Comment on a presentation by a senior Labour Politician

   to a meeting of North East Business people.


-        A reaction rather than a conversion  -


By  Peter Troy

How do I explain this to Tim?

The thought occupied my mind as I drove to a meeting at St James' Park, home ground of Newcastle United, organised by the Labour party {under the banner of the North East Business Forum} to listen to a presentation by Garry Titley leader of the Labour Party group of MEPs in the European Parliament, about the desirability of our country adopting the euro.

Tim my student son is an enthusiastic, if not a 'religiously' fanatical Middlesbrough supporter. He will not be impressed. Others may think I am going native or fear that I might be converted.

Arriving just in time, which is for me early. I was greeted with a strong coffee and the sight and smell of an appetising hot buffet.

I felt that it was an interesting meeting with an articulate presentation from the Leader of the Labour group of MEPs. It will come as no surprise, I hope, that my response to Garry Titleys comments is that I would challenge the detail and conclusions on every thing he mentioned. Perhaps what is more relevant to comment on is what he did not refer to.

European Citizen Titley and I have apparently met before; it was on the road to Damascus. We are both converts, however, we were travelling in opposite directions. As I confessed, when speaking at a well attended meeting in Sedgefield just before Christmas, at the referendum in 1975 I voted to stay in what was then the Common Market -the EEC.

I believed what the politicians, principally Heath and Wilson told us all. I truly thought that the single market and free trade concept would make this country stronger and that our democracy and sovereignty would not be effected and if it were to be just a little bit eroded it was all in the cause of progress. Well, since 1975 I travelled down the road to Damascus, passed Garry travelling as he said some 80% in the opposite direction towards as he sees it a desirable State of European Federalism.

There was no mention on Friday of the "rubber stamp" workings of the EU Parliament. No mention that all EU legislation can be only proposed by the Commission and the Council of Ministers. The European Parliament being unique amongst any Western Legislative body in that it can not propose its own legislation.

No mention of the economic constrains that Portugal, Germany and the Irish Republic find them selves in because of membership of the euro. All of the three countries Governments are asking for special dispensation because of their individual economic circumstances, no mention of how that is to be resolved. Portugal has got into a right old pickle with the Stability and Growth Pact, enforced by the Commission that is currently costing 380 million euros of Portuguese Taxpayers money to sort out.

No reply when I asked for a reaction to the pro government and respected organisation The Institute of Economic Affairs report last year that " the net effect of EU membership is close to zero". By my estimation that's some 36 billion of financial contribution wasted; now that would have been the bases of a good question.

No proper reply either to Colin Stratton's question concerning the inflationary effect on the UK economy if we were to ever adopt the euro. Actually the French and Italian press both have reported an increases of over 26% in prices, directly attributable to the conversion to the euro last January. Their domestic RPIs have shot through the roof.

Colins question was subsequently honestly answered by Europes top banker we have been reluctant to recognise that the switch over has caused something of a rise in prices. We should have been more honest about that. The head of the European Central Bank conceded that consumers in twelve European countries had seen prices rocket because of the conversion to the euro.

There was no time to properly discuss the central part of the MEPs argument; that being the threat of job losses if we do not adopt the euro. The dear old argument about the lads and lasses from Nissan being made redundant came up.

Yes the most efficient car plant in Europe would close if we don't dump the pound we are told! No mention that the future of the car workers in Washington [in the North East] is more to with French domestic politics. Renault at this time does not have a comparable modern facility, therefore is unable to produce on the scale of Washington. When Renault has this facility it will move production to France; a pure domestic political decision and nothing whatsoever to do with the euro or the EU. There are some that say that I am "a few apples short of a barrel "when I mention that, until that is I illustrate that Nissan's primary share holder is the French government via the French State majority shareholding in Renault.