Europe? It's another country, mate

Imagine the following:

In a speech, prime minister Gordon Brown says: “Democracy cannot function with a press that is permanently on the edge of an econ­omic abyss.” He goes on to convene a summit of media bosses to discuss the crisis confronting the nation’s newspapers.

As part of a rescue package, Andy Burnham, the minister for Culture, Media and Sport, launches a promotional campaign to encourage young people to read newspapers more frequently.

Meanwhile, at the Treasury, Alastair Darling forces the nation’s banks into reducing the interest rates charged on variable rate mortgages.

He does this by using what the government calls “moral and fiscal suasion”. The latter, apparently, involves a threat to levy a windfall tax on banks’ profits.

All three of these stories are true. In recent weeks, they have come to pass in France, Germany and Italy respectively.

Wonderful place for a holiday, Europe.

But you wouldn’t want to live there. Would you?

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