Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

 You are in:  Talking Point
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Friday, 22 March, 2002, 10:03 GMT
Can the Greens make the anti-euro vote cool?
The Green Party is teaming up with the No campaign to fight the UK adopting the single European currency.

Green activists, more used to battling global capitalism, have teamed up with Save the Pound campaigners - to push the case most commonly associated with eurosceptic Tories.

The Greens claim the euro will hand control of the economy to an undemocratic central bank, speeding up the process of globalisation. They are campaigning to give economic control back to local communities and governments.

Anti-euro pressure group New Europe believes the Greens will be the No vote's secret weapon when a referendum is announced.

Can the Green Party make the anti-euro vote cool?

This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

Your reaction:

The day I received local election literature for the Green Party with "keep the pound" printed across it was the day I tore up my membership card. They are playing a very dangerous game by flirting with this right-wing ideology. We are all aware of the inequalities of the economic system and this is not something that has just emerged with the advent of the euro. I would suggest that the limited funds of this small party would be better spent on campaigning on real issues of importance such as our crumbling public transport infrastructure. Why did they feel the need to join in with a grouping that seems diametrically opposed to 99% of green ideology? Could they not have abstained?
Dave Whyte, UK

The main problem here is the closer ties between countries. Has anyone looked at Europe recently? Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for a start. Then look at Italy and Northern Spain. All these are trying to break away from there main country. So if what we have is already trying to break up, why on earth do we want to lock each other together? If the Greens support the NO vote, then perhaps they are the only ones thinking with their heads!
J, England, UK

If the euro happens it happens

Steve Brereton, UK
If the euro happens it happens. The only reason I have for voting Green (which I probably will from now) is the need to find a political party that is in any danger of being taken seriously, and is not consumed by spin doctors or rambling old Baronesses.
Steve Brereton, UK

The Green Party is doing us all a service by showing everyone how out of touch it is. Exchange rate stability will bring economic stability and with that will come more long-term economic planning, which will encourage environmentalist policies. But the Greens can't get over their instinctive anti-big finance instinct and also think they can get some populist votes. On the London Assembly the three Green members often vote with the Tory group.
David Boothroyd, UK

Oh dear. I've been a Green Party member for ten years, but I'm also mildly pro-euro. I tend to believe that trading alliances between countries are the best way of preventing wars. Britain, Germany, Spain and France not declared war on each other for over 62 years, which in historical terms is quite positive. Ultimately, people take better care of the environment if they are comfortable and secure in their lives, and less if they are suffering war and poverty.
Emrys, Britain

I am not sure I regard the Greens as "cool". But I am glad of the recognition that you don't have to be Tory or xenophobic to oppose the EU's centralizing plans.
Anthony, UK

Why doesn't Tony Blair hold the referendum?

Andrew C, England, UK
You suggest the anti-euro vote is not cool, and thus that the pro-euro vote is cool, so why doesn't Tony Blair hold the referendum? If we hadn't allowed these defeatist euro-federalist (euro fanatics) to run the country in wouldn't be in the state it is now. We should have a global outlook and not withdraw to an isolationist regional viewpoint. Yes we should be members of a European Community of nations, but we should also be able to join other free trade areas also, lets not put all our eggs in the European basket. Let us not be little Europeaners.
Andrew C, England, UK

I hope so; I don't want the Euro and further erosion of Britain's powers to self-government
Liz Brown,

Phillip, Uk couldn't be more wrong. Health Care and Social Security are one of the basic duties of the state in continental Europe. The fact that we have a splendid one is because the state spends a lot of money on it and keeps a vigilant eye on what practices the private sector does.
Dewaele Frederik, Belgium

The comments of the pro-euro correspondents reveal some serious delusions about the economic situation in Europe. For example, the reason that standards of healthcare are generally better in Europe is because healthcare is provided mostly by the private sector, funded by personal insurance contributions-exactly the opposite of the solution advocated by the UK liberal-left. And as for the UK's economy withering outside the euro, has anybody looked at rates of unemployment in Germany, France and the other eurozone countries lately? 4 million national unemployed and a rate twice as high as in the UK (as in Germany today) hardly sound like a ringing endorsement for joining the euro.
Philip, UK

Along with the referendum on the single currency can we also have one on the single European language, which should of course be English?
Phil, UK

