The Euro shatters the old politics

The gripping drama being played out between Syriza and the rest of the Euro area is not just a struggle between creditors and debtors, or between countries who will play by the rules and one who thinks the rules are absurd. It is also an enthralling battle over the future of democratic parties in a variety of Euro area countries. Syrzia swept to power by crushing the centre left traditional Greek party and by defeating the centre right alternative. Both those parties were sullied by submission to EU austerity policies which had led to a decline of one quarter in Greek living standards and mass unemployment. In Spain the issue is how well will Podemos do with its anti establishment stance. In Italy can a combination of the Grillo 5 star movement and the Lega Nord put the traditional centre right and centre left to the sword? In France both the Gaulist opposition and the governing Socialists are behind Le Pen’s National Front in Presidential polls.

The interesting feature is how comprehensive the collapse of a traditional party can be under the extreme impact of Euro policies which national governments are unable to overturn or even influence much. The Socialist party of Greece, not so long ago the governing party, collapsed to 5% of the vote in January this year. In Italy Forza Italia, the old centre right governing party of Berlusconi, is today on just 12% in the polls. In France the socialist party of Mr Hollande is on just 23%.

The future of Syriza matters to both the traditional parties and the new challengers. If Syriza caves in and accepts new loans with a string of austerity conditions, traditional parties will breathe a sigh of relief. They will think that extinguishes the reason to vote for change in such an inflexible system. It may of course, just make Greek voters even angrier, looking for a new challenger party to support. It may also anger challenger parties and voters elsewhere, increasing their resolve to stand firm if their chance comes. If, on the contrary, Syriza hangs tough and gets major concessions, then the challengers elsewhere will expect to do well to enjoy the same treatment. They may of course encounter new barriers and new language against them, as the rest of the EU will be reluctant to allow others to get away with such a challenge. Greece will be portrayed as a very special case, and ring fenced.

In the UK without the austerity of the Euro and with a better performing economy, the two main parties support is holding up better than on the continent. In 2005 Labour and Conservative commanded just 67.6% of the vote in the General election. Today they have around 65% in the polls. In the UK the dramatic decline has taken place in the third party support of the Lib Dems. They had 22% in 2005, and 23% in 2010. They are now down around 6%. The top three parties of 2005 had 89.6% of the vote. In 2010 they had 90.7%. Today those same three have 71%. Most of that fall is down to third party, the Lib Dems. Protest is moving to others now the Lib Dems have been a party in government. Their enthusiasm for all things European clearly does nothing to help their popularity.

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88 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    Indeed the EU and the EURO is hugely damaging to any real and sensible democracy.

    The Libdems are clearly totally out of touch with public opinion. The public want far less EU, lower taxes, cheaper energy and a smaller state sector yet the Libdems seek the complete opposite. They thus languish on about 7% of the vote and will hopefully lose at least 3/4 of their MPs.

    It is rather odd therefore that Cameron chooses to follow the same electorally moronic line. Is he actively trying to lose? Miliband seems to be trying to lose too.

    On Question Time yesterday we were offered: Lord Heseltine, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Caroline Flint MP, Duncan Bannatyne and Norman Lamb. All five were clearly of left. In the run up to this election is the 80 year old Michael Heseltine, EUphile, green crap supporting and proven wrong on most issues Heseltine really a sensible choice for the Tories? Not a single person with sensible policies on the panel far more sense from the odd person in the audience.

    Has Heseltine not done enough damage to the country through the deposing of Lady Thatcher and inflicting the appalling John Major (the ERM) and 3 terms of Labour on the country?

    The man even still thinks the UK will end up scrapping the pound and adopting the euro. One assumes that Cameron and/or central office thought the 80 year old (who has clearly been proven wrong on almost everything) was a good choice?

    Reply I suspect Heseltine was the BBC’s choice – they did not ask me.

    • DaveM
      Posted February 20, 2015 at 7:30 am | Permalink

      You’re probably right John. Funny how Heseltine, Clarke et al get chosen a lot yet Mr Tebbit doesn’t.

    • Mark B
      Posted February 20, 2015 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      LL

      Why are you still watching that excrement ?

      I gave up on it long ago, after they hosted a program from Scotland, and all except one or two voices in the audience were Scottish. If they rig the audience as I suspect, then why not also the panel.

      It seems to me, that the BBC is really rather taking to itself, rather than the nation.

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 20, 2015 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

        I find the blatant BBC bias amusing

        • Jerry
          Posted February 20, 2015 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

          @LL; “I find the blatant BBC bias amusing

          I suspect that the BBC (and many others besides) find your blatant bias amusing too!

          • Lifelogic
            Posted February 21, 2015 at 7:32 am | Permalink

            I am merely an individual, but the BBC has a legal and moral duty to be impartial. Despite this it is staffed almost to person with dim, lefty, green crap believing, pro EU, magic money tree, ever higher tax and open door immigration believing, Guardian think dopes.

            Andrew Neil is perhaps the sole exception.

