30 June, 2012

Slowing down

I posted earlier this year about attempts from officialdom to tell you what time it is. In brief, someone unelected has decided that time is not measured by where the sun appears to be in the sky, which has been good enough ever since the ancient Ptolomeic scientists got interested in it, but in the decay of caesium. Unfortunately the world is slowing down, whereas the caesium is not, so tonight they are adding another second to the time.

Let the world be warned that this blog is sovereign territory and does not possess any caesium, nor does it plan to invest in any. The extra second is not recognised here, nor is caesium time generally.

This blog is getting older and, like the planet it is on, slowing down gradually, alas.

29 June, 2012

More nutcases

In an upset even out-upsetting an unknown knocking favourite Rafa Nadal out of Wimbledon, Italy beat the much fancied Germany in the European football cup, with two goals from the outrageously talented Mario Balotelli.

Mr. Balotelli plies his everyday trade in Manchester and is regarded by the British Press as two goalposts short of a football pitch. All I can say is let's have a few nutcases in the England side. In addition, Mr Balotelli went and hugged his mother, and then made modest speeches, in two languages, congratulating the players who had helped him score the goals.

Contrast this with the England team.

28 June, 2012


An acronym much in the news today, including some hysterical submissions from the ignorant end of the press and from the leader of the Labour Party.

It is about an answer to the question 'what is the interest rate?'. Many years ago when I started work in the City, the latest thing was syndicated loans, where as many as a hundred banks would group together to make a a huge loan sufficient for a major infrastructure project. Naturally one loan required one interest rate, so two or three would be nominated to give their cost of funds at a certain time of the morning, usually 11am after the initial frenzy had calmed down, and an average would be taken. That was the London Interbank Offered Rate, LIBOR.

These days LIBOR applies to literally hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of debt instruments and so has become institutionalised, under the aegis of the British Bankers Association and Reuters.

It now seems some banks have been guilty of feeding in a rate to suit their own book.

Now, I have a mortgage linked to LIBOR, most of our mortgages are, directly or indirectly. So I might have been worried when Ed Milliband said that the British Public had a grievance. But a close inspection appears to show that the rogue banks quoted low, so as to keep their own funding costs down. So I shan't be suing, thanks Ed, claiming I've been paying too little. The people who lent me the money might have a beef. But they're another bank.

This is, however serious: now this function will have to be overseen (by the Bank of England, for preference).

This has been crooked and dishonest, but no more than that. I think the heads of any banks indicted for this will have to consider their positions. But it's not the end of the world. Move along.

25 June, 2012

Egypt best of a bad job

Many people will be depressed about the result of the presidential elections in Egypt, some angry. That at least seems to be the feeling in the West, although I think it is mistaken.

For many, again particularly in the West, the Arab spring was a secular affair. In those days of the crowds in Tahrir Square it was easy to dream of a Western style democracy, with rights for everyone, but in truth whilst it may have started this way it was only because the Muslim Brotherhood was late on parade.

In the end the contest turned out to be between Ahmed Shafiq, a former Mubarak henchman whom nobody quite trusted and Muhammad Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate. Mursi won, but omewhere in the political mix lies the spectre of the military.

Mubarak was of course a military officer and he exerted his power through them. And the military have been reticent about giving up power, a surprise to some people but not to everyone. They want to be entrenched in the constitution, in the way the Turkish Army is. But Egypt hasn't yet got a constitution. The similarity is that like the Turks, the Egyptian army sees itself as a bulwark against Islam.

So if Egypt had voted fr the Mubarak henchman Ahmed Shafiq they would have got more army control. With Mursi there will be tensions, of course, particularly as he fights for authority in the constitution to come, but one side might well balance the other.

An Islamic government is probably bad news for women and quite possibly for minorities such as the Copts, but people may come to view it as the best of a bad job.

24 June, 2012

Keeping up with the times

Her Majesty the Queen, described by one paper as 'in touch with the times, as ever' has updated the royal precedence.

This means that The Countess of Wessex (née Sophie Rhys-Jones) has to curtsey to the Duchess of Cambridge (née Kate Middleton), even at home(!), whereas la Cambridge-Middleton (if these two women are married to princes why aren't they princesses?) has to curtsey to Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie and Princess Alexandra (no idea who she is), except when her husband is with her, in which case she can presumably show her respect with a two fingered salute.

