Sunday, 28 June 2015

The right to a private & family life

The imprecise nature of much of the European Convention on Human Rights can be demonstrated by examining one of the Articles taken at random. The Article chosen is Article 8: Right to respect for private and family life. At the time when the British Government signed up to the Convention, and for nearly two decades afterwards, homosexual relations in private between adult men was a criminal offence, although this law did not apply to adult women. So how, many might ask, was this law consistent with the provisions of Article 8. The answer lies in the detailed wording of the Article which is as follows:-

1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home, and his correspondence.

2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Many of the exemptions in Part 2 are common to other Articles in the Convention. In the case of the prohibition of homosexual relations between men, British governments could have argued (although no challenge was ever made) that the protection of 'morals' allowed the law to interfere in this private activity. Similarly Governments could also argue that the prohibition of the possession of cannabis in the home for private use is consistent with this Article, citing the protection of health exemption, despite the law allowing the possession of tobacco, which is equally damaging but more addictive.

The reality is that the exemptions allowed under the Convention are so wide that they provide very little in the way of protection to the private citizen against the determination of a government to introduce just about any law considered necessary for whatever reason. Moreover, judges have an equally wide discretion as to how to interpret its provisions, and their decisions form a legal precedent which is near impossible to reverse. As Lord McCluskey warned during the parliamentary debate on the Human Rights Bill 'by incorporating into our domestic law vague, imprecise and high-sounding statements of legal rights, we hand …legislative power away from a democratic and accountable Parliament to an appointed, unelected and unaccountable judiciary'.

Currently both the British government, and the judges who interpret human rights legislation, are all dancing to the same politically correct tune, and the judgements they hand down reflect this prevailing mindset. The vagueness and generalised wording of the exemptions gives the ECHR considerable power since it is the sole arbitrator on what is, and is not, consistent with the Convention. This power, to decide what activities are, or are not, lawful, has been usurped by a foreign legal body. It should be returned to our national parliament, where the arguments can be investigated, fully debated and discussed.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

The European Court of Human Rights

Interference in British affairs in not confined to the European Union. A particularly pernicious threat to our independence and parliamentary government comes from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which comes under the aegis of the Council of Europe. The ECHR has been allowed, with increasing frequency, to overrule the decisions of our Parliament and elected government, in some cases with judgements considered by many to be highly questionable.

The ECHR was established in 1959 to adjudicate on individual complaints under the European Convention on Human Rights of 1950. The Convention took as its starting point the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948. The Convention sought collective enforcement of the rights set out in the Universal Declaration, 'through the maintenance and further realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms'. The British government was the first nation to ratify the European Convention on Human Rights. It did so without any parliamentary debate or manifesto commitment. The then Attorney General, answering an inquiry from a sceptical MP, opined that 'it is not contemplated that any legislation will be necessary to give effect to the terms of the Convention because I think we are entitled to say that the law of the land in this country has always been in advance of the laws of most other countries in regard to human rights'.

This mixture of idealism and naiveté was perhaps excusable at that time but with the benefit of hindsight and experience, the holding of such views today is clearly reckless and wilfully blind. The incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into British law further tied the hands of Parliament and future governments to act in what they judge to be the nation’s best interests. Because of the subversive nature of its provisions, the Human Rights Act should, with more honesty, be renamed the Suspension of Parliamentary Government Act. For this reason its repeal would not result in the loss of human rights but their reclamation.

It is easy to understand and sympathise with the noble and high-minded ideals which led to these human rights declarations. They came in the aftermath of a conflict that was fought, by many of the Allies, to end a system in which the most flagrant human rights abuses had been perpetrated as deliberate government policy by supposedly civilised nations. However, it is sometimes said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. So it is worth examining whether human rights are best preserved by foreign based judges interpreting often vague and generalised human rights declarations, or whether there is a simpler and more effective way of achieving this end. It should be remembered that the UN Declaration of Human Rights was carried at a time when one of the permanent members of the Security Council was incarcerating and liquidating millions of its citizens, whose only 'crime' was to come into disfavour with the totalitarian Marxist regime controlled by one of the most brutal dictators in history.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Liberal wishful thinking on race.

An atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust can arise in the multiracial workplace, as white people need to be continually on their guard about what they may say to, and about, black colleagues, since any slip of the tongue that is deemed 'racist' could lead to dismissal. It should be remembered that the whole employment equality agenda is based on the fictional premise that, taken as a whole, the people of all races are potentially equally competent in all areas of work and that, if any inequality of outcome occurs between the races, it can only be due to 'discrimination' or 'prejudice'. There is absolutely no foundation for this belief other than liberal egalitarian wishful thinking.

One only has to compare the historical achievements of white Europeans with those of black Africans, in just about every category of attainment other than some sports, to understand the absurdity of the 'equality' agenda. However, this is not to say that some individual blacks are not more skilled or intelligent than some individual whites, since there is a wide overlap between the intelligence and abilities of people from the two races. Unfortunately, some on the Right are proponents of the theory of genetic determinism, which declares that black people, by virtue of being black are, for genetic reasons, inferior in intelligence and ability to whites. However, there is not a shred of objective evidence to support this theory, which owes its origins to eugenics and dud scientism. The reason for the disparity in general intelligence and ability between races still remains a mystery.

In the early days of mass third world immigration liberals advocated a policy of assimilation into British society. However, by the early seventies this policy was found to be unrealistic since most ethnic people chose to retain their cultural identity, which was facilitated by the growth of minority communities. So the policy of integration was quietly dropped and replaced by the promotion of multiculturalism, which stressed the 'enrichment' and 'diversity' that ethnic minorities bring to British society.

However, the term 'multicultural society' is another liberal nonsense, since the presence of different cultural communities leads to the fragmentation of society. In practice, the different communities live largely separate lives, connected only by geographical proximity. If multiculturalism was genuinely as enriching as its supporters claim, then the residents of the more homogeneous parts of Britain, such as Cornwall or Cumbria, would be agitating for more ethnic minorities to move into their areas. There is clearly no such demand by ordinary people who are quite content for their neighbourhoods to remain as defiantly monocultural as they have always been. For example, the late esteemed Charles Kennedy, when Liberal Democrat leader, repeatedly stressed the benefits of a multicultural society. It is worth noting that his own constituency in northern Scotland had about the lowest percentage of ethnic minorities in the country, and his constituents were likely to be blissfully unaware of the benefits that multiculturalism brings.

One further fallacy proclaimed by liberals is that it is only whites who are capable of practicing the sin of 'racism'. In reality, it is only whites who are made to feel guilty about the achievements of their race, for the fact of being white and for preferring their own kind. People of other races do not share this guilt complex and have fewer qualms about pursuing their own racial agenda. This is a bitter lesson whites are likely to learn in the coming years when black people achieve more positions of power and authority in our society. What underpins multiculturalism is the cultural Marxist elite’s distaste and dislike of Western culture and achievement. In their eyes traditional British culture has now become 'irrelevant' or 'outdated' and must be replaced by a bogus value system which proclaims that all cultures (except our own) are equally 'valid' or 'relevant'. The end result of this iconoclasm will be to lose our national heritage for 'a mess of potage'. So the state sponsored multiculturalist experiment, in which we are all unwilling guinea-pigs, needs to be brought to a swift conclusion before the damage becomes irreparable. Some aspects of ethnic minority involvement in British life have been highly detrimental, such as black ghetto culture, or could be potentially destructive, for example, militant Islam. The black musical heritage of gospel, jazz, rhythm & blues, reggae and sixties soul has been a very positive one. However, since the eighties it has largely been replaced by a degraded form of 'musical' expression known as rap or hip-hop. In fact it is not music at all since the 'tune' is always the same, the lyrics being 'rapped' to much the same beat.

