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10 December 2011


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Hank Foresman

Pat, I think your analysis of what happened yesterday is spot on; the Tories have always been leery of the European Union. The Brits can be arrogant and insufferable, but so can we Americans.

I just finished rereading several histories of World War I; the valor of the French should not ever be underestimated. I would commend to the readers http://www.amazon.com/Price-Glory-Verdun-1916/dp/0140170413/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1323533352&sr=1-1 by Alistair Horne; this book I believe highlights the valor and determination of France and French people.


The European Union is going to enact its own equivalent of The Glass-Steagall Act, in other words, permanently handcuff its banks to prevent them from engaging in the more dubious financial practices that contribute to instability, such as certain forms of short selling.

Cameron, as a junor partner in the Transaltlantic alliance, is against such measures since the "Financial Services" under threat, provided by The City, are about Ten percent of Britains GDP. That is a lot of financial sector jobs and a large chunk of Conservative funding.

Europeans are already critical of Wall Street and some have called for a permanent ban on any private sector banker being employed in any regulatory or statutory institution.

As for the French, no one can doubt their courage or sacifice.


"Cameron argued that the planned deal would threaten key British interests, including its financial markets and the preeminence of the City of London as Europe's financial capital."

So Cameron is going to defend the predatory capitalists to the last; expelled from the EU is the likely result and a permanent decline in London's financial sector is probably going to be the result. It seems at least some world leaders don't owe their complete allegiance to monied interests.

David Habakkuk

An earlier Tory leader, Edward Heath, was extremely pro-European. It was Mrs Thatcher who locked the Tory party into fanatical Europhobia -- and Americaphilia. Both of these pathological characteristics have been massively reinforced by two old colonial press barons -- Lord Black, who is already in prison, and Rupert Murdoch, who clearly ought to be.

This Americanophilia subsequently got so extreme that our current Prime Minister, David Cameron, told you people that we were 'the junior partner in 1940.'

But then of course he is an old Etonian -- what can you expect.

A quick Google search identified an interesting 'Potential Royal Marines Commando Forum' -- which gives an idea of how quite a few English patriots feel about his remark.

(See http://prmc.royalnavy.mod.uk/showthread.php?t=30844 )

Green Zone Cafe

As walrus noted, the EU wants to constrain the banks from casino gambling, and also institute a Tobin Tax to slow speculation and algorithm trading.

The other interesting article this weekend was the Scottish National Party announcing a program for independence that included alignment with the Nordic countries.

So, the UK is moving out of the EU. Ireland will stay in, for no other reasons than spite and subsidy. If the new Frankish Empire looks for opportunities, would Scotland be attractive?

Maybe history hasn't ended in Europe after all.


It makes eminent sense for the Brits to get out of the escalating EU clusterf***k. In fact I think it makes even more sense for the Germans and the peripheral countries to leave. The credit markets clearly believe that the Euro political project is for all intents and purposes dead - the question is when the cadaver will be recognized for what it is.

The most realistic way for the peripheral countries to regain competitiveness is to default on their debt and devalue relative to the north. With a 80% government debt/GDP ratio, Germany needs all it's resources to recap it's own banks. Who is going to recap the French banks? France does not have the ability under the current structure when just 4 banks have total assets much larger than the French economy. Marine Le Pen is calling for France to exit and return to the franc and is supposedly polling 20% for the next presidential election.

How long can the eurocrats kick this can down the road? I suppose if the ECB follows the Ben Bernanke/Mervyn King helicopter it could be a while longer but at some point the inherent contradictions in the single currency will resurface. Greece is in a depression. Spain has 40% youth unemployment. How long will social cohesion remain? Better to call it a day when they can still try and shake hands and return to national sovereignty.



And you are also, or an old Harrovian, Winchester, surely not Wellington. pl


Look for Germany and France to develop closer relations with solvent energy-supplier Russia. Which is more valuable, oil, gas, and raw materiels, or dodgy financial 'services'.


Eton - "Group therapy for congenital deviates" - Len Deighton

R. Whitman

If the UK leaves the EU, will it apply for membership to NAFTA? Of course NAFTA will have to change its name.


My first thought on hearing of Cameron's veto was that, even though Prime Minister, he had put his party before his country, which would be treachery. On further consideration, however, it's clear that this is just another instance of the short-termism that has become endemic to our civilization. Cameron has taken the safest possible option, in the short term, for the UK economy. He's like someone who can't face the stresses of the work and decides to remain in bed instead. Of course in the medium to long term (three years or more) he'll have to go crawling back. In the mean time he's lost the UK a unique opportunity to be deeply and centrally involved in the next stage of Europe's evolution, and he's lost it forever.

Medicine Man


In a recent post you remarked that a poster here "doesn't know what appalling casualties are". I immediately thought of the Third Battle of Ypres. Yes, I have no doubts about the fighting prowess of the French.

Lord Curzon

I couldn't be more pleased that Cameron has grown a pair.