          • Jerry
            Posted February 21, 2015 at 11:46 am | Permalink

            @LL; My point was that in your mind (and those who agree with you) you are not biased, exploring an opposing view is not being biased. I do agree that broadcasters, all of them, should be neutral over-all, and as you point out, the BBC is, probably far more so than any of the other broadcasters operating in the UK. As I keep pointing out, if both left and right complain about political bias to the BBC and do so with regards exactly the same content or programme what does that actually tell us?…

            Many did not like Ch4’s fictional drama about a future UKIP majority government, but because it wasn’t balanced I expect many without a pre-confirmed opinion will have actually ended up dismissing the programme due to that lack of balance, so did that make the programme biased and if so in which direction.

        • WillH
          Posted February 20, 2015 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

          Bet your not amused at having to pay for all the left wing propaganda and the inflated salaries of those spouting it!

        • Mondeo Man
          Posted February 20, 2015 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

          I don’t.

          I can’t bear to watch most of BBC1.

          The bias is especially insidious in ‘entertainment’.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted February 21, 2015 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

            Indeed radio 4’s so call “comedy” in particular.

    • agricola
      Posted February 20, 2015 at 8:40 am | Permalink

      John, the BBC will not ask you because you are against their cause. It reminds me of the thirties when all the movers and shakers thought Hitler was a jolly good chap and more of his thinking should prevail in Britain. Churchill was a lone voice and got it right, so do not loose heart by being in a minority in the H o C. A well informed public are mostly with you.

      • Jerry
        Posted February 20, 2015 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

        @agricola; “John, the BBC will not ask you because you are against their cause.”

        Quite possibly, after all politicos like our host, from what ever side, are very unlikely to either cause the wanted rants or arguments from within the audience [1], well reasoned arguments based on the facts rarely do.

        [1] which might also be one of the reasons why the BBC ’employ’ a non politico fifth panellist whose function seems to be argumentative when ever the politicos are agreeing – or that is how it seems when ever I waste an hour watching the programme…

    • Bob
      Posted February 20, 2015 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      Next week the QT panel will be made up of five small “c” conservatives with an audience of small business owners (just kidding).

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 21, 2015 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

        Indeed no chance of that ever.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted February 20, 2015 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      John,

      I wish the BBC had asked you to appear, but balance isn’t the BBC’s strong point. The public could be forgiven for thinking left-of-centre politics were the only alternative.

      Coming from very humble and Earthy beginnings, one of my own failings is profanity. I’m afraid the BBC’s Question Time programme along with Newsnight and Dateline London, does little to help me kick the habit.

      Tad

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 20, 2015 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      I believe that Nigel Farage was not available for the programme, being far too busy posing for photos with sundry persons who may later be involved in racist incidents, or not as the case may be … it’s amazing how the media was so quickly provided with just such a photo to enable them to make the (admittedly very tenuous) connection between UKIP and a bunch of hooligans who claim to be supporters of Chelsea football club; somebody must have put in the time and effort to search through a whole library of Farage photos on the off chance of finding one like that among all the others, and I wonder why they should have done that, and who was supporting them financially while they did it?

      • Bob
        Posted February 21, 2015 at 10:42 am | Permalink

        @Denis Cooper

        “somebody must have put in the time and effort to search through a whole library of Farage photos on the off chance of finding one like that”

        Don’t underestimate the fear currently gripping the LibLabCon Party, their black ops departments must be on overtime to come up with such material.

        A sure sign of their desperation.

        • Timaction
          Posted February 21, 2015 at 10:58 am | Permalink

          Amusing to think that the legacy parties have to fund anti UKIP units to smear whilst all that UKIP have to do is tell the truth!
          May can’t come soon enough so we don’t have to listen to the spin and lies of the former leading parties. The truth is out!

  2. lifelogic
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    If Syriza caves in and accepts new loans, with a string of austerity conditions,as looks likely, it will merely give rise to another crisis in a few months time.

    Grexit is needed and the sooner the better, as we saw in the UK with the lefty Tories & John Major’s absurd ERM experiment.

    Will we ever get an apology from this dreadful man for the pointless damage to people’s homes, businesses, jobs and even the lives he pointlessly destroyed? This with his “if it is not hurting it is not working” and 17% mortgage rates that we were told would go up if we left. Major tried to stay in just to stop him looking idiotic. It did not work it is just the same now with Germany and the EURO lovers.

    • Mark B
      Posted February 20, 2015 at 8:21 am | Permalink

      Move on.

      • Hope
        Posted February 20, 2015 at 10:04 am | Permalink

        Well said Lifelogic. Look at all of those who tried scaring everyone of what would happen if the UK did not jojn the Euro, the same people who make the same warnings about leaving the EU! It is not time to move. It time to remember the lies they told and the deceit they are prepared to spread over the public to keep the UK in the EU a lot of whom will be on the teat of the taxpayer whether funded here in the Lords or a commissioner in the EU.

        • Mark B
          Posted February 20, 2015 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

          Hope

          Clearly you do not sense LL’s pain on this issue. 😉

          Hence my comment.

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 20, 2015 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

        The ERM fiasco is clearly relevant to the current mess.

    • graham1946
      Posted February 20, 2015 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

      Strange how old has-beens, never were’s and failures like Major, Kinnock et al become ‘elder statesmen’ (not to mention incredibly rich) to the political establishment who hang on their every word. I wonder how long it will take for Gordon Brown to be seen by them as the genius he clearly thought he was.

