Yes, instead of giving the prize to a clutch of ugly plate-glass office blocks in Brussels, the Nobel committee should have awarded it to Margaret Hilda Thatcher.
To understand why Baroness Thatcher deserves the Nobel prize for peace in Europe, you only have to think about the absurdity of giving the gong to the EU. It wasn’t the Common Market that brought peace to Europe in 1945. I am afraid it was a series of other institutions: the Red Army, the US Marines, the Royal Air Force Bomber Command. They genuinely helped to pacify the continent, though you wouldn’t think of nominating them for a peace prize.
It wasn’t as if the EU was the body that helped to keep the peace during the Cold War. Most people would agree that was the work of Nato, and the threat of retaliation against Soviet aggression.
It wasn’t the EU that went toe to toe with Russia over the stationing of Soviet missiles in Europe. It was Reagan and Thatcher. It was her ideas of free market democracy that inspired the peoples and politicians of Eastern Europe – and in some cases still do. Why not honour her, rather than a bureaucracy?
And look at where that EU machine is taking us now. The catastrophic programme for monetary union is continuing to impoverish the people of Greece and much of southern Europe. When the German chancellor paid a visit last week, to inspect the effects of the EU-imposed austerity measures, they had to protect Angela Merkel with 7,000 police – the largest such operation in history, and still there were protesters dressing up as Nazis.
In Spain, there are now thousands of young people fleeing for a better life in Latin America. The whole European economy is being held back by the fear that the euro will break up, when the ghastly truth is that a break-up is probably the best hope of salvation.
The solution on offer is more economic integration – a solution that is apparently supported by the British government – when that process of fiscal union will mean a hollowing out of democracy.
The reason the Greeks are turning out dressed as Nazis is that they feel as trampled on and as humiliated as they did when the swastika flew over the Parthenon. We are now proposing to give formal control of eurozone tax and spending policies to the EU institutions – a shorthand for German control. Far from ending tensions between EU countries, the euro project is now massively increasing them.
It is often said that two democracies have never been to war with one another. But when you make a mockery of democracy, and effectively hand tax and spending decisions to a foreign power, then you are creating the conditions for serious mischief. Vince Cable yesterday warned of “absolutely incalculable” consequences if the eurozone should rupture – but what does he think is happening now? We are already seeing neo-fascist parties in Athens and the agony of Greece is unabated.
All this Baroness Thatcher foresaw. She warned in her 1988 Bruges speech of the dangers of trying to create Identikit Europeans, when the peoples of EU nations were so different in their habits and productivity. She warned of a one-size-fits-all monetary policy and she spoke out strongly against the lack of democracy in the project. She has been completely vindicated.
According to José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, the Nobel prize is for all of us, in the sense that it is directed at all 500 million European citizens. Well, on behalf of millions of us, I suggest we turn down this meaningless award for an institution that has got things so badly wrong, and insist that it be handed instead to a woman who got it overwhelmingly right. Thatcher, not the EU, understood the route to peace in Europe.