Vince Cable answered an urgent question on industrial policy in the Commons yesterday. In the supplementaries, I asked:
Steve Baker (Wycombe) (Con):Will my right hon. Friend reassure me that he will not allow Opposition Members, in their clamour for economic intervention, to drive us back to the misery and impoverishment of the 1970s?
Vince Cable: There were certainly many mistakes in that era, which I saw at first hand; I was in government at the time. We are determined to learn from both the positive and the negative experiences of that time.
Later, I condemned economic centralisation in the European Union:
Steve Baker (Wycombe) (Con): Without wishing to astonish my right hon. Friend the Minister, it will be my pleasure to support the Government on this European matter, for all the reasons that he has set out. I am very grateful to find myself in the company of my hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset (Jacob Rees-Mogg).
However, I want to place on the record my profound misgivings about the huge centralisation of economic power, almost entirely beyond economic control or legal challenge, that is going to take place in Europe. The European Union has not abolished economic nationalism; it has simply raised it to the continental scale, just in time to be in danger of a currency collapse. Our friends in Europe are potentially entering into a dreadful error from which it may be that democrats and liberals should recoil in horror. I wish that they were not doing so, and I look forward to the judgment of the German constitutional court.
I commend to my right hon. Friend the initiative for a free and prospering Europe that is being proposed by my friends in eastern Europe, which asks for a radical decentralisation of economic power. Europe is going in entirely the wrong direction with the ESM. I wish it were not, and I am very glad that the Government are liberating us from any liability in relation to this monstrous mess.