Introduction: Mr. Oulds is the Director of the London-based Bruges Group, and an international political analyst who has made a specialty of analyzing and opposing the European Union and its political propaganda. Still a young man, Robert not only holds the position of the director of the Bruges Group, he also became a Conservative Councillor in Chiswick for the Chiswick-Homefields ward in May 2002 after discovering how Labour "ripped Chiswick off." Oulds himself describes the Bruges Group as a "leading Eurosceptic cross-party think-tank aiming to reform the European Union and end the drive towards the single European State." He is also the Lead Member for Education in the London Borough of Hounslow and Standard-Bearer and Treasurer for the Chiswick Branch of the Royal British Legion.
Daily Bell: For readers who don't know, give us some background on yourself and the Bruges Group.
Robert Oulds: The Bruges Group is a think tank and our President is the former Prime Minister Baroness Margaret Thatcher. We were founded following the then Prime Ministers Bruges Speech to the College of Europe in Bruges. The Group was founded to turn her ideas into a political reality. We originally made the case against the centralization of the European Union and for a Europe of democratic and deregulated nation states. We still have our positive vision for an alternative relationship between European states but see that Britain and other countries are now better off out of the unreformable European Union.
Daily Bell: Give us an update on the Bruges Group. What are its activities now?
Robert Oulds: The Bruges Group is producing research, holding meetings and briefing the media on EU issues. We also lobby politicians as to the facts about the EU and what needs to be done.
Daily Bell: Do you feel vindicated over what's going on?
Robert Oulds: The Bruges Group and predicted long ago that more powers over people's lives will be demanded by the EU and that there will be more costly interference. Now it is recognized that excessive EU regulation is damaging the economy, hurting inward investment and creating high unemployment. We predicted that the euro will fail and it is. And that there will be moves to control the tax and spend policies of the nation states. The Bruges Group's analysis has unfortunately been correct. As events develop more and more are accepting our solution to the crises generated by the EU – Britain and other nations need to free themselves from the EU.
Daily Bell: What's your take on the EU and is it going to fail entirely? Expand on the euro as well.
Robert Oulds: The euro was intended to be the hallmark of EU political integration it is failing and is the root cause of a great deal of economic harm. The politicians instead of recognizing the folly of their endeavours are determined to put their political project and careers above that of economic common sense and the best interests of their citizens. The euro will be artificially propped up until it the pain does cause an ever greater collapse. The EU's hope that something will turn up to rescue the euro is misplaced and is leading to the wasting of good money after bad.
Daily Bell: Will the EU end up being a smaller entity?
Robert Oulds: The European Union is a political structure that has trans-national institutions that seek to govern and bind its member-states. This is not only thoroughly unnecessary as international relations and trade do not require supra-national structures it is a drain on European nations that is adding to the decline of its members. The EU has gone far-to-far. It has taken too much power away from democratic national parliaments and eventually there will be a kick back where people will demand that democracy is returned to the nation state at which point it will collapse.
Daily Bell: Will Britain eventually leave it entirely?
Robert Oulds: There have been a number of opinion polls in the UK which all show that the British people are deeply dissatisfied with the EU. A number even show that the majority does wish to leave the European Union. Furthermore, between 80 and 90 percent want a referendum on our membership.
Membership of the EU has been sold to the British people on a false premise; that it was just a trading arrangement, that there has been no loss of sovereignty, that it would bring prosperity. All have been shown to be false and it is not unreasonable to argue that the political class has lied to the British people. The politicians who have promised referenda on the EU before and then broken their word and are now paying the price for their dishonesty and have created even more bad will towards the unaccountable EU.
Daily Bell: How does David Cameron approach the EU?
Robert Oulds: David Cameron is typical of many British leaders who may hint at Eurosceptic at home but these are just tokenistic statements designed to appease opinion in Britain. Yet he does not deliver any tangible change in Britain's terms of EU membership, in fact his government has signed up to many EU proposals even in the field of Justice and Home Affairs.
