Three interesting commentaries of the past couple of days have raised more questions than answers. All try to analyse shifts in political support, with no clear direction except perhaps an indication that the hallowed centre ground is shifting about like a possessed planchette beneath the feet of the parties.
First, Ambrose in the Telegraph, ostensibly on Ireland but with a verdict on EMU that should make the Eurozone an enemy of the left everywhere; "An internal devaluation is achieved (under EMU) by forcing
unemployment to such excruciating levels that it breaks the back of labour
resistance to pay cuts. It is the polar opposite of a currency devaluation
that spreads the pain". So paradoxically the European labour movement should support the UK's devaluation of the £ that has kept unemployment low and condemn the effect of EMU on nations such as Greece, Ireland and Spain that has driven unemployment to unprecedented levels. Ambrose ends with a prediction; "Europe’s labour movement is the dog that has not barked in this long crisis.
Bark it will."
Secondly, Seamus Milne in the Grauniad, ostensibly on the shift to the left of women voters in the UK but with a lesson on the effects of austerity politics on the sexes. "Crucial to the shift has been the growth of women's employment (often
segregated in low-wage and public sector work), and the decline of the
traditional family and churches in Europe – but also the rise of the
women's movement and the influence of feminism. The importance of
paid work in changing women's politics is one reason why there hasn't
been a parallel shift in much of the developing world. In Britain women
now make up half the trade union movement and have played a central role
in recent industrial action, from the mass pensions strike of 2011 to cleaners' walkouts on the London Underground." Adding this to the observation above, it becomes clearer that within the EMU women are bearing the brunt of the economic adjustment - far more than than they are doing in the UK. Opposition to the Euro project should therefore be strongest and fastest growing amongst women voters.
Thirdly, the Speccie's take on Beppe Grillo as a new Mussolini. "Like fascism, Grillo’s movement is essentially left-wing and in favour
of the state sorting things out — the Italian state. But it is against
the euro and Europe — and Germany in particular" writes Nicholas Farrell. Other commentaries - particularly de Spiegel - dismiss as simplistic the classification of the Grillini as left wing. They're rather on the other axis of the scale. libertarianism vs authoritarianism. And they're young.
If Cameron characterises the typical opponents of the Euro project as middle aged men in polyester blazers he ignores an emerging powerful constituency of educated young women who are facing more than men insecure and poorly rewarded employment, non-existent pensions, the setting back of a century of women's struggle for independence and who are fed up with Cameron's sleek lounge-lizard clique of privileged wealthy metropolitan men. If Farage is not to disappear in the 2015 election, he needs their votes.