anyone else, but I for one have seen the EU as a political construct. No more no less. Has that construct done some things that are on balance good? Of course. Has the EU done some less good things? Oh goodness me yes. As I understand your previous comment I don’t think we disagree on anything so far. The only difference is that you could look at that balance and bring yourself to tick the box for More Of The Same. I looked variously at the EU’s corporatist agenda, the mess it made in my wife’s country, the hopelessly underbaked monetary union, the migrant debacle, the botched A2 enlargement, the tail-must-wag-the-dog legal outlook, the awful balance of net contributors to net recipients and so on and just couldn’t do the same. I don’t think that there’s anything irrational about being for REMAIN or for LEAVE per se – what is less rational I think is to pretend that there isn’t a balance.

    Which brings us to the article. ‘My personal commitment to the EU project is based both on emotion and rationality.’ She’s even italicised that word, ’emotion.’ Look if she wants to belt out Ode to Joy and kiss an icon of Juncker every morning it’s her lookout. She however has no reasonable expectation that everyone else will share her emotional response to a political construct and, necessarily, its agenda.

    I’m sure you probably don’t bang out Ode to Joy Matthew – but that’s pretty much what the author appears to be asking you do.

    For the record I have long-thought that post the euro an EU IN EZ OUT status is not sustainable and I for one would have no problem with a Norway option.

  • I’m not sure I agree about the EU citizens in the UK. The ECJ does not adjudicate on EU citizens in the USA or Russia or any other nation outside of its jurisdiction and nor should it expect to here post Brexit. Personally I see thre obvious solution to that log jam being a intra-jurisdiction body made up equally of the ECJ and our Supreme Court which here’s cases where a Government belove their citizens have not been treated fairly by the other party.

    Whilst I wish brexit was never happening I’m afraid you slip into the same issues that the arch brexiteers do so often. It’s time to take emotions out of the equation and for both sides to accept their goal is to find the highest common factor and not the lowest common denominator. We know what that is, economic pain on both sides of the channel and around 5 million people with no stable rights…

  • Thank you for your article. It resonates very strongly with me, as someone who lived and worked in the Netherlands, with a daughter born and raised there, a son married to a German, living in Germany and with a German daughter (my granddaughter) etc. I cannot imagine a family in the land who do not have an EU relative in their wider family, or know people who do. The world has changed enormously over the last 40 years and the Bremmings (Brexit Lemmings) will not be able to get the free movement genie back in the bottle. Our family and business connections across Europe are now so important, that Brexit will bring pain and suffering to many both in Britain and abroad and in the end emotion and rational thinking will prevail and we will win the argument!

  • Mark Goodrich 10th Jul '17 - 10:53pm

    Jeez, @Little Jackie Paper, you really never miss an opportunity to put in the cliche about people wanting to sing Ode to Joy and kiss an icon of Juncker, do you…. You seem to entirely miss the point of the article which is that other Europeans feel pride and passion for their country and many also have a stronger emotional commitment to the EU than us Brits.

    The point being that they are going to stick together when somebody (us) marches out in a huff. And they are quite prepared to be a bit poorer if it means sticking to their principles.

    If the UK weren’t my country, I would find the progress of the “negotiations” fascinating. As it is, I just find it depressing and sad that we have thrown away so much influence and leverage.

  • Little Jackie Paper 10th Jul '17 - 11:10pm

    Mark Goodrich –

    ‘you really never miss an opportunity to put in the cliche about people wanting to sing Ode to Joy and kiss an icon of Juncker, do you’

    Tell you what. When people stop dealing in cliché like, ‘but these arguments were clearly secondary, almost an afterthought, to the ones based on British exceptionalism and distrust of anything foreign.’ I’ll stop my cliché.

    ‘You seem to entirely miss the point of the article which is that other Europeans feel pride and passion for their country and many also have a stronger emotional commitment to the EU than us Brits.’

    Maybe. But I suggest that it is you (and the author) who miss the real point here by not asking a) why that is and, critically, b) what to do about it beyond telling people to buck up and enjoy the solidarity.

    ‘The point being that they are going to stick together when somebody (us) marches out in a huff.’

    Serious question – and to be clear I’m not getting at you here. What do you think the purpose of A50 is?

    ‘As it is, I just find it depressing and sad that we have thrown away so much influence and leverage.’

    Again, not getting at you. Have you given any thought as to why that is and, critically what to do about it? Put that another way – why do such a large number of people feel that the, ‘influence and leverage,’ you talk about does (less than) nothing for them? Still more – have you actually thought what to do about it beyond telling people they are wrong?

    Here’s a starter for you. I think that graphic shows where 40 years of EU membership has ended up for a lot of people:

    http://inequalitybriefing.org/graphics/briefing_43_UK_regions_poorest_North_Europe.pdf

    I think that gives a better clue about why economic and emotional messages didn’t cut through at the referendum than anything I see in the article.

    Look, I have nothing against anyone here. Clearly not every problem the UK faces is down to the EU directly. However if you are not thinking about the why so many are unhappy with the system EU AND all the rest, and what to do about it then, emotionally intelligent or not, you aren’t thinking deeply enough.

