Greece is the oft-lauded birthplace of democracy and perhaps it is fitting that this small and fiercely idiosyncratic European country may be about to give the world a lesson in it.
It would be true to say, as John Redwood has pointed out, that the entry of Greece into the Euro a decade and a half ago was sheer hubris and folly. That hubris has been shown up for what it was since 2010. During this time, Greece has been subjected to so-called ‘austerity’ measures that have brought the country to its knees and have, five years later, not produced any improvement and indeed very much the opposite. In some areas, unemployment has risen to 60% and Greece’s banks are now closed.
In the last few weeks and months, we have seen a troika of New Imperialists – Christine Lagarde of the IMF, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission and Angela Merkel, Germany’s Chancellor, openly bully and strong-arm the democratically elected Prime Minister of a sovereign nation, Alexis Tsipras. It has been an absolute disgrace and an affront to democratic principles. We saw heavy-handed and insensitive ‘diplomacy’, that was clearly intended to undermine Tsipras and to coerce him into capitulating to yet more horror and misery. The result was that Tsipras did the one thing the New Imperialists hate the most — he decided to ask his own people what he should do. He actually dared ask for a democratic mandate. What impudence! Continue reading “A Greek Lesson in Democracy”
The last few weeks have been intensely busy for me, with four books to be finished by a deadline of the 30th May. This has restricted my time for other things, notably this blog.
Anyway, in that time, much has happened. The UK General Election has come and gone and left a surprising, polarising and challenging result. Labour, at the UK level, now looks in as parlous a state as it was in the 1980s, when it had become ‘unelectable’. This is despite a radical lurch to the political right. We must now ask whether this lurch actually won Tony Blair his historic majority or whether in fact voters in England were just so fed up with Tory corruption, greed and downright nastiness that they could stand it no longer. Continue reading “Labour’s Zombie Blues”
The unending and apparently increasing hysteria of the London commentariat in response to the spectacular rise of the SNP in Scotland continues to dominate the UK media. It is clear that many of the pundits – many of whom, amazingly, are actually of Scottish origin – really don’t get it.
Again and again the argument devolves to ‘why do the Scots hate the English so much?’ clearly implying that the only reason Scots would not wish to be governed from 400 miles furth of their borders must be that they dislike the English. It is both a petty allegation, because it offends the basis of democracy, and plain old wrong.
When I was 17 I left home and went to London, like so many other young Scots. The story of my time there is not germane, but I was amazed by how obsessed with money the people were. It seemed to be all they ever thought about. In later life I came across the same attitude not only from Londoners but from others in the South East. ‘You have to go where the money is.’ Even more strange, to me, was that amongst the most profoundly affected by this notion were expatriate Scots (who managed to add an insufferable air of superiority into the mix; but that is also another story.)
The rise of the SNP since 2014 cannot be explained in terms that someone whose sole measure of value is monetary can readily understand. The good folks of London and the southeast, who apparently have swallowed whole the lie that the economy is ‘booming’ – we are curious as to what kind of ‘boom’ it is that can only be achieved by subsidising the richest companies in the country by £11 billion a year in order that they can underpay their workforce, but, hey. Anyway those good folks clearly cannot comprehend why the Scots would even think about getting off this (imaginary) gravy train.
It’s not often that I give the words of the disingenuously shambolic Boris Johnson an awful lot of thought, really. He has occasionally given me a good laugh and there’s no doubt that he’s a lot smarter than he lets himself appear to be.
But a post on Facebook by the excellent Eu Citizens for an Independent Scotland brought to my attention one of BoJo’s statements in March, when I was too busy getting jetlagged to really notice. The article is here.
In it, BoJo is reported to have slammed the practice of allowing Sharia courts to have legal validity in the United Kingdom, and he is quite right.
It is totally unacceptable that a ‘legal code’ that treats women as livestock and mandates the execution of apostates, the mutilation of criminals, child marriage and killing anyone who dare criticise it, should be allowed to have influence in a modern, secular democracy. Continue reading “Boris Johnson is Right on Sharia”
We live in interesting times, as the proverb says, politically speaking at least. The ‘United’ Kingdom’s lack of unity is being demonstrated once again and the whole beast now seems to be in the throes of a terminal case of dyspepsia.
For decades the right-leaning south of England got its way; it elected Margaret Thatcher, a puppet of the patriarchal hegemony, and the decline has gathered pace ever since. Even when a government calling itself ‘Labour’ and playing the socialist card was elected, under the repulsive Tony Blair, it was soon shown to be Tory Party Lite.
