Today sees the launch of Guilty Men by Peter Oborne and Frances Weaver, with foreword by Peter Jay, and published by the Centre for Policy Studies. The report, an in depth look at the journalists, politicians and institutions that not only pushed heavily for Britain to join the European single currency but attacked the reputations of those who sought to keep us out, has already received widespread coverage on the back of Peter Oborne’s leading article in The Spectator.
The book begins with a dedication to all who worked to keep Britain out of the Eurozone – only to be derided as cranks, little Englanders, buffoons, racists, maniacs, extremists and xenophobes. The painting of William Hague as an extremist, Iain Duncan-Smith as a fascist leader of a “hardline coalition of European right-wingers” and, quite ridiculously, former SDP leader Lord Owen as an heir to Enoch Powell and Oswald Mosley because of their concern over the doomed future of such an endeavour is just an example of the unscrupulous and vicious personal attacks used to close down debate and present the Euro-fanatics as the calm, rational and moderate side of the argument.
Even now, as these men are proven correct and the Euro struggles towards its inevitable implosion, those wedded to the European ideal refuse to accept the mounting evidence they were wrong – Blair and Mandleson still call for Britain’s future entry into the single currency and this week we have seen spiteful attacks launched from the Liberal Democrat conference on Conservative European positions, with Chief Secretary to the Treasury (and former Euro fan) Danny Alexander chiming in by calling the over 100-strong new grouping of Conservative Eurosceptic MPs at Westminster a “fringe interest”, completely ignoring the mounting evidence of Euroscepticism, even down right EU-hatred, amongst the British public.
The book also highlights the institutionalisation of the pro-Euro argument, particularly highlighting the role of the BBC, Financial Times, and the CBI (then controlled by a coalition of Euro-supporting big business leaders) in stifling the debate and presenting those in favour of entry as the rational amongst the extremist naysayers.
The relevance of Oborne and Weaver’s publication cannot be underestimated in these days of crisis for the Eurozone. We must learn from the attacks and rejection of those with the prescience to see this coming, and begin to listen. As Tim Montgomerie made reference to yesterday, the Right has been right on many of the big arguments over the last few decades, but is marginalised by an elitist establishment that sees itself naturally in opposition to any ideas emanating from the outside its own political dogma.
With the Eurozone lurching towards its sad and predicted end game, those with a vested interest in the European project are calling for closer integration, a new treaty, new financial mechanisms to ensure the survival of not the just the currency, but the EU itself. Now, more than ever, we must show that our ears are open to those with a “clear mind and steady purpose” to see the folly of the Euro-nationalists.
What’s more, our Government – namely the Conservative Party which leads it - must demonstrate that it accepts the arguments of Hague and others at the time were right, something that the party is keen to do: it is easy to see the strength of Euroscepticism amongst the 2010 intake; which itself pales in comparison to the party’s rank-and-file. It can no longer be allowed for the cognitive dissonance of the Europhiles, rearranging deck chairs as the liner goes down, to dominate discussion and sideline dissent.
As Oborne and Weaver set out in Guilty Men, it is time for the Euro-supporters to apologise and to celebrate those who fought to save sterling. But it is not a call for complacency over the arguments won, but to prepare for the voices of those not afraid to be cranks to be heard a little louder in the future.
The Centre for Policy Studies’ Guilty Men is available for download from http://www.cps.org.uk/cps_catalog2/Guilty_Men.html and a hard copy is available for £10.