Saturday, 24 January 2015

Humphrys on Greece

No one knows what will happen following the Greek election on Sunday. It seems beyond doubt that the anti-austerity Syriza will take the poll -but what happens after that is anyone's guess. 

John Humphrys has delivered some of the most insightful reporting, and I commend both his piece in the Mail and particularly the 15 minutes of audio on iPM available as podcast or to be broadcast again on R4 this evening at 17.30.

The voters are fed up with ND and PASOK, who have dominated post-war government like Labour and Tories. They are fed up with official corruption, international finance, Goldman Sachs and the banks but accept their own complicity in the Euro Ponzi scheme; they wanted to be rich and connived at the fraudulent bubble. They are not hanging politicians from the lamp posts, and there seems little risk of civil war. They want to stay in the EU and keep the Euro. Their greatest financial burdens are debts to the banks and unpaid tax bills. 

They want to lift the burdens, create employment (but without the political corruption previously necessary to 'buy' a job) create wealth and start to rebuild their lives. They don't know how this can be achieved, but trust Syriza more than anyone to achieve it. The problem is that the EU is a stitched leather harness (to use Wellington's metaphor) - once broken, it cannot be re-tied like a simple rope bridle. In seeking to create a prison from which none could escape, the architects of Euro federalism may have sown the seeds of their own destruction. 

My heart and good wishes go to the Hellenic peoples; may God be with them.


Edward Spalton said...

Having visited Greece on holiday many times and experienced much kindness to our family, I must add AMEN to your prayer.

I was in Crete when the military dictatorship was overthrown and followed the public debate over the years as far as a near total ignorance of Greek and the patient explanation of Greek acquaintances would permit. We watched the rising prosperity over the years and were glad for the opportunities which opened up.
When the PASOK party was a rising star, it's watchword was " Alllaghi" (Change), as is that of Syiza at present. But it soon became apparent that the one thing which had not changed was the widespread corruption in public life.
One aspect of this was " jobs for the boys" in the public sector which became exceedingly bloated with party nominees in unsackable positions and pension rights allowing a comfortable early retirement.
So, I was dispirited to hear one report that Syriza intended to reinstate all the public employees who have lost their jobs through austerity. I thought " Here they go again" . So I would also add the scriptural warning " Put not your trust in princes" - " princes" here meaning political leaders rather than members of a royal family.

DeeDee99 said...

Let's hope the Greek people send a clear signal to the Kommissars ..... there needs to be some "creative destruction" .... starting with the Euro and then the EU itself.

Brightside Bob said...

Adding to what Edward S says above regarding public sector cronyism, beware of cheering on a Left Wing Party

meltemian said...

We're just keeping our fingers crossed and hoping for the best. The general feeling is that Syriza can't be worse and just might sort out some of the corruption.
Meanwhile another 2,000 votes have just been bought!!

Budgie said...

Edward, "Put not your trust in princes" should be engraved on the heart of every voter, especially the tribalist variety.

As for Syriza and Greece, since they won't leave the euro or the EU, I do not expect much difference except more socialist corruption.

Plantman said...

Very,very rarely disagree with you R or find myself out of sympathy with your views but this time I do. Without any first hand experience or knowledge of Greece I am reluctant to pontificate but it seems to me that two truths are evident here - firstly if it's too true to be true it almost certainly is and secondly there are none so blind as those who will not see.

Reading JH's comments it seems both were well in evidence - "Wow this is great, the promised land and we don't have to pay! Don't ask why just enjoy it and milk it"

OK the consequences are bad for many but why should I feel sorry in the face of such gullibility?

Anonymous said...

We should learn from the bubbles: they have a real dependency culture that they can't wean themselves from, allied to a reluctance to pay taxes that we in the UK can only envy from afar.

But it isn't entirely those behaviours than have cost them: the 'Euro drachma' is overvalued, and the 'Euro deutschmark' in undervalued, so they buy German things and Krauts don't buy Greek things ...

Edward Spalton said...

Plant man and Anonymous,

Much the same bubble occurred in Ireland. Because they could not raise interest rates, both went on a borrowing binge. Ireland has shown more discipline in coping with austerity.

The other unspoken factor in Greece is Turkey. If I were the EU's Man in Athens, I would hint " it would be such a pity if Greece were to leave the European family, just as Turkey is set to join" and Greece would come smartly into line. With a few suitcases full of
Euros for important people, the enthusiasm would be tremendous!

