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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The British Are Outdoing The Greeks!

It is one year since the world wondered whether the Greek government, particularly SYRIZA, had taken leave of its senses. Whether it had senses in the first place. How one would allow a handful of mavericks to essentially destroy their country. The only excuse was that ‚those’ were leftists who lacked the wherewithall regarding proper conduct. And perhaps they were not all that smart, some said.

I would have never thought that any other European country would ever outdo the Greeks of a year ago. Perhaps the UK? C’mon. That’s an insult. The UK is the motherland of civilized and responsible democratic conduct.

They were not leftists. They did not lack the wherewithall regarding proper conduct. And they certainly were smart: Eton, Oxford, Cambridge. And yet - they certainly outdid the scandalous conduct of SYRIZA a year ago, by far. With consequences for their own country and for Europe far greater than anything a Grexit could have provoked.

Last year, some of my Greek friends were suffering. They felt totally embarrassed that foreigners would get such a bad impression of Greeks. From that standpoint, I am happy that Brexit and its follow-up happened because my friends (and the Greeks in general) no longer have to feel embarrassed. In fact, they could feel good that small Greece eventually handled the crisis better than the mighty UK is doing right now. A little bit like Iceland - England.

The EU leadership is showing that they had a lot of practice with Greece: slap the finger if a member is showing it in protest! The hilarious tandem Juncker & Schulz is warming up for the fight. Like spoiled brats who didn’t get a wish fulfilled, they immediately became hotheads. The UK should get out of the EU almost like yesterday. It was scandalous that the UK had not yet invoked Article 50. Schulz even gave a deadline for it (apparently not being familiar with Article 50).

In the EU Parliament, Juncker’s conduct raised questions whether perhaps he was under the influence. First he welcomed Nigel Farage with kisses and laughter, and then the President of the EU Commission had the nerve to ask a member of the EU Parliament „Why are you here?“ When there was laughter from the UKIP side, Juncker deadpanned „This is the last time that you laugh here!“ He seemed to forget that the UK is and will be a full member of the EU, with all rights and responsibilities, until an exit agreement is signed.

This may well become the hour of the Great Procrastinator Angela Merkel. It seems like she is the only one who manages to stay calm and collected. And possibly the only one who thinks clearly that an undue damage to the UK will cause similar undue damage to the EU economically.

So why can the Greeks feel good that they were not as incompetent, irresponsible or even reckless as the elitist British?

Greece’s Prime Minister did not lose his nerves and did not throw the towel. David Cameron, on the other hand, broke all promises to stay on and to invoke Article 50 in case of a Brexit. He announced his resignation for next fall and stated that he would leave everything regarding Brexit to his successor. In so doing, he left his party leaderless and the government as a lame duck. One wonders whether there still is a government. If there was ever a case of walking away from responsibility, this is it!

Greece’s opposition was there to step in in case SYRIZA would throw the towel. The major UK opposition (Labour) took Brexit as the starting point to dismantle itself. There seems no longer an organized opposition.

Alexis Tsipras took a long time until he gradually informed his followers that perhaps not everything he had promised would be fulfilled and he very skillfully put it in such a way that he was not accused of lying by his followers. The Brexit camp had no such inhibitions. Before the final vote count was out, Brexit representatives told the public the their 2 key promises (funding for the National Health Service and significant reduction of migration) were promises only and could not be kept.

Only Boris Johnson gave Tsipras a contest for populist maneuvering. The morning after the referendum, he acted like it was a day like any other. Brexit? No need to hurry. Invoking Article 50? Is not necessary. Does he have a plan? Yes, Boris had a plan and he published it in The Telegraph. It reminded me of SYRIZA’s Thessaloniki Program or a Dear-Santa-Claus-Letter: „There will continue to be free trade, and access to the single market. There is no great rush for Britain to extricate itself from the EU. There will be intense and intensifying European coorperation and partnership in a huge number of fields. EU citizens living in this country will have their rights fully protected, and the same goes for British citizens living in the EU. British people will still be able to go and work in the EU; to live; to travel; to study; to buy homes and to settle down“.

