THE GREEK EFFECT.
What effect will the triumph of the far left in Greece have on our General Election?
People across Europe are reacting to years of austerity and the failure of mainstream parties to offer fresh solutions. Greece is an extreme example of how the slump has crushed ordinary people. They have responded with a defiant cry against the attempts to make them obey the economic rules that we must all obey. Whilst some minor debt repayment restructuring might be possible, the fact remains that two things will save Greece. A productive economy and people paying their taxes. I fear the next phase in the Greek drama will be dangerous disillusionment amongst the Greek people when the Syriza politicians are unable to implement policies like hiring ten thousand public sector workers as they bump up against the rules of the Euro Zone and European Central Bank.
A far left party in Spain is mobilising to make big gains in its election later this year. With a much bigger economy than Greece, that could pose an even greater challenge to the European financial institutions.
Although the UK’s economy is on the mend there are plenty of signs that people are looking for alternatives. On the right there is UKIP, in Scotland the SNP, but the growth in membership of the Green Party could be highly significant. The Greens offer a much more fundamental challenge to the way society is organised with bold policies on energy and taxation. Initial attempts to keep them out of the election TV debates caused a backlash, and quite right too.
How will Labour respond if they detect a growing appetite for more radical solutions? Ed Miliband has been inching his party to the left but remains nervous about how it will play in those southern marginals. The issue of our Trident nuclear missiles remains a fascinating issue. I was in the Commons gallery recently where Labour’s spokesman on the issue, Vernon Coaker, pledged the party to approving the “main gate” decision on renewing the four boat fleet. But what if Labour has to do a deal with the anti nuclear SNP after May 7th? Is there really a majority of Labour MPs and activists prepared to stay out of office rather than scrap Trident? We could find that the arguments that beset the party during the leadership of Hugh Gaitskell in the 1960s would resurface.
ANOTHER TAWDRY DEFECTION.
Politicians sometimes defect on the grounds of principle, but often not. I remember a man called Peter Thurnham, the MP for the highly marginal seat of Bolton North East up to 1997. He tried for the safer prospect of Westmorland and when he wasn’t selected, suddenly discovered he was a Lib Dem.
Amjad Bashir, an MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber seems to have even more difficulty in defining his political principles. Following associations with Respect and UKIP he has now joined the Tories. UKIP say they were about to suspend him over various allegations connected to his business and political behaviour.
Have the Conservatives done due diligence on this man or are they just like all other parties in being unable to resist defectors to them, however unconvincing they are?