For some inexplicable reason it is enormously popular with urban blacks, and is considered to be the height of cool amongst some impressionable white youths. The music industry appears content for this to continue indefinitely since it requires no talent for musical composition, which is in short supply. Rap is noted for its often offensive lyrics, contemptuous attitude towards women, celebration of violence for its own sake and the extolling of gun culture and gangsterism. Had it arisen from the white working class it would have been reviled and condemned, but instead it is considered as an authentic expression of black urban culture and patronised by the liberal elite. The most noticeable example of this was when one particularly asinine Chief Constable performed a rap at a meeting of his black police association, degrading his uniform and police force in the process. Many of the less appealing aspects of urban black culture have been adopted by deadbeat white youths, who mimic black ghetto fashions, and spread graffiti.

For most of the post war years youth culture had the capacity to renew itself with vibrant new fashions and music. However, this all now seems to have come to an end as, for the last quarter century, popular music and fashions have hardly changed with both remaining at a low level of creativity and style. Evidence for this depressed state is demonstrated by the folding of three of the four popular music weeklies and the collapse of the audience for the BBC’s flagship popular music programme Top of the Pops, which has now been axed. Although it would be a mistake to blame black culture entirely for this malaise, it has certainly had a disproportionate impact.

Friday, 19 June 2015

The huge increase in asylum seekers

One development, which has fuelled the immigration debate, is the considerable rise in the numbers seeking asylum, particularly during the past decade. Britain signed up to the UN Convention on Asylum 1951 in very different circumstances to those that apply today. It was then seen primarily as a means of providing a welcome to those escaping from countries under communist control. The numbers who applied were very small, virtually all being of European stock who could easily integrate into our society.

The situation today has been completely transformed, since the numbers now seeking asylum are huge, sometimes in excess of 100,000 a year, the vast majority coming from countries outside Europe. Moreover, most asylum seekers’ claims are judged to be unfounded but, because of the lengthy appeals process, and the lack of meaningful enforcement action, most of those refused asylum continue to remain here. Many of the people who are now seeking asylum are from countries which earlier generations of liberals agitated on behalf of, when they were seeking independence from colonial rule.

The most obvious example of this is Zimbabwe, a country that under the white rule of Ian Smith was, by African standards, a model of stability and good government. However, for a period of fifteen years before formal independence, Rhodesia (as it was then known) was subject not only to international sanctions instigated by Britain but, in later years, a Marxist inspired murderous guerrilla campaign led by terrorists such as Robert Mugabe. As a consequence of these pressures Rhodesian society was fatally destabilized, and when Mugabe became president of an internationally recognised Zimbabwe, the joy of liberals was unbounded, as shown in the diary entry of Tony Benn, where he crowed 'Robert Mugabe has won the Rhodesian elections outright. It’s a fantastic victory and I can’t remember anything that has given me so much pleasure for a long time'.

However, based on the experience of other African countries granted independence, it must have been clearly obvious that 'majority rule' in Zimbabwe, for which liberals craved, would inevitably lead to the same chaos, corruption, backwardness and poverty which is the hallmark of most African regimes. So we now witness the unedifying spectacle of liberals, who were once cheerleaders for Mugabe, now demanding that Britain should accept large numbers of native African asylum seekers 'fleeing' his regime and others equally corrupt and incompetent.

Current British asylum policy divides people into two categories, firstly those whose claim is considered to be unfounded and who are branded 'bogus' by the tabloid media and, secondly, those who meet the criteria for granting asylum and who are termed 'genuine'. It should be remembered that virtually all of the tens of thousands of people who claim asylum in Britain each year travel considerable distances to do so, rather than seeking refuge in the nearest safe country. In this context Britain is in a fortunate position as it is unlikely that, in normal circumstances, countries such as France, Holland or Norway would ever give rise to asylum seekers from their own indigenous citizens.