A member of Parliament commented on this as follows: „Boris has a plan. His plan is to join the EU!“

Paul Mason, the leftist journalist, posted the following: “Well done Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage – you’ve turned Britain into the (expletive deleted) Weimar Republic!”

It may have looked a year ago like Tsipras was going to turn Greece into something like a Weimar Republic. Today, and in comparison with the mighty United Kingdom, Greece looks like an island of stability!

21 comments:

  1. There are some key differences though:

    1. Greece has the euro currency and the UK does not.
    2. The U.K. cherishes parliamentary independence, Greece does not since it is already co-governed from abroad.
    3. The U.K. is a large trading partner for Germany and Greece is not.
    4. Britain can adopt the Norwegian model, Greece can not since it has no money to contribute towards a common EU treasury.

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    1. I was only addressing matter of conduct and not the substance of the various economic arguments.

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  2. " and he very skillfully put it in such a way that he was not accused of lying by his followers."

    This is the part where you confused Tsipras' propaganda with reality. His followers did accuse him of lying. But Tsipras maintained that he didn't. But pretty much everyone in Greece calls Tsipras, a liar, "Pinocchio", etc. This is standard Tsipras damage control. For example, Tsipras, when he wants to cut your pension, will not necessarity cut it directly. He may raise contributions on your pension, with the same final effect. He will then come out and say "see? I didn't cut your pension". Unfortunately, your bank account, will show that you were credited with less money than usual. But Tsipras will make a big propaganda on the media about how he didn't cut your pension.

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    1. @ Anonymous at 10.44 pm
      I stand corrected.

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    2. It is not your fault, you can't possibly know the artful SYRIZA tactics, nor the name games used in the various payments to the citizens, so that they can play with the media.

      For instance, SYRIZA, celebrated that will not cut any pension below 1300 euros combined. Today, people who were receiving 810 euro pension, went to the bank and found 420 euros credited to their accounts.

      http://www.protothema.gr/economy/article/590974/sok-kai-deos-gia-hiliades-sudaxiouhous-apo-810-euro-piran-420/

      How can both things be possible? Because part of their pension, is called "EKAS". Tsipras abolishes it and thus you lose 40% of your monthly income. But , it's not a pension cut!

      To add insult to injury, the competent minister, explained this, because the "EKAS" is "futile", since in the short future, there will be the "national pension" of 384 euros, which will "defeat poverty":

      http://www.protothema.gr/economy/article/583620/katrougalos-gia-ekas-i-katargisi-tou-to-apotelesmatikotero-metro-gia-tin-adimetopisi-tis-ftoheias-/

      Unfortunately, despite all this apparently wonderful rhetoric, today, in your bank account, you found 390 euros less than the last month. Whether or not you are willing to believe that in such way you will defeat poverty, it's entirely up to you.

      But, this is how things work with SYRIZA. This month, he also increased the "solidarity contributions" that are taken from the pensions. Next month, it's the turn of the health contributions (that he already raised last September), as well as the "auxiliary" part of the pension.

      Mind you, all this, happens "without cutting pensions". Because, as long as you can call them somenthing else, you can technically say that you are right! You can always say "this money, you take in your left pocket and this in your right pocket. I won't cut any money in your right pocket".

      This is the SYRIZA everyday reality. One might even find if offensive to the common intelligence, because at least the previous goverments, were saying "we don't have choice, sorry". With Tsipras, you must also endure the insult, where you have to hear that the money that are missing from your bank account, aren't really missing.

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  3. About Boris Johnson and Merkel both being slow to react. Have you entertained the idea that at the end there may not be Brexit? It's only a matter of prestige that stops a "Tsipras summersault" solution. For example, 2 years down the read, just before the end of the exit negotiations, Britain could "give a last chance" to the public, to "rethink". Or, you could arrange a political indirect solution, by arranging for Scotland and Ireland, to veto.

