Saturday 2 June 2012

Its A Long Way To Tipperary

Horse racing is not something I have ever been into, only taking a casual interest in reports on the big events.  This is despite living in several places equipped with race courses which were within walking distance from home.  This may be due to meanness of spirit in the reluctance to be parted from my money too easily.

One of my favourite Epsom Derby winners was “Airborne” in 1946, when the race returned to Epsom after the war.  A horse widely regarded as inferior it started at 50 to 1 against, its backers being mainly present and former paratroopers who had served in the Airborne divisions betting only out of loyalty to the name.

It was to the delight of many of us that they took the bookies to the cleaners.  That night Aldershot was an interesting town to be going out for a drink.  Like the winner today, the horse was trained in Ireland and there was some local money on the nose.

The name of today’s winner is “Camelot”, drawn from Arthurian legend as the palace of the Knights of the Round Table, King Arthur, Lancelot and all the rest.  It is an idealised legend of a court that has wealth, power and chivalry.  The horse was trained by Aidan O’Brien of the Coolmore Stud in County Tipperary.

So the Irish may have won the Derby (again) but their government has lost the money wars.  In the vote on the issue of Fiscal Union within the EU just over half the electorate voted with a majority of around 60 to 40 to accept what amounts to unconditional surrender to the European money men. 

This means only 30% or so of the actual electorate; those who did not vote are assumed to have simply given up hope.  It is not looking good however, because the Fiscal Union assumes that there will be a Euro and there are increasing doubts on this.

If the EU having established such a fiscal union finds itself without a common currency then quite how it might manage a political entity with twenty or more different currencies is a question that defeats me.  There are grounds to suspect it will defeat the EU as well.

In the meantime the Scottish National Party, its previous ideas about currencies now in disarray is talking about continuing to retain the pound as a currency and will insist on being represented on the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee.  Does anyone see a grim irony about this?

As the UK is not independent at the moment, if Scotland does break from Westminster there is the prospect of a real muddle here between what might go on with Brussels and in money terms London.  Quite what will emerge from this shambles cannot be predicted.

The ghost of Sir William Paterson (see Wikipedia) hovers over most of this.  One of the founders and then Director of the Bank of England until 1695 he took his Darien Project to Edinburgh to raise the money for this venture to found a new colony and caused one of the worst financial crashes in history which led directly to the Act of Union.

There are other historical references.  Back in Tipperary, amongst the horses owned by the Coolmore Stud in the past was one named “Holy Roman Emperor” which failed to be a runner and it is possible to see the EU as an attempt to revive the old Holy Roman Empire. 

Another was named “George Washington” which proved infertile when it came to reproducing at stud.  No comment is necessary on this one as a comparison with the present state of the US economy.

But there may be an answer.  Another of the horses was “Rip Van Winkle”.  If you do not know the Washington Irving tale check it out in Wikipedia.  He was a man who went to sleep for twenty years and missed the American Revolution.

It is a fable for our times, if we just go to sleep for twenty years and dream we were all in King Arthur’s Camelot.

1 comment:

  1. "In the vote on the issue of Fiscal Union within the EU just over half the electorate voted with a majority of around 60 to 40"

    So they won't be asked to vote again - like last time?