Magazine article The Spectator

I Have Absolutely No Opinions Whatsoever on the Euro - Aren't I a Lucky Boy?

Magazine article The Spectator

I Have Absolutely No Opinions Whatsoever on the Euro - Aren't I a Lucky Boy?

Article excerpt

It's a remarkable stroke of luck for a columnist, but I have no views whatsoever on the euro. It's not deliberate, this, just a function of my age. Most columnists seem to have started forming their euro views some time prior to 1992, and I simply wasn't that sort of 14-year-old. 'Do you worry about the effect that high German interest rates might have on Britain's continuing participation in the ERM?' is exactly the sort of thing we didn't say to each other, while shaving odd bits out of our grunge-era hair and debating the merits of inhaling deodorant through a towel.

I do remember very briefly having an opinion on the single currency in the summer of 1996, but only because I was inter-railing, and in an Italian campsite, with money from Hungary, and hungry. But it was hard even then to draw any wider conclusions from this. And since I woke up from my extended teenage fug in, ooh, 2002 or so, the euro has just been there, making holidays marginally simpler, and demanding no higher analysis at all. It's fresh pundit territory, in this respect. Unpissed-upon virgin snow.

This sort of thing happens only rarely, and the older I get the more rare it will be.

Take Iraq. I was safely into my mid-twenties by the time that happened, and I certainly had views. Incoherent, childish views with no basis in fact whatsoever, perhaps, but views nonetheless. I marched and everything. I think I thought that smashing the functioning government of another country, however nasty that government was, could only, in the short term, lead to Very Bad Things happening. Lord knows how I came to this conclusion, but I was right. Very possibly, had I been better informed, I'd have taken the opposite view and been wrong.

My views on Libya were shaped almost entirely by my views on Iraq, and appear to have been wrong. Or at least conventional wisdom today would say they were wrong, but it seems increasingly possible that in another year they'll turn out to have been right all along. Will I deserve any credit, if they are? For getting something right which even I thought was wrong afterwards, on the basis of something quite different that I had been quite coincidentally right about a decade earlier? Do you see what I'm driving at here?

Or climate change. People call me a 'warmist' on climate change, which I find deeply annoying, because that's not what I am. In fact, I think my global warming views are pretty future-proof: I go with the scientific majority, and if the scientific majority ever decides it got the whole thing badly wrong, then I should be entirely comfortable for my own views to swiftly turn on a sixpence with theirs. …

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