26 Jan 2015

Cameron/Osborne: behold Greece and vote Conservative

George Osborne was out up and early this morning to try to make sure the Greek drama folds into the Tory election narrative. He repeatedly dodged Today programme questions about whether Syriza was wrong to seek a different path (eventually conceding it would be “very difficult” for them to deliver their campaign promises and possibly “incompatible” with eurozone membership). Instead his focus was on how this was not the “defeat of austerity” but a sign that the UK must continue on track with his policies in an ever more uncertain world.

The usual courtesies of rushing to welcome a newly elected head of government in a friendly state were thrust to one side in pursuit of political opportunity when the PM tweeted last night: “The Greek election will increase economic uncertainty across Europe. That’s why the UK must stick to our plan, delivering security at home.” David Cameron in Eastleigh underlined that message answering media questions after a speech.

Ed Miliband was today at one of the question and answer sessions which are populating his diary in the run-up to the election. This one was in Cannock Chase. The Labour leader’s started taking questions in “groups of four or five”, which substantially reduces the possibility of a sharp exchange in these “meet the people” moments.

The Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said earlier: “Hope has won!” By contrast, Ed Miliband, gave the following reply, which I reproduce in full:

“I want to deal with Hannah’s question because I think it is in important question and some people will be wondering just about what’s happened in Greece and so on. Hannah, the thing I would say to you is that, just like our elections are a matter for the people of this country, so I think the elections in Greece are a matter for the people of Greece.

“They’ve got to make the choice about who should be ruling them and I think it is the responsibility of the British government to work with the elected government of Greece for the good of Britain and the good of Europe and not to play politics with the issue.

“And then I think it is up to each country to choose its own path to deal with the economic and social challenges that it faces. Now we’ve chosen our path in Britain. I believe we can balance the books and reduce the deficit each year an create a fairer more just country. And that’s what we’re going to do. Let’s take another round of questions.”

It was a tricky wicket for the Labour leader today. But the contrast with the blatant opportunism and attack mode of the Tories is striking and not one he can afford to see repeated too much in the 101 days to 7 May.

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5 reader comments

  1. David Bradley says:

    “just like our elections are a matter for the people of this country, so I think the elections in Greece are a matter for the people of Greece” Which just goes to show what a hypocrite Ed Miliband really is because at the same time he is happy for Scottish MP’s to vote on English only laws

  2. Nigel Wilson says:

    I have remarked previously that there is a synchronicity between the British Conservatives and Syriza. Both are concerned about their respective economies and both want the EU to reform. Sure, there is a difference in emphasis and a clear variation in what they need but there is a common thread running here. Not so with Labour.
    If the centre right and the hard left are saying the same thing about Europe then it is surely time that Europe started asking itself some tough questions. Or will they wait, like the Bourbons, until they have angered just about everyone?

  3. Philip Edwards says:

    Gary,

    “I believe we can balance the books and reduce the deficit each year an create a fairer more just country. And that’s what we’re going to do. Let’s take another round of questions.”

    And here’s Liam with the weather.

    Cameron, Miliband, Osborne, Balls, Clegg…….neocons all, incapable of taking on the transnational bankers and their corrupt rotten system, incapable of facing the truth and therefore unwilling to restore decency and fairness in our society.

    Nearly two hundred years ago John Adams undertook legal defence of the Amistad slaves. In his final speech he acknowledged the USA was heading toward civil war on the issue, but if it was…..”So be it.” That inevitable war duly arrived twenty two years later, a terrible carnage which still failed to rid the USA of its racist society. But Adams was part of human morality that can never be eliminated entirely.

    It is likely Syriza will not achieve all of its stated objectives because it is the first to challenge capitalist thieves in the modern era, just as Adams was one of the first to take on slavery in his country. However, it has shown that solidarity can be a force to be reckoned with, and if it spreads to the other South European nations who knows what good and decent people can achieve in the face of seemingly insuperable odds?

    Good luck to the Greek people and Syriza. They are going to need it.

    Meantime, we in Britain are stuck with a gang of political cowards and metropolitan robbers.

  4. Philip says:

    Milliband ducked the issue, of course. He could quite reasonably have pointed out that years of austerity which bears down hardest on the poorer and disadvantaged citizens while doing little, if anything, to reduce the wealth & privileges of the rich elite eventually causes political revolutions of this nature. He could have said that increasing unfairness, which underlies the Tories’ policies for the next parliament, breeds such anger, loss of trust and hope in the old political institutions that people eventually see through the scapegoating (Golden Dawn & immigration = UKIP and immigration) and media obfuscation and vote for radical change. Instead of playing the tactician – which is probably going to lose him dozens of seats in Scotland & find the Greens cutting away at support in the marginal constituencies he’s hoping to gain – he should be putting Labour at the head of a more radical approach to our unfair society & economy.
    That the Tories would make bogus political capital out of it is no surprise. I doubt they’re convincing many people though!

  5. Andrew Dundas says:

    The Fault lies with the Council of Ministers.
    That body was persuaded to accept The Belgium and Italy as founding members even though they did not meet the agreed conditions for adopting the Euro.
    Greece was a later follower and was also non-compliant with those agreed conditions.
    Both Spain and Ireland – also accepted as members – were obviously unsound economies because both were only compliant because of their artificial building booms. Hundreds of tower cranes were visible and could not possibly be bought by enough home makers.

    So there we have it. It’s the European Council of Ministers whose reckless breaches of their own Treaty rules that have encouraged unqualified nations to submit to terms they couldn’t fulfill. Moreover, Germany breached those same rules when it accepted the eastern Lande into the Eurozone.

    It’s worth adding that, although Greece’s debts are small in relation to the 500 million people in the EU, there are four other nations waiting to use Greece as an excuse to renege on their debts too.

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