No political party can make a vote in a referendum "cool". All the hype about Cool Britannia has long died. The Euro issue is about whether it is in the UK interest to change its currency from Sterling to Euro. The debate would progress far more effectively if there were less petty bickering between Pros and the Antis.
Michael, UK

Only Americans can regard a currency as a part of culture...
Timo, Finland

The problem is not with the euro but with the current structure of the EU

Graham, UK
The problem is not with the euro but with the current structure of the EU. If the parliament had the power it would be democratic. They would choose the EU executive, just as our parliament does, and they would set the criteria for how the bank must perform in its handling of the economy. European federalism is not the problem, the way it has been done so far is.
Graham, UK

I do not want to comment on UK and EU, but am forced to comment on the "green" position. This must be the strangest "green" party I ever heard of. I am green by political and ideological conviction, but am absolutely at a loss to understand this particular "green" position. Environment, sustainable development, pacifism, international co-operation and tolerance, empowerment- well I just cannot connect. Can they be a bunch of opportunist in political wilderness looking for openings? That again is not green. My single worry is that this bunch may bring a negative image for the green movements as a whole around the world. For a comprehensive green policy, look at the world's most successful green party in the world, the German greens. Serious greens around the world- be ware of those hijacking the name "green"
Tridiv Borah, India/Germany

Sterling (the Pound) is already controlled by an 'undemocratic' body - the Bank of England. So what are Greens really campaigning for? Countries in the euro-zone also have an 'undemocratic' central bank, however the heads of the national banks sit as members of its ruling body.
Justin Powell-Tuck, United Kingdom

I'm aghast at the 'think 100 years ahead and be pro globalisation/euro!'

Andrew T, UK
The greens have formed their opinion on what's good for the environment (not the economy or cheaper throwaway goods) - pro-euros are going to have to work hard to label that a 'xenophobic little Englander' argument. I'm aghast at the 'think 100 years ahead and be pro globalisation/euro!' In one hundred years they might be no fresh drinking water, sea levels metres higher and literally millions of economic migrants roaming Europe and the euro will only bring that date forward.
Andrew T, UK

If the notoriously influential and successful green party have left their roots and become a dual issue party I suppose we should sit up and take note.
Richy, UK

We don't support the position of the Greens. In Belgium, the euro was introduced at the beginning of this year. First, we had to adapt, but now we discovered the many advantages. Financial transactions between euro countries are a lot easier and go a lot faster. The Greens are against a united economy, but we believe that this is the only possibility to compete with the dollar or the yen. In the long run there is no other possibility then to join the euro countries
Michiels M & Meeuwis T, Belgium

I went on holiday recently and paid for beers and food in euros. I am now totally poor beyond all my nightmares. So while you vote in the Euro which may be stunning for the economy (and this I do not doubt), bear in mind it will be beyond lethal for your bank account.

The Greens should realise that the EU has been a really positive force for higher environmental standards and integrating further will only benefit such efforts

Joe, UK
The Greens should realise that the EU has been a really positive force for higher environmental standards and integrating further will only benefit such efforts. Just look to see who the biggest polluter in the world is! As to those who say that joining the Euro will mean we can't control our own economy here is a question: Have we ever really had good control over our economy? Remember that the UK was the first developed country ever to need an IMF bail out in the late 70s (in case you wondered that was the glorious and strong sterling, no euros then!). No one takes any notice of the Greens anyway so it won't make any difference.
Joe, UK

The notion that the Green Party in the UK can somehow prevent the advancement of globalisation verges on the ludicrous. The Euro is here and functional in 12 countries, regardless of what the UK does. The UK must call for reforms of the ECB, reforms of the decision-making structures of the EU, not whinge from outside the single currency.
Jon Worth, Germany (originally UK)

Whatever the Greens do, being a Luddite or a nationalist will never be cool.
Kulu, UK

The only advantage of staying out of the Euro is to the banks

Tristan Jones, UK
As far as I can figure (and I make no secret that I'm no economist) the only advantage of staying out of the Euro is to the banks who then gain every time we go to Europe on holiday by raking in commission on changing monies. I'm living in Belgium this year, and the Euro has make travelling around far simpler, simply from not having to worry about changing currencies. In the long run, I don't see how the UK can avoid being dragged into the Euro, despite how much we're all used to having to deal in pounds: it's much like the whole imperial weights vs. standard measures argument to my mind. It's purely that people are used to using their own currencies that they don't want to change, which is fine, but in the end it's the people who will be coming up thought he ranks that will decide.
Tristan Jones, UK

