“Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”
I have always admired this proposition of Wittgenstein, and have always taken it literally. (I’m not smart enough to do otherwise.) But if you were wondering why this blog has never addressed the so-called Euro crisis, it’s because I once discovered Proposition 7 on a good day.
As Dylan pointed out, however, “things have changed”. Over the weekend, Cameron displayed the British bulldog spirit, which had been urged upon him by his back-benchers, by running away from the argument, and from Europe. (At my school, not Eton, British bulldogs stood and fought their corner rather than, to mix a metaphor, leaving the game and taking their bat and ball home with them.) Is this the only “veto” in history that didn’t actually veto anything?
The disagreement between Cameron and Sarkozy (plus all the other European leaders) did not affect the French market in Leamington Spa, which added some Gallic charm and class to the rubbish which usually occupies our main street during Sundays at this time of year. Few of the marchands had any time for Sarkozy; even fewer of their customers had any time for Cameron. But everyone, as we bought our cheeses, our boudin noir and our rillettes d’oie , agreed that it was, if not une catastrophe, certainly une dommage.
Although we are, most of us, sceptical of all politics—and therefore by definition also Eurosceptic—we are naturally aligned with Europe. I live part of the year in France, and love the country, its people and its culture. But Sarkozy, at least on the domestic front, frightens me. So does the fact that he is less popular, currently, than Le Pen fille. I understand and share any apprehension about joining with people like this in a fiscal or, especially, federal union.
But I do not believe that the interests of the City are the same as “British interests”, as Cameron claims. It seems to me that the Euro crisis is primarily a banking crisis rather than a fiscal crisis, with only Greece and maybe Ireland clearly living beyond their means. The rest of us are picking up the bills for the greed, irresponsibility and incompetence of the international banking community, whose interests Cameron has determined to protect. This morning’s judgement on the appalling collapse of the Royal Bank of Scotland demonstrates how little these bankers require protection and how desperately they need regulation. But the egregious Fred Goodwin is still a knight of the realm and still draws his pension, just as all the others who have been rewarded for failure.
The rewards are shameful. The failure catastrophic.
But these are the guys that support that part of the Government which dined at Chequers and greeted Cameron in their Bullingdon-esque triumphalist manner on his return from Europe. These are the guys in whose hands lies our future. These are the guys we need to pension off quickly.
Today’s listening: wish James had uploaded a recording of last night’s Swaps gig, but in its absence, some authentic blues: The Howlin’ Wolf London Sesssions.