      Just shows what a shower modern politicians are and how feeble their grip on reality, their poor grasp of history and the concerns of the public.

  3. Richard1
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    one interesting feature of the eurozone is it does make very clear that if you want to be a big(ger) spending politician you can’t do what eg the Labour party does in the UK and just pretend money can be borrowed indefinitely. In the eurozone it’s very clear you need the agreement of an external power – Germany and the ECB – to be able to pay for spending. Obviously there is also an element of arguing for more and more tax, as the left parties do here, but people don’t seem to believe much in that, especially withe disasterous example of Hollande in France. To pay for socialism you need an indefinite supply of other peoples’ money. People in insolvent eurozone countries have been effectively disenfranchised – the only real political issue in Greece is how best to beg and blackmail the Germans.

    • Mark B
      Posted February 20, 2015 at 8:30 am | Permalink

      Richard1

      You touch upon one of the many reasons why the Euro and the EU cannot work. The people ! They are so different.

      In the USA, the people, of all backgrounds and histories get behind the Flag – The Stars and Stripes or, as some have said; “Old Glory.”

      If I were to offer you two flags. One the Union Jack, and the other EU Flag, which one would you take that you see as your country ? I’d really like to know ?

      And that is the problem. The Greeks and many other countries in the EU have a very Laissez faire attitude to taxes. I do believe in taxation. But that taxation must be proportionate and only in line with the need for the State to do its business. Others think that taxation is something others should pay, whist they maintain, at other taxpayers expense, their lifestyles. Sound familiar ?

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted February 20, 2015 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

        Well, most of its citizens consider the federal United States of America to be their “country”, while retaining an attachment to their own state within the federation, and that being generally accepted the protocol is that the flag of the United States must always be given precedence over the flag of a state, or the flag of a city, or the flag of any organisation; that is why in TV broadcasts from the US you may sometimes see a flagpole with the Stars and Stripes being flown at the top, the so-called “position of honour”, and another flag – state, city, town, the Federal Reserve, part of the military, whatever – being flown beneath it in an inferior position.

        So in terms of international, including British, flag protocol it is significant whether the EU flag or the UK flag is being given the recognised “position of honour” in any display; such as when the Foreign Office organises a joint press conference for Cameron or some other UK minister and some EU notable, with the two flags set up in the backdrop of the stage, when civil servants have routinely accorded precedence to the EU flag despite it being pointed out to them that this is wrong, and such as when the Tory party did the same on the backdrop to the platform for its 1984 national conference in Brighton – in both cases, signalling to the world at large their view that the EU is now to be seen as our “country”, and the UK has been relegated to being just a subsidiary component of the EU.

        But I know that JR doesn’t much like me mentioning this, so I’ll be interested to see whether or not this is one of those comments which doesn’t get published for lack of time on his part.

      • Bazman
        Posted February 20, 2015 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

        Yes. It sounds like big business. Am I right or is it the working and non working poor trying to survive on a few blagged quids?

      • Richard1
        Posted February 20, 2015 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

        I think a major issue is people in southern European countries such as Greece and Italy have (rightly) had so little confidence in their own political class that rule by the EU would have seemed relatively benign and incorruptible by comparison. The wonder is that Germany has felt taking on this gigantic liability has been a price worth paying for political union.

  4. rick hamilton
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    It is astonishing that both LibDem and Labour cling so firmly to the belief that the EU is the fount of all miracles and the myth that leaving it would be disaster. They seem incapable of seeing that there is a trade dimension and a political dimension and the public mood is against the latter. Ever Closer Union doesn’t work for the UK. Socialism doesn’t work either, as JR once made clear in that Oxford debate, but that doesn’t stop leftie parties trying to bring it back.

    A cynic – and who wouldn’t be cynical – would say: What’s in it for them?. Apart from all those juicy jobs and pensions for true believers rejected by their own electorates, I think the answer is simply a quiet life. In other words, complacency. None of them dare face up to the possibly chill winds of international competition and having to work out the answers to every challenge themselves. Far better to let unelected EU bureaucrats do it all for them.

    • A different Simon
      Posted February 20, 2015 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      I know it’s pre-election silly season but I was disappointed to hear Mr Miliband stating that his party would “provide stability to business” “by keeping the UK in the EU” .

      Surely all politicians know that this is an issue which can only be resolved by a referendum ?

      This characterises the modern day politician ; they don’t trust the electorate . It is more understandable from leftists who believe they occupy a position of moral superiority .

      Granted Mr Miliband is a bit weird but I am disappointed that instead of using his brain he just regurgitated dogma .

      • APL
        Posted February 23, 2015 at 9:08 am | Permalink

        ADS: “This characterises the modern day politician ; they don’t trust the electorate .”

        They don’t trust us, because they aren’t us. They are an isolated ‘other’, the isolation is of their own creation. But now they are, they wouldn’t give up the expense accounts and BBC studios for the world. They will quite happily throw their own constituents under the bus, if it will further their own selfish self interest.

        • APL
          Posted February 23, 2015 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

          As if by Magic:
          Malcolm Rifkin: “Two hundred members of parliament do have outside earnings.”

