If pro-EU governments don’t listen to their peoples in 2017, they should expect to be swept out of office

If pro-EU governments don’t listen to their peoples in 2017, they should expect to be swept out of office

The EU doesn’t do democracy. Whenever a party gets elected in a member state that wants change to EU policies and attitudes it is told there cannot be such change. When the Greeks swept aside their traditional parties and voted in a Syriza government dedicated to ending extreme austerity policies, the EU struggled them into submission.

When the UK elected a government that wanted to make some changes to our relationship with the EU, the EU decided against practically all the modest changes the Prime Minister requested. As a result, the UK voters voted to leave the EU altogether.

Those political parties the system would destroy, it first drives into coalition. The junior partners in European coalitions often experience rapid decline in their popularity. Whilst many people claim to want parties to co-operate with each other and negotiate away their differences, voters seem to seek retribution on parties that ditch their manifesto promises or compromise their principles.

The Free Democrats in Germany were driven from office by unpopularity after being partners to the CDU. Now it is the turn of the SPD in Germany to suffer, after entering a grand coalition with Mrs Merkel. The pattern in the Euro area is for the two main parties of the twentieth century in each country to decline. The Labour and Conservative party lookalikes in each case are being squeezed.

The public in Spain and Portugal, Italy and Greece dislike what the common economic policy of the Euro area is serving up, so they switch their votes in increasing numbers to new challenger parties. Some favour parties that promise to limit or end freedom of movement, highlighting the impact of rapid migration on jobs and wages. Some favour parties that want to break the borrowing and spending limits of the Euro scheme. Some favour parties that do both.

The attempt to characterise so-called populist parties as being of the right or left is difficult, as they combine a range of views and policies from both ends of the political spectrum. Le Pen in France wants to limit migration but she also wants to increase public spending and manage trade. She is no free enterprise capitalist. The Five Star Movement and Podemos combine right and left of centre ideas in their scripts.

A perplexed coalition of privilege made up of investment bankers, well qualified professionals, government ministers, senior officials, traditional parties and quango heads ask in many of these countries why do so many dislike what the European elite is doing? They seem to think all is perfect in their world so the rest of us should enjoy their perfection.

Some admit that wages and jobs have not been plentiful enough for the unskilled and the unemployed, but that is not enough for them to be self critical about why that should be so. They are unable to grasp why many people in work, with qualifications, also vote against the elite project in the EU. They should get out more. They should use their intelligence and access to information to ask themselves more critical questions about what has gone wrong and what could be changed for the better.

It takes my breath away that the EU has never apologised for the expensive and damaging Exchange Rate Mechanism that plunged the UK into chaos and recession, along with Italy and others. They have never admitted that the Euro has helped create mass unemployment in many countries to the south and west of the zone.

They have struggled to resolve the banking problems they helped create. The central bankers of the ECB, Bank of England and the Fed have never admitted they made two huge policy errors over the last 15 years. They first allowed or encouraged commercial banks to lend too much and expand too quickly. They then made them slim down and retrench too much, plunging economies into slump. Why should voters approve of these large mistakes? Why should the privileged official class expect support and applause for such errors?

As someone who argued against the Exchange Rate Mechanism, who warned my party about too much credit in the middle of the last decade, and who urged the central banks not to crash the commercial banks in the way they did, I can say the errors were predictable.

Today the coalition of privilege careers on with the dangerous fix of quantitative easing, instead of requiring more rapid and sensible repair to the commercial banks. They support a world of major movements of people to work which is not widely supported in the countries they govern. They believe in the rule of the technocrat, and often disparage the views and votes of the voters.

No wonder the parties that support their project are all struggling badly. No wonder numerous insurgent parties are doing well. If the coalition of the privileged will not listen, one way or another voters will sweep them out of office. It has happened in enough countries, as the Syriza experience in Greece demonstrates.

2017 is going to be another gripping year, as the people and their technocrat governments in the Euro area clash in the polling booths.