I support the Greens and those against the euro and EU. Do you really want a United States of Europe? In a world dominated by money and corporations a common currency is the first sign of sterile monoculture.
Armand Samos, USA

I fail to see how. They haven't managed to make being a member of their party cool. They claim the euro will hand control of the economy to an undemocratic central bank, somewhat similar to the situation we have in the UK right now, correct? I don't remember voting for Eddie George.
Gareth, UK

If it is so "cool", should the pro-euro campaign bring the Monster Raving Loony Party into its campaign?

Matt Hayward, Bath, England
Let's be honest here: realistically, how many people, especially younger people, are going to cite the inclusion of the Greens in the anti-euro as their reason for voting against the euro? Answer = virtually no-one. Political and economic issues are the overriding factors in this debate, not the use of a supposedly "cool" party to win the vote of the young. If it is so "cool", should the pro-euro campaign bring the Monster Raving Loony Party into its campaign? The dumbing-down of this fundamentally important constitutional issue can only spell bad news for the wider debate on it. Personally, I believe the Greens are making a huge error of judgement siding with the campaign that is full of 'Little Englanders' stuck in a time warp. Progress needs to be made in this day and age, and the image of the Greens as a backward-facing party can only spell trouble for them. The Greens have lost the chance to add their names to the winning campaign, and one that I will be voting for.
Matt Hayward, Bath, England

Regionalism in the form of the EU is a thing of the 1960 or 70s. I'm 24, the EU means nothing to me. I'm far more likely to go travel and work in Australia or Canada, as I have already done, than in Europe. No one would suggest that the world should have one currency so why is it deemed so much more sensible for one region of it to have one? Besides which most of our trade is not with Europe. Manufacturing is only a small part of our Economy and just because most of our manufacturing exports are to Europe does not mean we should join the euro just because it benefits them. Alas, another lie peddled by the pro-euro lobby!
Andy, Yorkshire!

One normally only finds unnatural alliances occurring around very salient points in British politics, so this move is sure to bring more focus on the Euro debate in the short-term. In the long-term this shift may well be given the attention the other Green policies receive amongst the public at large: none. Whilst it may give the Euro-sceptics a less True Blue hue, a Tory/Green alliance still looks less than threatening to a Labour/LibDem 'Yes' coalition.
Ross Parker, UK

Anyone, from any background or party, can be anti-euro and be proud of that

Russ Moore, UK
This must embarrass those ignorant Europhiles who have always accused Eurosceptics of being flag-waving xenophobes. The Greens certainly aren't! Anyone, from any background or party, can be anti-euro and be proud of that. It's good to have the Greens on side!
Russ Moore, UK

"Anthony Gallagher, US" - haven't you noticed the devolution over the last few years? We already have the Scottish and Welsh Assemblies. As with the EU, they can vote on our (English) affairs but we (the English) can't vote on theirs.
Dave Tankard, UK

Maybe then, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should leave the UK? Why put all the eggs in the UK basket?
Anthony Gallagher, US

It seems to me that many people don't realise that Green policies extend further than environmental issues alone. Perhaps before making comments like young Joe Brown did, they should find out a little more about those who they criticise. As for the euro? Who knows - I've never heard an unbiased discussion of the matter, and until I do, I won't decide.
Andrew, London

I don't want to interfere in internal British politics, but it seems to me that the SNP and Plaid Cymru are in favour of the EU for a reason: it is much easier to be a small community in a large federation, then in a small one. It will also be easier to be a self-supporting continent than to be a self-sufficient island. The euro will increase (has increased) intereuropean trade, and decrease ex-european trade, which is why the Americans are so opposed to it(!). Now inter-european trade means less shipping than when goods have to come from Japan, the US or the 3rd world. Therefore, the euro is 'green', whatever publicity-hunger MEP's say.
Jochem Riesthuis, USA

If the best that the anti-euro lobby can come up with is the Green Party then I look forward to spending euros in the UK in the near future

James, UK
The Liberal Democrats are in favour of the Euro. Labour are in favour in principle. The CBI and the Unions are in favour. Even the Conservatives cannot bring themselves to say 'never'. If the best that the anti-euro lobby can come up with is the Green Party then I look forward to spending euros in the UK in the near future.
James, UK