Rush-is-Right said...

Cyprus (both parts) is the same if not worse. There isn't a single vote cast that is not paid for, usually with a promise of a sinecure job to cronies of the winners. I have got to know these people, they and their system of government are unreformable.

Anonymous said...

Hi Edward S, good use of bubble, but mine was Cockney rhyming slang: bubble and squeak = Greek.

We Brits used to look down on corrupt nations, but I'm afraid that the cultural enrichment of Britain through uncontrolled immigration has brought with it all their vices, such as electoral fraud, drug culture, police corruption, buying votes, backhanders, grooming gangs, cousin marriages, no-go areas ...

Cascadian said...

Well the deed is done, it only remains to be seen if Greece now starts defaulting on its bond commitments, which would in turn create a shitstorm for the Euro and many already insolvent European banks. Imagine the panic after Cyprus x 10.
Not a great outlook for Europe, with the potential for energy shortages strangling Germany, a liebour/SNP axis now being vaunted for Britain, and the PIGS still not in any economic shape to contribute.

Anonymous said...

Ah, it's only money. The sun shines and the olives are on the trees. And the elite already have their cash in Switzerland.

"You can trust a Greek less than an Armenian... and you can't trust an Armenian"

jOHN nEWELL said...

The solution:

Procedure By Which conservatives Could Control Parliament

If UKIP  is  Lucky,  UKIP could  get,   perhaps,  get   ten to thirty   seats
in  Parliament.  Do  not   forget,   the  public  still regards  UKIP  as   a
one  issue  party.  To gain  control of  Parliament  UKIP  and  (and frie-
nds) should  form a  new  conservative  party  with  a  platform that is 
close to that of the existing Conservative party, omitting, of course, 
policies that are objectionable to conservatives. The purpose would
be to make a bed that would be easy for conservatives to slide into,
including  the eighty  percent  of  the Conservatives who left Conser-
vative  associations. UKIP and the  conservatives  should   then  form
 a  political  association  in  each  parliamentary  district.   UKIP   could
merge with the new party, thus getting rid of the one issue problem. 
Every one who would have worked  to  form  the new,  conservative,
 party   should   be   prevented   from    joining    the    new   party    for
a  period   of time  to  prevent  the  impression  that  UKIP  controls  it.
The two or three conservative parties should hold a primary election
to determine who runs as the Parliamentary candidate, with the losers
to help the winner. The cost of forming new associations can be raised
by local contributors. It is suggested that the  new   conservative   asso-
ciations and the political party be controlled by the lowest level of con-
servatives, such as teachers, small businessmen, solicitors, professionals
etc. If the  above   procedure   can  not  be  completed  in  time  to   get 
candidates   elected   to    Parliament,  the  new  party  must  wait  until
after the  election  and  hold  a  petition  demanding  that  the  elected
MP  resign. Note: an MP  represents   every  person  in  his  district,  not
just members and   supporters of his party. When the petition reaches
fifty percent of those who voted in the prior election, the conservatives
will be morally justified in demanding their MP"s resignation. Then the
new party could run their  candidates  in  the  following by elections. 
To select a candidate, a local  association should  advertise  for applicants
or the position of candidate for  Parliament, then  select   the   best  app-
licant  by using rigorous tests, including, most importantly,  psychological 
evaluation. psychological evaluation is an absolute necessity as the psych-
ological evaluation is the only way to tell who is honest and who is a con-
artist; members of the public  cannot.  Testing  could  be  required  of the 
association  officers,  committee  members and delegates, etc.

The platform, selected by new party associations,  should be some what
 vague in order to facilitate integration  the platforms of the  new  assoc-
iations into one platform. It is suggested that self forming cliques of those
who are   honest  and   trust  worthy  be formed;  then form   self  forming
cliques of those who have   political skills  and  capabilities,  within  the
first described clique.

The corruption in Ukip is a cause for concern. Information about the corr-
uption may bee seen on the following websites:

Budgie said...

John Newell, Sorry to be brutal but your thesis is one unlikely if piled upon a dozen other not going to happen ifs. It is impractical. You also miss the point that all political parties are like herding cats, so your timescale is is way too short - think 10 to 20 years instead. And why should people do what you suggest anyway? Moreover UKIP is not really a "conservative" party it is much more radical than that, and has many policies.