  • This is quite an emotional piece for one calling on the benefits of rational argument.
    However, I quite agree. My despair with Brexiters was their argument that “If they won’t buy our cars, we won’t buy theirs”. I tried to point out that only Morgan (177 employees) would count as “ours”. All the others were “theirs”. They also seemed to think that the German car industry would go bust without UK sales. I have contacts in the German car industry and their retort is that the UK market is only 8% of their business and sell premium products anyway. Mercedes, BMW, Audi Porsche would probably find their sales increase if tariffs increase the price as they are bought by snobs anyway. They could always take the German owned British Made cars to Germany (Mini, Rolls and Bently).
    No argument worked with them, or will.
    But so what? The party that offered a second referendum went backwards. Why?
    Because there is no appetite for another 3 months of Battle Busses, lies, TV debates, yet more lies and worst of all, arguments in offices and pubs even more bitter than last time.
    And, whatever the result, the country will never be the same as it was before the referendum. Another referendum can’t heal the wounds, it can only make them deeper and longer lasting. The nation has to make a way forward with what we’ve got, not to try and make it worse,

  • Peter Martin 11th Jul '17 - 12:09am

    @ MP Hoskins,

    The best ‘good card’ that we have is that both UK and the USA are prepared to run substantial trade deficits. I personally have doubts about the wisdom of this. I don’t believe we should.

    But we don’t have to know that much about economics to know that if Germany wants to run a continual surplus then someone has to run the deficits. Germany can’t rely on the USA to do that under Trump, at least not to the same extent, so it needs the UK to keep doing what its doing. And we can’t do that with a crippled economy.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_current_account_balance

  • Matthew Huntbach 11th Jul '17 - 1:29am

    Little Jackie Paper

    I don’t think that there’s anything irrational about being for REMAIN or for LEAVE per se – what is less rational I think is to pretend that there isn’t a balance.

    Sure. My point is that I was rather surprised by this article, because to me it had all been the other way round.

  • Matthew Huntbach 11th Jul '17 - 1:40am

    Little Jackie Paper

    Here’s a starter for you. I think that graphic shows where 40 years of EU membership has ended up for a lot of people:

    http://inequalitybriefing.org/graphics/briefing_43_UK_regions_poorest_North_Europe.pdf

    I think that gives a better clue about why economic and emotional messages didn’t cut through at the referendum than anything I see in the article.

    I interpret this as suggesting precisely the opposite to what you suggest.

    If the poorest regions in Northern Europe are almost all in the UK, it suggests to me that the problems these places are suffering from are not due to the EU, but due to the UK. If the EU was “controlling” us, as the Brexiteers claim, with the British government left with little freedom to do what it wants, wouldn’t it be the case that we would find similar things spread across all the EU? Instead we find poverty concentrated in the UK, so doesn’t that suggest the problem lies with UK governments rather than membership of the EU?

    It seems to me that the Leave campaign was run and funded by those who wanted to turn attention away from the real cause of our inequality and poverty and blame it on the EU. To me, the real cause is the way we have had all governments since 1979 fixated on right-wing economic policies, which used to be called “Thatcherism”, although now people like to call them “economic liberalism”.

  • Bernard Aris 11th Jul '17 - 1:40am

    @ MP Hoskins
    Jeez, what a great entrance to the LibDem debate and the party! Congratulations with both!
    Having lived in Spain, where general Franco’s monstrosity Valle de los Caidos, and all the buried bodies from the civil war, from time to time remind the nation about its black past, you must appreciate the value the EU has had (and still has) in maintaining decent values and norms about Democracy, Rule of Law, Civil & Human Rights, etcetera. If those values (and infringements on them like in Poland and Hungary nowadays) don’t stir emotions, I don’t know what does.
    Keep up this good work of writing thoughtful pieces on LDV!

    @ Russell Kent:
    If you look at the signatories of the MEP’s open letter in The Guardian (by Guy Verhofstadt) about EU citizens rights in the UK (and UK citizens rights in the EU), you’ll see that they are the Europarliaments group leaders of
    *) practically every democratic German party, from CSU to Linke & Pirates, and
    *) for the Netherlands VVD,CDA, D66 (core of upcoming coalition), PvdA, GroenLinks, SP and PvdD; all those support those rights.
    so don’t despair just yet, we’ll see the rights of both groups of expats secured durably in the coming months; and you are and remain very welcome as a Briton on the continent; no questions asked.

  • Andrew McCaig 11th Jul '17 - 7:14am

    LJP
    Yes, I agree that shocking inequality in Britain was a big reason for the Leave vote. But whereas no British government that I recall has had a coherent policy to reduce such inequalities, the EU does, which of course is why you rely on an EU document to make your point. We make a net contribution to the EU and they send part of it back to help just those regions, neglected by London-centric British politicians. Note how the Welsh Valleys do not make it on the list, after being a priority area for EU funds for decades.
    The fact is that those North European countries did not abandon the post-war consensus like Thatcher did. Hence as they have become more prosperous, they have done a better job of taking the poor with them (not perfect of course!). I always have thought that we should be learning from those countries but the drip feed of poison from the gutter press over decades means that most British people do not think like me…

  • Andrew McCaig 11th Jul '17 - 7:26am

    I think the biggest and most dangerous “emotional response” in the Brexit negotiations is that of Theresa May to the ECJ. This appears to be behind the otherwise incomprehensible decision to withdraw from Euratom. When Theresa was overuled by the ECJ it was because her actions were breaking the law. The same when she was overuled by British courts and the ensuing tantrum organised through the pages of the Express and the Mail was very similar.
    Generally I would rather our laws were reached by consensus with other European countries than imposed by elective dictators such as Thatcher, Blair and May (in her mind!). I think fair voting as practised by most European countries has a lot to do with it. I guess that is at the heart of my own emotional attachment to the European project…

  • I disagree that inequality was the major or even really a major reason for the Leave vote. I think the major reasons were lack of interest in the project. EU elections have very low turn outs and more often than not simply reflect voting patterns in council elections. Having said that the exception seems to be people who are very strongly anti-EU. Personally, I didn’t vote in the MEP elections for the same reason I won’t vote for Mayors or police commissioners. I don’t support the concept. The other factor, like it or not high immigration rates, in England. It was mostly a Middle England thing, mostly suburban and rural. People are sort of tribal and small c conservative.

