Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Insanity

This is getting to be exactly the same as the Scottish independence referendum. After the no vote was announced, yes voters were either indulging in bizarre conspiracy theories or blaming the BBC for "the politics of fear." How about thinking, "we lost because more people voted to stay in the Union?"

Now the Corbyn supporters in the Labour leadership election are cranking up their paranoia. We have had accusations of smears (please note telling the truth or making a principled objection is not a smear, mad articles in the Daily Mail are) and now a prominent member of the SWP and opponent of the Labour Party complains that the vote is being rigged because he has been excluded. The Independent doesn't go that far with this piece, but still confuses an internal selection process with a general election.
Labour is trying to accomplish the impossible: become electable while shunning voters. Thanks to Labour’s decision to purge its own supporters ... it now risks descending into an anti-democratic farce. 
"Own supporters?" Er, it is trying to exclude people who are NOT Labour supporters, but only pretending to be so that they can vote for whatever reason.

So now Labour is a "McCarthyite" party, "apparently more concerned with preserving its purity," and may become "less a broad church and more a secret society."

I repeat, this is an internal process. It has now been opened up to these £3 supporters as well as members in a crazy, mismanaged new initiative. OK, let's let the Labour leadership be decided by SWP members, Greens and Tories, each with their own agenda. Cats? Yes, let's let cats vote. The felineist rescinding of Ned's vote is a national disgrace ("is it because I is tabby?").

What a mess. And this from a party hoping to run the country.

Meanwhile, despite the hype, Atul Hatwal still doesn't think Corbyn will win. If he is right, I am dreading the ordure that will flood out from his supporters who seem to think that democracy is a process whereby you get what you want regardless.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Watch

Two reasons ...

... why Rugby League is such a nice sport.

1. Lizzie Jones, widow of Danny Jones, the Keighley player who collapsed and died whilst playing, is to sing at the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley.
Following Danny's untimely death, the RFL has made heart screening for players at Championship and League 1 clubs mandatory and the profile the tragedy has gained is already having a positive impact. Lizzie said: "I spoke to a nurse this week who approached me saying that a young man came into the hospital where she works complaining of chest pains.
"He's young, he’s a cyclist and is very fit but had seen what happened to Danny and how it all came out of nowhere. "That prompted him to go to hospital that day where an ECG revealed he did have a problem with his heart, which the doctors are now treating. "
That decision saved his life: Danny saved his life; he’s already saving people and that's an important legacy.
"He's not just a number. If he can save lives then that’s all I want.”
2. Keegan Hirst, Batley prop forward. has come out as gay. He isn't the first openly gay Rugby League player, as this report says. Gareth Thomas was the first, though he came out whilst still playing Union. Nevertheless, the support he has received is overwhelming. Do watch this video. And the response:
Batley Bulldogs captain Keegan Hirst was cheered to the rafters - just hours after he made the revelation in an exclusive interview with our sister paper the Sunday Mirror, published yesterday. The six-foot-four married dad-of-two looked visibly moved by the support he had received as he left the pitch at Batley’s Fox’s Biscuits Stadium following his side’s narrow 28-22 loss to local rivals Dewsbury Rams.
Football does self-congratulation better than anyone, but socially it is still in the dark ages.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Hard labour

Here are two pieces that go beyond the superficiality of much of the debate around the Labour Party leadership contest. One is pro-Corbyn, the other anti. But their allegiances are only a by-product of their analysis. It is the same for the way many people feel about leadership candidates, they are seen as empty vessels into which we pour our hopes. That is why they always disappoint and are only redeemed in retrospect.

First, Sarah Perrigo, who once taught me on my MA thirty years ago now (!), analyses Labour's performance and demolishes a few myths. There are things that I disagree with in her article but these are the main areas where I think that she is right:

1. Labour's defeat was not as bad, nor was the Conservative victory as convincing, as the Cassandras make it out to be. It was a complex result, simplified by the electoral system. The debate over PR will not go away, neither will the obstacles to power under the current system.