It seems a wife takes on the splendour of her husband if he is there but not if he isn't. But what happens if he is officially there but is late, or has to go to the lavatory? Does A curtsey to B and then as William returns, zipping himself up, B frantically curtseys to both of them?

This kind of feudal chivalric nonsense harks back to the 13th century and really has no place in our modern life. I don't suppose anyone minds curtseying to the Queen but let's leave it at that.

HELLO? It's out of date crap...... No, no reply.

The death wish

Greek Prime Minister Samaras is recovering from eye surgery, whilst the new finance minister collapsed before he was even sworn in. The Troika of IMF, EU and ECB have delayed sending a gauleiter beancounter / Bohnenzaehler.

I think this is a good move by Greece. Given they need more money and have hardly applied any of the required supply side reforms, I would advocate an outbreak of bubonic plague.

PS According to the Italian Sole 24 Ore paper, whilst the Greeks claim to have reduced the civil service by 94,000 in the last 2 years, 70,000 of them, kicked out of the door, have climbed back in the window, so headcount has reduced by only 24.000. I'd stay in hospital, Mr. Samaras.

The housemaid's baby

Where the European Project, the whole damn thing from the Coal and Steel Community to the euro, comes a cropper is with democracy. You may remember the absurdly self-important José Manuel Barroso saying he didn't want any lessons in democracy. He said that Europe consisted of 27 democracies, but he didn't say that Europe was itself a democracy: the assembled journalists would have been rolling in the aisles clutching their sides.

Now Greece, for some the birthplace of democracy, has elected a government, supposedly from parties in favour of the bailout (in fact largely from the ones which agreed it) and they, trying to be as inclusive as possible, have said they want just a little renegotiation of the bailout, not a complete one. A housemaid's baby of a renegotiation. An extra two years.

Now in my view Merkel might have agreed to this, sent down a few beancounters (the word Bohnenzaehler really does need to be invented for this particularly Euro-use) and imposed a few more minor conditions. But she has come up against the great European bugbear. What, the Germans are now asking, if a future Greek government didn't want to agree to the terms? What if the Greeks, those pernicious long-standing democrats, voted for someone the Germans didn't like?

And it seems quite possible. The Greek system says that the party which gets most votes gets first shout at forming a government. So what has happened is that whilst the majority voted for parties against the bailout, Samaras has nobbled the mildest of these and got it to agree to the housemaid's baby. But Tzipras and Syriza will not be silent in the days to come and it is not impossible that it could force Samaras' government out of office. By the way when I say they were against the bailout, they weren't against receiving the money, oh no, it was the conditions attaching to it which they opposed.

So is Merkel prepared to take the risk? Expect another fudge.

23 June, 2012

Syria and Turkey

Interestingly the BBC led with 'Syria shoots down a Turkish plane' whereas several others had 'Syuria admits to shooting down a Turkish plane'. Perhaps a fine point of expectation or legality but this could be important here.

If the Turkish fighter was indeed inside Syrian airspace then the Turks will be red faced, firstly for making such a cock-up and secondly because the plane seems to have been shot down rather easily.

If, however, the Turkish plane had not crossed into Syrian airspace, then since Turkey is a member of NATO, whose charter says that an attack on one is an attack on all, there had better be some nifty diplomatic footwork.

One sometimes feels guilty about not getting involved but really the last thing we need is an escalation of this conflict.

20 June, 2012


The summer solstice is today, the longest day of the year (in non-leap years it is the 21st).

For many it is the first day of summer. Where I am, the temperature is forecast to reach 35 - 37C (95-100F) so we are hoping summer isn't a lot hotter than this.

The very name summer solstice makes you want to howl at the moon or commit some pagan act, but I expect I shall have an early night.

19 June, 2012

Dumpty speaks, too

The other unelected president, Dumpty, is better known as Rumpy or Herman Achille van Rompuy (No.3 President is the elected leader of a member state, which from 1st July will be Christofias of plucky little bankrupt Southern Cyprus) . I don't quite know why, but Rumpy Dumpty also got to the lunch G-20 meetings in Mexico. His statement was almost as remarkable as Humpty's:

'Greek voters have made a clear choice about staying in the euro currency, following weeks of uncertainty in the financial markets'

In fact the Greek voters were voting for a ruling party, not whether to stay in the euro, but to this extent they have indeed made a 'clear choice': most of them voted for parties opposed to the bailout.