  • Richard Underhill 11th Jul '17 - 9:07am

    Shall we talk about the dramatically falling price of Lithium-ion batteries? Volvo has announced that it will specialise on electric cars, including hybrids, which means it will stop making diesels. Although based in EU member state Sweden Volvo is currently owned by Chinese interests.
    In the USA Tesla has overturned the perception of electric vehicles as being as slow as milk floats with a range of sports cars and a new family saloon imminent.
    https://www.bing.com/news/search?q=Volvo+Electric&qpvt=volvo+electric&FORM=EWRE
    https://www.tesla.com/
    Cordless electric lawnmowers and bicycles are being heavily advertised in the UK

  • John Probert 11th Jul '17 - 9:33am

    Peter Martin: “There’s a high trade deficit with the EU which in turn creates a budget deficit for the government and puts us into ever increasing levels of debt.”

    The EU hasn’t created the balance of trade deficit. That’s clearly due to Britain’s failure to produce enough goods/services which other countries want to buy (as evry skoolboy surely noe).

  • Katharine Pindar 11th Jul '17 - 9:40am

    Andrew McCaig, thank you for those excellent points you are making here, both on why inequality is worse in Britain than in the rest of the EU, and on the ECJ and matters of law. You really contribute to this multi-faceted debate, and certainly extend my own thinking.

  • Peter Martin 11th Jul '17 - 11:09am

    @ John Probert,

    “The EU hasn’t created the balance of trade deficit.”

    Germany, since WW2, has consistently suppressed the value of its currency (first the DM and later by using relative weakness of the euro) to maintain its trade advantage. It’s much easier to keep a currency low than keep it high as the Tory Government found out to its cost when it couldn’t sustain the value of pound in the ERM in the early 90’s. The pound crashed out on Black Wednesday at great cost to the country’s reserves.

    So if Germany, and to a lesser extent Holland and other surplus EU countries, has deliberately created its own trade surplus, it must follow it has created a trade deficit for others. One country’s surplus is, penny for penny, someone else’s deficit. Anyone, like us, who lets their currency freely float and is averse to the concept of trade protection using tariff barriers will always end up being in trade deficit.

    @Andrew McCaig

    “The fact is that those North European countries did not abandon the post-war consensus like Thatcher did. Hence as they have become more prosperous, they have done a better job of taking the poor with them”

    It’s really nothing to do with being “North European”. Finland is much further to the North and is having big problems with euro right now. The euro only works for countries who manage to run an export surplus. See comment to JP above. The Stability and Growth Pact was written to suit just such a country. ie Germany. Not every country can run an export surplus though. This simple enough fact has somehow been overlooked by the PTB in the EU. The failure to understand this and how the macroeconomics of a common currency has to function is causing its slow but steady break up. It’s like watching a slow motion train crash.

    Brexit is just the start of it unless the EU radically changes its ways.

  • The anger of the writer is palpable, but the anger is misdirected.

    Britain has made its decision and we will take the hard knocks and utilise the benefits of our EU exit as best we can. And 84% of the electorate on the last election is evidence that we accept that outcome.
    Your anger should be directed at the EU who have ‘self-harmed’ themselves on several occasions over the last 24 years, not least by the introduction of a common Euro currency without considering the consequences. As a result the EU has become neither fish nor fowl, and worse than that, can’t seem to comprehend the problem or do anything constructive about it.
    If the EU truly wishes to have a United States of Europe, they must implement the trickier bits like wealth transfers from Germany to the poorer regions, in a similar manner that the USA does.
    The alternative is to de-construct the Euro currency carefully so that each European country stands a chance at self-preservation in an otherwise skewed EU economy structured in favour of the German economy only. They EU, can’t have it both ways?
    So instead of directing your anger at UK voters who are perfectly entitled democratically, to declare that they want no part of the EU, should not your anger be directed at the EU itself, whose dithering actions tell us glaringly, that it can’t make up its mind on being fish or fowl?

  • Peter Martin 11th Jul '17 - 11:40am

    @ Sheila Gee,

    I’d have given you a “like” if it had been possible!

    It’s good that many other people too are coming around to the view, if I understand you correctly, that Brexit wasn’t a rejection of Europe per se but it was a rejection of the way the EU is currently managed.

    In my own mind I’m just as pro-Europe as anyone. It would be marvellous to be part of an EU that was structured for all rather than just the big exporters. But sadly it isn’t and that is the reality that has led to our recent vote for Brexit.

  • Sheila Gee,
    Your posts continue to demonstrate your eloquent common sense in stark contrast to many who demonstrate immature superficiality.
    Please post more. I enjoy reading them.

  • Matthew Huntbach 11th Jul '17 - 11:54am

    Glenn

    I disagree that inequality was the major or even really a major reason for the Leave vote.

    People may not have expressed it that way, but to some extent I think this is due to the way the right-wing propaganda sheets the Daily Mail and THE Sun divert attention from it. People in this country are very unhappy and stressed. People feel they have no control over their lives, that we are run by a distant elite that have no interest in them. A very common line put out by Leave voters was “that will make them pay attention to us”.

    I think the major reasons were lack of interest in the project. EU elections have very low turn outs and more often than not simply reflect voting patterns in council elections

    Which is rather contradictory to the claim that leaving the EU means “British independence”. If we really have lost control over our country due to it being run by the EU, wouldn’t the most important political issue be those decided by the EU, so people would want to vote in EU elections for that reason?

