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Au revoir EU?

Graham Stringer, MP, thinks Ed Milliband, for the sake of democracy, should seek to leave the EU

Published on April 17th 2011.

Au revoir EU?

DURING THE EARLIER part of this football season Liverpool FC were within hours of insolvency. Imagine if their arch rivals Manchester United, themselves heavily in debt had borrowed more money to bail out the Scousers. This would have been seen as financial and football madness.

If Ed Milliband announced an ‘in’ ‘out’ referendum on the European Union, the British body politic would go into a state of shock. Bold moves like this change the political weather. The question is whether Ed and the Shadow Cabinet have the cojones for it.

But this is precisely the insane solution our Government and the European Union have arrived at when trying to resolve Portugal’s financial crisis.

The UK cannot afford lollipop ladies to keep our children safe yet we can borrow £4bn as our contribution to rescue Portugal’s economy. The irony is of course is it won’t, because they will not be able to repay the debt. Just as the Greeks and Irish will eventually default on theirs.

Graham Stringer MPThe real folly of those countries is staying in the Euro, which they should never have joined. Having an overvalued currency related to the dynamic German economy is simply not sustainable. However much they cut public expenditure the high value of the Euro will inhibit tourism and make their products too expensive to export. This leads to a vicious circle of higher debt and unemployment and the national deficit never reduces.

Remaining in the Euro is not only wrecking these economies it is destroying their democracies. This is particularly tragic as within living memory the people in these three countries have had to struggle hard for their democratic rights against dictators and other powers including on occasion that of the United Kingdom.

When the Portuguese people go to vote in their General Election on 5 June 2011, they may as well not bother. Like Ireland and Greece before them they have ceased to be sovereign nations.

Whoever replaces Portugal’s Prime Minister Jose Socrates; Angela Merkel, Jean Claude-Trichet and Dominique Strauss-Khan of Germany, The European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund respectively, will have infinitely more power over the Portuguese economy, because of the conditions tied to the loans.

When sane people come to insane conclusions and one must assume the leaders of Europe’s institutions and the International Monetary Fund are sane, something else is afoot. The European project or European integration is what this is all about.

The Euro: destroying democracy in small nations? Graham Stringer, MP, finds 'waste and corruption at the heart of the European Union'

The creation of a Federal European State with weak diminished nation states is more important to Eurofanatics than high unemployment or democracy.

It is astonishing that a previously Eurosceptic Conservative Prime Minister has become a supporter of this policy so quickly. Taking a longer perspective it’s just as surprising that the Labour Party is ultra enthusiastic. It was after all an article of faith for Labour Party members in the 80s that the UK should leave what was then the European Economic Community, the European Union’s precursor. The Labour Party should go into its archives and dust off the policies that opposed European integration on the basis of national sovereignty and democracy.

The Labour Party abandoned its hostility to Europe not on any principal basis but because it believed this was the only way to electoral success. That may or may not have been true then, but now the one group of people who remain resolutely sceptical and increasingly strongly opposed to the European Union is the electorate.

The Labour Party should side with the electorate. It should take a determinably Eurosceptic stance and argue for the orderly removal of the weaker economies from the Euro - making bailouts unnecessary.

The Labour Party’s Methodist soul would jump for joy if instead of defending the indefensible it could attack the waste and corruption at the heart of the European Union. Remember the European Union’s auditors have refused to sign off its accounts for more than a decade.

Opposition parties need to define themselves in ways that the electorate don’t expect but agree with. That was the genius of Tony Blair’s “tough on crime tough on the causes of crime”. It would be the equivalent of a Clause IV moment and a “tough on crime tough on the causes of crime” rolled into one if Ed Milliband announced an ‘in’ ‘out’ referendum on the European Union.

The British body politic would go into a state of shock. It would put Labour on the side of democracy and would also have the benefit of being likely to come to fruition as this is already the Lib Dems’ policy as well as that of a majority of Tory MPs are Eurosceptic. Bold moves like this change the political weather. The question is whether Ed and the Shadow Cabinet have the cojones for it.

Graham Stringer is the former Manchester City Council Leader and the present MP for Blackley and Broughton.

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17 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Kevin O'connorApril 17th 2011.

I think for Mr Stringer to have the temerity to write this article is quite galling.

When you consider that within his own constituency there is BICC Cables who have 200+ employees on site, AMG paints which employs 100+ people and the Princes Drinks group that employs around the same number. Each of these locations are reliant on exports to the European Union in order to survive as well and hundreds more sites like them across the UK.

I wonder how Mr Stringer would like to try and explain it to over 500 of his constituents who would loose their jobs from these sites were the UK to pull out of the EU and be subject to the same import tarriffs of other non EU nations.

The second consideration is the fact that so much of Manchester has benefited from European Funding over the past 30 years and still does. Whilst Mr Stringer was leader of Manchester Airport Group Terminal 2 and the Second Runway were completed with support from the European Union. More locally many areas have received funding from the EU, such as the original Metrolink lines to Bury, Altrincham & Eccles as well as the current extensions throughout the area, the Shudehill Bus Exchange, Central Business Park in Newton Heath, Sports City, Heaton Park, Phillips Park, the New East Manchester Regeneration Company, North City Library and College and the New Deal for Communities which funded the renovation and renewal of much and the housing around North & East Manchester & Salford. Oh and the millions poured into central Manchester after the IRA bomb in 1996 from the European Union.

