A Syriza win could kill left-wing politics in Greece

Tom Carney:

greece euro xendpayAn insightful look at Greece elections and the surge of Tsipras and Syriza’s popularity. The Greeks seem determined to end up with a socialist state style run economy much like Venezuela. Anyone Greek with half a brain and an ounce of ambition will be heading for the nearest airport ASAP if Syriza wins the elections.

Originally posted on The Greek Politics Blog:

tsipras1 Alexis Tsipras, Leader of the radical left opposition SYRIZA. Source: Polisblog.it

The Greek election is just around the corner and Europe’s eyes are set on the radical left opposition, Syriza, that is poised to win it.

Contrary to a growing opinion that the leftist party and its young leader, Alexis Tsipras, could end austerity in both Greece and Europe, an unsuccessful Syriza government could not only bring the country to its knees but also mean the end of left-wing politics in Greece.

It might be true that Alexis Tsipras has given hope to a worn out nation, but it has been the wrong kind of hope. Feeding on people’s shock and disillusionment, his party enjoyed a UKIP-like surge making promises about changing the country and the continent.

These promises (higher wages, lower taxes, a bigger public sector, complete disregard towards European and international institutions) are not new. They are what the late Andreas Papandreou

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UK EU Referendum Voters Frustration, The Volcano is Erupting

BxkAnlaIYAA4ZUpIt’s been like an old rumbling and smoking volcano for the last 40 years, now this old volcano as recently been hitting much higher on the richter scale, red hot lava is now spewing forth. The UK voters have run out of patience with all the politicians that have over the decades deceived, contorted, and obfuscated on the offer of a UK EU Referendum. OK so some European countries have referendums more than others just take a look at Switzerland. The Swiss are offered to participate in many various referendums concerning very big national issues. Other countries will only have a referendum on big major issues say once very decade like Ireland or France. The UK though by comparison is like a referendum desert where no rain does fall, we have endured an extremely long referendum drought. 1975 was the last time the UK had a referendum, and this is causing a public growing resentment and visible friction between the citizens and the established politicos classes. The politicians of all three major parties. their thinking was well you all get to vote in elections every 5 years and that’s enough to express your democratic wishes, leave the very important stuff to us, we know better.

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Just take a moment to think of all the different UK Prime Ministers that have come and gone, Harold Wilson, Edward Heath, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, and now David Cameron. In 1975 people in the UK agreed to a ‘Common Market’, a agreement of trade within Europe. 40 years later after the Maastricht treaty and the Lisbon treaty the EU is completely different, its evolving into a semi federal pan European entity, than it ever was envisaged in 1975. Did the citizens of the UK get a voice or were offered a choice during the Maastricht and Lisbon treaties? I think we all know the answer to that, we where told this question is too big for democracy, too big for the voters, let the politicians decide for you, like we were all ignorant uneducated little children. Well now after long last the volcano as erupted, the build up of pressure was just too great. This is the reason why Nigel Farage as rocketed into the political stratosphere in the UK, he as said enough is enough, the people demand a EU referendum now. Mainstream politicians have lost the common touch and they only have themselves to blame for their contempt of the democratic voting process.

Nick Clegg

Presently all three main parties are in a complete flap now, its like the circus as come to town, finally they are really worried and concerned as voters are abandoning the mainstream politics and flocking over to UKIP. Cameron is promising a referendum in 2017, but people remember his ‘cast iron’ pledge for which he now infamously is remembered for reneging on that promise, while Ed Miliband’s and Labour approach to a referendum is? well no one actually knows thats the problem, as its like trying to find your way through a very thick fog, obfuscation is a Labour political art form. Nick Clegg and the LibDems believe in a EU referendum, just as long as a EU referendum never actually takes place; it was a weak disguise and it never really fooled the voters. During a recent 2nd reading of a EU referendum bill trying to pass through the labyrinth of Westminster, this is what the House of Commons chamber looked like, LibDems and Labour MPs just did not turn up at all to even debate the matter. They do not wish to even discuss the the UK EU relationship, because they do not want a EU referendum.

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Now there is a palpable feeling that the clock as stopped ticking, the  perplexing and the baffling EU referendum politics within the Westminster as just gone into over drive, as the politician’s finally recognise the voters have lost their patience with Westminster. It looks like the UK politicos have at last seen the red hot lava coming down the mountain and they don’t like what they see as they do not want to get burnt? But its too late now,you had 40 years and did nothing, now its time for the people to speak.

