Monday 9 February 2015


Is the Greek crisis the beginning of the end for the euro or the end of the beginning?  The Greeks want the debt burden eased and austerity ended.  The Germans won't write off the debt though it will never be repaid.  The Greek government runs out of money in June but the European Bank won't give them any more.  Result: deadlock.

The game has started as hard ball but there's still tonnes of Euro-fudge to be poured in before the EU either puts the date by which the Greek debt can be paid back by a thousand years or Greece leaves the euro.  They'll get a few concessions but not enough to cure the problem or cause the other ailing states to demand the same – unless Greece offers to sell the Parthenon and the Greek Islands to Germany.

This farce will depress the euro and damage British trade making our exports to them dearer, theirs to us cheaper.  The euro folly is damaging the rest of the World and the euro will never work because the Germans won't pay for the massive regional aid necessary to save the weaker economies, and the French won't agree to the sacrifice of national budgets and national economic management which are necessary to make it work.  But they won`t abandon it.

So Europe can neither move forward nor go back.  It`s become a low growth high unemployment blackspot while extremist parties will flourish.  All this strengthens my belief that we'd be better off out.  Even without that Labour needs to change policy on the EU.

First.  We should offer a referendum.  A majority of Labour voters want an in-out vote on the EU.  It`s a basic democratic right.

Second.  Our plans in power will be difficult unless we get EU rules changed. Officials of the Department for Transport claim that EU rules prevent them insisting that contracts to buy trains can't include any provision that they should be built here.  The French and Germans ignore this but we've allowed the destruction of our rail construction industry.

We can't help industries to expand and grow because of restrictions on state aid.  We can't stop them fiddling their taxes because of EU tax policy.  Britain shouldn`t have its hands tied by the EU.

Third.  We need to scrap the Common Fisheries Policy and get more powers to protect our stocks. When I served on a fisheries protection vessel, if foreign fishermen had over-fished, then dashed over the 50 mile limit we couldn`t chase them.

Fourth.  Our budget contributions, currently £11 billion a year, plus £12 billion for the costs of the CAP, must be reduced.

Fifth.  We must strengthen our regional policies by direct support to firms creating more jobs in the depressed North.   The EU won`t like that.

Sixth.  We need to control immigration from the EU in the same way as immigration from the rest of the World.  Britain need skills, not the unskilled driving down wages.

When we win, Labour will have the serious job of rebuilding manufacturing so we can pay our way in the World.  We can't have that essential task complicated or checked by the European Union.  British jobs and British needs come first.

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