The result of decades of rightist government has been the almost complete abandonment of any controls on the behaviour of business and in turn the consequence of this has been a string of boom-bust cycles each worse than the previous. The most catastrophic came in 2008 and is still, seven years later, being paid for. Remember, that was a right-wing financial collapse brought about by right-wing economic policies. Continue reading “We Live in Interesting Times”
France and the world was shocked by a brutal and vicious massacre of journalists at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. This atrocity was perpetrated by Islamists with the specific aim of preventing criticism of their ideology. In the aftermath, unprecedented levels of public outrage and grief were displayed all over France.
Just this week, 44 men of the Philippines Special Action Force were murdered by Islamists in southern Mindanao. The officers had their throats cut. This atrocity was carried out by the Islamist group the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has made a career out of the usual stock-in-trades of the Islamist – murder, kidnapping, torture and extortion. Here too, there has been a massive outpouring of public emotion. Continue reading “A watershed month”
It’s been two months since the Independence Referendum in Scotland, and the results are now becoming clear. The initial analysis, that the SNP ‘lost’, is no longer sustainable.
While the result was a majority in favour of staying within the disUnion, at least for the present, this has not constituted a defeat for the SNP. To understand this, we need to look at the campaign in a broader context.
In the first place, it was never, and will never be ‘one referendum will settle it for good’. The September referendum was one event in a long sequence, all of which, for over a hundred years, have loosened the ties of the disUnion over Scotland. The September vote should be seen in the context of this ongoing journey; it was just another stage in a process and one which shows support for independence to be far higher already than the Westminster political class were suggesting twelve months ago. Like the odious George Robertson’s claim that ‘a Scottish parliament would kill the SNP’, those statements, of how the referendum would put an end to Scotland’s journey to nationhood now look very hollow. Perhaps it is no surprise that the English media and their subsidiaries in Scotland are glossing over those words now, just as they gloss over Robertson’s
Devolution is a process, not an event, and the end-point of that process is independence. The real question the most recent referendum set was not ‘will Scotland be Independent’ but ‘will Scotland be Independent now’. Continue reading “Tell me again how the SNP ‘lost’…”
Well, what a fascinating weekend we just had in the Scottish Independence campaign. After weeks slowly getting redder and uglier, the boil of the ‘No’ camp – often known as ‘Project Fear’ – burst and showered its surroundings in a thick layer of pus.
What happened was that an allegedly senior but unnamed Tory Minister admitted the truth: George Osborne’s assertion that there would never be a Currency Union between England, Wales and Northern Ireland (EWNI) and an Independent Scotland, was a lie. It was just another filibustering bluff, the latest in a long series of such from the bottom-feeders who slither along the corridors of Whitehall.
This admission, that the second most senior member of the ‘British’ Gummint, had been barefacedly telling porkies, was made to The Guardian newspaper, which ran big with it, and yesterday’s Sunday papers, well, the Scottish editions, followed suit. The Mondays are full of it.
A fell cauld wind wis sauchin ower the muir as the bonny wumman gart her wey tae tryst her jo. For the necht wis Februar the fowerteen, an aabody kens at’s the necht for luve.
She wis winsome eneuch, tho the first blush o youth, it maun be said, was left ahent her a lang while syne. A body mecht hae speirit at himsel how comes a lass o sic natral attractions hidnae been wad this mony a lang year.
At last she reached the spot ablow an auld aik whaur she an her jo hiv met this necht mony mair years nor either of them wad care tae hink on. Her jo wis aaready there, a puckle fashit, ye mecht hink, wi the wye he wis stridin up an doon, his een flashin faniver he luikit up.
Eight years after Scotland voted ‘Yes’ to Devolution, but had seen this victory snatched away by Westminster, things were very different.
The most hated Prime Minister in recent history – possibly all history as far as the Scots are concerned – Margaret Thatcher, had focussed minds on the fight against her all over the UK. Scottish Labour rode high on this wave of anti-Tory sentiment, and lost no time in asserting that it was the only way to be sure to get rid of the Tories. A vote, they claimed, for any other party, was a ‘vote for the Tories’.
But it was a gamble. Thatcher’s popularity in England had increased radically since she first had been elected. In England, though far less in Scotland, her resolve in fighting and defeating the Argentinean invasion of the Falkland Isles, had played well for her. She called an election in 1983 and found her majority increased.