Regardless of what you might think of the Greens, at least they have a stated policy on the euro. This is more than can be said for the Tories and Labour, who have been indecisive on this important issue for too long.
Daniel Brett, Cambridge, England

I grew up in Scotland in the eighties and most people of my generation that I know don't have much truck with the policies of the far right of mainstream British politics (aka Thatcherism). The right have hijacked the anti-euro campaign, and put ordinary voters off. I think it can only be a good thing if the Greens wake people up to the fact that the problems with the euro go far, far beyond the narrow set of sovereignty related issues identified by the Tories.
Peter Moore, UK

It seems to me to be nothing more than a simple publicity stunt. Within a week almost the entire country will have forgotten about the Green Party's support for the Euro and they will fade once more into near-obscurity.
Chris L, UK

Cool? I'm admittedly pro-Europe but I can't see how either side can make such a dull (but important) subject exciting. I think the Greens are seriously overestimating their street creed if they think siding with the antis will add a bit of glamour to the No Vote. That said the antis are largely Tory and no one takes them seriously either so maybe there is some common ground between the parties.
Neil Halliday, UK

Why rush into the euro?

Adam McKenna, Northern Ireland
UK and EU Parliament election turnouts show the illegitimacy. Why rush into the euro? It's for international business! Poland (etc) will join the EU soon, it wants the euro only a few years after! E. Europe will join the EU needing money not because 90 000 pages of law will improve their life. We sacrifice the rest of the economy to the City. It's about democracy not English nationalism; with the same interest rate from Dublin to Prague workforces will be played off against each other. Unless you learn 12 languages investors will always be able to move and workers won't.
Adam McKenna, Northern Ireland

I don't see how someone can consider "cool" voting for or against the Euro. This is a decision of utmost importance and any choice should be made responsibly and intelligently. Cool has nothing to do with it.
Pascal Jacquemain, UK (French)

I support the Greens on this issue. They challenge the idea that we should join the Euro-zone because it's somehow inevitable, like lemmings and the rapidly approaching cliff-edge. I like the idea that our economy should be driven by the people within it and not by 'forces' we don't understand or can't control. If it's cool to question the massive power of the giant corporations then the Greens are way-cool.
Nige, USA

The Greens can speak for themselves as to why they want out, but I'm fed up with the pro European Union lobby speaking about the rest of us "standing in the way of progress", or of being "little Englanders". Britain trades with the whole world and we need to be ever more flexible and fast reacting in the century ahead - something that Europe has so far patently shown itself incapable of being. I would suggest it is Europhiles who are backward by trying to avoid a past that will not happen again anyway, and naive in thinking that Europe will necessarily challenge America on the world stage, thus recapturing the lost glory that they seem to crave. If anyone doubts me, assume for a moment that America does not exist, and see how you then feel about it.
Graham, UK

Why would the English Greens want to help the big banks make profits from currency exchanges?

Ben Carlin, Belgium
I am a Brit living in Brussels (but not working for the EU). Here in Belgium, where you are never very far away from France, Germany and Holland, the euro makes perfect sense. Now you can cross over the border without paying a bank to change money. It's obvious to everyone that a single market needs a single currency to function properly. I'm not aware of any Green Parties in the euro zone countries calling for the old national currencies to be brought back. So why would the English Greens want to help the big banks make profits from currency exchanges?
Ben Carlin, Belgium

Can we open a book on when the first pro-euro correspondent on this thread uses the words 'xenophobic' or 'little Englander' in lieu of a decent argument?
Anthony Jones, UK

What do you mean? It's already cool to be anti-euro.
Ben Broadbent, England

Those people who say no to handing control of your economy to an unelected bunch of bankers should know that Gordon Brown did exactly that some years ago. If Europe controlled your currency and economy perhaps you would have a Health Service worthy of the name, a pension you could actually live on, a transport system you could use, need I say more? And if the Anti's have to resort to teaming up with the simplistic, head in the sand Greens then that say volumes for them.