    The other factor, like it or not high immigration rates, in England.

    Sure. I think the refusal of liberal elite types to understand this concern, and so to dismiss those who have it as “racist” is a big issue, and I think was a big factor in the Leave vote. I certainly do think there are plenty of perfectly valid reasons to be concerned about high immigration rates that are not at all due to racism.

    One of the reasons my renewal form for membership of the Liberal Democrats remains unfilled, and I am still not sure whether I will fill it and send it off, is the way Vince Cable’s sensible comments on this issue in his New Statesman article were dismissed and attacked in Liberal Democrat Voice, with few coming in to show support and understanding for what he said.

  • John Probert 11th Jul '17 - 11:57am

    @ Peter Martin: “Anyone, like us, who lets their currency freely float and is averse to the concept of trade protection using tariff barriers will always end up being in trade deficit.”

    We shouldn’t blame the EU for Britain’s low productivity and lack of competitivity.
    Sterling is now low against the US$ and the euro but that has fuelled inflation and our trade deficit persists.

    Moreover the government says it will reduce tariff barriers after brexit.

  • Sue Sutherland 11th Jul '17 - 11:58am

    Thank you MP Hoskins for your lucid post. Of course many Remainers feel emotional about the EU as do the Brexiteers, which is the reason why two commentators make diametrically opposed conclusions from the same EU map of Northern Europe’s richest and poorest areas. So what our party needs to do at some point is make an emotional appeal to stay in the EU. Personally, I don’t think we’ve reached that point yet because the effects of Brexit haven’t been felt strongly enough to change many people’s minds, so I support the idea of a second referendum as an interim measure.
    I can’t bear it that the two main parties are so self serving that they are willing to lead my country into isolation and poverty. The Tories because their wealthy friends don’t want the EU to introduce measures to stop tax avoidance and Labour because widespread poverty will result in a broken society which will be easier to replace with an extreme socialist regime.
    So, yes, I’d like to hear the Ode to Joy ringing out all over Britain when we finally come to our senses.

  • Matthew Huntbach 11th Jul '17 - 12:08pm

    Sheila Gee

    not least by the introduction of a common Euro currency without considering the consequences.

    Can we look at this a bit deeper?

    Why should it be a problem? What is wrong with the idea of a common fixed way of measuring prices? We don’t have floating ways of measuring length for example. Wouldn’t it be a bit silly, for example, if the distance between two places was 1 mile or 1.6 kilometres this year, and next year 2 miles and 1.6 kilometres, without the actual distance really having changed, with the explanation “Oh, the mile has been devalued”?

    The actual problem seems to be countries that borrow lots of money and can’t pay it back, and so want to use devaluation to get round that. Well, wouldn’t it be better, if that is the problem, to admit that?

    In reality inflation is a rather crude way of cutting debts and taxing wealth. Differing currencies is really about supporting doing it that way. Good idea or bad? Better to do it more openly?

  • John Littler 11th Jul '17 - 12:44pm

    Australia’s glittering prize of 1.6% of the UK’s exports to build on…I don’t think. But by the way, they want an EU deal first, which the UK would have been within should we have stayed in the EU. And by the way, Australia would want Visa free access for it’s people to the UK, much the same as India would.

    The EU will also have a trade deal soon with Japan, the third largest market in the world, with 120 million rich people the UK could sell to, but it will be out of the EU by then?

    Trump wants a free trade deal with the UK, but first wants one with the larger EU, because it is America First and in any case the UK has to have an EU deal first so America could work around it, with it’s damaged standards. USA is not going to offer the UK any interim lifeline

    Hello Brexsters! Why are we doing this? It is all loss and no gain at all, not even on the level of hope.

  • Mathew.
    Interesting, but I would point out that few people in Tower Hamlets voted leave, that a majority in inner city Leicester voted remain. Whilst in both cases the suburbs and outlying towns tended to vote Leave. Scotland mostly voted remain and northern Ireland, both with higher levels of poverty and health issues. So I think that there’s a strong tribal identity element to voting patterns in England from both camps.

    As for the press thing, fewer people read the papers than watch TV and I would argue that the endless insistence on hyping up the influence of the Mail in large part comes from papers like the Guardian who are commercial rivals. It’s also more convenient to blame the press for things you don’t want or find immoral. Right wingers often blame the “liberal media” and the Left settle on blaming the Press. I think really the press like anything commercial product that has customers not subjects. I also think that some among the political classes give the press way more influence than it deserves and because they hope to influence voters imagine that it has magical powers of persuasion. People are more complex and will vote on what they perceive is best for them and their kin and are subject to confirmation bias. I suspect local tribalism is a major factor.

  • jayne Mansfield 11th Jul '17 - 1:30pm

    @ Sue Sutherland,
    What do you think will happen if the result of a second referendum on the terms is inconclusive?

    Despite all the arguments from people who are clearly more knowledgeable than I, I don’t see any minds being changed amongst posters on here.

  • Peter Martin 11th Jul '17 - 1:39pm

    @ John Probert,

    “We shouldn’t blame the EU for Britain’s low productivity and lack of competitivity. Sterling is now low against the US$ and the euro but that has fuelled inflation and our trade deficit persists. Moreover the government says it will reduce tariff barriers after brexit.”

    Most of this is true, except that if you want to cure a persistent trade deficit then there is a need to have a low exchange rate and a there has to be an appreciation and acceptance by industrialists that it will be kept as low as is required for an extended period of time. Just having it low for a short time isn’t going to do it.