2. The Blair government had real successes, but was also cautious, fearful and nothing like as "new" as it proclaimed itself to be. It didn't challenge political culture, preferring to be progressive by stealth, making it harder to defend. Its "big tent" was also smaller than it seemed. Traditional Labour voters and working class communities were left outside as they "had nowhere else to go." (They did have somewhere else to go of course, they went home. Turnout crashed in 2001). It was a missed opportunity.

3. The failure to challenge the Coalition strategy to blame Labour for a global crisis was a disaster. It prevented any effective opposition to economic policy and made Labour vulnerable to negative campaigning over economic competence.

4. The idea that Labour lost solely because it was anti-aspiration or too left-wing is unsustainable. Election data does not bear that out. The reasons for the defeat are complex and more long term.

5. Labour members were treated as if they were fans rather than members, just like football supporters, and were patronised into passivity. But even football fans are getting stroppy these days, as fan-owned clubs, supporters' trusts and independent supporters' associations show. Loyalty is not unconditional. This is one of the reasons why Corbyn would appeal more than machine politicians.

Her support for Corbyn is based on her perception that his candidacy would open up the debate she wants on the nature of the Labour Party. I'm not sure about that. It can just as easily be seen as another chapter in the factional struggles within the party, especially as his campaign is partly being driven enthusiastically by the activist groups organised around the anti-war movement. We will have to see.

In the second piece, Martin Kettle does not support Corbyn, but he also sees Labour's problems as longer term and structural. The myth he tries to confront is the one that it was the Iraq war that started Labour's decline. That led him to try to draw a parallel between the current state of Labour and that of the Liberal Party before the First World War, as described by George Dangerfield in his Strange Death of Liberal England. It's stretching it a bit, but he sees the 1997 Labour landslide in the same light as the 1906 Liberal landslide as "a victory from which the party never recovered." Kettle picks out three vaguely similar issues to keep his comparison going:

1. There is the question of the Union. Labour's policies on devolution handed the initiative to the nationalists.

2. The relationship with a declining trade union movement is problematic: "Just as the Liberals in the last century were unable to embrace labour, so the Labour party today is unable to free itself." A sectional party of organised labour would be a minority one.

3. Though both of these are pretty tenuous, the third is interesting because he re-frames the women's suffrage campaign within the context of a struggle for democratisation of the state and society. It is often forgotten that Labour was elected in 1997 with a manifesto pledge to hold a referendum on proportional representation. It never saw the light of day after Labour won a huge majority under the existing system with 43% of the vote. The electoral system that favoured them then, disadvantages them now. New Labour also failed to revive local government, submerged industrial democracy under aggressive managerialism, and restricted party democracy. A centralised system that empowers a minority can be as easily used against you as it can be by you.

Both pieces call for a more thorough re-think of what a modern, social democratic party should look like and the sort of society it wants to create, whilst I would add my plea for a re-imagined, credible political economy. Both see a failure by the Party to respond to social change being apparent early. Even in victory, the signs were there - turnout in 2001, winning on 36% of the vote in 2005. Neither of the warning signs were heeded. We all have different times when something happened that changed the way you thought. Mine was December 1997. It saw the beginning of the sense that 'they are all the same,' even though there were still significant differences. It was then that the New Labour government voted to cut single parent benefits. Despite the protests of some forty or more rebels, party loyalists queued up to make speeches in support of the proposals. The same people were defending the identical measures that they had attacked stridently only months before. The lack of sincerity was breathtaking. It was unnecessary and, even though working families tax credits began to fill the gap later, it marked the first time when some voters "looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."

We are living with the consequences.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Genius

Just who dreamt up this electoral system for the Labour Leadership?
A Conservative party member has told 5 live that he's managed to secure three votes in the Labour leadership election - and intends to vote for Jeremy Corbyn as he will lead the party into "electoral oblivion".
 You can listen to the clip here.

