Bill Carmichael: Another dose of sticking plaster

YESTERDAY Europe descended into chaos, and there now must be serious question marks over whether the euro in its present form has any future.

Yet only a few days ago, jubilant European leaders were reassuring us that they had finally reached a lasting solution to the debt crisis that threatened to bring down the eurozone. That “lasting solution” has turned out to be worthless – just like the 14 other similar deals brokered since the crisis began – and it started to unravel before the ink was dry on the agreement.

Problems began within hours of the triumphant announcement when the Chinese, who were expected to bankroll the deal, made it clear that they were not prepared to act as “saviour” to bail out irresponsible and spendthrift Europeans.

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And who can blame them, considering the fact that the average Chinese person is much poorer than the average European? Why should they give feckless Europeans their hard-earned cash?

But tragedy descended into farce when the Greek premier George Papandreou announced he planned to hold a referendum to give the Greek people the final say on the bail-out deal.

Reaction across Europe was apoplectic. There’s nothing our European masters hate more than democratic accountability. “Ask the people! Are you mad?” The French and the Germans threatened to withhold rescue funds and expel Greece not just from the eurozone, but from the EU itself.

Such was the pressure from European capitals that it looked last night as though the Greek government had been forced to abandon the referendum idea. But the problems have not gone away. There is no guarantee that the Greeks can deliver the austerity package demanded by their European governors, and there is still a chance of disorderly default which could trigger a collapse of several European banks. Among the confusion only one thing is clear – yet another “sticking plaster” deal that fails to address the underlying problems is not going to work.

I take no satisfaction in any of this, because it is undoubtedly a disaster for Britain. Greece, Portugal and Ireland are effectively out of the game for the foreseeable future; Italy, Belgium and Spain are heading the same way and even France doesn’t look safe.

These are our major trading partners, and even though the problems have been caused entirely by their own foolishness, it is still bad news for British exporters.

And we’ve still had no apology from the Euro-fanatics, and their cheerleaders in the BBC, FT and Guardian, who came within a whisker of ruining our country by dragging it into the euro. Their blinkered zealotry has caused untold misery across Europe. Instead of burning Guy Fawkes this weekend, I’d like to see a revival of the medieval stocks in which we could place Blair, Mandelson, Clegg, Huhne, Heseltine and Clarke and all the rest and invite the citizens to pelt them with rotten fruit.

I’d pay a fistful of euros to watch that.


After two weeks of dithering, the Archbishop of Canterbury has, entirely predictably, come out as a supporter of the anti-capitalist protesters camped outside St Paul’s Cathedral.

In a further genuflection to fashionable left-wing opinion, Dr Rowan Williams also backed a “Robin Hood Tax”’ that would see the state rake off a percentage of every financial deal. Such a tax would prove ruinous to the City of London and the UK.

But I’m baffled by the name of the tax. Wasn’t Robin Hood opposed to rapacious taxes imposed by an oppressive state? I watched the TV series avidly as a boy, and I can’t recall a plot in which Robin petitioned the Sheriff of Nottingham to increase taxes on the people.