It is, of course, open for Britain to accept asylum seekers from more distant countries, as happened in the Cold War period when those escaping the tyranny of communist regimes of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union were normally granted automatic asylum as a political gesture. However, if the area for which people can be considered for asylum is extended to cover the whole world, then we are likely to face considerable difficulties. This is because of the sheer scale of the numbers that could be involved, since outside Western society, a notable feature of most countries is their poor human rights records. Thus, any person arriving from such countries could credibly advance a plausible case for asylum, because of the nature of the society they wish to leave. So, because of the potential numbers who could theoretically be eligible, it is clearly quite impossible to accept all those who might want to come since, allowing just 1% of the potential total to enter this country would completely overwhelm us. So, on practical grounds the reality is that there has to be a limit to how many can come in, no matter how well founded an asylum claim might be.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Don't accept sweets from strangers

Although the publicity over rape has exaggerated and magnified its extent, in recent years this has been overtaken by paranoia over paedophiles and 'child abuse', a wide ranging term of relatively modern origin sometimes confused with the more serious crime traditionally known as child molestation. In the present climate it is difficult to believe that in the 1950s and 1960s children throughout the country could roam their neighbourhoods without any apparent fear or alarm. Children were warned not to talk to, or accept sweets from, strangers. But the threat from 'child molesters' as these deviants were then rightly known, was not an issue that aroused much public concern, although the numbers of men sexually attracted to children would have been about the same then as it is now. By contrast, children today have lost this freedom, replaced instead by a prevailing anxiety over a largely non-existent threat.

Although the liberal establishment, through children’s charities and council social service departments, must take some blame for this climate of fear, their concerns have been fuelled by the tabloid media and some politicians. For many years the availability of 'kiddie-porn' was one of the main planks of Mary Whitehouse’s campaign against permissiveness. But for a long time her concerns fell on deaf ears among the then liberal elite, and the media gave the subject relatively little attention, focussing instead on ridiculing her clean up TV campaign and objections to adult pornography.

A group of paedophiles, encouraged by 'progressive' sexual reform activists in the gay rights’ lobby, formed the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) in the hope that the new climate of sexual toleration would be extended to them. They received some encouragement in this belief when their 'cause' was received with some sympathy at a gay rights conference to which they had been invited. However, this proved to have been a miscalculation since, when their existence came to the attention of the tabloid press, the PIE campaign was vigorously condemned. The publicity generated by this event began the long media focus on 'child abuse', which over the decades would become increasingly shrill and zealous, leading to the current paranoia on the subject.

Friday, 12 June 2015

The debasement of architecture

However, more than music or art, it is debasement of architecture that has had the most impact on society since, as it forms part of our everyday surroundings, it is something that none of us can ignore. Britain’s architectural heritage must be one of the greatest in the world. The richness, diversity and comprehensiveness of the amazing range of buildings that we have inherited from previous generations is quite staggering. Just about every village, town or city in our island can present urban settings which are a joy to behold. As John Betjeman perceptively observed 'good buildings are an art gallery for all to enjoy free of charge'. Because of its pervasiveness many take for granted the excellence of our townscapes without thinking too deeply about how they have come about.

The reason why our traditional buildings are of such good visual quality is because those in the past, who managed our nation’s affairs, both locally and nationally, had a deep sense of what was aesthetically harmonious. This applied equally to those who commissioned and built them. The same qualities were also present in the best literature, art, design and music. As a nation we played a full part in the long era of western cultural enlightenment, striving for self-improvement and refined taste. Unfortunately, gradually, little by little since the time of the First World War this ethos has broken down. It has been replaced by the acceptance of the mediocre, the worship of the sensational and the slavish acceptance of the new regardless of any intrinsic merit, by a self-appointed liberal 'artistic' elite. Regrettably, architecture has proved no exception to this depressing trend.