Exclusive:  Labour strategists grapple with the problem:


Friday, August 14, 2015

The pleasures of the flesh

It gets to me sometimes, the relentless wholesomeness, the earnest denial of pleasure, the smug self-satisfaction at not having that extra piece of cake - even though you want it, really want it. There are columnists who go on about obesity, look on us fatties pityingly, and then act as our defenders - because we have an incurable disease! Then there is the war on gluten, the paleo diets, the insufferable idea that booze comes in units (which need limiting), and don't get me started on "wellness gurus." As for political asceticism and its mean-spirited sense of self denial in pursuit of a higher purpose ... I give up. And at peak despair along comes an unreasonable rant that I can really relate to. Bravo Suzanne Moore!
The anti-austerity movement is real and necessary, but the need of middle-class people to pretend to live austere lives is beyond me. It demonstrates a fantasy of class difference fuelled by guilt that I don’t share. If you have been poor, you don’t want to be again. Now a peculiar re-enactment of poverty is available to all in the name of being Green or even healthy. Entire conversations revolve around people who, unprompted, will list the things they are depriving themselves of, with a further 10 minutes on their fascinating “intolerances”. The rise of the individual detox sits alongside the rise of food banks, whose users have no choice about the manner of their deprivation.
This isn't new, and asceticism can be a response to the experience of poverty too. Keir Hardie was a temperance campaigner. But I am more instinctively drawn to Nye Bevan, the original champagne socialist. Enjoy the good things in life to their fullest extent, but make sure that everybody else can too.

Virtue isn't a vote winner, but neither is hypocrisy. To preach morality in public, whilst enjoying vice in private, is punished. In contrast, openly embracing pleasure, flaunting it even, is rather attractive to everyone except the disapproving middle class reformer. People are entitled to their own misery I suppose and they are quite capable of enjoying different things, but what I hate is when they seek to impose their own faddish mores on everyone else. I like to quote this from a fascinating bit of social reportage from 1911. Seems So! A Working Class View of Politics, was written in Devon vernacular by Stephen Reynolds and based on conversations with Bob and Tom Wooley, two fishermen. This summed up their attitude to temperance reforms.
"There's a lot to be learnt in pubs, an' 'tis a fine affair, I reckon, for to hae a good chatter over a glass or two o' beer. If you didn't do that you'd go to bed an' sleep. An' that's all some o'em wants 'ee to do, seems so - work an' sleep - an' never enjoy no life."
Bloody puritanism. It's everywhere. I hate it.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Labour pains

It is a curious thought that the National Chair of the Stop the War Coalition could become leader of the Labour Party, but I still don't think it will happen.

A little while ago I posted a link to a critique of the accuracy of a YouGov poll that put Jeremy Corbyn in the lead. Since then another poll has been published by the same organisation that puts him further ahead and gives him an absolute majority of the first ballot. The same methodological reservations apply. I don't think either poll is trustworthy or representative of the views of Labour members as a whole. If I was a gambler, I would be down the bookies right now to bet on him not winning, though he may not now finish fourth.

The great imponderable though is Labour's new electoral system of one member one vote. It sounds fair enough, except that for some bizarre reason they decided that you didn't need to be a member. For a one off payment of £3 you can have a vote and then disappear off into the sunset. You don't need to do anything. Just vote to determine the future of an organisation you don't belong to. The figures for how many have registered, and their political views, are opaque.

The aim of the open primary was ostensibly to swamp the left with the votes of a much more 'moderate' membership and electorate. That didn't turn out right, did it? Any system can be gamed, but people get complacent when they assume that what they think is what the majority think; a delusion shared by many Corbyn supporters.

