It would be nice, now and again, to stop writing anything at all about the EU, or any of the liberties, sovereignties, truths, inevitabilities and proper reforms with which it tries so incessantly to interfere.
And there are days – like today – when the banalities are so eye-glasingly daft, and yet somehow contradictory, one longs to be covering the local fete again.
Take the speeches over the last 24 hours from first Mario Draghi and then Manuelo Barroso.
The ECB boss told his audience that the eurozone needs “Stability through change….people suggest we must either go back to the past, or we must move to a United States of Europe. My answer to the question is: to have a stable euro we do not need to choose between extremes.”
It was, to be fair, a speech setting out Draghi’s pragmatic (from his viewpoint) aim: to get to a fiscal union and worry about the political stuff later. It was just the ‘stability through change’ balm, followed by the ‘extreme of going back to the past’ scaremongering that had me yawning.
But then Big Manuelo Barrowboy got going.
“Why do we need a more united and integrated Europe? Because we have monetary union…Banking union requires a single European supervisor; further economic union requires joint European supervision of the Member States economic policies. It is therefore logical, but it is also right and just, that there is further political integration as well. This is needed to ensure democratic oversight of the process, and to reassure the citizens of Europe that this is not just a project by the political and economic elites.
The world has changed and we need to change too. Every Euro spent on debt is a Euro lost for smart investment. Deep structural reform must continue, and member states be committed to implementing the Commission’s reform recommendations.’
So to sum up then, Manuelo, the logic of monetary union dictates political integration (?) and this is the only way democracy can defeat the unelected elites (?) and we need investment not debt (?) and the best way to get deep and democratic reform is to do as you’re f**king well told and follow the unelected Commissions diktats to the letter (???)
None of this piffle makes sense or has a logical flow. And if I didn’t know already that Barroso has the same IQ as a bottle of Port, I might be tempted to believe that the prose and its argument were made deliberately dense in order to discourage close examination.
But like Draghi’s effort, it’s the dribbling, pointless oxymoronic syntax that somehow makes one want to go to sleep, and awake later to find it was all a bad dream.
“For we must change, because others have changed and so we must behave like they do and bring stability by changing, such that things become better than ever but much as they always were. We must pay attention to the instructions of the unelected elite to cement democracy into place at the bottom of something or other to ensure that having voted for something themselves, the citizens will get something else entirely and become politically free with their feet bound together to vote with their feet more easily and not come last in the sack race until this ever-changing world in which we’re living makes you give up and cry, live and let die.”
But then just as the morning seemed to be drifting out of boredom into lunchtime followed by an afternoon nap, along comes a call from somebody I know to be sane, suggesting something that sounds madly unlikely….and yet horribly logical.
This increasingly bizarre combo of the bland and the bonkers sends shivers down my spine sometimes. The sheer complexity of the mix – and the bewildering array of possibility – in turn makes my head hurt.
But at other times, the fascination of real detective work restores the spirits. It does so because a nugget nobody else has found will always give a hack a charge: and much of the time it is clear (once you’ve looked into some gargoyle’s murky past more than once) who the good guys and the bad guys are.
So it was that, while waiting for somebody to give me a second opinion on the allegations from Athens this afternoon, I stumbled upon something about a very bad guy, and felt instantly rejuvenated.
Complex geopolitics, disinformation, cyber wars, professional trolls, eroded ethical standards and 24/7 news act together in 2012 to make everything a subject for doubt…up to and including empirical truth. But every now and then, something in print, on the record and admitted by the perpetrator pops out of the dusty files. And it connects with another fact that completes the circuit that explodes the dynamite.
It’s why, for my money, easy access to the raw internet data cloud can potentially make lies ultimately near-impossible to get away with. And although it remains possible for morally dead organisations like Bell Pottinger to alter the truth for their clients before anyone notices, as long as there are politically independent sources like the NAO, the Directors’ Register and the ONS, bollocks can be detected and deconstructed.
So I for one shall sleep well tonight.