Press release on the Icelandic debt and the UK

8 January 2010

"Iceland Needs Negotiation, Not Threats" Says Former Europe Minister

Former Europe Minister, Denis MacShane MP, has urged Britain to avoid imposing "Versailles Treaty type reparations" on Iceland and instead negotiate a new deal with Iceland to allow its debt to be paid back to Britain without "humiliating and imposing a disproportionate financial burden on individual Icelanders.
He said Iceland could negotiate a deal with the UK and the Netherlands to use some of its geothermal energy sources as a kind of debt-for-energy exchange. But Britain should seek to avoid punitive measures.
MacShane who visited Iceland as Minister and as an MP has said that Iceland's political, banking and business establishment were following the values and ideology of de-regulated finance capitalism with encouragement and support from the British financial establishment.
"Just because Iceland's politicians were good little Thatcherites and believed in the nostrums of the financial press in London does not justify punishing individual Icelanders for the faults of their leaders and business establishment. Moreover it was British financial advisers under the supervision of the Bank of England and the Financial Services authority which advised British individual and institutional investors to place their savings in Iceland's banks. No local authority treasurer has been punished for risking local taxpayers' money in this way and Britain should not humiliate this north Atlantic democracy by imposing a disproportionate financial burden on individual Icelanders," said MacShane.

The MP said that Iceland had been a vital ally in protecting the Atlantic approaches in World War 2 and in joining Nato to face down the Russian communist threat to Euro-Atlantic freedom. "There may be a fiscal and legal justification in imposing this reparation scheme but Britain should think big and think generously. Obviously the call for a plebiscite on the issue is a mistake as these matters cannot be solved by populist nationalist politics. It was a mistake to place Iceland on a web site alongside terrorist organisations even if the legislation was the best to move quickly to protect British citizens from the wicked behaviour of Iceland's political and business class which had lost all contact with reality as they indulged in their orgy of Thatcher-style greed from the 1980s onwards. But let us move on from the past. Iceland is a great nation which upholds democracy, parliamentary rule of law, a free press and open society. I would welcome Iceland joining the EU and Britain, far from threatening to block this, should help Iceland achieve this goal."