The far left Syriza party storming home in the Greek elections brought the idiots of the Left out of their bunkers over here. Quick off the mark were Michael Meacher, Peter Hain and Diane Abbott, the usual suspects, egged on no doubt by that ghost of Labour’s past, the greatest grandee of them all, the late Viscount Stansgate, otherwise known as Tony Benn.
They seem to be labouring under the impression that Mr Tspiras, the leader of Syriza, was voted in because he was Marxist, not because of his promise to end austerity and Greek humiliation at the hands of their EU masters in Brussels and Berlin. They did not have to be left wing to do that – just very angry.
No matter, the stars of Britain’s unreconstructed lefties deduced from it what they wanted – which was we need to veer hard left in the UK and start sloshing money into the public sector again, handing over even more power to the State – just like Gordon Brown did but more.
They’ve already published their ‘significant state investment’ shopping list. You can guess what’s on it. As well as more money for ‘the economy and jobs’ they would renationalise the railways and enhance trade union power to combat excessive corporate power. Whoopee.
All this would be in place of the swingeing cuts we’ve been cruelly forced to suffer. Food banks have proved popular – if controversial – I know, but soup kitchens, a la Greque, so far, to my knowledge, have eluded the British menu.
Even Ed Miliband seemed to blanche at Peter Hain’s idea that capitalism requires “far more radical responses than the neo-liberal, right wing orthodoxy of the post banking era”. Oh to be on the march again, that once anti-apartheid activist and former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland must be dreaming.
But exactly what ‘right wing orthodoxy’ was he referring to? One that exists only in his imagination since it is left wing PC orthodoxy that holds this country in a stranglehold.
The truth is that not even Nigel Farage dare question mantras like ‘free at the point of delivery’ which his once libertarian sidekick Carswell is so keen to pay obeisance to now – insisting in his article in The Times today there’s no deal with any party that won’t match Ukip’s £3 billion more for the NHS.
But Peter Hain is not the only one to harbour fantasies about the Left rising up against a silent Right that runs the country. Labour’s ‘awkward squad’ was not the only one to get over-excited about the resurgence of the Left as the solution to our debt problem.
Their cronies on BBC-2’s Newsnight team were too. They spent Monday making sure every BBC TV viewer saw a trailer of a smug and smirking Evan Davis across BBC One and Two promoting that night’s hot topic – the boost the Greek vote might give to the anti-austerity case in Britain and the rise of the Left.
Ian Katz, Newsnight’s editor (formerly of the Guardian) must have spent a lifetime waiting for this moment. Newsnight, it was announced, “is live in Athens as the Greeks elect the far left to power. Are the bankers worried? Are the politicians? Is the Left on its way back across Europe? “
Did this herald, Evan Davis asked in his promo, a return of the Left in Britain?
Newsnight seemed rather keen to help this prophecy come true. But I didn’t wait up to find out. The idea of watching any more of Evan Davis smirking was too much for me. I switched off, not over, after the 10 o clock News.
Tweets revealed which of the dyed-in-the-wool lefties Evan had interviewed to advance this idea – and which witless Tory to ‘balance’ it. I could have guessed: Caroline Lucas, Diane Abbott and Ken Clarke, who put down Syriza’s success, not to a revolt against their EU colonial masters, nor to the lunacy of the euro project, but to Greeks’ contempt for their two governing parties. How very convenient.
Keeping the pound saved us from a Greek tragedy. But whether Evan pointed up that difference to his lefty line-up – that we are not in the eurozone – I do not know. Nor do I know whether he asked them whether they thought defaulting on our debt here (a likely outcome of the Greek debacle) would be a good idea – and how then we’d keep financing the ever more interventionist State of their manifestos? Who then would we borrow money from? I have no idea how daft he allowed the discussion to get or what he let them get away with.
All I know is that giving such left wing romanticism the time of day ever diminishes the standing he once had as an economics editor.
A general election is fewer than 100 days away. Our national debt (though nowhere like Greece’s) stands at 80 per cent of economic output and is still rising. For all the politicians talk of saving millions here to spend other millions there, none of them, George Osborne included, have any idea of how to bring our debt down. No more do they have any idea of how to bring spending in line with tax revenues. We in the UK, along with the US, have been printing money by the cartloads to buy our own debt and now Japan and the EU have joined in too.
Some day there will be pay back time – unless we get real about limiting the role of the State – and then the way back will be just as painful as Greece’s or worse. That’s what Newsnight should be worrying about.