Banish the sovereignty blues. You’ve got old friends

Hey, Irish, cheer up. There’s no necessary correlation between wellbeing and financial crisis. Yous’ns is not the only ones to have been visited upon by the IMF. Remember UK 1976?  How can I ever forget it?  And that was over “only” a $4 billion loan ( at 1976 prices ) and was never actually drawn upon. Years later they made a remarkable discovery.

An index of economic, social and environmental progress yesterday declared 1976 to be the best on record for quality of life in Britain.

So scoff not at David Cameron arguing for  a “well being index” to replace the obsession with GDP. There are worse fates than the IMF. Who knows, it all may turn out to be a nightmare from which we’ll all wake up one day. Or magicked away, as John Waters seems rather uncharacteristically to hope for, with that wonderful anecdote about the $100 round in the hotel.

Ok, so this is mainly a bit of escapism. But there is a real point here too. Don’t fall for too much neurotic “shame” over  “loss of sovereignty”. Remember that it’s a crucial  part of the intensifying party battle  and that we are all interdependent now . Remember too that the Brits were there before you in an era of rocketing inflation – and survived.

Wasn’t it heart warning to see the near-universal support on the BBC last night for the UK’s (albeit modest) contribution to the Irish bailout? The rotweilers of the Question Time audience spoke in favour while reserving their ire for all bankers everywhere. And on This Week, host Andrew Neil and sofa man Michael Portillo agreed. A British contribution was merited, yes because trade with Ireland exceeded that with all the BRICs combined –(though a poor comment on the state of Britain’s export drive). But there was more to it than impersonal trade stats. Together they nodded in harmony. Although an independent state for generations, and different currencies notwithstanding, Ireland’s links with Britain were so close that they still amounted to a domestic relationship.

So you can have your sovereignty cake and eat it.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London