Some Conservative Prime Ministers had hoped that the expansion of the EU would mean that there would be less centralization. Of course that was incorrect because it has led to more integration but David Cameron actually supports greater political union for the eurozone. Such a transfer of more power will be to store up even more political and economic problems for the future. Unfortunately Britain's Prime Minister cannot see that the EU is wrong in principle. It is also ended centuries of British foreign policy that had successfully stopped Europe becoming dominated by one power.
Daily Bell: Why is Cameron pro-EU? Aren't Tories anti-EU?
Robert Oulds: Most members of the Conservative Party are opposed to the EU; this is not reflected by the Party leadership. And generally the younger the Conservative MP is the more Eurosceptic they are. In time they will occupy more prominent positions in the Party, which may lead to change of approach in the future.
David Cameron, however, does not share their deeply held Eurosceptic principles.
Daily Bell: Are the top people in the City of London pro-EU? Don't these people control the British central bank? And don't they seek a kind of global governance?
Robert Oulds: Some big business interests have favoured power being transferred away from democratic national institutions to unaccountable transnational organisations. Such power structures lack public scrutiny and enable them to lobby for changes that suit their business and hurt their competitors. An example is the excessive regulation from the EU. The costs can be absorbed by larger corporations but they disproportionately harm small and medium size enterprises, which can be harmed by too much red tape. We need to remember that the vast majority of people employed in the private sector in the UK work for SMEs.
Many organisations in the City of London are however now suffering as a result of the EU. The Commissioner with responsibility for financial services is French and they have traditionally been opposed to the Anglo-Saxon economic model.
Daily Bell: What is Cameron's REAL position regarding the EU?
Robert Oulds: I think that he just hopes that the whole issue will go away, however it will not as long as he continues to deny the British people from having their say on this country's future in a referendum on our EU membership.
Daily Bell: Is Cameron a good prime minister?
Robert Oulds: He is very good at presentation and publicity but these should be second to principles and policies.
Daily Bell: Does the Queen have an informal position on the EU? Is she pro-EU?
Robert Oulds: Unfortunately, under the terms of the Maastricht Treaty the Queen, just like other people in the EU, is considered a citizen if the European Union. This many find regrettable but the Monarch is bound by convention to only be consulted by the Prime Minister and to warn and advise and does not have the constitutional power to prevent the Government from passing more powers to Brussels even though this has undermined British sovereignty and placed many areas of law making outside of the institutions of the United Kingdom.
Daily Bell: What about the House of Lords?
Robert Oulds: The House of Lords, like the role of the Monarchy, is one of those typically British institutions. Its functions have evolved over time to their present responsibilities. No one would have designed them this way but they work. The House of Lords, which is unelected, works as an independently minded revising chamber with many experts that can and do hold the government to account often with a great deal of effectiveness which is sometimes not shown by the MPs in the House of Commons who are too subject to pressure from the party machines.
Daily Bell: Why is Labour pro-EU?
Robert Oulds: Traditionally many in the Labour Party have been opposed to the EU on the grounds that it undermines democracy and is too susceptible to the whims of big business interests. A widely respected leader of the Labour Party, Hugh Gaitskell even spoke of membership of the forerunner of the EU as "the end of Britain as an independent European state, the end of a thousand years of history!" There are still many ordinary members of the Labour Party that may be socialist but are patriotic and there are still some good MPs that want to preserve our freedom. Yet these are now heavily outweighed by their careerist colleagues who have more in common with the politically correct political forces.
The change in the Labour Party's position came in the mid-1980s when the Labour Leader, a future EU Commissioner, Neil Kinnock sought to modernize the Labour Party and abandoned many of its old principles in the hope of gaining power; this he never succeeded in achieving until he was appointed, not elected, to the EU Commission. The process of Labour becoming pro-EU accelerated when in 1988 the then President of the European Commission, Jacques Delors, addressed the British Trade Union Congress. Here he pledged to create a social Europe that would bring in socialistic policies via the back door, effectively undermining the reforms of the British Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Yet Labour's European policy could well become very interesting. There is speculation that the Labour Party manifesto for the next general election will offer the British people an in or out referendum on EU membership. This is an attempt to embarrass and outflank the Conservative Party whose core support overwhelmingly supports such a policy. The Conservatives are already losing support to the UK Independence Party, which has contributed to Cameron's failure to achieve an overall majority in the House of Commons and a failure to offer a referendum will mean that more support will seep-away to UKIP.