Humpty speaks

José Manuel Barroso, one of three presidents of Europe, is lunching attending the G-20 summit in Mexico. Asked by a reporter 'Why should North Americans risk their assets to help Europe?' he replied 'Frankly we are not here to receive lessons in terms of democracy or in terms of how to handle the economy.'

Many people, in particular those living in Spain or Greece, will have an opinion on how brilliantly the ruling European élite have handled the economy, but I wanted to pick up on this 'democracy' business.

You see, the G-20 is not just a meeting of 20 nations, it is a meeting of 19 nations plus 'Europe', and Europe, 500 million odd people, is represented by Barroso. Remember voting for him?

I have mentioned before how these Alice-in-Wonderland characters believe that merely saying something makes it true, but it defies belief that he thought he could get away with this: that a former Maoist, not elected to leadership but chosen by a few pals for whom he subsequently had to do favours, should purport to represent an entire continent and then tell the world he needed no lessons in democracy.

I think we all need a lesson in democracy, so we can identify Mr Barroso for what he is.

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less'

18 June, 2012

Brian Hibbard

This blog is sad to record the death of Brian Hibbard of the a capella group The Flying Pickets. The group were solidly left wing politically, coming together during Mrs Thatcher's reign. They took every small decision relating to the band by popular vote.

They were horrified to hear that Mrs Thatcher liked this record. So did I.

The elections

In France, Marine Le Pen failed to be elected but her niece, the photogenic Marion Maréchal Le Pen seems to have won the vote in Carpentras. François Hollande has swept all before him and can enact his programme without support from any other party. It is an impressive victory but I can't help feeling that France has made a mistake.

In Greece, as I advised, it paid to take no notice of the doomsayers. New Democracy, the centre right pro-bailout party, beat Syriza and will now form a coalition with PASOK. So Greece will be run by the people who have run it since the Colonels, in other words the people who got them into this mess. The people's choice, though, was stark; Syriza thought it could call Merkel's bluff and stay in the euro, which was disquieting. Only a few tiny parties, with minuscule support, thought, as I do, that it would be in Greece's interest to leave the single currency. The Greeks, who believe, quite erroneously, that the euro is a good thing for them, played it safe.

So Greece is condemned to be welfare dependent. It cannot service its debts, it cannot borrow more money from the markets, and it cannot exp'ort its way out of trouble because its currency, the euro, is over-valued for Greek needs by at least 30%. It will leave the euro eventually and it is only to be hoped that some politician grasps the nettle, and that it is not too late, and too painful.

17 June, 2012

A dog writes

Politico 44 'A living diary of the Obama Presidency' asks whether the dog Bo is a political liability.

A spokesdog for the First Pet said it was typical: you climb the greasy dogbasket to the top and then the green-eyed monster begins to strike. Far from being a political liability, the country is going to the dogs because Bo's advice is never taken. Wife more popular than you? Dig up her vegetable garden. Trouble with Angela Merkel? Bite her on the leg.

It is to be hoped that this dogged pursuit of the only effective member of the White House team will now cease.

Who's up for a crisis?

And it's the Greeks' turn today. All the European Press have talked up this story to almost apocalyptic levels. I think it worthwhile taking a look at the facts.

Syriza, which nobody had heard of prior to the first round elections, is an agglomeration of leftists of all hues, Greens and special interest groups. It is not a movement.

These are not British style first-past-the-post elections. Syriza may well emerge as the largest party, although that is far from certain, but it certainly will not have anything like enough votes to govern on its own. On Monday there will begin the series of negotiations and horse trading which do so much to damage the world's perception of proportional representation. No need to panic yet.

Forewarned is forearmed, the saying goes, but it doesn't apply to the European élite. You'd have thought that with so much advance notice of this they would be ready with a series of responses to cover all contingencies. They're not, and will start to think about it when the grown-ups get home from the G-20 binge in Mexico.

If Mr Tsipras were to be able to form a coalition, he would then have to do as he promised and try to renegotiate the bail out package. Some leaders (Merkel) will be wholly against this whereas others (Hollande) will be grudgingly in favour. These negotiations could run for months, while the EU drip feeds the Greek economy.