    I mean, it's not out yet and both Johnson and Merkel didn't show any rush.

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    1. Could be. Only a few months ago Johnson had stated that only with a Leave-vote would one stand a chance to negotiate better terms WITHIN the EU. And Merkel, of course, knows that for Germany it would a be a lot better if the UK stayed. But obviously she has to portray herself as firm at this point. As I said, reason says no but the gut says perhaps yes.

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    2. I agree, it's a difficult matter, because it's a matter of pride and prestige for both sides and unfortunately, contrary to the greek referendum, the british one had a very clear question. So, should Johnson simply pull a "Tsipras stunt", he would have to explain to the public, how a "brexit" turns to "bremain", how, he the leader of the brexit campaign is now eating his own words, how Britain isn't humilitated by doing this, etc. At the opposite side, the EU, would also have to show that it's not "begging" or "fearing" Britain. In poor words, both sides would need to save face, but with Britain having the bigger problem.

      Tsipras, at least was cunning enough, to ask "whether you approve the Juncker plan", while at the same time saying "this isn't vote about grexit". So, technically, he was able to liquidate the result of the referendum, while claiming that he respected it.

      With the brexit referendum, this is tougher. So, you either need a 2nd referendum (this is in the EU tradition actually, think of the referenda against the EU Constitution that in a way or another were liquidated) or... a "Deus Ex Machina", like Scotland and Northern Island doing what you can't do yourself.

      Because, for someone who won "against all odds" and "agaisnt the establishment", Boris Johnson isn't pushing as hard as you would expect to start the Brexit procedure. As a matter of fact, he seems a little bit shocked that he won and now he isn't sure what to do. And when you are not so sure what to do, you may as well rethink things before you sign the final paper. I am sure that german industrialists wouldn't mind either and wouldn't ask Merkel to "teach the British a lesson" by refusing.

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  4. Your sentiments are more or less like my first thoughts, upon analyzing them they do not hold water. The question is the conduct of the 2 nations toward EU. How the political classes in the 2 nations behaved towards their constituencies is something we can have opinions about, but they should sort it out themselves.

    Cameron announced that he would hold a referendum on UK's staying in EU or leaving to fend for themselves. in case the people wished to leave, he promised EU to invoke Article 50 right after the referendum, and then he would seek the best possible conditions (for UK) for future cooperation. In no way has there been any threat of creating a negative sum game.

    Tsipras announced that he would hold a referendum on Greece staying in the EU, and at the same time having the other EU nations paying for Greece. He promised to blow up EU in case he was not granted that. There was a clear threat of creating a negative sum game, if the people were not granted their "right".

    Do fact confirm that UK has "outdone the scandalous behavior of Greece"?
    Does Greece's behavior become less scandalous?
    Do fact confirm that Greece should feel proud?

    Greece of cause dons the victims cloak, screaming that EU grants UK their democratic rights, but not Greece, it has 2 serious flaws. The UK's right is not only democratic but also legal and agreed upon in Article 50. Greece's right to other peoples money is neither democratic nor legal, nor agreed upon, in fact it is specifically excluded.
    At the same time they engage in their other favorite pastime of lowering the bench mark, "bravo, UK is worse than us", ever inching lower towards the lowest common denominator.
    Lennard

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  5. Klaus: you have failed to understand two key points (as has the world's media). Once you understand these, you realise why the UK is in a constitutional crisis, with economic threats and potential chaos.

    (1) The supporters of Brexit were the poor and the elderly of England and Wales, mostly characterised by low educational level and social class. This is an uprising of the proletariat: it is opposed by the elites (ie, the entire House of Commons, House of Lords, the business world, banks, etc).

    (2) The proponents of the referendum are mostly loopy far right politicians, obsessed with nationalism and immigration. One recent convert to Brexit -- Johnson -- engaged in the campaign in order to remove Cameron and install himself as PM. now he has won, he doesn't know what to do. Nor does anyone else.