Daily Bell: What do you think of UKIP?
Robert Oulds: Many of their policies ranging from support for selective education to withdrawal from the EU more closely reflect the views of many grass-roots members of the Conservative Party. There is even the possibility that in the 2014 elections to the European Parliament they could poll more than any other party including the Conservatives. Yet that will deliver no direct change, it will only send a message. Typically that message has been ignored by all three of the main political parties, but that would be a mistake this time as just as a few votes in marginal seats can mean the difference between victory and defeat.
Daily Bell: Haven't successive Tory governments lied about the EU?
Robert Oulds: That is very true; leaders in particular such as Edward Heath claimed that there would be no loss of essential sovereignty when Britain joined the EEC. That was blatantly untrue.
Daily Bell: Explain what the EU has done to England specifically. Why is it bad?
Robert Oulds: Membership of the EU has generated a massive trade deficit exporting jobs from this country to the continent, cost the taxpayer billions of pounds each year and handed decision making over many areas of law making from our own democratically elected parliament to the anti-democratic EU.
Daily Bell: Isn't Britain in a sense at war with itself?
Robert Oulds: I have found through many years of political experience and through my observing of other political discussions that no other issue creates the kind of disagreement and heated debate that talking about Europe brings. That said those that are pro-EU are a small minority within Britain; and generally those who support it are usually either ill-informed about what EU membership means or are somehow either directly or indirectly in the pay of one of its many institutions.
As most people in Britain are at least Eurosceptical the situation is more akin to the British political class being at war with its own citizens. Those who have opposed European centralization have been pilloried by the political establishment for our desire to preserve democracy and freedom. Yet we have been proved to be correct and our warnings as to the dangers of the EU are coming to pass.
Daily Bell: What will happen to Brussels and its bureaucrats if the EU goes down?
Robert Oulds: Having to find employment within the private sector will come as a shock to many.
Daily Bell: Give us a scenario that is likely to happen regarding the EU and the euro.
Robert Oulds: Eventually the euro will collapse and countries citizens will seize back power from the unaccountable institutions of the EU. The longer that the EU project continues there will be greater disharmony between nations. It is better to wind up the project before it creates series discord.
Daily Bell: The British system doesn't work very well right now. Is it time for more Thatcherism?
Britain desperately needs to reinvigorate its economy, but at present it is being strangled by red tape from both Whitehall, the base of the British civil service and Brussels. Yes. Thatcherite supply side economic reform is needed, as is an easing of the tax burden.
Daily Bell: How is it possible that people still consider that socialism is the answer to social problems?
Robert Oulds: A hang over from Britain's semi-feudal class structure has meant that success is looked down upon. This looking down upon wealth generation has permeated through British society. And it is felt by some that policies which allow others to forge ahead is intrinsically wrong, yet the fact is that although capitalism may allow others to benefit more than others a rising tide does lift all.
Daily Bell: Where is Britain headed?
Robert Oulds: The current trend is towards a slow managed decline where Britain is finding it harder to compete with the economies of developing nations. This is part of the shrinking share of the world economy that is characteristic of EU membership but not of all European countries. The states in Western Europe that remain outside of the EU are far more prosperous than the countries stuck in the EU.
Daily Bell: Is the British economy sustainable?
Robert Oulds: The size of spending on the public sector is a false economy; it is unsustainable. The British Chancellor of the Exchequer needs to institute a growth plan which does not include artificially inflating the public sector but includes tax cuts to help small businesses, encourage employment and boost consumer spending.
Daily Bell: Why is the British upper class socialist?