Never forget that the Euro is a political game. Its supporters don't want anyone to leave, ever.

So no need for tht extra blood pressure tablet on Monday. What is likely to happen is in fact the worst case scenario, that no one knows what to do or dares do anything, and we carry on kicking the can down the road, until the next crisis..

France votes

Second round parliamentary elections in France. Hollande is expected to confirm his majority, which won't please La Merkel too much.

All eyes will be on the Front National, which is expected to get seats in the parliament, and in particular on Marion Maréchal-Le Pen (great name!), the third generation of her family to ..er..serve. Her chances are good, by all accounts.

Let's face it, she doesn't look like the Far right candidate

15 June, 2012

Magna Carta

Today is the 797th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta. Parts of it are still valid in English Law, and it remains one of the foundations of the American Constitution.

There is rather a nice article in the Daily Telegraph suggesting that we have this day as a national holiday, something I would favour.

Originals were sent to many cities, including Salisbury, Lincoln and London. Go and see one if you can. It sends a shiver up your spine.

13 June, 2012

The end and the beginning

This was just flashed by Reuters:

Draft conclusions for EU leaders' 28-29 June summit say there is a need for much stronger banking and fiscal integration, underpinned by enhanced Eurozone governance.

Blink and you could miss the extraordinary Alice-in-Wonderland nature of Europe. This is the publication of the conclusions of a meeting which is due to begin in a fortnight's time.

OK, I know the important part of these meetings is the lunch, but these are the leaders of 27 different countries, surely one of them might spark a debate by saying something interesting or original? They could decide that the weather was to blame for the crisis, or that Luxembourg should be kicked out for being too rich, or that the game wasn't worth the candle and rather than being governed from Berlin they'd all rather go back to their national currencies.

But no. They'll be told what to think.

The Falklands

The news, which reaches us on the 30th anniversary of the end of the Falklands War, that the Islanders are to hold a referendum on their choice of sovereignty, is, in my view, a bit daft.

Whatever the result, and it is almost certain to be a resounding vote to stay in (despite my revelation recently that 0.6% of the population is Japanese), the Argentines will claim, rightly, that we stuffed the place with British. Their claim, whatever its validity, is much older.

The effect the vote will have, though, is to stiffen the resolve of any future British government which thinks of giving them up. In this sense it is an astute move by the Islanders.

Major whinng

The Leveson Enquiry, a long-running investigation into the relations between government and the press in Britain, seems to hold the Westminster Village in breathless excitement, while leaving the vast majority of people indifferent. It certainly seems to generate more heat than light.

Latest up was Sir John Major, one of the weakest Prime Ministers we have ever had. According to his testimony he invited Mr Murdoch to dinner in February 1997 and was told that the Murdoch papers would not support the administration while it pursued its European policies.

And this is supposed to be something of an indictment of Murdoch.

Hell, if Major had invited me to dinner in 1997 I should have told him I wouldn't support him unless he changed his European policies. I think Murdoch is to be applauded.

Major was out a few months later. But his demise was not caused by the Murdoch press, it was because the British people were fed up with him and his party, and, in part, because of Europe. And we had a glossy alternative in the form of Tony Blair, who it turned out wasn't much different.

It's a shame to see Sir John whining about this15 years later, but really his memory should be a bit clearer.

12 June, 2012

Where they got the plan

A little déjà vu regarding the Spanish non-bailout

(Actually in dollar terms it was more like $120 billion and still not enough)

11 June, 2012

Round up the usual suspects

The USA has offered rewards totalling $15 million for information on the whereabouts of leaders of the Somali Islamic militant group al-Shabaab.

An al-Shabaab spokesman has replied 'Whoever reveals the hideout of the idiot Obama will be rewarded with 10 camels, and whoever reveals the hideout of the old woman Hilary Clinton will be rewarded with 10 chickens and 10 roosters.'

I think I may be able to help here: would they be young, breeding camels or the stringy old sort we usually see?


Perhaps I misunderstood, but Spanish Finance Minister Luis de Guindos seemed to give an arrogant little talk, almost telling the assembled hacks they were jolly lucky to see him at all. Normally Prime Minister Rajoy doesn't speak to the press but this time he stood up for long enough to declare that this deal is great news for Europe (I am not making this up). He then went off to see a football match in Poland, while other members of the government went to see a tennis match in France. Nothing to see here, move on please.