What has happened though is that the poll, however dubious, has created a bandwagon, such that nobody is talking about anyone else. The same happened with UKIP in the general election. The effects are ambiguous. The media frenzy may create support, but it also generates panic and belated opposition as people suddenly realise that their opponents need to be taken seriously. We can't know, but my guess is that without that first poll his candidacy might have sunk beyond view, even if he was generating enthusiastic meetings. It would have needed his rivals to provide a bit of credible opposition, mind you. They haven't been very good at it so far.

So where does his support come from?

First, there is the anti-war movement. It is organised, vociferous, very anti-Israel, against all foreign interventions (except Russia's apparently), and its organisation is an alliance of Stalinists, the SWP and Islamists, supported by well meaning humanitarians. This is where his foreign policy, his apologias for tyrants, and some of his dubious friends come from. He is not over scrupulous about who he is prepared to share a platform with. There is nothing original about his thinking. It is the party line.

Second, there is an activist left and their sympathisers. They are always prone to hero worship and just as likely to cry betrayal (usually by a corrupt media and sometimes because of a hidden conspiracy) when they have to confront reality. I count among their number really nice people who are friends, but when I look at what they share on social media, some of their politics is bat-shit crazy.

There is an overlap between the two, but the noise they generate does not reflect their size as part of the electorate. They are mainly middle class and vote Labour anyway (apart from a few Greens). Labour's problem is that it has lost working class votes and that is as troubling as the need to have a broader appeal in marginal constituencies. I don't think these two groups are assets for recovering this lost ground.

Finally, there are the trade unionists, socialists and social democrats anxious for a change in the consensus in political economy. They are appalled by growing poverty, punitive benefits regimes, the need for food banks, and the diminishing of the public realm. At last they seem to have a champion, but is he a convincing one? I remain sceptical, especially given the experience of Syriza's confrontation with a world that was not as accommodating as they thought.

When I look at Corbyn's candidacy, it is only the last group that has any credibility. But the others will make the most noise, whilst attention will turn rightly to foreign affairs where he should face tough interrogations. This is not a marginal issue. It goes right to the heart of what type of left we have; about left anti-Semitism, the susceptibility to conspiracy thinking, and the willingness to cosy up to some deeply unpleasant regimes. Combine this with the difficulty he will have in commanding the support of the Parliamentary Party, most of whom oppose him, and simply his age – he will be in his seventies by the time of the next general election – and the prospect of his leadership would appear to be little more than that of an interregnum, much in the style of George Lansbury after the 1931 split.

I have long argued that Labour has an incredibly hard task ahead to rethink an alternative political economy that is both credible and capable of attracting the undecided and the alienated at the same time. It has to embody the values of the left, but it must be deliverable. Labour needs to do this if it is to seize the next opportunity when change will be possible. The last moment was 1997. The next one is not now and I doubt if it will be 2020 either.

The Labour Party loves to go all misty-eyed over Attlee. They forget the most important phase of his leadership. That was the period before the war when he headed the rebuilding of the party around the right, marginalising the far left with ruthless pragmatism, whilst accommodating talented left wingers when desirable. There would have been no Bevan in power without Bevin. They forget, too, his eventual embrace of rearmament against Nazi Germany and his opposition to appeasement. This isn't an attempt to argue from analogy, but to point out that throughout the Labour Party's history there has always been a struggle between the romantics and the pragmatists. The pragmatists always end up winning. And I think they will this September as well. I make no promises about eating hats, nor am I foolish enough to put my money where my mouth is, but I still don't think that Jeremy Corbyn will be elected leader of the Labour Party.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Soap opera

Tony attacks Jeremy, John goes for Tony, people tell Liz to drop out to prevent Jeremy winning (showing that they don't understand how preferential voting works), Liz says 'no way,' Andy dithers, Yvette stays quiet. People are called morons or heartless. Margaret even called herself a moron. The longest Labour leadership contest in history drags on and on. And all the while the media goes berserk. Everything in the press and online seems to be about Corbyn; not what he stands for of course, little of the debate has been about anything substantive, but what it means for the Labour Party if he would win it - vote winner or loser - the remaking of the Party or the final nail in its coffin. And what has sent everyone into this flat spin is a poll. One that has Jeremy Corbyn in a clear lead in the contest. Yep, just one opinion poll. Cast your mind back and think how unerringly accurate the polls were in predicting the election result. Wouldn't it be a good idea to pause and think?

