Ozzy's Corner

A view from the Libertarian Left. With no spin


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Democracy in the Euro-zone is Under Threat

The Euro-zone is proceeding nicely along the  lines set out in The Schuman Declaration, 9th May 1950. This proposed the creation of a European Coal and Steel Community, whose members would pool coal and steel production.

By pooling basic production and by instituting a new High Authority, whose decisions will bind France, Germany and other member countries, this proposal will lead to the realization of the first concrete foundation of a European federation indispensable to the preservation of peace.

This thread of federalism has run through all European treaties. Make no mistake – all road signs have pointed to a United States of Europe being the final goal.

The current ongoing crisis in the Euro-zone is proof that monetary union cannot work without fiscal union. The can only be resolved by one of two means – abandoning the single currency or completing a fiscal union.

It is clear that monetary union has benefited Germany, Europe’s economic powerhouse, by keeping the exchange rate for her exports lower than an independent Deutsche Mark would trade at. Apart from the loss of face in abandoning the single currency, an independent German currency would surely appreciate very quickly.

This is why Germany has been very keen to keep the Euro going. This has resulted in dire threats to Greece about electing an anti-bailout Government. It is why both Italy and Greece have unelected Leaders, put in place to ensure the anti-austerity forces are kept in check.

The Guardian reported on plans being drawn up to create the federal Europe.

In return for yielding to the pressure to pay to save the euro, Berlin will insist on major steps towards a eurozone federation or political union with budgetary, fiscal, and scrutiny powers vested in Brussels and in the European Court of Justice, meaning vast transfers of sovereignty from member states.

This really cuts to the chase. When a country can no longer set it’s own budget, and have it’s plans overseen, scrutinised and blocked by outside bodies, it relegates the powers of an elected Government to being no more than those of local council, deciding whether to empty wheely bins weekly or fortnightly.

This structure will ensure the austerity mindset, firmly in place among global capitalists, will dominate and spread across all of Europe. This mindset will be hard-wired into the rules and regulations.

Not only will democracy be diminished, the result could be catastrophic for peace within Europe itself. The tensions seen on the streets of Athens could spread to other countries, with no democratic outlet for the protesters.

The Euro-zone crisis is real, but a push for federalism would be a certain disaster for the it’s citizens. Peace and prosperity can only come from freeing people and allowing democracy to bloom.

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The Case for Localism

The fuse for the Scottish referendum bomb has been well and truly lit.

As Westminster and Holyrood battle over the wording, timing and authority of an SNP proposed referendum, perhaps it is the time for the nation to reflect on the case for localism.

Over decades political power gravitated towards Westminster, and economic power to the South East of England. This accelerated during the Thatcher years rush to neo-liberalism. As the regions became more estranged from the South East, they became centres of a strong anti-conservative movement, principally led by Labour. Wales and Scotland made Conservative MPs rarer than hen’s teeth and the large northern conurbations were run by left wing Councils.

Power drained away to Whitehall as fast as economic power flowed to the Square Mile.

Alongside the growth of globalisation, politically the EEC transformed into an ever greater influence over it’s member states. A club became a single market, and the single market became a monetary union for most countries. The Euro crisis has been taken as evidence that political integration is the next step. The G7, G20 and WTO have become increasing significant.

As a democrat who believes firmly that people have the right to self determination this never rested easily with me, nor others across the political spectrum.

The creation of the Welsh and London Assemblies, and the devolution of Scotland were very welcome to reverse the tide of centralisation. All have been successful, and should be welcomed by any democrat.

The debate about an independent Scotland is interesting, as it follows the Welsh debate about more powers for their assembly, discussion by some of the merits of an English Parliament and the strong view by many that the UK should wrestle more powers back from the EU.

The link is clear – people increasingly want more power over their own lives and politicians to be more accountable to those who vote for them. This is why any attempt by Westminster to curtail the demand for a Scottish referendum will be totally counter-productive. The Scottish genie is out of it’s bottle.

If any Westminster Conservative doesn’t support a genuine referendum, it would be total hypocrisy, as the Scots are using an argument in reality no different than that used by Eurosceptics when wanting to pull out of the EU.

Westminster Labour should accept that what the Scottish people want is up to them alone. It would be loss of a Labour power base, but that has to be accepted gracefully.

So I appeal to all democrats to accept that localism and self-determination are both welcome and good for people. A Scottish referendum will happen, and I hope it is fought over with politeness and good grace, and the expressed democratic view of the people accepted.