Reduced to the most simple of terms, architecture in Britain can be divided into two main stylistic traditions. These are Classical and Georgian in one group, and Gothic, Tudor and Victorian in the other. The former is noted for its symmetry, harmony, dignity and elegance, whereas the latter is appreciated for its variety, eclecticism, unpredictability and homeliness. Both camps have their devoted adherents, which in the past has sometimes led to vitriolic arguments. This all seems rather sterile now, as both traditions have produced buildings of great magnificence. During the inter war period a new style, art deco, appeared, which although breaking with earlier design traditions, nevertheless maintained high aesthetic standards. Under skilful architects it produced such fine buildings as the De La Ware Pavilion, Arnos Grove station, Broadcasting House and the Sun House, Hampstead. Unfortunately, an offshoot of this approach, the international style, seduced an architectural profession dazzled by the concept of modernism. The effect of this blind obsession was calamitous for our urban landscape.

From the end of the last war to the early 1970s, the international style was embraced by the architectural profession with a fanaticism and fervour that brooked no opposition. The belief that 'form should follow function' and that buildings were merely 'machines for living in' was rigorously enforced and all previous historical styles were thrown into the dustbin of history. Huge numbers of these stark, characterless buildings started to blight our urban landscape. Some cities such as Birmingham and Newcastle were particularly badly scarred. Architects were aided and abetted in this process by the arrogance of town planners and the greed of property developers. Popular protest against this desecration started to mount but architects took no heed. As professionals they knew what was best, the rest of us were just ignorant philistines incapable of appreciating their esoteric insights.

In reality these pathetic 'slabs' and 'shoe-boxes' were what all buildings would look like if architecture did not exist. They were purely functional and utilitarian and their 'design' reflected engineering rather than architectural principles. They failed even to provide the higher densities which 'building high' is supposed to deliver, since they were surrounded by wide expanses of open space. However, nemesis came when in 1968 an East London council tower block Ronan Point partly collapsed following a gas explosion that claimed several lives. This triggered a wide-ranging debate on what was popularly termed 'modern architecture'. The ensuing discussions covered not only aesthetic shortcomings but also structural and sociological concerns. Eventually architects finally got the message – these buildings were a disaster and few were built to this style after the early 1970s. Once the international style had become discredited, architects were in something of a fix as to what should replace it. So much of their faith had been invested in modernism that any successor style would inevitably appear a poor substitute. What followed has become known as 'post-modernism'. It avoids the starkness of modernism and places more reliance on traditional form, and employs a greater use of brick rather than concrete. However, the results are deeply unsatisfactory buildings that travesty earlier styles without understanding what made them attractive. Even architects themselves do not seem to believe in their new creations, and appear more concerned about trying to make 'ironic' statements.

One of the most beneficial measures taken by government to protect the urban environment has been the creation of conservation areas. These allow local planning authorities to prevent the construction of unsympathetic new buildings, to exert greater control over changes to the appearance of existing buildings, and refuse consent to the demolition of buildings which contribute to the character of a neighbourhood. Another great gain to conservation has been the enormous growth in the number of listed building of architectural or historic interest. Actions such as these are proof that government intervention can be beneficial, a point of view regrettably not shared by all on the Right, some of whom continue to be obsessed by a purist approach to market forces and individual rights.

Monday, 8 June 2015

The descent into artistic degeneracy

So how did the descent into degenerate art take hold? Surely, if the emperor is wearing no clothes everyone will notice. As far as Britain is concerned, the source of this malignity can be traced to an art exhibition held a few years before the First World War. The exhibition in question was entitled 'Manet and the Post-Impressionists', organised in late 1910 by the art critic Roger Fry, held at the Grafton Galleries, London. In the words of Virginia Woolf 'On or about December 1910 human character changed'.

So what was it about this exhibition that caused such a seismic change in the direction of our culture? Oddly enough it was not the quality of the paintings on show, which included works by Cezanne, Van Gogh, Sickert, Gauguin and early Picasso. Although the exhibition attracted a lot of visitors, many were hostile, one observer commenting, 'The exhibition is either an extremely bad joke or a swindle. I am inclined to think the latter…the drawing is on the level of that of an untaught child of seven or eight years old'. However, comments such as this were no worse than those provoked by the Impressionists some decades earlier, and most people today with a serious interest in fine art, would consider that these works display clear artistic merit.