          Malcolm Rifkin.: “The reality is that anyone from professional or business background, earns considerably more than that, and if you say to people, I’m sorry, for the whole of your Parliamentary career that is the maximum you will be able to earn, you can do that, but you’d simply be excluding very large numbers of very able people who have a lot to contribute to Parliament …”

          There was no qualification to becoming a member of Parliament, any old Tom, Dick or Harry, can stand. The only reason these people can command £5,000 per day speakers fees, is BECAUSE they have been in Parliament in the first place.

          If 64K is so onerous, then you know what you can do, Malcolm. Foxtrot Oscar!

    • graham1946
      Posted February 20, 2015 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

      The trouble is, that in addition to the politicians who hope for a nice easy sinecure in Brussels when they fail, ‘Business’ seems relentlessly to push the line as well and the public may well listen to and be guided by such luminaries, concluding that they must know what they are talking about, especially as proper information is and will continue to be withheld from the public. Expect nothing but lies and smears when the referendum debate (if it occurs) gets underway just as it did last time. The anti’s must get their facts together properly, but whether they will get an airing in the media, who all pretty much follow the same line, remains to be seen.

      Of course it suits big business to have rules and standards and tax lawsmade for them, which limit competition and make entry into their markets difficult, but you won’t hear any of that mentioned.

  5. ian
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Yes and the only thing you hear in this country is please come out and vote. It every where even the church. Funny now everything became good in the last year.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 20, 2015 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      Indeed, the reason they do not vote is because there is so little difference between the two parties you will get. Worse of all is perhaps Miliband + SNP and others but nothing much to chose between them really. Cameron is almost the same as Miliband but for the few on the sensible wing that occasionally guide him towards sense. They are all pro ever more EU, pro an even bigger state, pro ever higher taxes, pro green crap/over expensive energy, pro ever more misguided regulation, pro open door un-selective immigration and pro the dysfunctional & free at the point of rationing ( much incompetence and non delivery) NHS.

      I suppose Miliband’s moronic and damaging rent act II and damage to the economy might cost me a million or two. It will be hugely damaging to tenants as well as landlords.

      • A different Simon
        Posted February 20, 2015 at 11:07 am | Permalink

        Miliband had an opportunity to become a Statesman .

        For example he could have proposed a location value tax paid by all land owners .

        Instead he goes for the political option of a mansion tax paid by the few which he has chosen to demonise .

        Look at Harold Wilson who said something to the effect “One man’s wage rise is another mans cost increase” .
        Times have changed beyond recognition but there is at least a chance that if Wilson had of been alive today he would have explained that we live in a global market place and have to be at least slightly competitive .

        There are no Statesman out there .

        • A different Simon
          Posted February 20, 2015 at 11:11 am | Permalink

          PS even the nickname “Mansion” is provocative .

          £2m isn’t going to get you a mansion in many parts of London .

          In some parts it won’t even get you a parking space .

          • Bazman
            Posted February 20, 2015 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

            Get on your bike then.

          • Jon
            Posted February 20, 2015 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

            I’ll have you know you can get even a garage for £550,000 in Chelsea no less. It’s a bit of a tatty mess but bargain.

      • Bazman
        Posted February 20, 2015 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

        He is attacking the most subsidised and least regulated rental sector in the western world in an attempt to make it work for the benefit of the many and not a few millionaire landlords? How dare he! You need to put their rents up that will show how free the market is.

        • Mondeo Man
          Posted February 20, 2015 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

          Bazman – Hopefully those tenants might finally be able to become part of the ‘ownership’ class !

    • Mark B
      Posted February 20, 2015 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      Yes, I thought that. Then again, I thought it might 5 years ago.

  6. DaveM
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    The human race has a remarkable capacity for invention and adaptability. It has had to have due to irresistible changes and THREATS beyond its control.

    Tony Blair, for all his faults, recognised that the Labour Party had to change to avoid being consigned to history, and his party in its current state, with its reversion to its traditional unionist roots, it could be argued, only enjoys its continued, relatively high levels of support due to its traditional supporters and cleverly placed candidates. The advent of new workers’ charters and the changing face of mass employment mean that the unions will, I suspect, be less subscribed to in the near future.

    Take for example the invention of spectacles. Although invented earlier, the refinement of the spectacle only really happened around the mid 1400s. About the same time as the printing press became widespread in Europe, and people realised that mass, printed communication was imminent and that those who were unable to read would be left behind. Shortsightedness is also a terrible thing if not remedied. It does seem, however, to be endemic within the Westminster bubble. There is an election this year, but there is also one in 2020, 2025…and so on, thanks to the current coalition meddling with the traditions of our country.

    The Roman Empire lasted considerably longer than the EU has to date, and it used somewhat more stringent measures to keep itself in power. Look what happened to that.

    I don’t worry about the EU’s political agenda as much as many, because I am blessed with 20:20 vision and a sound knowledge of European and British history, and in spite of the current political parties’ determination, the tribal nature of Europe’s people has proven time and time again that the demography is as it is. Migrants adapt to their surroundings, not vice versa. This isn’t America; Europeans have lived where they live for millennia and have their lands in their blood.

