Sunday, 1 February 2015
In Greece there is hope, in Britain-yaddah yaddah!
To every socialist the events in Greece over the last few days must offer us all hope, that somehow,somewhere.sometime things can break out with the tragedy of greater inequality,the horror that is the never ending racism and the abandonment of any hope for a civilised future for mankind.
In the year of Magna Carta's anniversary I am always reminded of Tony hancock's line:
"Magna Carta, did she die in vain?"
and as a product of the Enlightenment I look around in shock and awe as the values that drove men and women to ditch superstition and ignorance for progressive values and a hopeful future.
I was reminded quite starkly when thinking about the debate about the return of Grammar Schools.I wnt to one and I find it difficult to understand the desire for an egalitarian society with the curious habit of seperating young sheep from young goats at the magical age of 11.
Yet strangely enough my school was founded by a Lloyds underwriter(not the most obviously promising start you might think) but a man who was a friend of JS Mill and an man of the enlightenment.When William Ellis founded his first school for poor boys in North London his only stipulation was that economics and geography should be taught,and no religion!
The school turned out generations of thoughtful radical thinkers, as well as a few hooligans and even the odd world class cricketer.
Tragically the best efforts of a radical and progressive education foundered on the 1944 Education Act.I have great respect for that important and fateful education that gave universal free education to all,except for one tragic inclusion.
The silly arses in government insisted in including a clause that required all schools to have a daily act of corporate worship.
Its true in my case I avoided much of that old tosh by pretending to be Jewish and thereby with a bunch of secular Jewish lads we have an extra 20 minutes of bridge practice every day.
Others were not so fortunate and the abomination that is religious indoctrination continues.I have no objection to teaching comparative religion as part of the process of history.
But as the revealing of sacred truths-nah!
So back to Greece, the first act of the new government was to dispense with the religious oath of office entoned by a clutch of beared Orthodox priests and have a secular oath of office.
An encouraging start.Then they went on within the first few hours of rstoring the minimum wage,re-employing the cleaners at the Ministry of Finance and starting to tackle the dreadful state of impvershment that the previous governments had left that country in. unemployment at 25%,,youth unemployment at 50% and living standards cut to 60% of what things were before the bankers blew it!
Commentators have observed that Greece is in danger of sliding into third world status.Well chums, with homelessness,a health care crisis,food shortages and collapsing infrastructure I'd say they were pretty well there!
Added to that the country that is so keen to say no and impose swinging debt repayment conditions of the people of Greece(not you note the bankers of Greece) is none other that the Federal Republic of Geermany.Lucky for them wasn't it that after WW2 the western powers agreed in London that repayments were not due from Germany, after all they remembered what happened after WW1 and they felt that a Germany free from excessive debt would be a good bulwark against communism!
Lucky old Germany.
Shame the Greeks, and indeed the Greek Communists who fought a brave and determined resistanmce to the Nazi occupation ended up on the winning side.
So Syriza offers hope to the world, welcomed by the people of Spain, the people of Italy and the people of France.
Solidarity will grow and while they might get some things wrong the main thrust of the movement is a progressive anti austerity battle.One that we should all be cheering on!
Oh but are we? Of course there are some naysayers on the far left who will never be satisfied until the corpse of dear old Leon is brought back from Mexico with a few new stone tablets of eternal truth.
But as President Hollande meets with the new leadership, and even some eurocrats are thinking maybe we need to accomodate the new Greek government, what is our heroic leadership of Britain's main social democratic political party doing and saying?
Well Mr Miliband(for it is he) has pledged to continue austerity in this country regardless of what the people of Britain want and need.
On the same day that he made his important pledge to do nothing sqaued it was reported that Lod Mandelson avoided tax on £400,000 by 'borrowing' from his company(sole prop. P.Mandelson) and that other pillar of New Labour,T.Blair has taken £500,000 of public money to support him in being an ex-prime minister!
Am I surprised/ Not really after all the labour Party is a fraternal party of the dire Pasok in Greece,who wew in and out of government in Greece for the last couple of decades and are riddled with corruption,incompetence, greed and treachery towards the people of Greece.
I am remined of the old Albanian saying:
"The dogs may bark but the caravan still goes by."