    Having said that, there is an argument that we can have as big a trade deficit as we like providing we understand what is involved. In other words, we understand that someone in the UK, and ultimately this can only be government, has to borrow to fund that trade deficit. This means we learn to live with a persistent government deficit too and stop proclaiming that “we are living above our means” and “we need to balance the books” etc etc.

  • Peter Martin 11th Jul '17 - 1:39pm

    @ Matthew Huntbach,

    You ask “Why should [the euro] be a problem? What is wrong with the idea of a common fixed way of measuring prices? ”

    If the euro was at least reasonably well managed, as the dollar is in the USA, it wouldn’t be a problem at all. But there needs to be a common system of taxation to do that to the extent of at least 10% of EZ GDP. The euro can only be created by the ECB. The euro is , in effect, an IOU of the ECB. So when a country runs short of euros it is a problem. The country falls into recession and the government is powerless to deficit spend, as Keynesian economics would require in such circumstances. It’s rather like the countries of the 30’s who chose to keep their currency on a gold standard. Govts then couldn’t easily deficit spend and found themselves in recession or even depression as a consequence.

    And why do the peripheral EZ countries run short? They are inhabited by lazy idlers. Right? If we believe that there is no hope for the EU in any case.

    When the dominant economy of the EZ, Germany, insists on running a large trade surplus then it is effectively going to a large black hole sucking in euros which never re-emerge. Naturally Germany’s EU trading partners run short. It’s not rocket science!

    The common taxation system is required to move the surplus of euros that is accumulated by Germany, Holland and some others out of the black hole and back into the economies of Greece, Spain, France and Italy.

    Incidentally, the EZ current problems were anticipated by the late Prof Wynne Godley as early as 1992.

    https://www.lrb.co.uk/v14/n19/wynne-godley/maastricht-and-all-that

  • Andrew McCaig 11th Jul '17 - 8:04pm

    Peter Martin
    Are you seriously suggesting that USA does not have any problems of regional inequality??

    Have you not heard of the “rust belt”? Most commentators think that these problems were a big factor in the election of Donald Trump, just as they were a big factor in the Brexit vote. You are correct that there are regional differences but where I live in the north there were very clear correlations between prosperous suburban seats and Remain voting (after taking out the distorting effects of students)

  • Peter Martin 11th Jul '17 - 9:27pm

    @ Andrew Craig,

    Yes, of course there are problems of regional inequality in both the USA and the UK. I think, in both, the rates of unemployment vary from about 2-3% in the prosperous areas to about 9% in the less so. Arguably there should be more fiscal equalisation than there is. But this is still much better than we see in the eurozone. In the USA there is an acceptance that States like Mississippi can’t get by on loans. They need Federal Grants otherwise they’d end up like Greece with loans which are simply unrepayable.

    The introduction of a single currency shared by several countries without a common taxation system was a huge gamble. There was no precedent for this ever, anywhere, as far as I am aware. It was an untested concept and a huge gamble. If you gamble you have to accept the possibility of losing and the EU has possibly lost its entire future as a consequence.

  • Katharine Pindar 12th Jul '17 - 12:14am

    @ John Littler – as you say, John; and what I can’t understand is why more is not made by Remainers of the EU having negotiated 45 trade deals with the rest of the world of which as members we share the benefits. How can it be sensible to come out of those and have to do the negotiations with the same countries all by ourselves? And why should any country think it worth more to them to have a deal with us alone than with the entire EU?

    @ Matthew H. It will be a sad loss to my party if you don’t renew, Matthew. On this question of mixed messages about immigration, it seems to me that there has been mismanagement of the whole issue in the past, not least in the Blair government allowing in unrestricted immigration from the poorer eastern countries of the EU, too soon and with too little consideration of what might happen. But with better management and planning now, it should not continue to be the issue it has been. I think it is negotiable, and reasonable for us to debate and suggest managed change. Personally, I am rather more worried as to what the party is going to propose about tuition fees now – especially with our change of leader – than about EU immigration.

  • Matthew Huntbach 12th Jul '17 - 8:31am

    Glenn

    Interesting, but I would point out that few people in Tower Hamlets voted leave, that a majority in inner city Leicester voted remain. Whilst in both cases the suburbs and outlying towns tended to vote Leave. Scotland mostly voted remain

    I think this very much proves my point. Tower Hamlets and inner city Leicester have largely ethnic minority populations who I doubt are readers of THE Sun or the Daily Mail. I suspect the few remaining old-fashioned Cockneys in Tower Hamlets were very heavy Leave voters. In Scotland they have something else to serve as being pushed, very energetically, as the cause of all their problems, and that to me is very obviously why they didn’t take the “vote Leave to solve everything” as they have another sort of “vote leave to solve everything” being pushed on them.

    The power of the printed press I am sure is falling, and the success of Jeremy Corbyn is a proof of that. Nevertheless, it is still significant. I remember an opinion poll not that long ago which showed that whether working class people were THE Sun readers had a bigger correlation than anything else in how they voted. This is something I experienced myself when I was a councillor in Downham ward in Lewisham (a ward that was notorious as a white working class ward, though it has become more mixed since then). The refuse collection system used meant there were open boxes outside where you could see what papers people read. It was quite remarkable, when canvassing, how you could predict the response you would get by looking to see whether THE Sun was in the box.

  • Matthew Huntbach 12th Jul '17 - 8:40am

    Peter Martin

    The common taxation system is required to move the surplus of euros that is accumulated by Germany, Holland and some others out of the black hole and back into the economies of Greece, Spain, France and Italy.

