Bill Carmichael: Hollande leads Europe’s descent into madness

IMAGINE someone surveying the wreck that is the modern European Union – poverty on a scale unknown since the dark days after the Second World War, the life chances of entire generations wiped out, livelihoods and businesses destroyed and formerly friendly countries viewing each other with hatred and contempt – and that person thinking: “We need more of this.”

You might think this chap must be occupying a padded cell – but he is not. Instead he is resident in the Elysée Palace in Paris and is none other than the President of France.

Socialist leader Francois Hollande decided this week that the lesson of the ignominious collapse of the Eurozone project is that we need more Europe, not less.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

He came up with a plan for a new supra-national Parliament – including only the Eurozone countries – that would control spending and taxation within the zone, writing: “What threatens us is not an excess of Europe, but an insufficiency of Europe.”

This is not just the increase of centralisation that has characterised the EU since its inception – but the creation of an entirely new country, a United States of Europe, in the heart of the continent.

And the terrifying thing is that Hollande’s is no maverick voice on the fringes of the debate but is shared by Euro-fanatics across the EU.

How this new political entity would work with the non-Eurozone countries within the EU – including the UK should we be mad enough to stay after 2017 – is not spelt out. The complexity of such a system is mind boggling – French voters for example would be represented by three different parliaments, each with different but overlapping responsibilities.

But that is the least of the troubles, because the plan shares the faults that have dogged the Euro project since its inception – it concentrates on the politics while ignoring the harsh economic realities.

Hollande’s fantasy offers no solution to the intractable problem of devising tax, spending, interest rate and exchange rate policies that would suit such diverse economies as Germany’s and Greece’s.

Greece’s only hope of ever returning to some semblance of prosperity would be to devalue its currency and boost its competitiveness – but Hollande’s plan prohibits this, thereby trapping the Greeks in never-ending austerity.

None of this matters to Hollande whose main priority is that German taxpayers continue to subsidise a very comfortable lifestyle that the French are unwilling to work for themselves.

Hollande’s popularity reached an all-time low after his socialist experiment – which the British Labour party wanted to copy – went disastrously wrong, leading to sluggish growth and high unemployment. He has seen a modest revival since then, but still faces a strong challenge from the right-wing Front National that wants France to abandon the failed Euro and leave the EU.

Whether Hollande’s latest intervention will help him domestically is a moot point – euroscepticism, once seen as a uniquely British phenomenon, is now on the rise right across the continent.

But the real question is whether taxpayers in the more productive parts of the Eurozone, such as Germany and the Netherlands, are willing to continue shelling out to prop up the doomed vanities of Euro-fanatics like Francois Hollande.

Labour’s nightmare

WE are witnessing the first signs of panic in the Labour party after a YouGov poll this week put loony leftie Jeremy Corbyn on course for victory in the leadership election.

The survey of party supporters put the Islington North MP on a commanding 43 per cent, well ahead of erstwhile favourite Andy Burnham on 26 per cent, Yorkshire’s Yvette Cooper on 20 per cent and Liz Kendall on 11 per cent.

This wasn’t supposed to happen. Corbyn was only included on the ballot to “widen the debate” – not to actually win.

His antediluvian policies are straight from the Michael Foot playbook – nationalisation and a centralised command economy – and he counts Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists among his “friends”.

Tempting though it is to sit back and laugh at Labour’s descent into madness, I am hoping Corbyn doesn’t win. For the sake of democracy we need an effective opposition that will hold the government to account – not a left-wing comedy act.