I am grateful to my friend Neil for encouraging me to write more often.
My problem at the moment is not lack of things to write about, on the contrary: there is just too much to choose from.
So I’m going to roll my sleeves up and plunge in with our old friend, the EU.
My local MP (and electoral rival) Steve Baker was one of the rebels on the recent EU Referendum vote. This prompted an outpouring of support on the comments pages of our local newspaper. At least two commenters were sufficiently impressed that they pledged to join UKIP! I’m not sure that Steve would have wanted that!
Nick Clegg has recently said that Eurosceptics should be ‘careful what they wish for’ and he is right. Our economy is deeply intertwined with that of our EU neighbours, and it would continue to be so even if we withdrew. As it is, we find ourselves in the ‘outer circle’ of EU members.
The Euro crisis has been a field day for the ‘I told you so’ brigade, and not without justification. However the EU crisis is a direct result of Eurozone members failing to follow their own rules on borrowing, and not as a result of any flaw in the concept.
Before we gloat, we should take a look at the performance of Sterling since the Euro came into being. On Euro day one you would have needed 67p to purchase a Euro. Today it is 87p. That is a fairly serious depreciation when you consider how troubled the Euro is today, because we have performed significantly worse! The question we should be asking our politicians is ‘why has our economy performed so poorly compared to the Eurozone?’
The Referendum that was debated was never a serious contender. Firstly, it offered a third ‘renegotiate’ option which was far to vague to be put to the people in a referendum. You can only hold a referendum with clearly defined options. Where on earth would a win for ‘renegotiate’ have left us? Secondly, you don’t redesign your kitchen while your house is subsiding. No-one should underestimate the doldrums our economy finds itself in. As always, I believe that unemployment is the number one barometer for any economy. Unemployment is a scourge on people’s lives, and it continues to rise. That should be our primary focus. Changing the terms of our engagement with the EU would be a massive gamble – and it’s not one to contemplate at a time like this.
Frankly, I think the majority of the Tory rebels were more concerned with popularity in their constituencies than any wider principle. If they really feel that way, maybe they should defect to UKIP?