Instead, the determining factor that made this exhibition so influential was the interpretation Fry placed on the paintings, and his success in persuading others to share his viewpoint. Fry became the most forceful exponent of the view that sophistication in the illustrative functions of art leads to a loss of expressiveness. Fry articulated the aim of the Post-Impressionists as 'the discovery of the visual language of the imagination' and that such language would need to be free from the actual appearance of things.

During the years 1910-12 the terms of reference for modern art were rewritten for a new generation of artists and this was reflected in the second Post-Impressionist exhibition organised by Fry in 1912. This displayed a decisive shift towards modernism and the avant-garde compared with the earlier exhibition, with works by the Fauves, the Cubists, and artists such as Matisse, Bonnard and Derain. Fry, in describing Picasso’s work as 'A purely abstract language of form', gave rise to the term abstract art. It was through the acceptance of such thinking that abstract art was embraced with such fervour by 'progressive' art critics of the time and since. Unfortunately, experience has shown overwhelmingly that abstract art provides fraudsters and charlatans with a golden opportunity to exploit the credulity of its proponents with ultimately disastrous consequences for artistic excellence.

The next artistic citadel to fall was that of classical music. It would be fair to say that Britain never had a strong standing in this field when compared with many continental countries. Nevertheless, Elgar has an international reputation and in the Edwardian period was at the height of his powers. However, his musical tradition was soon to end and the defining moment of change was Stravinsky’s ballet The Rite of Spring performed by the Ballets Russes in Paris in May 1913. This work largely ignored existing conventions of harmony, rhythm and form and was greeted by riots on its first performance. It introduced to a mass audience the 20th century trend of musical dissonance that was to be developed still further by Schoenberg and Stockhausen. Again this composing 'style' captured the avant-garde, and before very long it became the new orthodoxy. The incomprehension of audiences was treated with typical modernist disdain. Since the 'music' itself was beyond criticism the fault must lie with the public for failing to understand it. The arrogance of modernists started to grow, as they produced work for their own narrow self-selecting elite circle, rather than a wider public.

Friday, 5 June 2015

From aestheticism to barbarism

Politically correct ideas only started to attract mainstream support from the mid 1960s onwards. However in the field of the arts leftist nihilism took hold much earlier. One of the more depressing features of the 20th Century was the gradual deterioration in artistic creativity that took place throughout most of the period, and its supplanting by various debauched substitutes promoted under such bogus concepts as the avant-garde, modernism and 'progressive' thinking. It was a syndrome that affected not only Britain but also the rest of western society. All branches of the arts became tainted - painting, sculpture, literature, music, drama and architecture. This process quickened after the First World War, and accelerated still more under the liberal hegemony that became rooted from the late 1960s onwards.

In 1900 Britain, along with many other western nations, provided a congenial environment in which artistic excellence could flourish. This did not come about by publicly funded subsidies, or active government intervention. Instead, a cultured middle class, seeking self-improvement for its own sake, provided an appreciative audience in which individuals of rare genius could shine. It is instructive to take a look at the level of artistic attainment produced in the early years of the last century, a process in which Britain played a full part. In music, Elgar and Delius were at the height of their powers. The novels of Thomas Hardy, H G Wells have endured, as have the Sherlock Holmes stories of Conan Doyle. Poetry of distinction was represented by Rudyard Kipling and W.B.Yeats, the latter of Irish extraction, as was George Bernard Shaw who was attaining eminence in the field of drama. In architecture, the cathedrals of Westminster and Liverpool began, and Lutyens, Voysey and Macintosh, each in his own way added variety and insight to housing design. In the field of painting Steer, Alma-Tadema and the expatriate Sargent were prominent. Many other European countries achieved similarly spectacular levels of excellence.

