Sunday 8 December 2019

Kevin Myers: There is no Fianna Fail plot to save the banks -- for the left to pretend otherwise is infantile

Kevin Myers

NO, I'm like you, I can't make head or tail of most of what's going on and I leave Brendan Keenan to explain the subtleties. But it is utterly misleading for so many other commentators to describe the Government's attempts to stabilise our banking system as a ready-up between Fianna Fail and some vastly powerful commercial interests.

Look, I understand finance as much as I understand kilim weaving, but I do know the difference between a tongue in the ear and a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. And the only institutional corruption now going on is that which guarantees the positions and pensions of government officials who fail on their job.

Which pretty much confirms what we already know about the relationship between government politicians and their senior civil servants: the latter employ the former to nominally superintend the State, which is the civil service's permanent property. No politician jeopardises or even questions that proprietorship. It is why senior civil servants who, to say the very least, have screwed up -- such as Rody Molloy and Patrick Neary -- are allowed to ride off into the sunset with their saddlebags clinking with fool's gold: their doubloons, and us the fools.

But there is no Fianna Fail conspiracy to protect the wealth of some sinisterly powerful plutocracy, because there is no such plutocracy. Just about the only millionaire who has not been turned into cat food by the events of the past 18 months is Michael O'Leary. The rest of our millionaires have lost billions. The Government isn't protecting them, but it is protecting the governing class of Europhile civil servants.

That's a key policy of the European Commission: when it rains, the mandarins get the umbrellas. The safeguarding of this caste of discreet Eurozealots and their interests is a central feature of the European Project. For, the logic goes, where there is government, popular loyalty will follow.

It was the key to the Holy Roman and Hapsburg empires and it is the key to Eurempire that is being steadily hammered into place on the twin anvils of Strasbourg and Brussels.

Fianna Fail is as influential in the Great Scheme of things as the rat-catcher in Hamelin was on the Thirty Year War. Indeed, Fianna Fail is simply behaving like all the other rat-catchers along the Weser and the Rhine, in obeying European Commission instructions, which are predicated upon this dogma.

The banking system of Europe shall not be allowed to fail. In as much as I understand banking -- and I do with the same mastery that I comprehend Chinese textbooks on photosynthesis -- I think they are wrong. I think banks should occasionally fail and the world is probably a worse place for not having a few bankers being nibbled by rats in a wet dungeon in Hamelin at any given moment.

But that's beside the point.

European Commissioner for Competition Neelie Kroes spelt out EU policy towards banks last June. Discussing Royal Bank of Scotland's historic loss of £60bn (€66bn) in a year, she said that RBS's balance sheet of £2.4 trillion made it larger than the economies of all save China, Germany, Japan and the US.

"The numbers don't lie ... They make a clear case for the commission to follow our tried-and-tested state-aid rules."

This was why EUROPEAN governments were already committed to spending 16.5pc of GDP on bank bailouts, she said, adding: "This gives the European Commission every reason to be involved."

So this is not an Irish solution to an Irish problem at all. It is Europe-wide. British banking was propped up by £1.26tn of government support, which is probably about a notional £200 for every Briton who has ever lived or will ever live.

For the EU empire policy is to keep even worthless banks afloat: in just 18 months, there were no less than 70 bank/state-interventions across Europe, done under commission guidelines. Dear old Neelie Kroes was frank: "But the partner dynamic does not imply these are voluntary processes: we have no realistic alternative."

Maybe. But there is this other motive. Like all empires, the EU project depends on power and if it weathers this storm, the commission will be able to reform the entire retail and merchant banking sectors, from Galway to Gdansk, on lines congenial to its imperial interests.

Hence: "We must get these banks off state-support and maintain a single market." For the single market, every bit as much as a loyal and well-paid governing bureaucracy, is a key ingredient to the Great Euro-Project. And the Lehman Brothers' follies have thus given the EU imperialists a once-in-a-century chance to extend the commission's authority over every fiscal corner of the entire EU.

So the Irish left's endless obsession with Fianna Fail banking "skulduggery" is silly, childish and parochial, a rehash of the infantile complaints during the Cold War that the real reason for NATO's existence was the destruction of Irish neutrality. For what we are seeing now is the historic consolidation of a centralising EUmpire over its many financial satrapies.

In the great European scheme of things, this obsession about an obliging Fianna Fail being manipulated by a cartel of all-powerful bankers is as realistic as tales of a new pied piper calling Europe's tune.

kmyers@independent.ie

Irish Independent

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