So, the Spanish banks are getting €100bn from Europe?
No. The Spanish state (the money will be paid to an arm of the Government) is getting €100bn from the European taxpayer.

The money is described as coming from The EFSF / ESM, which is confusing. The first of these bodies, the European Financial Stability Facility, is down to its last €200bn, but €93bn of that is due from Spain.

The European Stability Mechanism is not yet in existence, not having been ratified by, among others, Germany. The German Parliament has already said it shouldn't be used to rescue banks

So this will sort it?
Ummm....not really.First there are doubts as to whether €100bn will be enough. Spanish banks already have admitted to €80bn of bad property loans, out of a total of €400bn. Analysts expect the Spanish property market has a further 30% to fall, which could double the amount of property loans in the 'bad debt' category.

But the markets are happy?
Markets rose this morning, but how long that will be the case is a moot point. Firstly, Spain can now be seen not to be able to raise the money it needs on its own. Whatever Rajoy says about this not being a bailout, that’s what it is. Secondly, Spain is responsible for 12% of the Eurozone bailout funds, which must be worth commensurately less now.

Finally the loans will be on the terms designed for the ESM, which means that existing bondholders rank behind the EFSF / ESM, which will make them grumpy. Those which have English Law bonds will call default, as they did in Greece, and have to be paid off.

But Europe is happy?
We....ll, the Germans don’t want this, the Irish will ask for the same terms as Spain got, the Finns are refusing and want collateral.

Describing all this as ‘good news for Europe’ reaches a level of mendacity which would have made Tony Blair blush.

10 June, 2012

France votes

France goes to the polls today, for parliamentary elections. If the Socialists do well, Hollande will have his mandate for the changes he wants. He has already tickled his electorate's fancy by reducing the retirement age for some workers (just as every other country is increasing it). If he does badly, the changes will be more modest as he gets used to what the French call 'cohabitation'.

The predictions I have seen are that it will be somewhere between the two. Expect a good result for Marine Le Pen, as Sarkozy's UMP is leaderless.

The Inspector calls

Despite having a typical middles class obsession with the rule of law, I have never had much time for the British Police. The times I have come in contact with them I have found them blokey, rude, judgmental and racist. And they seem to concentrate austerely on things the public aren't interested in, whilst ignoring what we regard as important (robbery, violence etc).

I used to support the reintroduction of capital punishment until the West Midlands police showed how they stitched up innocent people in order to improve they success rate.

So this blog congratulates the Home Secretary, Theresa May, for recommending someone independent as Inspector of Police. I find it astonishing, and very unhealthy, that this post has always been filled by a newly retired policeman.

Good luck to Tom Winsor.

08 June, 2012

Europe: what's going on

We know a little bit more about the 'Plan' referred to previously, following Mr. Cameron's visit to Germany.

The Eurozone hates the British when we sound off on Europe, and indeed rather hates us for not having made the monumental errors they have. But the whole world is affected by what is going on in Europe and we are entitled to voice our opinion, as is Obama, who does so regularly, and the Far East (China has just said it will not buy any more European debt).

What the rest of the world wants is a quick solution to all this, before the contagion spreads. And for most people that means Eurobonds (ie Germany guaranteeing the debts of all the others). For myself I am dubious abut eurobonds economically, legally (are they permitted under the German post-war constitution?) and politically (is it in Britain's interest to have a united Europe kow-towing to an over-powerful Germany?).

Merkel recognises the potential constitutional difficulty and recognises the even stronger political dangers: she comes up for re-election next year, and a commitment to use unlimited wodges of German taxpayers' cash to bail out countries Germans don't approve of would be an albatross round her neck.

What Merkel wants now is a banking union, where 'Europe' bails out banks in difficulty and guarantees the depositors, as happens in Britain and the United States. This would, she knows, involve a number of new Euro-institutions, monitoring the banks, controlling individual states' involvement with their banks and so on. And she knows that some countries are not fit enough to go along with it and some countries will not tolerate the loss of sovereignty it implies. Merkel doesn't expect this banking union to include everyone. When she says the solution is 'more Europe' she means 'more Europe for the few'.