By contrast, 'artistic' work feted by the today’s liberal establishment defies all belief with its worthlessness, pretension and degradation. New 'serious' music consists entirely of atonal sound without harmony, melody or recognisable structure. Popular music is dominated by rap and dance genres where the wholly talentless masquerade under the illusion that 'hip' and 'cool' equates to musical ability. In art we have the insultingly named Turner Prize, where the only criterion for recognition is the ability to provoke a phoney outrage from a jaded public. For literature we are expected to acclaim novels splattered by the expletives of junkies, or infantile rhyming in a debased ethnic patois. This detritus can mercifully be ignored by those of education, refinement and discernment. Unfortunately, this does not apply to architecture where all of us are confronted daily with the brutalism of the sixties and its more recent replacement, the Mickey Mouse 'post-modernism' that became institutionalised in the eighties and nineties. It is difficult to credit how far our society could have sunk in less than a century.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Britain avoids joining the Euro

Former prime minister Tony Blair was keen for Britain to join the eurozone but had to bide his time until the opinion polls start to move in the right direction. Fortunately, they never did so and Britain managed to retain the pound sterling. Nevertheless, it is still worth examining why it is crucially important to resist adopting the euro, and so control, as far as we still can, our own economic destiny. Despite the deliberate and cynical campaign of obfuscation by europhiles there is no avoiding the fact that joining the euro inescapably means that future British Governments would lose control over most key areas of economic management. As a consequence it would not be possible for either British politicians to be held to account for the performance of the economy. Since the issue of economic management has been a central feature of general election campaigns since the war, removing this issue from meaningful debate will strike a blow at the heart of our democratic self-determination as a nation.

Moreover, the supposed main benefit of euro membership, our so called 'influence' over EU economic decision making, is clearly a meaningless sham, since our views and interests can be overruled by a majority of other member states, and there will be no way for this to be prevented. It must surely be obvious that control over our own economic policy is infinitely more important and desirable than an elusive and shadowy 'influence' over external economic committees or a European Central Bank, and that assumes that ministers have any influence at all over the latter.

Furthermore, economic policy impacts on most other policy areas such as health, education, transport, defence and law and order, since they are all to a significant extent dependent on public spending. If economic policy is outside our control then it follows that our level of spending on these areas has also been lost. So a government that loses control over its economy eventually loses control over everything else. Consequently, as a result of all these reforms Britain would no longer, in ant meaningful sense, be an independent nation with its own laws and democratically elected government. It will begin to resemble an occupied country, since as a nation we will have no way of changing decisions that are against our interests, or the way we are governed, or our ability to pursue national priorities.

It is to the credit of Gordon Brown, both as Chancellor and Prime Minister, that he kept Britain out of the euro. He did so despite considerable pressure from so called 'progressives' and 'moderates' who were desperate for Britain to join. It is worth examining the reasons given for their enthusiasm.

The Liberal Democrat manifesto in 2001 stated that 'membership of the euro at a competitive and sustainable rate would offer Britain considerable benefits. It would end the exchange rate instability which has destroyed many thousands of jobs, safeguard the investment in hundreds of thousands of further jobs by overseas firms, and reduce the costs of trade with the rest of the EU'. Michael Heseltine, about the same time, opined that 'we cannot remain competitive outside the euro for much longer. We have lived through a decade of warnings and with those predictions we have always been offered choices. Now is the time for Britain to make a choice. For business the choice is clear'.

In reality there was no evidence for this alarmism. Unemployment in Britain continued to fall for over seven years until the 2008 financial crisis. We had much lower levels of unemployment than many countries in the eurozone. The claims of the euro fanatics, not for the first or last time, were wholly without foundation, and this was most probably known at the time by those 'moderates' making these claims. Instead their motivation was to further the political objective of ever closer union which, more accurately, can be interpreted as ever decreasing democracy.

Countries such as Greece, Ireland and Portugal lost control of their economic destiny, and became supplicants to the European Central Bank. They are caught in a vicious circle of bailouts, conditional on austerity and deflationary measures, which contract their economies still further thus requiring more bailouts, and so it goes on. There can be no doubt than these countries will eventually default and be forced out of the euro with disastrous consequences not just for the countries themselves but for the global financial and banking system. This is what happens when ideology triumphs reason.