Ewan Morrison – YES: Why I Joined Yes and Why I Changed to No

Originally posted on wakeupscotland:

 Ewan Morrison is an award-winning Scottish author and screenwriter.

how one word silencedFour months ago I joined the Yes camp out of a desire to take part in the great debate that the Yes camp told me was taking place within their ranks. Being a doubter I thought maybe I’d failed to find this debate and that it was exclusive to the membership of the Yes camp, so I joined hoping I could locate it and take part. But even as I was accepted into the ranks – after my ‘Morrison votes Yes’ article in Bella Caledonia, I noted that 5 out of the meagre 20 comments I received berated me for either not having decided sooner or for having questioned Yes at all. Another said, and I paraphrase: ‘Well if he’s had to mull it over he could easily switch to the other side.’ That comment in Bella Caledonia worked away…

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New faces In Brussels But Same Old EU Commission

6543Well the May 2014 euro elections seem a long way away, only just now after long months of wrangling, intrigue, political bickering that the EU Commission officially declares its sorted out all the new EU Commissioners posts and ended the long drawn out convoluted musical chairs spectacle of the EU. Juncker is doing a meet and greet with all his new faces and got his PR flunkey to tweet all about it. New faces, new optimism, Mmm but wonder how long that will last before all the dire economic reality kicks in? I found it amusing that Draghi  of the ECB is keen to lecture to everyone about European economic’s while his own country of Italy’s economy is tanking downwards at a steady pace. Renzi is abit like Hollande in some respects, both are big talkers of reforms but there is little evidence that France and Italy are changing any of their bad old habits of spending money they don’t have on their bloated public sectors. When are European governments going to learn, you cannot spend your way out of a economic recession.

Mogherini is the new EU High Representative what ever that title actually means? but she cannot be any worse than Ashton. Ashton along with Barroso and Van Rompuy now sail off into the sunset with their extremely lavish EU pensions, generously paid for by European tax payers of course. Renzi pushed hard for Mogherini as it wins big points for him back in Italy with his own voters. Mogherini is a liberal leftie, so she will feel right at home in Brussels, its full of them, bursting at the steams. Donald Tusk is alittle more pro free market as the European Council President (I have given up trying to keep count of all the EU presidents). He is more pro free market but still as strong federalist EU instincts.

EU leaders Rompuy, Tusk and Mogherini

Why are they smiling so much, I think some one as just told them how much they will be getting paid in their new jobs, plus their generous expense accounts and perks. Mean while back in the UK Cameron is haemorrhaging Tory support to Ukip. He is a little like the story of the Dutch kid sticking his thumb in the leaking dam trying to stop the flooding, but British voters have grown restless and want action, not ever more political platitudes from Cameron, we have heard them all before.

The Juncker Bunker

Jean-Claude-Juncke_2927616bSo Juncker is deep in his own mental bunker, well you can hardly blame him as he claims he is being relentlessly hounded by the UK press and media. Juncker stakes his claim that the EPP got the biggest share of the euro EP2014 votes so is duly elected to the top position of EU Commission president as the Spitzenkandidaten, as expressed in the new vague treaty interpretation of euro elections and the relationship between the European Council and the European parliament. Er, well all is not as simple as Juncker would like us all to believe. Firstly, and embarrassingly many of his own EPP national party leaders are not openly supporting Juncker, another important fact that is over looked in all this heated debate is that the EPP caucus group in the EP as actually lost seats in the euro elections,  falling from 274 MEPs in 2009 euro elections to 221 in 2014, so its share of the vote as dropped from 36% to 29%. Now as only roughly only a 43.1% of voters turned out and voted in the EP2014 euro elections, and only 29% of those voters voted for the EPP which propose Juncker, its hardly a ringing endorsement of all Europeans. So all is not so cut and dry as Juncker likes to claim.

Cameron is trying to persuade Merkel not to back Juncker, but the German media, especially Der Spiegel seems to be up in arms defending Juncker, plus Merkel is getting pressure from her own party the Christian Democrats and coalition partners the Social Democrats to back Juncker. Problem is, and its a major problem, is many people do not think Juncker is the best man to face the big challenges and help reform the EU for the next five years? He is after all an old school EU technocat and openly very pro federalist in his thinking. This is what frightens Cameron as he declares  “Brussels has got too big, too bossy, too interfering” and that the EU will just carry on as before regardless of a big and growing eurosceptic feeling right across Europe, not to mention many in his own Conservative party back in the UK which could not stomach the thought of Juncker getting the top EU Commission job. There are many who speculate that Juncker will soon just throw in the towel anyway as political support for him slowly ebbs away.