    The surge in support for “new” parties alluded to by Mr Redwood is due to the fact that the people of Europe have recognised a threat beyond their control and are seeking out ways to combat that threat.

    I wonder if, in 2050, we will be looking in slightly bemused interest at the ConLabosaurus Rex and mourning the fact that it died out. Or will we have forgotten about it because the new animals are far more exciting and easy to tame? I suspect the latter. That is unless the Coservasaurus responds to the irresistible forces and messages surrounding it.

  7. Mark B
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    Great piece ! Covers much of my own thinking on this issue, and it is good to see that our kind host has thought on this as well.

    The Euro Area has boxed itself in. It cannot give in to Greece, and it cannot afford to crush them either.

    The Greek people voted with their hearts and this time, with their heads. They want someone who will stand up for them. The people of both England and the UK ask the same.

    Outside Her Majesties Realm, we as those who represent us to champion our cause. Within Her Majesties Realm, we see the SNP and other Nationalist Parties do the same. It is why they too are growing; especially the SNP !

    This is because people yearn to be heard. It is why this and other blogs are so popular. And it is why I, and I am sure many others, are so grateful.

    But the power of this form of communication can be lost, if those in power choose not to listen. And it is on this the EU was founded. It is a creation that does not like, ‘popularism’ or, to give its proper name – democracy.

    So, this battle we are lead to believe is happening, it is a battle between the people (Greece) and the Techno, and Eurocrates. I need not say on which side I shall be cheering.

  8. Dame Rita Webb
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    John here is a quick question for you. Has membership of the Conservative Party gone up or down since 2010? If its gone down, and the economy is as rosy as you describe it, why are people failing to rally around such a winner like Dave?

    • Bazman
      Posted February 20, 2015 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

      Most members have been killed by time.

  9. Ian wragg
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    You say the legacy vote is holding up in the UK. Ukip got 3% in 2010 and are expected to get at least 15% this time. This will probably stop the Tories getting a majority but still all 3 parties bow at the altar of Berlin.
    Please explain why this island John when to all but moron it is obviously a disaster
    What about our inability to protect ourselves now you’ve decimated the military.

    • Iain Moore
      Posted February 20, 2015 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      Wasn’t it Cameron’s plan to have Aid guarantee our security? Clearly no one has told Putin he should be quaking in his boots now that the UK is spending 0.7% of our GDP in Aid.

    • Mondeo Man
      Posted February 20, 2015 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

      It’s not about how many seats Ukip keep cant win as how many they can take !

      All that we need to know is that the Tories refuse to take a clear Eurosceptic majority with a Conservative/Ukip pact. They’d sooner a Conservative/Lab coalition – even the risk of a Lab/SNP one !!!

  10. alan jutson
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    How odd that the EU with its Socialist Policies, which has got most of its members in financial chaos, is being challenged by a far left party that wants even greater socialist spending plans, which will make its debts even larger.

    When will the people and politicians learn that you cannot live beyond your means for years, without at some stage having to pick up the bill.

    Greece got itself into trouble by politicians promising what they could not afford (does this ring a bell).
    Do they really think that electing a government promising even greater spending plans is going to help or succeed.

    The EU and Politicians have bought this all on themselves, unfortunately the people will pay in the end, and those to blame will walk away unscathed.

    Civil unrest is in the making, in more than just Greece, it just needs a few more sparks to get it going.

    • Dame Rita Webb
      Posted February 20, 2015 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      I could not agree more. You cannot keep deficit spending forever it’s not mathematically possible . At some point you either default or people stop lending you the money because they no longer believe they will not be repaid. The more the deficit continues the national debt grows as does the amount of the tax take required to service it. Life in the UK should be fun when those dependendent on state handouts find the magic money benefits machine no longer works. How are you going to maintain order with 10,000 fewer coppers than there were in 2010 and the army is being prepared for “peacekeeping”duties in the Ukraine?

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted February 20, 2015 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

        That was what the Labour government wanted to avoid in early 2009, when it was having to borrow a quarter of all the money it was spending and faced the possibility that it could run out of willing lenders.

        The Labour government’s novel and cunning solution was to introduce a new investor which would always be both able and willing to supply it with the money that it needed to maintain its excessive expenditure, including that on state pensions and social security benefits as well as the salaries of state employees and payments to contractors and suppliers.

        That new, captive, investor was of course the Bank of England, and they called the scheme “quantitative easing”.

  11. agricola
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Well you got through your last paragraph without mentioning UKIP. A challenge akin to “Just a Minute”.

    The fault line throughout Europe and the UK is that the main political parties act for the party and have doggedly ignored their respective electorates to varying degrees of cost. These political parties are so detached and up their own backsides that they think they can exist and act divorced from the will of the people. They are of course being bribed into this way of thinking by their unelected masters in Brussels.

    With just cause, the people think there has got to be a better way to achieve an harmonious Europe, without them being subjected to the uncertainty of unemployment and little future for their children. In the UK it is the lemming like march to integration with an overtly failed Europe without the consent of the electorate that is having the same effect. The electorate will continue to feel this even though there is a tentative economic sunrise in the UK. Politicians in Westminster are the new enemy.