The UK submitted a protocol asking for opt out of any future financial regulation; this was rejected, at which point he did what any responsible leader would do and walked away from the cake-and-arse party that is the EU. Merkel and Sarkozy could have been reasonable, but chose to play pure politics by blaming the whole thing on Cameron. They both have been incredibly inept at gripping this crisis - that both of them will have a very tough time getting re-elected (frankly Sarkozy is toast) and making Cameron a scapegoat are not entirely unconnected.


Way back in the 1990's there was a charming series of art history documentaries made by a Carmelite nun, Sister Wendy Alexander, which began each episode with an introduction that I have always found deeply amusing. Roughly:

"I am Sister Wendy Alexander. After forty years secluded in a Cermelite monastery I am going to do something now that I have always wished to do. I am going to Europe!"

That we* brits do not consider ourselves in any way a part of the continent is so deeply ingrained as to be almost subconscious. I wouldn't myself attribute it to arrogance, but rather to a native insularity, bred in the bone, of a kind that can place people to the mining village they come from by some subtle inflexion in accent.

* I'm BINO now, myself, and consider myself more californian than scots, and that after a mere fifteen years oot the rain. Fryin' pan meet fire, eh?



Someone said something about the Scots-independence-and an economic agreement with scandinavia. anything to that? pl

Phil Giraldi

Britain entered the EU in the 1970s, when there was no Euro and the EU was largely viewed as an economic free market, not unlike that which was created by the US constitution. London wisely refused to join the Euro zone, recognizing that it would mean that they would lose the ability to deal with economic problems through currency manipulation. Yes, the Brits may be a lot of arrogant bastards but they do tend to see their self interest a whole lot better than we do. As for the comments about the City of London and predatory capitalism, we Americans have little to boast about in that regard. We are the role models.



OK. The euro came later, not the area of my professional concern. pl

Lord Curzon


I'll take Eton over Harrow, Winchester, Wellington or Westminster (Nick Clegg's old place) any day of the week!



How about Rugby? It was good enough for HPF? pl


I wish De Gaulle was alive today!

David Habakkuk

Not at all. Magdalen College School, Oxford. In those days, a direct grant school -- part in the state system, part out.

It was quite a good school. Not as good as my father's school, which was the grammar school in Barry, South Glamorgan -- a seaport in south Wales. My grandfather was secretary of the Education Committee of the council there.

The Welsh grammar schools were very elitist. The people who created them didn't see that there was amything a posh English fee-paying school could do, that a Welsh local authority school couldn't do as well or better. And they were right.

My wife and I disagree about David Cameron.

At Oxford, he -- like the current Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, and Mayor of London, Boris Johnson -- were members of something called the Bullingdon Club. They used to go around getting blind drunk, trashing places, and then thinking they made up for it by flashing their money around.

Not quite John Henry Newman's definition of a gentleman -- or indeed, Robert E. Lee's.

My wife's father was a self-made businessman -- in the war he worked on Hurricane fighters in the drawing office of the engineering firm Napiers, and after it built up a quite successful business manufacturing catering equipment.

She was brought up to regard discourtesy to a waiter in restaurant as the height of bad manners. But she is also inclined, as it were, to think that nobody can be damned beyond redemption by the silly things that they did in their early twenties.

In many matters my wife is wiser than I. But she is sometimes too kind-hearted. I feel about Cameron and Osborne as I do about people who were communists at university -- the onus of proof is on them to show they have put the past behind them.

So far, I am waiting to see any clear proof that Cameron and Osborne are not, as it were, rich white trash.



thanks for reminding that all Englishmen (and whatever Cameron is) are not public school boors. pl

ps I jave to get GO # 9 in at the end of "Down the Sky." thanks for reminding me.

Norbert M Salamon

As others have observed, the UK was a reluctatant member of EU.

Perhaps the reason Germany and France were more demanding [no exclusions] from Mr. Cameron was that the UK has the worst debt ratio with her GDP after Japan, thus the UK would present some extra effort to reform - which Mr. Cameran was un willing to do, and the EU leaders did not wish to partake of those troubles.

With respect to the Tobin Tax as it would apply, the UK laready has a stamp{?} tax on financial transactions, thus this issue is moot. That the EU eventually will force some banks to Bankrupt or otherwise reorganize is certain, the UK banks could not do it, as their debt loads are far greater in proportion. Mr. Cameran could not face the music from the CITY - thus he had to depart.

His hope that he will still have input into EU decisions is hopium, not reality.



very true, but our politicians are also firmly on the side of Wall Street.


I think Cameron did the right thing for the wrong reasons here. In effect this agreement means automatic spending cuts or tax increases whenever there's a serious economic downturn. It's a legal guarantee the the government will kick the economy when it stumbles.

The arc of prosperity was a phrase used by the SNP's leader to promote the idea of independence from the UK and joining the Eurozone.


It seemed like a good idea in 2006. Made him look like a bit of a wally in 2008.

Also, Germany is fucked even if they don't quite know it yet. The cuts mostly haven't kicked in in southern Europe yet, but the bad economy is already hitting German exports.


I'd say that with the automatic sanctions for countries that run deficits that are too large, Germany might wind up hoist on it's own petard here, but the last time that was in danger of happening they just rewrote the rules to remove the penalties.

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