Cameron will lobby Angela Merkel over the European commission presidency at a summit in Sweden.

Cameron is not alone in his opposition to Juncker, Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, Dutch PM Mark Rutte and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán are sympathetic to Cameron’s cause, as is Renzi of Italy. Cameron may be the most vocal critic of Juncker, and many are happy for him to be vocal as they sit on the fence, they may think it, put do not wish to speak it, they are politicians after all. Merkel is keen to keep the UK in Europe, she knows Europe desperately needs growth and jobs, and the UK is much more pro free trade, pro growth, much more than protectionist France is. Merkel realises growth and jobs is what the voters want right now, now more than ever, not just more euro treaty navel gazing and eurocrats bickering over technical treaty legal nuance’s, that will not go down well with Europeans. The voters of Europe are growing impatient and tired of EU failures and its aloofness and detachment from them from afar. Its made or break time for the EU, said so many times before, but this could really be it?

There are many jobs in the Commission to be filled and everyone is trying to get their place men in place. Rumours are Cameron wants his own éminence grise Robert Madelin to become the Commission Secretary General. Mid July is when the musical chairs begin. A major EU reform would be to scrap all the various and confusing presidencies and just have one, though pigs will fly before anyone agrees to that.7654 (2)

The Bland Juncker Schulz Debate

Bi1udkaIAAATTnLThe much anticipated #EP2014 euro elections are looming nearer, though I have to confess the election so far as been anything but exciting. The debate between the candidates for EU president as been about as thrilling as watching paint dry? The much anticipated duel debate between Juncker and Schulz was not so much a debate, as there was no audience to confront and to ask them some hard questions, but only two journalists to field questions.

Two journo’s and two politicians sitting in a semi circle. The debate was also in French, fine for French speakers in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and part of Switzerland, but what about the rest of Europe. All in all it was a bit of a damp squib, hopefully the next debate will have a real audience, more candidates involved, and hopefully in English if they want to reach a much wider audience across Europe.The debate was posted on Youtube in French, no one bothered to add English subtitles or translate, either would have been helpful.

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Schulz is the socialist candidate PES, and as a socialist his idea’s and views are typically  higher taxes, state intervention, protectionist in trade, no real surprises there. Juncker is the centre right candidate EPP, but honestly centre right in Europe (Christian Democrat) is almost liberal from a UK perspective. Juncker is slightly more free trade, but a protectionist and believes in a federal Europe, so not very inspiring for many Conservative voters in the UK. The two of them almost seem to agree on many issues, its like watching two chums sitting side by side chatting on a plane. The Farage Clegg debate at least had vigour and confrontation, the Schulz Juncker debate was bland and monotonous by comparison. 

We can only hope future #EP2014 candidate debates with be much more inspiring? here are some vital ingredients, add a audience to field real questions from real voters? Hopefully next debate will be in English to reach more people on the net, and thirdly don’t have timid journalists that are too timid to ask hard and demanding questions to the candidates? The next #EP2014 debate will field six candidates and will take place on the 14th May and hopefully streamed live on the net as well as major euro TV channels.BiIfDmeCcAAw8JB

Additional update – A few days later after the Schulz Juncker debate in French, France 24 posted a short interview online between Schulz and Juncker in English, posted here to watch - Schulz Juncker Interview in English

Top BBC Fat Cats purr on £50 Million a year…. at Licence fee payers’ expense

Tom Carney:

The BBC gravy train just keeps on rolling, but someone should tell them they are running out of rail tracks, soon it will be the end of the line?

Originally posted on BanTheBBC Blog:

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Last week The Guardian published a story that the top 412 BBC managers were paid an astonishing £50.8 Million pounds last year. The litany of expense claims also outlined in the article truly beggars belief. Yet another outrageous and unedifying example of BBC largesse is on display for all to see.

To add insult to serious injury, the BBC recently commissioned a ‘comedy’ series titled “W1A”, which is an apparent reference to the postcode of the new £1 BILLION pound BBC Broadcasting House in Central London. This absurdly ridiculous series attempted to make light of the BBC’s own truly horrendous waste and mismanagement. The joke, if there is one, is firmly on the licence fee payer who is threatened with criminal prosecution for not paying for the whole sorry affair.

The cause of the excess is easy to understand. The BBC is the recipient of £3.6 Billion a year in TV…

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