 Atul Hatwal has. And his conclusion?
Sorry, that Labour leadership poll is nonsense. Jeremy Corbyn is going to finish fourth
 He continues:
The general election hopelessly wrong-footed most commentators for two reasons: dodgy polls and shouty lefty Twittervists.
The polls created an illusion that Ed Miliband and Labour were a nose in front. Labour’s voluble activist base on Twitter then leapt on every iffy poll and each tweet describing yet another great session on the #Labourdoorstep to amplify and broadcast the narrative that Ed Miliband was about to become prime minister.
Understandably, most journalists looked on and followed the crowd. The pollsters and the Twittervists seemed to be saying the same thing.
A self-reinforcing spiral of delusion took hold that was only broken when the public’s actual votes shattered the Westminster’s conventional wisdom on the evening of May 7th.
Now, it’s happening again in the Labour leadership race.
I think he's probably right.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Tantrums

Have you ever noticed that when someone is in the wrong they get angry with other people rather than question themselves? Like here?

Truce

C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre: c'est de la folie
(It is magnificent, but it is not war, it is madness.)
Pierre Bosquet on The Charge of the Light Brigade, 1854.
Syriza charged towards the EU's fortifications, only to be cut down mercilessly by the Troika's cannon. I have written in this way because I want to show Shuggy that I have a greater command of inappropriate historical analogies than the average journalist. Those analogies abound, Tsipras has been "waterboarded" and "crucified," whilst this has been typical of the genre:
This is war. This time the Trojan Horse is in Germany's arsenal. It is called Europe. The Germans have now parked it at the gates of Athens. But the siege and slaughter may erupt all over the continent.
This is not war. It is not torture. It is diplomacy and economics. Yes it was brutal. The concerted verbal battering Tsipras took from the political right in the European Parliament was unpleasant enough, but the reports from inside the Eurogroup point to it having been a nasty and vituperative meeting.

That doesn't make it a coup or an attack on democracy. For it to be the latter it would mean that a referendum result in Greece, by Greek people only, is binding on the other 18 states. The Greek government is in place, it hasn't been removed. Greece had a choice, not much of one, but a choice nonetheless. It could default and presumably leave the Euro, or it could seek financial support to stay in the Euro. It chose the latter. The terms by which a loan is offered is usually determined by the lender. They have the money, they have the power to lend or not. All the wittering about infringements of sovereignty are meaningless, because entry into EMU in the first place meant giving up sovereignty and seeking a bailout certainly does. So why the hostility?

The most important point is that we have a collective sense of equity and justice about the terms of any loans. Many villains in our literature are usurers. We are appalled by the rates of interest charged by payday loan companies and the way they exploit the vulnerabilities of the poor. We look at the suffering of ordinary people and our compassion turns to anger. We are aware that in bargaining all the power lies with the lender, the deal is not wholly voluntary. And this perception of right and wrong has been aroused. People look at the conditions and think; these are unjust, they are not creditors, they are extortionists.

And this is where the democracy angle does come in. Greek voters had elected an anti-austerity party and voted against austerity in a referendum, none of that could be binding on the other countries, but it should have been a consideration and allowed a pause for thought. Yet what we saw was that it was dismissed with irritation and seen as something to be deterred from happening elsewhere. There is a distinction to be made between power and influence. The Greek referendum had no power over any of the other states, but it should have influenced them. It was a clear sign of major discontent with the policies that have been imposed on them since 2010. If this is government by consent, it is of only the most grudging kind. What is more, it is absolutely clear that the terms of the bailout were not what were wanted by Greece.