    Well, yes, but that is an argument for the EU to have more control. It is precisely because the EU does not have the sort of control that the Leave campaign claimed that there isn’t this.

    The introduction of a single currency shared by several countries without a common taxation system was a huge gamble. There was no precedent for this ever, anywhere, as far as I am aware.

    The East Caribbean dollar, which has been pegged to the US dollar since 1976, and is used by eight separate countries, is an example.

  • Matthew Huntbach 12th Jul '17 - 9:21am

    Katharine Pindar

    Personally, I am rather more worried as to what the party is going to propose about tuition fees now – especially with our change of leader – than about EU immigration.

    He, more than anyone else, is in the position to make the point that should have been made about the dilemma the Liberal Democrats were in: there was simply no way the Conservatives would have agreed to the tax rises needed to fund universities, so had the LibDems pushed their pledge it would have had to be paid for by bigger cuts elsewhere. Negotiating with the Conservatives to make sure there was a loans system that meant universities were still open to anyone and would not suffer cuts was a compromise.

    Labour, of course, were able to push the line that everything the LibDems agreed to in the Coalition was LibDem policy. I felt squashed between Labour making these unfair attacks, and a Liberal Democrat leadership who seemed to be doing all they could to support Labour in destroying our party by pushing that same line. And now it seems our party is largely made up of new members whose vision of the party is that it is just as the coalition between Labour and the Cleggies in destroying the party I loved wanted to turn it into: one which is about Thatcherite economics combined with the sort of liberal aspects that are most of interest to elite types who have no worries about bread-and-butter issues.

    The terrible mistake in the 2017 general election of making it seem that the only thing our party stood for was opposition to Brexit just reinforced this.

  • Peter Martin 12th Jul '17 - 9:35am

    @ Matthew,

    But do the citizens of the EU want the EU to have more control? The EU is stuck in a failed in-between state. It would, and did, work fine as a collection of separate states each with their own freely floating currency. It would work fine if we had a United States of Europe with all the features of the USA. Common taxation. Federal Spending etc. But when the Germans think, as they do, they have to put their hands in their pockets to pay for it they become just as Eurosceptic as us Brits. There simply isn’t the political support for it.

    The combined population of the countries using the ECD would be less than a million. Their economies aren’t comparable to the first world industrialised economies of Europe. The rates of unemployment are high. You could have perhaps chosen the West African Currency Union but that’s not really a success story either. So when I said “no precedent” I probably should have said “successful precedent”.

    The problem, when you are using someone else’s currency, is that you have to have a trade surplus to keep the money flowing in to the economy. That way the government has some fiscal leeway. If there is too much spending the government can raise taxes to control inflation. If there is too little spending, and a tendency to recession, the government can lower taxes or even spend more themselves. Because there is money coming in to the economy there is no need to borrow. Previous surpluses in the form of foreign currency reserves can also be drawn upon if needed.

    So it might be realistic to always operate a smaller economy in a state of surplus but not everyone can be in surplus. The world’s economy needs the deficit countries too. Everything does have to sum to zero. It’s not just not realistic to think that everyone in the EZ can be in surplus at the same time.

  • Mathew.
    It doesn’t prove your point at all. What it proves to me is that immigrants and their decedents are not inclined to vote for a political cause driven to quite a large extent by the idea of reducing immigration and fairly obviously people who want to reduce immigration will. I think people are basically tribal, naturally form groups that can be based on religion , politics, even music and yes race. I think this is why areas can become quite homogenised and I think it shapes politics. I also think this tendency is why multiculturalism was politically are attractive to the Left and why identity politics has an appeal. The problem is that these ideas tend to be based on the belief culture and identity are exclusive to minorities. The thing is that the big tribe is also a culture and also as an identity. In the EU vote the big tribe outvoted the smaller ones.

    To me papers like the Sun are much less influential than you make out. I read the Guardian, never read the Sun and so on. I voted leave. I’m pretty certain that there are plenty of Sun readers who voted remain, just as some of them vote labour. I think blaming the press is understandable, but is more based on a moral objection to the product than to the actuality of it’s impact.

  • Sheila>And 84% of the electorate on the last election is evidence that we accept that outcome.

    Is even more annoying than The Will Of The People. Because it is a deliberate syllogism with a totally false conclusion. Do you really think every Tory voter and every Labour voter is pro-Brexit? Even their own MPs aren’t!

  • Cassie B
    Accepting something is not the same as liking it. So whilst saying 84% of the electorate accept the outcome is misleading based on the general election results, I’d suggest it may indicate that fear/distress/anger at leaving the EU was not a major factor. Coz, if it is a major factor then you’ve got to explain only 7% for the most pro EU party.

  • CassieB

    Tim took a gamble and lost. His starting point was the flawed belief that all 16.1 million remainers were as ‘incandescent’ at the referendum result as he was. The referendum loss might have felt personal for both Tim and the writer of this article, but to extrapolate that personal incandescent anger to 16.1 million Remain voters was deeply mistaken.
    By the same token there were not 17.4 million feverishly ‘incandescent’ Leavers. Many Remainers and Leavers, much like me, were sort of ‘on-balance voters’. The on-balance voters don’t contain the same heat or anger as the incandescents’ do, and were more willing to accept a democratic result, even one not going their way.
    The ‘on-balance’ voters are the ones willing to shrug off the referendum result without the high emotion, and say O.K. the EU Exit decision has been made, let’s just get on with it. And it seems to me like the on-balance voters who are willing to accept the legitimacy of the 2016 referendum result, are embedded within that 84%. And as Glenn concludes the counterpoint; why if the incandescent remainers were as strong in voice and numbers as Tim believed, why then only 7%?