It's funny, when I used to campaign against the Maastricht Treaty the first thing the Europhiles used to say was 'of course nobody wants a two-speed Europe'. And now, that two speed version is exactly what the europhiles are campaigning for.

The banking union will take time: 2018 has been mentioned. And the short-term? Merkel wants to continue with the austerity.

I think Cameron is making a mistake pushing for eurobonds. Apart from the reasons above why I don't like the idea I think there is a political mistake here, too. They will come up with some new Euro-Treaty, which Britain won't like because it will effectively pawn the City of London (Michel Barnier the economics commissioner has already spoken about a 27-nation Financial Transaction Tax). Cameron will have to veto the Treaty and it will be clear he is vetoing the very thing he had been campaigning for.

Not clever economics, not clever politics. Meanwhile the German economy is tailing off, the French are forecasting a downturn, German and Austrian banks have been downgraded, Spain is insolvent and can't even prop up its own banks, and the Greeks are reduced to soup kitchens. And no one has apologised.

06 June, 2012

Venus passing

The wonderful pop group Dr. Hook used to sing a song called 'I got stoned and I missed it' in which, amongs other things, someone was giving dollar bills away but our hero, unfortunately.....

I was in fact in good shape for the passage of Venus across the Sun, which I am aware won't happen for another century or so - far longer than I am likely to live anyway - but dragging myself out to see a dot on the sun really didn't seem worthwhile.

I suppose many people felt the same. Anyway this is what we missed.

Da Chookie

This blog sends its best wishes to Prince Philip, Da Chookie Enbra, its favourite royal, for a speedy recovery.

The old seadog was being attended to by his nurses instead of watching a concert of Shirley Bassey, Cliff Richard and Tom Jones.

How he must be kicking himself!

The Death List

A couple of years ago I described the case of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen whom President Obama had decided to kill. He was indeed killed, as I predicted, by an American drone.

Encouraged by this, Obama has created a system. Called The Death List, although not, I fancy, by him, it is brought before him on a regular basis and he decides who lives and who dies. If your name is ticked the stealth drone will come, maybe not today or tomorrow, but it will come, silent and undetected, and destroy you, and of course anyone who is anywhere near you: your children, your friends, perhaps a whole village of innocents.

I know there is a war on terror, but I am just wondering how comfortable you feel about this? I don't feel comfortable at all.


Well! There's talk in Brussels of a plan! Yes! Exactly what we need now is a PLAN! And it would solve the problems of the banks by getting them bailed out without it costing the taxpayer! And the plan could be in operation by 2018! Yes! And there will be meetings and conferences and agreements and Heads of Agreement and Yes! LUNCHES! (general cheering).

In the increasingly less likely event of Europe having a monetary system by 2018, our prescient rulers have decided that all banks should be equal: that, for example, Romanian banks bail out German ones (six German banks have been downgraded today). And it wouldn't be the taxpayers that coughed up. No. It would be the people who had lent money or deposited it in, say, Commerzbank.

So between now and 2018 any bank which wants to expand, as a part of an economy growing to create more jobs, would find that no one wanted to buy its paper because the ruling class in Brussels has said that the people shouldn't have to bail it out if it all goes wrong. So they won't expand and the jobs won't be created.

If you were unemployed and your family struggling to make ends meet, you could be forgiven for wishing that some of these people (their jobs and pensions are OK by the way) just shut up.

02 June, 2012

The Face that launched....

A thousand ships and boats will assemble on the River Thames and sail downstream tomorrow.

Britain is in festa for four days to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Queen's accession to the throne. The anniversary was in fact in February but it doesn't pay to hold celebrations in Britain in the winter months; indeed it seems likely it will rain on the flotilla tomorrow, but spirits are so high it won't matter.

The only other monarch to have a diamond jubilee was Queen Victoria. In those days a diamond jubilee was 75 years but it was reduced to 60 years because they needed to hold a trade festival.

Best wishes to Her Maj.

01 June, 2012


Ireland voted yesterday on the Fiscal Pact - the only country in the Eurozone to be given a vote.

Only 50% of those eligible to vote did so. I think it was that most people simply didn't understand the arguments. This is not that they were badly explained; the ruling elite don't want the likes of us understanding the arguments.

The deciding factor appears to be that they might have need of the European Stability Pact in the future, which I suppose is fair enough. The other side of the coin is that they give up their financial independence.