The world looked on amazed as Tsipras went to the EU and surrendered completely only to be told to surrender some more. Even the most entrenched anti-Syriza elements swung round to support Tsipras. The final deal modified some of the maximalist demands (notably on the €50 billion monetization - not just selling - of assets fund; now to be based in Greece, 25% of proceeds for new investment in Greece, 50% to buy back Greek banks after the recapitalization, and 25% to pay debt instead of 100% as first reported). But the overall effect will be deflationary and cut living standards further. You have to wonder when the great Greek slump will finally end.

Take all this together, throw in incipient anti-German sentiment (whilst forgetting the Finns) and you have the perfect recipe for resurrecting World War II stereotypes. But what really happened? The best journalism I have read has come from Marcus Walker of the Wall Street Journal (great articles, but in the name of sanity don't read the comments). He knows both Germany and Greece well and called it right from the moment Syriza was elected. This piece, published just before agreement was reached, is pretty convincing:
Behind Europe’s show of force lie three main factors: Fury at Mr. Tsipras’s delay tactics, shock at the rising cost of any and all Greek scenarios, and a worsening clash between German-led Europe and the IMF.
Since his election in January, Mr. Tsipras has oscillated between his hard-line and pragmatic advisers, Greek officials say. The pragmatists urged him to sign a bailout deal early, even if it meant accepting politically hard-to-sell austerity measures, because the terms of any deal would get tougher as the months passed and Greece’s economy deteriorated.
Nonsense, argued others such as now-ousted finance minister Yanis Varoufakis: Greece would get the best bailout terms, including less austerity and more debt relief, if it waited until the last moment before debt default. Europe would get scared of the destabilizing fallout from a Greek euro exit, this camp argued.
Mr. Tsipras went with the second school of thought, figuring also that his left-wing Syriza party would only swallow a bailout deal involving austerity if the alternative were imminent economic meltdown.
For months, Mr. Tsipras saw to it that Europe’s normal channels for negotiating bailout terms—the Eurogroup, and teams of EU-IMF inspectors—were paralyzed. He instead bet on face-to-face talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, believing that she would make a fundamentally political decision to keep Europe united, even at the expense of German economic orthodoxy.
It proved an epic miscalculation. Backed into a corner by Mr. Tsipras’s referendum, in which Greeks overwhelmingly rejected their creditors’ austerity demands, Ms. Merkel hardened her line. A deal with Athens that let Greece off tough economic reforms would be worse for Europe than splintering the eurozone, she argued. 
 Even if the hand had been played better, it was a weak one. Aces always beat twos.

What next? There are still obstacles to overcome before the deal is sealed, but if it is, for Greece, there will be more austerity. An economy suffering from lack of demand, will have even more sucked out of it. This will cost livelihoods, businesses and lives. But there is hope. The banks will reopen, the opportunity is there for Syriza to fulfil the second half of their mandate - reform of the state and the elimination of corruption - and investment could start a slow recovery. But the perception of victimhood and the bruised national pride will not go away easily.

Yet this is not the end. Germany's reputation has been battered. The damage to the EU's prestige is immense. This spells further trouble, and from more formidable opponents than Greece. The main contradictions of EMU have not been faced. Orthodox economics may have come out of this skirmish victorious, but has lost supporters. Until the flaws in the construction of the Euro are dealt with, crises will keep arising. And that major flaw, the inability to correct imbalances by redistributing surpluses from the wealthy members to the poorer, whether through fiscal union or through financial instruments like Eurobonds, is the main challenge.  Redistribution, a social democratic concept, sits uneasily with orthodoxy. We might, just might, be at the start of a sea change in elite economic thinking. It is long overdue.

UPDATE
The IMF weighs in. This isn't over yet.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sex

There's some nasty diseases about:
There's a big salmonella outbreak in the US because people keep kissing chickens 
Well what would you expect with puritans like these.