Yo Sushi! is cool. Urban Outfitters is cool. Anything political will never be cool so don't try and pretend to young people that it is or ought to be. Instead, treat it with the intellectual rigour the most important issue facing this country in its history deserves.
James, London, England

At last they're getting some attention and respect

Dafydd, UK
Why all the fuss about the Greens all of a sudden? They've been anti-euro since as long as I can remember. Their reasons aren't anything that the socialist left hasn't been saying for ages, and are very similar to arguments raised by the Liberal Party and some (mostly silent) quarters of the Lib-Dems too. There are perfectly good reasons from a leftist perspective to avoid the euro. At last they're getting some attention and respect.
Dafydd, UK

I am a Green supporter who disagrees with this policy. For a long time the Greens have said that the issue of the euro is irrelevant to the environment. Though environmental concerns mean that many things should be produced locally, there are still things that need to be produced on a large scale. If we stay out of the euro it means that the cheapest source of these things will not be the relatively friendly European countries, but the worst polluter in the world, the USA.
Chris Q, England

Dima and Joe would do well to ask why the three economies who have stayed out of the Euro are the strongest and most prosperous. Moreover, would they be prepared to sacrifice their own currencies and de facto the control of their own economies for another currency, be governed by an unelected body and do so knowing that once this decision had been taken, there was NO going back on it? Before making facile judgements, gather and consider your facts first.
Julian, UK

They need to keep out of politics and we need to let the euro in

Joe Brown, UK
Being a 16 year old, I know that the Green Party aren't cool. They're generally seen as pests by the young and as saviours by the tree huggers! They need to keep out of politics and we need to let the euro in!
Joe Brown, UK

Dima Braun is missing the point when he is mentioning isolation and guilt in Europe. It is indeed possible to have a roaring economy outside the Euro-zone or even outside the EU. Free-trade agreements make this possible. Europeans have to keep their links with USA, and reject any federal attempts by a Franco-German power alliance. Yes to free trade, No to a federal Europe.
Ernst, Norway

I believe it is virtually impossible for the UK to prosper as a growing economy unless it sacrifices part of their own wealth in favour of a more globalised form of economy. The UK, opting out of joining the euro, establishes a form of isolationism that I believe many Englanders are guilty of. They will just have to wait and suffer the consequences as they come.
Dima Braun, USA

Dima Braun is spot on: Faced with the USA, China (the world's fastest growing economy), and the rest of Europe working together, Britain on its own will wither and perish. We may lose some freedom now but this is about 30, 50, 100 years down the line. Don't block it now because of short-term quibbles.
Chris, UK

Just like to point out, Dima, since you seem to know so much about British affairs, that we never, ever call ourselves "Englanders". British, English, Scots or Welsh, ok but not Englanders. Just as a matter of interest would the US be happy to sacrifice part of its wealth and its ability to set its own taxes in favour of a more globalised form of economy?

The anti-euro vote is a vote against progress

Franziska, UK
The Greens should stick to what they know best: environmental issues. The anti-euro vote is in my opinion a vote against progress.
Franziska, UK

What do the Greenies know about economics, except that they don't like it? Looks to me as if here we have a classic case of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". If I was in charge of the No campaign, I wouldn't want to be associated with the backward looking development phobic Greens - there's enough backing for the anti-euro movement without needing the support of the meusli and lentils brigade.
David Moran, Scotland/Australia

If the Greens think that the UK not joining the single currency will make any difference at all to globalisation then they're even more off this planet than I thought.
Andrew Cover, UK

Welcome on board Greens!

Gerry Anstey, England
Welcome on board Greens! This move demonstrates that this issue is more important than any other. If we loose control of our economy then we loose control of all the other issues like health and education. Congratulations to the Greens who have seen this.
Gerry Anstey, England

Gerry Anstey: I seriously doubt that the Greens joining the No campaign is going to make much difference!
Alex Banks, UK

The anti-euro vote is already cool. Pro-euro is soooooo un-cool!
Phil, UK

Don't make me laugh! The Greens have lost all respect, what with the anti-globalisation riots. This just shows that they really have no tangible argument regarding staying out of the EU, apart from straight bananas.
Mark S, Canada (ex-UK)

Adopting the euro reminds me of the adage about putting all one's eggs in one basket. We all know it is not the wisest choice.
Jonathan Lord, UK

See also:

19 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Greens join anti-euro campaign
18 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Thatcher urges 'retreat' from EU
23 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Hewitt pushes euro as exports dip
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Talking Point stories