    There are many other subpoints, but these two explain everything. The poor supported the far right politicians in order to protest at the neoliberal politcal class. This was a vote against neoliberalism (proxied as nationalism and anti-immigration) that will actually promote more neoliberalism albeit of an extreme right flavour.

    As for the reaction of the EU politicians, they showed themselves to be as stupid as ever. Some intelligent remarks initially from Merkel, but she has now followed the stupidities of others. Instead of dealing with this catastrophe logically, they engage in childish comments and attitudes. The UK has not left the EU, will not do so until it invokes Art. 50, and should be encouraged to salvage its constitutional integrity and try to remain. Intead, Juncker and others make petty vindictive remarks -- making the situation worse.

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    1. Constitutional crisis or not, it's the conduct which I criticize. Everyone in government and Leave camp seems to walk away from responsibility. Only the Labour leader who seems to have leadership traits of a bookkeeper sticks to his post even though his colleagues in leadership want him to quit. Rule Britannia? Yes, I think someone ought to rule Britain, preferably the ones who are getting paid for doing it. Independence Day for the UK? C'mon! So far in history it has always been other countries or regions who wanted independence FROM the UK (John Oliver).

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    2. I do not disagree about the conduct of the Tory party and of the extreme right party UKIP. They are all offspring of the highly privileged, with an arrogance and sense of entitlement to rule instilled in them since early childhood. In reality, they are incompetent buffoons with money.

      As for Corbyn, I disagree. He was elected by the national membership of the Labour Party and others (who did not elect him) are trying to remove him. He is insisting on correct protocol, as he has the right to do. There is some speculation that it is only temporary, in order to be in position when the report on the Iraq War is published, and he will demand that Blair be prosecuted for war crimes. That is also a reason that many want him out now...

      And yes, the UK is in a shambles. Other EU governments should try to assist it, instead of whining and complaining like spoilt children. In particular, I refer to the alcoholic crook called Juncker.

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    3. I understand that Corbyn has the clear majority of the party members and that's why he doesn' quit. That's technically fair enough. My point is only: if that new majority of the Labour Party cannot offer a more impressive leader than Corbyn, then that new majority will soon become a minority in the country.

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    4. My information from leftish people in the UK is that the Labour Party is effectively destroyed. There is definitely nobody better than Corbyn to lead it.

      It is not only a constitutional crisis, it is also a political crisis and an impending economic crisis. All of it totally unnecessary, and caused by a dim-witted prime minister (he has the characteristics of George Papandreou -- spoilt kid who thinks he's a genius when he is essentially average).

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  6. Don't worry, my friend!
    Greece, will remain forever an island of stability!
    I hope we have a good (banking) day...

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  7. Tsipras take on the UK Brexit referendum at the recent EU dinner: "Such referendums are not difficult, there are only two outcomes and you need to be prepared for both". In view of that he expressed his surprise over the situation in UK.
    There was loud laughter from the other guests.

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  8. What do you expect from Corbyn? he still claims that Hugo Chaves Venezuelan model was a success (as do Tsipras).

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  9. Tsipras is busy saving Europe. At the same time his ministers are busy wrecking Greece, latest by blocking COSCO's deal for Piraeus port. He can create all the social Europe he wish to, it will not save Greece.

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  10. I would reexamine your respect for eton and other expensive schools, they produce emotionally unintelligent people who have trouble leading and connecting with people because they usually lack empathy and often are remarkably out of touch because of too much self confidence.

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  11. Bad timing comparing Greek politicians with British. Greece reneging on their agreement with COSCO has shown them up for what they are. ND's Mitsotakis comment that "never in the history of parliament has a Greek government gone back on its signature" is rich, it is patching up one lie with another. Lies are the norm, other nations don't comment on it anymore, it is expected. To lie and cheat has become synonymous with being "smart", it is a virtue they brag about. If anybody considers investing in Greece they are out of their mind.

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