LETTER : Germany's worldwide success

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The Independent Online
Sir: Surely the most obvious lesson Germany (and France) can learn from British economic growth in the last two years is that a 25 per cent currency devaluation boosts exports and jobs (Hamish McRae; "Jobless Germany can learn from us", 29 March). What a big fall in the Deutschmark or French franc would do to British exports to Europe is a question which British ministers and supportive commentators never ponder.

Actually, the Germans are having their kuchen and eating it. They have huge hangover problems from absorbing the Third World communist DDR into the Federal Republic but still manage to have efficient industrial performers based on old technology in West Germany combined with state-of-the-art investments in East Germany. But at the same time, they are buying up British car and other firms and banks and opening new manufacturing plants in the US, in China and in the Asian tigers, all busy repatriating profit back to the fatherland.

One answer offered by the Europhobes in the Cabinet and the Conservative Party is to smash Europe apart in order to teach the Germans a lesson. They (and, to my surprise, some fellow Labour MPs) appear to want Germany to enter the 21st century decoupled from the rest of Europe, striding towards tomorrow as a nation state with a national(ist) currency, a national(ist) trade policy, and, in due course, a national(ist) defence policy towards a new German destiny.

But we can hope the Germans will learn lessons from Britain. In addition to a big devaluation they should of course massively reduce wages and step up part-time and temporary employment, introduce Latin American ratios of wealth and earnings, throw unions out of the workplace, step up the number of beggars in the streets and deregulate their agro-industry so as to permit the feeding of rotting sheep's brains to their cattle. As British ministers sit in their cars made by a German company I have no doubt they can think of other policies the Germans should adopt to raise their economic performance to the same level as that of Tory Britain.

Denis MacShane MP

(Rotherham, Lab)

House of Commons

London SW1