    • Man of Kent
      Posted February 20, 2015 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      Well said.
      This is never more evident than in attending public meetings of Conservatives and UKIP.
      There is a spread of social classes , age groups, private and public sector workers and ethnic backgrounds at a UKIP meeting that you never find at a Con meeting , just people like me!
      There is no dialogue between the Con party and members to help policies evolve.We have been sidelined as an inconvenient appendage to be taken for granted on matters like gay marriage , policy on Europe, energy and climate change. (Our host is an honourable exception)
      At least with Ukip their policy on the EU (out) and climate change ( repeal the Act ) is quite clear.
      With Dave you are given an a la carte menu of choices some or none of which may actually be implemented.

  12. Mondeo Man
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    The UK’s economic success (if you believe it) seems linked to what we don’t have in common with the EU rather than what we do.

  13. Douglas Carter
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    The LibDems phenomenon as is can be illustrated from a glance at their in-house online magazine, LibDem voice. It’s a touching display of fantasy, delusion, self-regarding vanity and wholesale lack of self-awareness. In terms of their profound collapse in electoral support, they employ the slightly less-than-recent reversal of Clegg over tuition fees to explain the entire matter. It seems preferable for them to pretend to themselves that more than ninety percent of the electorate are obsessed by student fees. That seems more to their liking rather than consider the more complex possibility that the electorate have finally noticed what the LibDems are, what they bring to the table, and have found them to be completely unsuited to responsible office. As unpleasant a sentiment it may seem, it’s possible that collectively, they’re just too stupid a party to be capable of noticing when they’ve been routed.

    John, I know that at this stage in the electoral cycle you would incline not to speculate over the possibility of a future coalition involving the Conservative Party and LibDems, but just allow unobserved this one in terms of consideration:

    A few days ago in the Guardian, Martin Kettle was writing with regard to the future EU renegotiations and speculated that any Coalition LibDems should insist on having a seat at those negotiations alongside any figures nominated by the Conservative leader at that time. That would be entirely unwarranted. The LibDems were advised by the electorate exactly nine months ago that their stance with regard to the EU was entirely unacceptable. They’d have no democratic mandate in any respect to influence the remotest iota of EU stance and policy any Government might take up. None whatsoever.

  14. Bert Young
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    I agree that the mood of the public has changed as the result of the influence of the EU . The most extreme case – Greece , has shown its defiance in no uncertain terms and other minority interests elsewhere have reacted . Major political groups throughout Europe have been knocked by these voices of “we want change”including the UK . The 2 defections to UKIP should not be played down ; the evidence of the current polls is “shaky”.

  15. Iain Moore
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    What I find hard to understand is the delusion that has gripped the governing classes of Europe, where even when they are confronted by the unravelling of their support base as new political parties threaten them, they refuse to recognise the source of the peril, the EU. Can they be as stupid as they appear? The Cameron Conservatives of all the old political parties of Europe might be said to be the most aware of the threat to their support base, but even their offer to the electorate is a disingenuous and mealy mouthed off to the electorate where they try to get away with offering as little as possible , with most of us waiting to see how badly they will stitch us up.

    So what gives? Are we led by such pygmies of leaders who even when confronted by their own political mortality can’t summon up the courage to do what is necessary, tear up some EU treaties, in order to preserve themselves? It appears so.

  16. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Just seems to circle around (repeat), rather like here (UK).

    I would imagine the loan will be extended and ultimately further debt will be loaded on future generations…as here. Austerity…for most of them yes.

    Anything new…not a lot. VI’s won’t let it happen as it should do…as here!

  17. Atlas
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    John, I suspect that the result of putting the EU system to such strain will be a giving way in some unexpected direction. (It’s all classic Chaos Theory in action).

  18. Henry Kaye
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    I have only recently discovered this website and I am enjoying it very much. It is refreshing to note the Eurosceptic views expressed by the author and most of the commenters. I only hope that Mr Redwood has a significant influence on the Conservative front bench. I was once a member of the Conservative Party but they deserted me some years ago and it must be easy to guess where I direct my vote today. Please Mr Redwood, make every effort possible to get the Party back on track.

  19. ChrisS
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Arguably Syriza were even more dishonest than the majority of politicians within the EU during their campaign.

    It was quite obvious that what they were seeking to do was never going to be possible within the Eurozone. They should have told the Greek people that the only way forward to end austerity was with a currency that would be free to devalue and that meant a new Drachma.

    Syriza now face two choices, each will result in a backlash against them for being less than honest with voters :

    1. Sign up to Merkel’s conditions and accept more of the same and indefinite poverty

    2. Leave the Euro, accept some more short term pain but have a chance of seeing their economy recovering through becoming competitive again, albeit at a drastically reduced exchange rate.

    Ironically 2 would help the Spanish Government more than 1.

    Spanish voters would see the real hardship caused by devaluation reach a peak in Greece around the time of their own election. This might be enough to convince them not to vote for Podemos

  20. Gary
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Greece should leave the euro, default on its debts and immediately back its currency with gold.

    It will attract so much foreign investment from money fleeing derivative madness elsewhere.