Robert Oulds: In British politics there is a long tradition that has been described as Paternalistic where the upper-class politicians sought to improve the lives of the great unwashed. This is in reality a form of benevolent arrogance a 'we know best approach.' However, all the intentions may be good it has meant that economic decisions have been taken away from ordinary people who know how to spend their own money much better than the state. There is also a problem with Britain's system of representative democracy. Too often it involves politicians seeking to buy votes with other people's money and the size of the state expands.
Daily Bell: Is Britain turning more libertarian?
Robert Oulds: There is certainly the feeling that Britain's excessively generous welfare system has gone too far and become deeply unfair as many are working hard to finance other people's lives.
Daily Bell: What do you think of libertarianism? Does the free market offer failures that need to be addressed by government?
Robert Oulds: Government involvement creates more problems than it seeks to solve. Some point to the need for Government to resolve the financial crisis but that can be achieved by an active and interventionist central bank.
Daily Bell: What is your take on the Bank of England?
Robert Oulds: During the tenure of Mervin King, the current Bank of England Governor, the British economy experienced a massive overexpansion in the supply of money which created a boom with the over inflation of asset prices, which has then been followed by a massive monetary contraction causing a deep and lasting recession. The Bank of England under Mervin King failed to deliver stability.
Daily Bell: How about the European Central Bank? Should it be abolished?
Robert Oulds: Certainly, along with the euro. The ECB, based in Frankfurt, has put the needs of the German economy above those of the other members of the eurozone. Lax monetary policy created inflation in the eurozone periphery when Germany was experiencing difficulties earlier this century. Then until recently it was following a very German approach of restricting the money supply in the euro area even when the financial crisis was biting.
Daily Bell: Is the Bruges Group going to expand its outlook and throw its weight behind a market-based philosophy for Britain?
Robert Oulds: The Bruges Group has such a positive vision, not just for the UK but also for other European Countries as well. Originally as the EU began in earnest to centralize and become more ant-competitive we wanted to take the Thatcher revolution to the continent. The situation with the EU is now so bad that to introduce economic and political reform in Britain we have to first leave the European Union. Without exiting the declining EU Britain will still be subject to its dictates but once we are free we will be able to make the reforms at home.
Daily Bell: What about Germany? Will the German people stand for being the bankroll for the EU?
Robert Oulds: The EU is primarily financed by Britain and Germany. There is a growing feeling that Germany should no longer pay the enormous bills to support the EU and the euro. Chancellor Merkel is well aware that putting more taxpayers money into the euro could cost her power.
Daily Bell: If Germany won't go along, isn't the EU basically doomed?
Robert Oulds: Germany will not pay the billions of euros needed to support the euro; that is doomed.
Daily Bell: Okay. So where from here for the Bruges Group and for you personally? What are plans now?
Robert Oulds: The Bruges Group and I will continue spearheading the intellectual battle against the notion of "ever–closer Union" in Europe and, above all, against British involvement in a single European state. At the same time I am also writing a number of history books. My first book, which is a military history, will be published by Bretwalda Books in October. It is titled Montgomery and the First War on Terror. It is about Bernard Law Montgomery, later Field Marshal Montgomery who achieved fame during the Second World War. He combated insurgents in two guerrilla wars. He faced first the IRA in Ireland in the 1920s when he commanded British troops in Cork, a hotbed of terrorist violence. Next he faced jihadi Islamic terrorists in Palestine during the Arab Revolt of the 1930s. It looks at those conflicts and applies the lessons to Britain's involvement in the war in Afghanistan. Interestingly Montgomery also served on the North-west Frontier, the borders with Afghanistan during his early career.
Daily Bell: Any upcoming events or publications you want to mention?
Robert Oulds: Yes, we have just produced research that shows that the UK can be held liable to take on the losses of institutions such as the European Investment Bank, the European Central Bank and other EU financial mechanisms. The total is nearly as much as €150 billion. It can be found on our homepage www.brugesgroup.com
Daily Bell: Thanks for your time and the great work you've done.
Robert Oulds: My pleasure, I have enjoyed talking to you.