By David Gow
If he hadn’t lost it already after a career in political journalism, Nucleus’ David Gow would be tearing his hair out…
Plans are afoot to set up an EU scheme to bail out ailing banks and/or guarantee deposits, Greece is on the verge of a collapse of its entire public service, the talk is of how to insure against a break-up of the eurozone, The Economist is taking Eurogeddon and a limited federal EU seriously – and Dave is reportedly planning to warn Francois Hollande about farm subsidies and the UK’s budget rebate.
It’s not only the DCMS, “headed” by Jeremy Hunt, which is in administrative and policy-making meltdown. So are Nos 11 and, above all, 10 Downing Street: we’re two years into a coalition government, the first for almost 70 years, and it’s more than not working; there is a paralysis of government at virtually every level. We could be in Athens…
Just at a point when the UK is working on the growth agenda with Hollande’s France and numerous others, including the main signatories to Cameron’s letter on growth at the infamous ‘phantom veto’ summit last December, when Britain is winning friends and influence, Dave raises the hare of the rebate and the CAP with Hollande in a bid to: what? Lui ficher la gueule? The Levenson inquiry has revealed a government in hock to Murdoch; the euro crisis a party at the mercy of 80-90 head-banging right-wing Europhobes.
Nick Watt’s overnight story makes sorry reading: “Andrea Leadsom, a central figure in the eurosceptic Fresh Start group of MPs, said the prime minister needed to be “more aggressive” in his negotiations with other EU leaders”. Cameron, as we know, is universally criticised (at best) among his 26 EU colleagues for hectoring from the sidelines on the euro crisis; this is diplomatically bovine.
Away from the fantasy realm of British policy towards the EU, it is clear we’re reaching yet another (provisional) endgame over Greece. Angela Merkel, the first east German to be chancellor and a former deputy spokesman for East Berlin’s one-and-only elected government, has put forward a six-point plan to “save” Greece modeled on Bonn’s scheme to revitalize the six “New States” of 1992 and, thereby, make Helmut Kohl’s pre-unification promise of “a land of plenty” (on the Cathedral Square Erfurt February 1990) a reality. See the original here. (A process that the new German President, Joachim Gauck, ex-head of the Stasi archive watchdog, says will take another 20 years…)
What’s missing from Merkel’s plan – special economic zones a la Mezzogiorno, German Agenda 2010-style cuts in employment rights etc, privatization on the Treuhandanstalt model– is fiscal transfers. German taxpayers – this correspondent included – paid a so-called “solidarity surcharge” on their income tax to help finance east Germany’s regeneration which, among other things, has helped provide the more than €1.5trn (trillion) of fiscal transfers from west to east over the past two decades. (Eat your hearty out Athens). The privatisation model pursued by the Treuhand – again, this correspondent was offered a business for one DM provided he invested at least DM1m – has been, shall we say, not an unmitigated success. (Ask anybody on the Alex…)
Meanwhile, and we’ll no doubt hear more today, there’s a “plan”, according to the Sunday Times which names no source or document, to “rescue” Europe’s banks; a story also covered by the Telegraph. There’s not a scintilla of evidence to back this story but that’s the eurocrisis: there are as many cunning plans, including a sensible one of a FDIC–style body to insure deposits, as episodes of Blackadder but little or no sustained action. And, meanwhile, in Chequers, while thinking over the Fruit Ninja and cooking a la Heston with a Two Fat Ladies-style intake of wine, Dave is back in 1984 with Maggie demanding her money back…Pitiful is too kind.