    • Dame Rita Webb
      Posted February 20, 2015 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      Yes but where are they going to get the gold? Are the Chinese and Russians not buying it all up? Have their existing reserves not being taken off them by the Troika? If not how much are being held overseas for “safekeeping” by the British and the Americans? As the Germans have found out how long will it take to get it back? What they should do is do , as the Icelanders threatened , is debt relief or we are inviting the Russians in to rent a naval base. What’s the point of being in NATO if we being destroyed economically?

    • Bazman
      Posted February 20, 2015 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

      Lets see how Putin gets on with that first Huh!?

  21. mike fowle
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    What worries me is that there will be a parade of big business leaders in the UK telling us that membership of the EU is vital to prosperity, but they do so out of self interest because the burden of regulation and socialist meddling can be better borne by them and serves to crush smaller, more innovative start ups. People will believe them out of fear.

  22. acorn
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    The EU’s massed “eurosceptics” have missed a trick with this Greek problem, but ideologies got in the way as usual. Can’t be seen for the right wing to be supporting the left wing against a common enemy; the Eurosystem, the biggest on a long list of failed systems within the EU.

    Likewise, I would have expected the EU’s massed left wing to have turned up to support Syriza, but they haven’t. The answer must be “What have the Greeks ever done for us”. It appears that 300 million persons must be reasonably satisfied with Euroland and the Euro currency. etc ed

    • acorn
      Posted February 20, 2015 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

      JR, can I take it, from your editing of my post; we are on a charm offensive with the Germans? The “new deal” negotiations for the UK EU referendum? Got it. Mum’s the word, don’t mention the war again ’till after the referendum!

      […] Stressing his party’s ideological overlap with the Tory party, Farage said there were “100 backbench Conservative MPs who are more Ukip than I am” but tribal considerations were stopping them defecting. (Guardian)

      Farage has ruled out a coalition with the Conservatives, but has held out the possibility of a confidence and supply agreement in exchange for an early EU referendum.

      JR, it might be time for you and the other 99 backbench Conservative MPs that “are more UKIP”; to start another charm offensive. Let’s face it, it would put the election beyond doubt and make most on this site very happy.

      Mind you, it would be a disaster economically for 99% of the UK; but sod it, the 1% are calling me back into the fold. But I did try, honest!

  23. fedupsouthener
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    What I’d like to know is where are all these people fleeing from Libya etc going to go now they have been accepted in Italy? How many more are likely to come and how are we going to find accommodation, jobs, school places, room on the NHS, benefits etc etc???? They were talking about a shortfall in the number of new homes being built last night because of a rising population. I’m sure this rising population isn’t down to British births alone!!
    I cannot believe there are still politicians talking about the UK joining the Euro. It would be suicide. The fall in popularity of the Lib Dims is nothing to fret about but a joint Labour SNP government scares me to hell. Cameron should do a deal with Farage. Roger Helmer of UKIP knows a thing or two about sensible energy policies and that is what this country needs. Not more renewable crap ripping everyone of us off.

  24. William Long
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    I wonder how many other MPs are giving this vital matter the same thought that you are. I cannot forget that it is members of the House of Commons who have committed great betrayals to the cause of democracy in this country, first in surrendering, over the years, much of their power to Brussels. Then, at the beginning of this Parliament, they gave away their right to turn out the Government at a stroke, by voting for fixed term Parliaments. Some of the new parties are unpalatable, but this is less important than the fact that they have sprung up and are now showing signs of successfully holding the failed establishment to account.

  25. oldtimer
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    As you so clearly point out, the political landscape is changing. This reflects, I think, an increasing disconnect between those in power and the rest of us. Those in power are pursuing an agenda which the rest of us appear powerless to change because much of that power has effectively been removed from our electoral influence with no means of redress or reform. We are ruled by supranational powers such EU directives. This change is desired by the current ruling class, and is reinforced by relentless propaganda which itself is paid for through the taxes we all pay. In this respect the ruling Conservative, Labour and LibDem elite are indeed all in it together.

    This will only be changed by the rise of the challenger parties (UKIP in the UK) or if one of the current ruling parties does a political somersault. Mr Cameron likes to give the impression that he might surprise us all and actually perform a somersault. But I do not believe he will. I think he is fully and totally committed to the supranational agenda. In considering its own future, the Conservative party is facing a significant fork in the road and a decision over which fork in the road to take.

  26. yulwaymartyn
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    The Greeks do not want to leave the euro or the EU.

    How many times does one have to say it. ?

    Its a political currency and for political reasons the Greeks want to stay in it. They want to stay in the EU for political reasons.

    • Mark B
      Posted February 20, 2015 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      Yes, and a whole lot more. And when they get their hands on German money, it will be like winning the Euro-lottery.

      Why do you think the Germans are so defensive about all this ?

      • yulwaymartyn
        Posted February 21, 2015 at 11:40 am | Permalink

        Because they are fed up with the Greeks wriggling around the issue and not paying their debts or sorting out the rich Greeks who pay no tax. Simple. If the rich Greeks pay their taxes Germany and the rest of the eurozone will support them. So much more constructive than our own history graduate Chancellor pontificating words of wisdom from the sidelines.

