Monday, June 18, 2012

The Queen's Shilling

They've been voting over at about David McWilliams' proposal that we consider departing the euro for sterling. So far there's a slight majority in favour.

I suggested something similar last year, and it's still an idea worth considering. Certainly the more atavistic hostility to all things 'Brit' has ebbed in Ireland, not least since the Queen's visit. And the recent celebrations of her sixtieth year on the throne certainly helped her good standing with the British people, let alone the Irish.

But... Britain has its own problems. As this handy primer by Tullet Prebon reminds us: the UK's economic situation - especially in relation to debt - isn't a whole lot better than Ireland's. We're just that bit closer to the precipice thanks to the euro...

Indeed, Steve Keen reckons the UK is heading for its own credit crunch later this year. Frying pan, meet fire.

The economic uncertainty for the UK is reason enough to hesitate before jumping to sterling, but there's more. You don't just get an economy with a currency - you get a society. And as the estimable Theodore Dalrymple regularly reminds us, Britain is a society on the precipice of a social and moral collapse that very few are trying to reverse. Here he is on the theme of The Queen's Decaying Throne:

At the start of the reign whose 60th anniversary we "celebrate", Britain was one of the best-ordered societies in western Europe. Now, 60 years later, it is easily the most crime-ridden. 
Unpleasant social disorder is everywhere; in many places, a virtual dusk-to-dawn curfew has been imposed on old people by the drunken disorder that appals and disgusts foreigners. 
Our police, once a model to the world, increasingly resemble an alien occupying army, or fascist militia, festooned with all the apparatus of repression, who inspire fear mainly in the innocent, and who are bullying yet ineffectual. 
The state of the country is parlous in more ways than one. Large areas, once industrial, resemble the Soviet Union with takeaway pizza. The only "private" enterprise consists of retail chains that recycle government subventions to the unemployed. The middle class in such areas is composed almost entirely of public employees and professionals who cater to the social problems created by mass unemployment. 
Even at the height of the so-called boom, in 2006, there were 2.9 million people claiming to be so ill that they could not work at all. And thus the British benefit system performed the miracle of causing more invalids than World War I. 
Dalrymple's lament is that of a patriot, not a republican - he just wishes there was more to celebrate after 60 years. 

We may end up with no other choice but to take the Queen's shilling - but it might be an idea to make it a temporary arrangement on the way to something better. I believe it was once called 'independence'...

1 comment:

  1. Excellent synopsis of the current problems in Britain, Gerard. If we need to run for shelter, Sterling is the place to go, and one would hope Michael Noonan has already negotiated some sort of arrangement with the British treasury in that event. Most of the old antagonisms have faded with time and the success of the peace process, but without intelligent leadership (and there's still no sign of it!) it is hard to see how Ireland can remain independent. We may need our friends across the water, whatever the sacrifices that may entail.


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