It would be idle to pretend that Britain’s economic problems resemble those of Greece when the latter has suffered a 25% reduction in its national income and where three out of every five young adults are now out of work, writes Mr Meacher.
But there is one parallel between them which is shared by both countries, as well as several others in the EU, and that is increasing resistance to endless austerity.
Osbornomics has not produced a genuine or sustainable recovery, but rather an elongated austerity which offers not the faintest hope of escape within the foreseeable future… But one might well ask, why has he got away with it for so long? There are basically two reasons which interact between themselves. One is the sheer power of the Thatcherite ideology by which the (Tory) political and economic elite have for the last three decades enriched themselves massively at the expense of the rest of the nation and through networking with the controllers of the finance sector, the media and the multinational corporates have established a dominance which until recently seemed impregnable. Opposition to it was either ignored, vilified or laughed out of court.
But the dam burst with the momentous victory of Syriza, the ripples of which will play out across the whole of the EU, including the UK, over the next few years.
The second reason is the poverty of challenge from the Labour Party [bolding mine] which remains the one single force in the country which can stop the Tory marauding in its tracks. Ed Miliband has bravely championed the fight against predatory capitalism, and Ed Balls has carefully excluded capital expenditure from Labour’s spending cuts. But sadly, so far at least, this has been for the cognoscenti who read the small print; it’s not the message that’s getting across on the streets of Britain.
That’s why Labour is now at risk of haemorrhaging votes to the leftish-seeming SNP in Scotland, to the Greens increasingly voicing the Left’s message, to LibDem deserters from the coalition who may now be drifting further leftwards to the Greens, and even (impossible as it may sound) to UKIP for whom a sense of insecurity and abandonment is a major driving force.
There has never been a time when a radical Left message from Labour was more needed.
Yesterday, Greece’s new government announced that it was halting major privatisation projects that had been demanded by the country’s creditors as part of the bailout agreement for the country.
Quite right, too.
You see, the privatisation of national assets is an opportunity for foreign corporations to leap in and buy them, then raise the price for users of those assets. It’s how Third World countries have ended up handing over the keys to their hospitals, schools and water supplies to multinationals.
Come to that, it’s how many UK reservoirs came to be in the hands of foreign water companies, meaning we were unable to use them in recent droughts, how our railways ended up in private hands and ticket prices skyrocketed, even though British taxpayers continued subsidising them – to a level never-before-seen, and how our energy suppliers ended up in foreign hands as well.
The result is best described by this quote from You Are Here, by Rory Bremner, John Bird and John Fortune: “At a… conference in Cancun to discuss how global trade barriers could be removed and markets opened up still further, three ministers from Ghana, Barbados and Malawi were wheeled out to describe how such liberalisation had helped their respective countries escape the poverty trap. Sam Mpasu, the Malawian minister for commerce and trade, was first to speak, and surprised the G7 delegates with his candour:
“We have opened our economy. That is why we are flat on our back.”
So you see, privatisation of its assets including the port of Piraeus and the Public Power Corporation of Greece, would not have helped the country balance its books – quite the opposite.
Mr Tsipras is absolutely correct to halt the privatisation projects and ensure that income generated by those assets continues to boost his country’s Treasury.
The weird dances currently being undertaken on the Greek stock and currency markets are merely symptoms of the European Right’s apoplexy at having its fun disrupted.
If only a visionary political organisation here in the UK had a radical plan to similarly unencumber this country of its privateer parasites…
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