Friday, 19 November 2010

Ireland should remember the Darien lesson

England spent 700 years trying to secure Scotland by military force, but in the end it was sorting out Scotland's debt crisis that brought the North Britons into the Union.

In the 1600s Scotland looked with envy at the booming economy of its neighbour; this created perfect conditions for a 'get rich quick' scheme in which the Scots invested a fifth of the wealth of the country in return for a promise of huge asset returns and universal wealth. Sadly, the investment turned out to be a fly-blown swamp in central America. Whilst the bankers and fat cats lived on ships in some luxury, the poor punters died in their hundreds in mosquito ridden shanties. When the fat cats dealt with their misery by giving them more alcohol, it just killed them off faster. The false boom almost bankrupted Scotland. 

So when England came along with an offer to underwrite the debt and to buy Scots currency at the rate of an English Shilling (5p) for each Scots pound, the Scots gladly signed up to the Act of Union in return. And the poor sods have been regretting it ever since. 

As Joseph O'Connor writes in the Guardian this morning;
Psychiatrists tell us that grief comes in four distinct stages: denial, anger, bargaining and depression, before finally the goal of acceptance may be reached. In the last year, the country has staggered its way through that grim quartet of emotions. We made ourselves believe that the boom would last for ever, denying the facts when it became clear that it wouldn't. We then told ourselves the fallout wouldn't be as vicious as some predicted, even as the dole queues lengthened and businesses collapsed, and every single one of us had a family member or colleague who lost a job or couldn't pay the mortgage any more. Then followed the grotesque period of passivity and botched action, which the historians of 21st-century Ireland will ultimately remember as the doom of a country's self-image.
Ireland Unite; you have nothing to gain but Europe's chains.


Stravagantisimo said...

That's Darien, King R

Raedwald said...

Quite right. Well spotted, that person. Now corrected.

Anonymous said...

Of course this is the beginning of the end game in terms of the UK's submission to the power of Europe.
Now that Ireland has ceded virtually complete control to the EU the mechanism is in place to create a stranglehold in the UK. Expect less trade exports to Ireland from the UK as the EU insists on changes in the way Ireland conducts it's business. They have us by the political and economic balls.
Interesting but depressing times.

Nick Drew said...

excellent analogy, Mr R

I like a good piece of instructive history, me

greg tingey said...

So - if we (rather than the EU) offer Ireland lots of moolah, does that mean we get them back inside the tent, pissing out?