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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Brown out

So UK unemployment is the highest for seven years.

This is obviously bad news for the 263,000 extra people without a job. But it'll have an impact of the Europe debate too. As/when the problems with the UK economy get worse loads of idiots will probably crawl out of the woodwork to start banging on about how we should have joined the euro, and restart Will Hutton-ish droning on about how wonderfully the core EU countries are doing... etc etc until you die of boredom.

The weird thing is that there is loads of coverage of the UK dole figures in the Scandinavian papers this morning. Why? The reality is that - not to put too fine a point on it - how well different member states are doing has a big impact on their clout in Brussels. In those terms Brown is pretty screwed.

Clearly the winning move - assuming you are going to play the Brussels game - is to be friendly, but hammer things you don't want, and lead by example at home.

Brown has that all the wrong way round. He's lectured all the other Finanace Ministers to the point where they hate him - but at home he's allowed the UK economy to drop down the competitiveness tables like a dead cat. Meanwhile, despite spinning himself as a scep, and sniping from the sidelines, he has always failed to stop Blair from going into full surrender monkey mode on issues like the Budget.

When he becomes PM he is in for a rough ride on things European - both in Brussels and London. As unemployment goes up, his clout goes down.

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