So what say you Mr Stringer can you honestly say Manchester would be a better place today without any of those things listed above which wouldn't have occurred had it not been for the European Union?

Betty Davis''s EyesApril 17th 2011.

Mr Stringer, sound medium to long term strategy; Mr. Connor, short term thinking is no good here, I for one have had enough of the EU, once being a great fan. Those grants are long gone and look what good that easy money has done to Liverpool, they are no further on. The UK has to accept that it needs to sut its cloth according to its needs.

As Mr Stringer eloquently points out, the end game is Federalism and I am not signed up to that. Lets paddle our own boat, there are going to be huge problems in this world over the next forty years to solve.

D KesslerApril 18th 2011.

Betty Davis, still livin' in the past?

Grants are still rolling in whereever you look. Fact is that centralised countries like France (Paris) and UK (London) still rely on the Germans paying for everything. Just stick with that thought for a while, perhaps query the Scots on what happens to THEIR oil money and digest their response?

1 Response: Reply To This...
espoirJuly 12th 2011.

Germany does not pay everything. The UK pays almost as much about £10bn after receipts are taken into account. This is about £200 million a week. call that nothing.

Not NorwayApril 18th 2011.

Scotland could be as wealthy as Norway, instead Scotland is ..... well, you get the point, don't you?

AnonymousApril 18th 2011.

I wonder why some people seem to think that in order to trade with the EU we need to be in it.

Do these people ever ask themselves where all their electronic gadgets come from, or plenty of their food?

Do they think that their ipods and bananas come from EU countries?

The UK pays much more to the EU than it gets back. There is no need for us to pay this money.

Why is it that many lefties are in favour of devolved government, and set up the new assemblies in Wales, Scotland and London, but at the same time seem to think that we need ever more centralised government in Brussels to make rules on all sorts of things that could be made perfectly well at national level in natioanal parliaments.

Confidence boosterApril 18th 2011.

Good article this Graham. Thoughtful and worthy of consideration by Labour.

Not NorwayApril 18th 2011.

Anon - I thought the Whalley and I made the point that you lot are already milking the Scots.... so Europe is milking you a bit in return. Get over it!

There is no such thing as a perfect equilibrium on getting out what you're paying in. That is such a juvenile argument...

Why is it that the same right wing pseudo-Eurosceptics moun about paying too much but then expect to retire in the sunny south of France (or Spain, depending on how old you are)?

SpacemanApril 18th 2011.

The EU parliament just voted itself a big package of pay rises, allowance increases etc., while out in the real world, cuts fall all round and economies fail under bad debts. Guess which way the Labour block voted?

Ground controlApril 18th 2011.

Big package? 2.3% rise it is, hardly news, mate....

Go talk to a City banker to hear what he would think of a 2.3% pay rise...

EARL OF DIDSBURYApril 19th 2011.

Well done Mr Stringer, we are in the EU and it started as a trading block and now regulates every aspect of our lives , with its unsustainable inflated currency its hugh subsidies from net contributer member states like the UK, its bailouts to failed states from countries like ours and the fact the whole EU is a fat oversized talking shop that wastes billions of pounds of money each year ,its time for an overdue referendum on our future membership of this dictatorial supersize organisaton, as for the big long senseless rant by Kev Connor at the beginning of this article does he not realize that the UK only gets a fraction back to what we contribute , if we didn't pay the billions in to pay for projects mainly in the East and South of the EU zone we would have a lot more money to spend here at home on cities like Manchester and as for the notion that if we aren't in the EU we cant trade with them thats ridiculous , we are the 5th largest economy in the world , the europeans aren't suddenly going to stop buying british products anymore than we are going to stop buying french wine , italian fashion products or German cars, and as for European Businesses are they going to pull out ? We aren't part of the ASEAN trade area yet Nissan , Honda and Toyota are here in the UK providing British jobs, none of the pro euro arguments stand up and ever have done , we can and should still recognize the current EU member nations passport holders for free movement in and out of the UK too if your worried that just because we pull out of the EU we are somehow going to cut ourselves off , so bring on the referendum now , or are we really scared of what the masses of british people really want? and well done to Mr Stringer for suggesting writing this piece and not singing from usual Labour party hymn sheet .

almondcroissantApril 19th 2011.

Mr Stringer has always had an anti-eu bee in his bonnet - nothing new here

flabgastApril 20th 2011.

'The Labour Party should side with the electorate. It should take a determinably Eurosceptic stance and argue for the orderly removal of the weaker economies from the Euro - making bailouts unnecessary.'

None of your business, you've got to be in it to win it!

realistApril 21st 2011.

Kevconnor is either naive or stupid. We contribute c£6billion per annum to the EU and run a £60billion trade deficit with them. The money the EU "give" in grants is the money we gave to them less the siphoned off parts. The EU needs the UK, we don't need the EU.

first worldApril 21st 2011.

you're still doing that money counting thing. how boring...

Europe is an idea, not just about money. You Brits only ever talk about money, stop it and you might finally get out of the 'second world' bracket into the first when YOU come up with idea other than MONEY!!!

EARL OF DIDSBURYApril 27th 2011.

Europe is a continent you muppet! not an idea , the UK is a proud trading independent nation not a charity for daft pointless projects dreamt up by suits in Brussels who regularly waste our money and once Spain's bailout happens the euro be finished!

first worldMay 10th 2011.

Spain's already bailed out by China, like Barcley's by Qatar etc... ergo: this is an interwoven world, you know that Earl.

Can't just milk the colonies and run anymore you know...

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