[Update at end of post]
The spirit of creative retelling has consumed the Daily Mail rather more than usual over the past 24 hours: first came their wrong call on the Amanda Knox appeal verdict, where the paper’s website not only ran their pre-prepared “guilty” piece, but also showed that they had fabricated quotes to back it up, and now in Manchester has come a reimagining of recent UK history.
The Knox howler was authored by Nick Pisa, and Tim Ireland at Bloggerheads subsequently coaxed some comment from this unrepentant hack, although he declined to admit the obvious: that his “guilty” copy contained examples of blatant dishonesty. It is this kind of behaviour that caused Tone’s former spinmeister Alastair Campbell to call the Mail “The Dacre Lie Machine”.
Today it was the turn of Nick Wood to step up to the fabricated plate as he trumpeted “Hague gets the credit 10 years too late for saving us from the Euro”. Those who were around in 2001 may be surprised: after all, Master ‘Ague went down to a General Election defeat every bit as bad as that of “Shagger” Major four years earlier, and soon after was not even leader of the opposition.
Sure, the Tories’ 2001 campaign featured Master ‘Ague warbling on about “saving the Pound”, but he wasn’t in power. Tone and Pa Broon, on the other hand, were in power and it was for them to decide whether or not the UK joined the nascent single currency. Blair was in favour, and until some time after the 1992 General Election, so was Brown.
It was after Black Wednesday that Brown engaged the services of “Auguste” Balls, who persuaded his boss that agreeing with the Tories on entering the Exchange Rate Mechanism at a rate of almost three Deutschmarks to one Pound Sterling was not A Good Thing. It meant that when interest rates stayed high into the early 90s, Labour was unable to effectively call out Major for his error.
Balls also introduced a note of scepticism into the discussion on entering the single currency, so when Labour finally won power in 1997, Brown’s enthusiasm for the project had waned. From there came the almost mythical “five tests” for entry which any observer knew from the start were unlikely ever to be met in full. Blair, still in favour, could not get this idea past his Chancellor.
Whichever way you slice it, keeping the UK out of the Eurozone was down mainly to Pa Broon and “Auguste” Balls, and to a lesser extent to Tone accepting reality. William ‘Ague had nothing to do with it, and nothing that the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the Seventeenth Baronet, says will cause history to be rewritten. Neither will the witterings of a hack at the now discredited Daily Mail.
[UPDATE November 4: more Daily Mail retelling of history has come courtesy of the vapid and unfunny Quentin Letts (let's not), who had gone after Labour MP Chris Leslie for daring to suggest that his party kept the UK out of the Eurozone. Letts has somehow decided that Tone's enthusiasm for the single currency won the day (it didn't), and he has managed to "recall a debate" back in 1999. Course you have, Quent.
Who was in power at the time? Labour. Who brought forward the "five tests"? A Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer. Which party made the decision not to proceed in the direction of the single currency? Labour. Quent, you're even more full of crap than I thought - even managing bouts of selective memory just to do the bidding of Paul Dacre. Pathetic]