    At some point the ‘incandescent remainers will have to move on at least for the next 2 years, as the on-balance remainers have done, but something else has bothered me from an LD party perspective.
    Vince has troubled me by trying to resurrect this second EU referendum idea, when he knows it has been an abject policy failure, and a career killer for Tim and Clegg before him. I can only assume he has kept it to appease his fellow liberal incandescents’, who are not yet ready to emotionally let it go.
    He has however taken it from Tims’ front burner status, and placed it on the back burner for the time being. This looks more sensible. If Brexit proves a disaster in 18 months, he can bring it back from simmer to the front burner again. If Brexit proves on-balance(!), not as bad as some here suggest, he can then turn off the back burner quietly and with the least fuss and focus on the more important liberal front burner stuff. Maybe the owd-codger is smarter that we thought?

  • Andrew McCaig 12th Jul '17 - 3:21pm

    Matthew
    “And now it seems our party is largely made up of new members whose vision of the party is that it is just as the coalition between Labour and the Cleggies in destroying the party I loved wanted to turn it into: one which is about Thatcherite economics combined with the sort of liberal aspects that are most of interest to elite types who have no worries about bread-and-butter issues.”

    I have no idea how many new members you know but I would be surprised if that comment characterises them accurately. The new members that I know (and I am a “membership development officer”) care deeply about Brexit but otherwise are more likely to be left of centre than right. I suspect the centre of gravity is a good deal closer your general views than it was a few months after the 2010 General Election

  • “there was simply no way the Conservatives would have agreed to the tax rises needed to fund universities”

    Vince cannot make this point as a few months earlier he had signed off a manifesto that proposed no tax rises to scrap tuition fees (based on figures consistent with the Browne Review). Scrapping tuition fees wasn’t the most expensive manifesto pledge in 2010. It wasn’t even the second most expensive.

  • Matthew Huntbach 12th Jul '17 - 4:11pm

    Andrew McCaig

    I have no idea how many new members you know but I would be surprised if that comment characterises them accurately.

    I am going largely by what I see in Liberal Democrat Voice. If Liberal Democrat Voice is showing a bias and so not truly reflecting the balance of opinion in the party, those responsible for it need to do something about that.

    I suspect the centre of gravity is a good deal closer your general views than it was a few months after the 2010 General Election

    What? Isn’t this agreeing with our attackers that we formed the Coalition because secretly we were much more right-wing in our views than we made out?

    The message that needs to be put out about the Coalition is that it was the only viable government that could be formed, and as such with our much smaller number of MPs we would inevitably be in a position only to make minor modifications to an essentially Conservative government. Why is this so difficult to comprehend?

  • Matthew Huntbach 12th Jul '17 - 4:30pm

    Sheila Gee

    Vince has troubled me by trying to resurrect this second EU referendum idea, when he knows it has been an abject policy failure, and a career killer for Tim and Clegg before him.

    I think it should have been made clear from the start that a second referendum would be held only if there was strong evidence that people had changed their minds and now wanted to stop Brexit – that would need to be in the shape of opinion polls clearly showing that.

    Somehow people seem to think that a second referendum would be forcing an end to Brexit onto them, but that is obviously not the case. Actually accepting that a second referendum would be necessary to stop Brexit is showing respect for the results of the first, it is saying we can’t just ignore what that was.

    I quite agree with what you say that for most people, whichever way they voted in the referendum, Brexit was not what they considered the most important issue, and therefore giving the impression that it was the only thing we cared about was a serious mistake. To make things worse, we gave the impression that we despised people who voted Brexit and were not interested in getting their votes. Duh – and I thought Tim Farron from some of his comments really ought to have got this point – many people voted Brexit because of concern about the way their lives and this country is going. I think we should have made it the forefront of our image that we understood those concerns, but actually did not believe that membership of the EU was the real cause of them. That this was not what was done is all part of what seems to me to be a move of our party towards one with an elitist viewpoint which no longer understands or cares for people at the lower end of the social scale.

  • I think it a mistake to accept what a voter might offer as their reason not to vote LibDem as gospel.
    If a canvasser accosts an average citizen and asks why they aren’t going to vote LibDem a simple and effective and easy “Go away” response would be “Because of the betrayal on tuition fees” (because they had read that in the papers). If they were foolish enough to offer the truth (which might, I repeat, might be “Because I don’t know whether you are to the left of Jeremy Corbyn or to the right of Margaret Thatcher and, frankly, I don’t think you do either and that second referendum stuff is dreadful. I voted remain but I’ve had my windows smashed by my brother-in-law and I don’t want to go through all that aggro again”.
    If said potential voter had the temerity to offer such a reply said canvasser would stay on their doorstep for hours trying to argue and defend.
    But the simple two word “Tuition fees” is more polite than another two words for “go away” and 100% effective.

  • Richard Underhill 12th Jul '17 - 5:12pm

    Tim Farron asked a question at PMQ today.

  • There seems to be some confusion here regarding a second referendum – or is it me? I think current policy is for there to be a referendum on the terms negotiated (such as they may be) by the Government. The problem here is that there may not be a binary choice in that there will be three possibilities: accept the terms; reject the terms and leave without a deal; reject the terms and stay in the EU. Referendums are normally considered most appropriate when there’s a binary choice, however restrictive and simplistic that may be.