  27. Kenneth
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    The BBC is very much on the side of Greece, with all output I have heard criticising the German move.

    The media has a big influence on our government so it will be interesting to see to what extent George Osborne and co get involved (I hope the do not).

    • yulwaymartyn
      Posted February 21, 2015 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      Agree with your first sentence. I think Osborne will do nothing as he is not part of the eurozone and therefore has no say. Sits on the periphery etc.

  28. Jerry
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    [LibDem] enthusiasm for all things European clearly does nothing to help their popularity

    That would be why their support is going towards broadly pro EU parties and not broadly eurosceptic or totally Europhobic parties, in other words the LDs have seemingly lost popularity due to their support all things Coalition!

    • Mark B
      Posted February 20, 2015 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      I’d doubt the Lib Dems will implode, sadly. But I forgot to mention the fate of the Whig Party, SDP and the National Liberals.

      Here today, now gone.

      • Jerry
        Posted February 21, 2015 at 9:09 am | Permalink

        Mark B; “I’d doubt the Lib Dems will implode, sadly.”

        Hmm, not so sure about the “sadly”, considering that the majority of the LDs voters are likely to vote for either Labour or the Greens had that happened in 2010 we would have been coming to the end of Mr Browns first elected term as PM, either as a majority government or one in a coalition/pact with a much stronger Green party and or SNP…

        “Here today, now gone.”

        Yes and if the political right keeps pulling its self apart over the EU etc. that will be its fate too!

    • Bazman
      Posted February 20, 2015 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

      It a disgrace and even extends to their recipes.
      http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/search/recipes?query=greek

  29. ChrisS
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    I love Germany and have a lot of German friends because we lived there for five years.

    But I am becoming increasingly alarmed by what we are now seeing.
    Merkel is strutting the European stage like a Kaiser and imposing her will on everything to do with the Eurozone and trying to do the same thing over Ukraine.

    Hollande is delusional if he thinks that by appearing beside Merkel he is doing anything other than being used to provide cover for a new period of German hegemony.

    The rise and rise of Germany on the economic front has been fueled by the huge advantage they have had for more than a decade through the low exchange rate brought about by the Euro.

    Simply put, the usual checks and balances a strong economy has through exchange rate movements are no longer there. This works to the huge disadvantage of all Germany’s trading partners and the resentment and cracks in the Eurozone are clearly on display.

    Far from the Euro being the tool that binds Europe together it has become the one thing that is driving countries and people apart. In the complete absence of any consensus for full EMU there can only be one outcome now.

    Although they have brought most of their problems on themselves, I have some sympathy for the Greeks. It’s very evident that their economy is now completely beyond help without the cancellation of at least 75% of the country’s debts.

    This is not going to happen within the Euro so whether or not the can is kicked down the road yet again today, the situation for Greece and for German taxpayers is only going to get worse.

    Thank goodness we are watching this slow train crash from the sidelines !

  30. Denis Cooper
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Actually, JR, I’m not particularly gripped by this drama because I’ve seen it before and have a pretty good idea how the story will end.

    Of course in theory it could be different this time, just as in theory a programme which is repeated on TV could be given a different ending prior to being broadcast again, but I’m not expecting that to happen.

    I’m now getting a stream of references through the google alert I set up on a previous occasion, which have sprung back into life after being dormant for several years, and while I only glance at them I’ll know if the plot does take an unexpected turn.

  31. Jon
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    Though we do have the SNP here thanks to Gordon Brown, he has a lot to answer for.

    There is a control and democratic deficit in Euroland and I sense the richer nations may not actually want a new country union that they signed up for and patronise us for not wanting to be apart of.

    Will see how the Greek public respond to this new deal, how far can you kick the can down the road, a long way by the looks of it.

  32. Jon
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    Though we do have the SNP here thanks to a former Labour PM, he has a lot to answer for.

    There is a control and democratic deficit in Euroland and I sense the richer nations may not actually want a new country union that they signed up for and patronise us for not wanting to be apart of.

    Will see how the Greek public respond to this new deal, how far can you kick the can down the road, a long way by the looks of it.

  33. Roy Grainger
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    “The interesting feature is how comprehensive the collapse of a traditional party can be under the extreme impact of Euro policies which national governments are unable to overturn or even influence much”.

    However you fail to point out that the single policy which unites all the parties in Greece is that they all wish to remain in the Euro.

  34. Margaret Brandreth-J
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    Funny how all on Newsnight seem to be in agreement with John yet the BBC is constantly slain.
    Greece coming out would give them back pride, independence and a sense of control over their own destiny .

  35. Remington Norman
    Posted February 21, 2015 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    I believe that the decline in voter participation is due to disillusion and to the fact that MPs no longer have real power – much of which has been devolved to the EU and to quangos – both seemingly unaccountable to parliament. Cameron’s promised ‘bonfire’ of the quangos hasn’t happened nor has his 2010 undertaking to produce a repatriation schedule of current EU ‘competences’.

    People, myself included, no longer believe that politicians genuinely care about the good of the country and, with few notable exceptions, are there to further their own interests. Respect has turned to contempt and deservedly so. Only a fundamental change in attitude and behaviour will reverse this popular mindset.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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