Wednesday, 13 July 2011

An end to the wartime economy - but only in the UK

Whitehall got the taste for petty power sometime after 1915. Under the guise of wartime exigency, the central State regulated for the first time a raft of matters that had hitherto been decided locally, or had not been decided at all. Alcohol Control Orders were originally made for just the areas around the Royal Ordnance Factories - to prevent well-paid munitions workers from drinking themselves silly. Some rural areas remained unlicensed until the days of peace, when Whitehall decided that it was a jolly good idea that should be rolled out across the nation. Our ardent spirits were diluted by law down to the strength they remain at to this day. It's been a long time since our Rum was ardent. You see, once the ratchet of wartime powers is applied, it rarely goes backwards. 

The Second War saw central State powers extended to an unimaginable degree - necessary to win the war, perhaps, but when war segued seamlessly into a Socialist State at peace, the wartime central command and control structures became institutionalised. The civil service is based not on the principles of Northcote-Trevelyan as it sometimes fondly imagined, but on those of Das Kapital. In wartime it's necessary to restrict rich people's access to food, fuel and clothing, to regulate the portion sizes and fat content of restaurant meals, to ration petrol, to impose swingeing taxes, to grant extraordinary powers to the police and to regulate human behaviour with a carrot-and-stick combination of penal measures and State rewards. But once the regulators - Whitehall - have got a taste of it, they're always keen to extend it. The wartime State reached its apotheosis under the last Labour government; the 'enemy' that justified the continued control over the minutae of our lives was not just 'terrorism' but cardiovascular disease, cancer and other health imperatives, inequality-of-outcome for its own sake and the wholly artificial construct of 'relative poverty'. State spending went up to 46% of national output. 

Well, all this must come tumbling down. State spending must fall to 30% or less if we are to be free of the debts run up to save the foolish and greedy bankers. Whitehall must give up its wartime powers. And so must the EU - and here hangs another tale. You see, the Hun administrators were just getting into their swing when Germany carelessly lost the war. In the last days of April 1945 they were still issuing Directives such as the one that allowed the substitution of 25g of barley-sugar sweets for 25g of chocolate as part of the special daily ration for balloon-observers, but only if they has ascended over 100m for at least an hour. At a time when the Reich had not a single observation balloon surviving. After a decent period of obscurity, they resumed the insanity under the badge of the EU. 

The boldest commentators today are predicting either the death of the Euro or the formation of a United States of Europe (without the UK as a member) by the end of the year if not by the end of the Summer. The former would liberate Europe, whilst the latter would create a permanent wartime bureaucratic super-nation on our doorstep. The choice seems clear to us - but don't underestimate the capacity of the rest of Europe to seek solace in the biggest Big State solution the world has ever seen.     


Barnacle Bill said...

Unfortunately I feel a redder shade of blue Dave would be banging on it's doors demanding to be let in if a US of E suddenly appeared across la Manche.
Or der Kanal, as they would never let us call it the English Channel again!

Greg Tingey said...

Large numbers of more intelligent Germans are beginning to realise that they've been had, as well.
See This article

There WAS a time when the EU could have been made to work, and work well.
But, as in so many other things the unbelievable Anthony Eden scuppered it, and all of us.
It COULD have been saved, as late as 1964, but De Gaulle screwed that chance, too.

Now, we need to be part of the free-trade area, as Norway & Switzerland are, but have nothing to do with the internal corrupt machinations of the EU comission...

formertory said...

Very recently I spent 10 days in Germany as part of a gathering of motorbiking enthusiasts. Most of the 200 attendees were German, with others from all over Europe. Put aside your preconceptions of drunken, tattooed morons in one-piece leathers on sportsbikes, or yobs on Harley Davidson tractors; our gathering was almost entirely people in their 40s, 50s and 60s. Comfortably off, middle class folk who wouldn't find the term "respectable" a slight.

Talking to a good number of the German attendees, I was surprised at just how angry they are. Polite to a fault, but really angry. They see themselves - after a decade of firmly controlling wage costs and pursuing efficiencies in their manufacturing industries, which followed a decade of pouring money into the East to assimilate it into the West - as now having to bail out countries who took everything on offer and then pissed it away against the nearest wall.

To a man (and woman) they thought membership of the Eurozone was a betrayal of all they'd worked for, and yearned for Deutschmarks in their wallets and purses so they wouldn't have to pay everyone else's bills.

Biggest surprise was that all of those I spoke to said the same things. You get used to reading the media and seeing broad descriptions about "Germans being angry" and you assume a certain amount of exaggeration - they mean "some" Germans are - but this was as far as I could determine, universal.

Historically, a pissed-off Germany has been a bad neighbour to have but that at least, has changed. If there's any move towards separating Germany from the Euro, any politician suggesting it won't want for support from the people in the street. I suspect Merkel is toast come the next elections.

Raedwald said...

Greg / formertory - you're both absolutely right of course. The point I was trying to make is that the Germans in the Berlaymont - and Merkel's administration - are as isolated from reality as the Third Reich administrator issuing directives about Barley Sugar as the world around collapsed.

The EU Parliament is now on holiday until 12th September. By the time the MEPs get back to Strasbourg, there may no longer be an EU to come back to.

Anonymous said...

A very interesting take on 20th century history Raedwald, I always took the view that the wars (mainly WW2) got in the way of the plans for a supranational Europe (Jean Monnet, League of Nations etc.), but I reckon that the fascist bastards look at each turn of events as an opportunity rather than an obstacle or defeat.

Bearing this in mind, I suspect that your USE by the end of the year may well be a reality, but with us on board, Cameron won't want to miss out on the fun...

Anyhow, as I insinuated in the Barclays Beano earlier, we need to find a reliable manufacturer of piano wire and quick... Maybe the Germans can help here, our last piano manufacturer (Kemble) went tits-up last year.

Blue Eyes said...

One of the many major problems with our non-plural political system is that the constitution can be bent on a whim by the vested interests of the PM. That means that if the PM wants to sit at the top table of Europe all he/she has to do is make it happen. Our system has been corrupted to the core. Our only hope now is that the Germans pull out of the Eurozone. What an irony for the Germans to have to intervene to keep us free.

Budgie said...

Greg Tingey, if by "the EU could have been made to work" you mean work as an inter-governmental organisation (like NATO and EFTA), then that has never been on offer. The EU was designed by its founders right from the start as a stealth mechanism to impose supra-nationalism.

The EU is, of course, still 'work-in-progress' which is why the euro is in crisis. Eurosceptics predicted this problem a decade ago, but carefully noted the caveat that the euro could survive with full fiscal union.

Hence Raedwald's comment (with which I agree): "either the death of the Euro or the formation of a United States of Europe (without the UK as a member) by the end of the year". Though I would not put it past Cameron to panic and try to hustle us in.