Getting Hold of a Slippery New Poll
Byline: ANDREW ALEXANDER
ACCORDING to a poll - I hear you sigh at the very words - the population is more or less equally divided on the attractions of the euro as a new currency. The research, sponsored by the Abbey National, also shows that a high proportion of those who didn't know about the euro didn't really care, or asked: 'Which football team is that?' Pointless polls are such a part of our lives that it seems churlish to deny the pollsters their fun - and lucrative fun at that.
But the potential propaganda aspect here requires an appropriate health warning.
The question asked by the pollsters was whether people welcomed the prospect of the euro as a 'single currency'.
Were they asked (I inquired) if they knew the difference between a single currency and a common currency? Oh, they would know that, said the Abbey. To which one can only reply 'pull the other one' - or words to that effect - not least since 25 pc of the population says it has never even heard of the euro.
As anyone can find out from their own modest polls of, say, those in the same bus queue, few understand the difference between 'single' and 'common'.
I know of one former Fleet Street editor who once thought the euro was to be a common currency - something like traveller's cheques, he said, and no doubt very useful.
If you tell people the single currency would mean the abolition of the pound and the recalculation of everything into euros, from shop prices to pension entitlements, the reaction is usually of horror.
The differences across Europe are intriguing. In Germany, 96 pc are aware of the euro, but less than a third approve of the idea.
Not surprisingly, Germans are reluctant to give up their stable mark for a currency of dubious prospects.
In Italy, 79 pc are aware and a hefty 69 pc approve. This would also make sense given the rocky history of the lira and the shaky condition of Italian national finances. And as one businessman said to a friend of mine: 'What you British don't understand is that, from the Italian point of view, the prospect of being ruled from Brussels comes as a great relief.' The Abbey's commentary includes a reference to Churchill saying that 'we' should be building a United States of Europe. Who is we? Europhiles regularly trot out Churchill's famous speech in a deplorable effort - inspired either by ignorance or lack of scruples to add lustre and authority to their campaign for political union.
What Churchill called for was a United States of Europe involving the Continental nations - but not Britain. …