    The other form of second referendum would be a simple rerun of the original one in an attempt to overturn the result. This I believe would only be possible if there was a clear majority in favour among the electorate, say 60% over a period of time. My own preference would have been to keep options open and see how things develop. If Parliament in a year or so’s time is deadlocked on Brexit (a far from unlikely prospect) or there’s a clear demand among the electorate to revisit the whole issue, then we can firm up our policy on a second referendum accordingly.

  • Joseph Bourke 12th Jul '17 - 7:32pm

    MerseyLib,

    I think you are right, although I would throw in a fourth option – reject the terms and put any transitional arrangement negotiated prior to March 2019 on a semi-permanent basis until such time as a satisfactory free trade deal can be concluded.

  • Little Jackie Paper 12th Jul '17 - 10:07pm

    Huntbach – ‘I quite agree with what you say that for most people, whichever way they voted in the referendum, Brexit was not what they considered the most important issue.’ I agree totally. The intent of my putting up my earlier link was just this. My view is that the main (though certainly not exclusive) impulse behind the vote in the referendum was a severe unease about ‘the system.’ All of it.

    What article like this one seem to me to miss is that the EU is a part of the system. It is a part of the system that got us to where we are. It’s not something special or different, still less something to get emotionally attached to. It is an unlovely part of an unlovely system. No more no less.

    What to do about that is rather another matter. But to my mind the EU has to be seen as a part of the system, the elite whatever you want to call it. It’s not special.

  • Little Jackie Paper 12th Jul '17 - 10:24pm

    Huntbach/Peter Martin. On monetary union.

    When the euro started one thing that struck me as odd was that the physical coins/notes were identifiable to a country. I believe G was reserved to identify UK euro notes. At the time it struck me as no more than an oddity. Recently however I came across these very interesting articles which question the extent to which the euro is a real currency in the classic sense (ignore the over-dramatic headline on the Forbes link).

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/francescoppola/2015/06/29/the-day-the-euro-died/#2ef30999c5eb

    http://www.coppolacomment.com/2015/06/mario-draghi-and-holy-grail.html

    Post the euro the essential political aspect to the project can not be over-stated. What one makes of that is another matter, but the EU surely can not be regarded as an optimum political zone. Those identifiers on the hard currency might speak to something rather deeper. I can’t find any reference to whether or not the identifier on the currency represents nothing more than the print run – but if it does represent central banking liability that would suggest that the ECB built in a mechanism to ‘derecognise’ money.

    For me an EZ with full-blown political union and an outer tier of EEA IN EU OUT states is the only sensible way here politically. At the very least I think that the Greece debacle has shown that the risks involved in the euro as constituted are very far from theoretical.

  • Little Jackie Paper 12th Jul '17 - 10:26pm

    Peter Martin – On currencies, prior to the euro there was the ECU.

    It was never clear to me what was wrong with the ECU.

  • Matthew Huntbach 13th Jul '17 - 10:35am

    MerseyLib

    There seems to be some confusion here regarding a second referendum – or is it me? I think current policy is for there to be a referendum on the terms negotiated (such as they may be) by the Government.

    Yes, but most ordinary people just don’t get that point at all. That was the policy, but it was immediately interpreted by almost everyone as us wanting a second referendum just because we opposed leaving the EU. And that was interpreted as us wanting to go against the will of the people – which seems odd, given that it’s a referendum where the people vote.

    However, that illustrates some other points. One is that most ordinary people aren’t interested in politics and so don’t like the idea of having loads of elections and referendums. People resented having a general election this year, which I think was an aspect of why it gave an unexpected result.

    The other is this. As Little Jackie Paper puts it, most people saw the success of Leave in the referendum as a vote against “the system”, i.e. rule by the elite establishment. While I think they were fooled into this, they now see it the other way round – the second referendum will be pushed on them by the elite establishment who will twist it in some unfair way to reverse what was the real will of the people.

    This illustrates the tragedy of the Liberal Democrats managing to build up an image in which we are seen as the party of the elite establishment. Our devolved style and use of community politics really made us seem a party on the side of the people. Nick Clegg explicitly wanted to smash this and use the Coalition to do so. I remember him effectively saying this in speeches and interviews after the Coalition was formed. There was this belief that we would be taken more seriously and hence gain more votes if we were seen as just another establishment political party. It didn’t work did it?

  • Peter Martin 14th Jul '17 - 6:52am

    @ Little Jackie Piper,

    “When the euro started one thing that struck me as odd was that the physical coins/notes were identifiable to a country.”

    This is because the euro isn’t quite the single currency that everyone assumes. If it were we’d only need one central bank, with maybe some regional offices as the Federal Reserve has in the USA, and there’d be no need for any country identification on the notes and coins. The US dollar and the pound are truly single currencies with only one central bank. That’s the defining feature.

    Instead, every country in the EZ has its own National Central Bank. Germany has the Bundesbank. France has the Banque de France etc. So we effectively have a whole collection of euros, the German euro, the French euro etc which are tightly pegged at a 1:1 rate. The role of the ECB is to help maintain that peg and help smooth out any tensions. The previous system under so-called ECU was just a stepping stone to getting the common currency into operation.

    This gives the ECB a great deal of power to sanction a country if it steps out of line. It can threaten to remove support from any National Central Bank. Theoretically, if this were to happen, the tight peg could be broken. So had the Greek govt not surrendered to the ECB in 2015 the Greek Euro could have become different, almost certainly at a lower exchange rate, from all other euros.

    This is what needs to happen of course for Greece to restore its economy. Greece needs a cheaper currency. Germany needs a more expensive one. Alternatively, we need have a proper currency union with effective fiscal transfers between richer and poorer areas.

    What we have instead is a system that simply doesn’t function.

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