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Truss has exposed our great crisis: the fight for freedom
The real problem with Liz Truss is the Tory MPs who didn’t like the Conservative membership’s choice. They had made their preference for Rishi Sunak plain as day by setting up a no-hoper as the alternative.
So why did the Party membership rebel?
Because they wanted - as does the more thoughtful and historically educated element in the Labour Party - someone who believes in this country and the sovereignty of Parliament.
They were given the alternatives of an open enemy (such is globalism) and a false friend, one who faked a patriotgasm to get the ring on her finger and then made it clear that it was an open marriage as far as she was concerned.
This interview between the Bennite socialist George Galloway and the soft-Conservative journalist Peter Oborne is most interesting. Oborne thinks that the political chaos is such that he would prefer a General Election and the victory of Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party. He also says that he had supported Brexit but is having second thoughts. Galloway disagrees and I think he carries the argument.
Let me take the second part first.
Brexit was not a mistake.
Disengaging was always going to be difficult, but has been made much more so by the obstructive and vindictive attitude of the EU bureaucracy, and the British Establishment that dug its heels in and needed to be pushed over the line, leaving deep tracks in the dirt.
The real mistake was joining up in 1973, under the propagandised illusion that the Common Market was simply a trading cartel. By the way, that was the Tories, again.
Later, we had a referendum in 1975 (strangely, or rather not, if you’re a political thinker, the only year in which we did not have a trade deficit with ‘Europe’); this was under Harold Wilson as Labour PM, whose vote-yes pamphlet claimed he’d got a better deal, that continuing membership would secure ‘FOOD and MONEY and JOBS’ (yes, capitalised) and…
Fact No. 2. No important new policy can be decided in Brussels or anywhere else without the consent of a British Minister answerable to a British Government and British Parliament.
There was not room in the pamphlet to discuss ministerial collusion plus the implications of secondary legislation and eventually, Qualified Majority Voting in the EU.
Let’s go further back. Why did the ‘Common Market’ look attractive, more successful than us? One reason is that after the Second World War, when the US realised the threat from Stalin’s Russia and the danger of ruined West European countries turning to Communism, it pumped in money under the Marshall Plan. At the same time, Britain was struggling to rebuild and was desperately in hock to Uncle Sam. There was, in effect, favouritism. FDR had taken the chance to break our Empire, and after his death the right-wing Truman administration saw no great need to treat our new socialist government with kid gloves.
Our politicians were daft enough to be nostalgic for an important role in world affairs; being part of a new European bloc seemed to offer the chance. Besides, the extra commercial competition might help ‘sort out’ the unions.
But de Gaulle held off our attempts to join until the Common Agricultural Plan was fully set up - one that subsidised French farmers (then less efficient than ours) and so bought them off from revolution. By the time we entered the community, these generous arrangements were not available to British farmers. And our government under Ted Heath was so incompetent that it only realised at the last moment that it had negotiated away our exclusive fishing rights so that French trawlers could come right up to our shore line; the action Heath took was to lie about it to the British public.
Since then, we have been a valuable customer for the EU, and a major financial sponsor, while at the same time having to comply with its onerous regulations (and obliged to abandon our non-EU trading partners - e.g. New Zealand - to their fate.) Where might we be now if we had cultivated our own Commonwealth trading nexus?
Further back in history, the ‘dolorous stroke’ was our decision to declare war on Germany in 1914, slaughtering and maiming our people and even then making us big-time debtors to the US. After that, the Roaring Twenties did not roar in slump-crippled Britain; then came the Hungry Thirties, then the Second World War and the near-destitution of our country.
We live tremendously well at present; but the era of cheap fossil fuels is fast coming to a close and we’ve maintained our lifestyle through sitting on an ominously swelling Mount St Helens of debt.
The EU is in trouble, too, partly because it has never finally decided what it wants to be.
Its roots are in the idealism of Jean Monnet and others who had thought lasting peace could be achieved by pooling national sovereignties and putting a supranational body in charge of warmaking materials.
However, by 1945 it was clear that France and Germany were in no condition to fight each other again, and in fact faced starvation and revolution. Further, the advent of nuclear weapons in the 1950s made another major conflict unthinkable (or so we thought, until recently.)
Another potential role for the EU was as a protectionist cartel. As the poorer countries of the world developed their economies their workforces could savagely undercut ours; but we couldn’t drop wage rates without discounting debts (mortgages etc) which our financial class would not and will not contemplate. The EU could have set tariffs and terms of trade to maintain an economic oasis of a few countries at a similar stage of economic development; but instead it got expansion mania, took in southern European nations and pushed for early monetary union, cementing-in the structural economic disparities.
And then of course, came the fall of the Soviet Union. Despite American assurances to Russia, the EU (and by the same token NATO) gobbled up newly-liberated low-wage buffer countries, increasing the difficulties for West European workforces and national welfare state budgets.
This has also led us into danger. The ‘what’s the time, Mister Wolf?’ creep-up made the Russians progressively more nervous. NATO has changed from a defensive alliance set up to counter a feared Soviet invasion, to - sorry to say it - an aggressor. We saw Kosovo carved off Serbia through our military action, and its independence swiftly recognised by the West, so setting a precedent that the Russians could quote when annexing Russian-leaning parts of Ukraine (as well as citing the United Nations Charter on the right of peoples to self-determination.)
In fact, part of Putin’s grand strategy is to claim and try to show - pointedly - that his government plays by the Rules-Based International System (RUBIS), rather than the West which seems to be operating on the principle that when you have enough power there is no law.
So now the EU seems to have become a cat’s-paw for the Americans, risking having its fur singed for its pains; and when it shows any sign of backsliding, why, allies can be bombed as easily as enemies, or so it is asserted (with quite some plausibility) in the case of the Nordstream pipelines.
This is a good time for us not to be in the EU, when even France’s Macron has indicated he will not participate in nuclear weapons-slinging to suit NATO. In fact, if NATO continues on its present path, we may need to renegotiate our relationship with that organisation, too.
Now back to Peter Oborne’s first point, that a General Election and a Labour landslide victory would be preferable. We have to bear in mind that Sir Keir Starmer opposed Brexit and given a big enough majority might feel emboldened to take us into the EU again. That would be rather like shoving us out of the lifeboat and back onto the Titanic after it hit the iceberg.
The EU appears to have no organising principle other than to grow larger, and so risks disintegration; we should not be involved in the fall of Dagon’s Temple. Yes, we face being poorer; so does Europe and especially Germany, now that its twin pillars of cheap energy have been pushed apart and the roof looks set to fall in.
But it’s not lounge carpets and plastic gewgaws from the Far East that represent Britain’s wealth. What matters is what took us centuries of bitter struggle to achieve: control of an arbitrary Executive through a Parliament representing the people. When we lose that freedom we lose everything.
Our political class has still to wake up to the reality of being fully responsible to us for what they do; we may have to get new representatives on both sides of the aisle in the Debating Chamber.
That presupposes a properly-functioning mass news media so that the people can be adequately informed and educated; it cannot be left to brave voices like Galloway’s in the wildernesses of YouTube, Twitter and the rest.
There is little time to lose, for we must be alive to something far worse than division and incompetence: the danger of treachery and national betrayal.
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