That should have got a bit more traffic to this neglected corner of the internet.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Mythical bollocks

This is the worst start to any article on the Greek referendum that I have had the misfortune to read. Nothing could be more cringe-making, surely.
 From the cradle of democracy, a lion has roared.
No, please no. Owen Jones, who else?

Such horrible hyperbole is typical of the sort of journalism we get from someone who knows little of modern Greece. Please, it's not the Greece of antiquity. It's a beautiful Balkan nation with a fascinating, but troubled, recent history; one that has democratised itself since emerging from a military dictatorship only forty years ago. (This is what Joseph Stiglitz called "its strong democratic tradition.") Yet the press regularly call on the classics to fill out their cliché quota, not always accurately.

So, it was good to see a classicist, Natalie Haynes, put them straight on a few things. My favourite line is this one.
As for the referendum result, I doubt the phrase “Greek Tragedy” has been used so much since Vicky Pryce was convicted of having once liked Chris Huhne more than any reasonable person could.
Cruel. But then so is much Greek mythology.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Politics

Referendums are usually about power, not democracy. They are a risky strategy, people do not always vote the way they are supposed to. Pinochet's downfall in Chile is a perfect example of a tactic that failed. But what has happened in Greece is, to my mind, not so much a demonstration of popular resistance to the economics of austerity, but a sign that Tsipras is a capable politician. The referendum has done what it was supposed to do. It consolidated his power.

First, troublesome individuals have been removed. Varoufakis resigned, as did Samaras, the leader of conservative ND.

Second, by convening a meeting of all party leaders, Tsipras has put together a national coalition behind a joint negotiating position and secured their backing. He has neutralised domestic opposition.

Third, he has opened up divisions between his opponents. There are signs that a Franco/German split is developing over Greece.

Now that Tsipras is secure, there are only two possible scenarios remaining. First, there is a deal. The joint statement is based on a vague list of aspirations.
The common goal is to seek a solution that will ensure:
  • The adequate coverage of the financing needs of the Country
  • Reliable reforms, based on the criterion of the just distribution of burdens and the promotion of development, with the least possible recessionary effects.
  • Powerful, front-loaded, growth program, first and foremost for combating unemployment and for the encouragement of entrepreneurship.
  • A commitment towards the beginning of substantive discussion on dealing with the problem of the sustainability of the Greek public debt.
If a deal is signed, it will include austerity measures. Tsipras has already shown that he has been willing to accept many of them in the previous round of discussions.

Though Tsipras has consolidated his power domestically, the Greek negotiating position is still weak. There may be a greater perceived risk of political rather than economic contagion, but will the creditors see appeasement or victory as the best way of discouraging it? And so, the second scenario is also possible, Greek exit from the Euro.

This time we should have a clearer idea much more quickly than before.

UPDATE:

They didn't choose appeasement. I am not surprised. 
Euro-zone leaders demand Alexis Tsipras offer them a deal harsher than the one Greek voters just rejected.

What now?

The turkeys did not vote for Christmas, but Christmas has not been abolished.

This very good piece from Nick Malkoutzis summarises the incoherence and uncertainties of the Greek referendum.
The mere fact that tens of thousands of people joined demonstrations for the No camp — under the banner of a Syriza-led government that has displayed nothing but amateurism since it took office in January, in a week when pensioners jostled under the sun to collect 120 euros from their retirement pay — is proof that hope is in short supply. We should consider whether we have reached the point where what is being attempted in Greece is at the outer edges of political and social sustainability.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

A supplementary

I have just found another piece from last month, a profile of Mark Mazower. It is perceptive insight on the Greek crisis.

There are two telling quotes in there:
As a friend of Greece, does Mazower think that the country should return to the drachma if European policy does not change?
“I don’t know the answer to that. I think Greek public opinion is very sensible on this issue. It says that Greece must remain in the euro and that eurozone policy must change.”
And,
"...we academics have a tendency to think that once we have shown what is right and what is wrong, then everything else will fall into place. That’s why we become academics and not politicians."
Too true. My cue to leave the stage.