Posts Tagged ‘Syriza’

Clinton’s Defeat Has Potential to Harm Blairites

November 9, 2016

Mike yesterday posted a piece about the report in the Huffington Post that documents released by WikiLeaks show that Bill Clinton made a number of slighting remarks about Jeremy Corbyn in a speech to wealthy donors to the Democrat Party last October. Clinton claimed that Corbyn was ‘the maddest person in the room’, and that he was only elected because Labour party members were ‘so mad at Tony Blair that ‘they practically went out and got a guy off the street instead’. He compared Corbyn to the leader of the Greek anti-austerity party, Alexis Tsipras, and claimed that Ed Miliband lost the election against Cameron because he was too leftwing.

Mike in his comments states that Clinton’s remarks need to be put in context. He was speaking at a time when Bernie Sanders was competing with Shrillary for the Democrat presidential nomination. Corbyn had supported Bernie Sanders in the past, and the two had been compared to each other. He also notes that Clinton appeared to be a little confused, as he referred to a conversation he had had with a Northern Ireland secretary, who stated that Shrillary had helped him through a bad period in that part of the UK. Clinton thought it was one of Cameron’s minions, but in fact it was a minister in Gordon Brown’s cabinet.
Mike concluded that Corbyn’s office was right not to pay any attention to Clinton’s comments.


I think that Mike’s been a bit too generous to Bill Clinton. Yes, he was speaking at a time when his wife was competing against Bernie Sanders, the most left-wing member of the Democrat party. Sanders is a self-declared democratic Socialist, just as Corbyn is seen as far left in the Labour party. Actually, this isn’t accurate. Corbyn is centre left old Labour. He isn’t a Trotskyite at all, no matter what the Blairites and their media enablers scream at the public.

But even without Sanders, Corbyn would be well to the Left of the Clintons, and I don’t doubt for a single moment that the former president despises both Corbyn and Ed Miliband, along with Sanders, for the threat they posed to the transatlantic electoral strategy he and Tony Blair had formed for their respective parties. Blair modelled his ‘New Labour’ on the ‘New Democrats’ Clinton formed within the American Democrat Party. After losing to Reagan and then to George Bush senior, Clinton took over many of the Republican’s policies in order to win over their voters. He therefore declared that his party was going to end ‘welfare as we know it’, and put forward the same neoliberal policies Reagan had pursued in the Republicans.

And the same strategy was put into practise over here by Blair. Blair ditched Clause 4, the article in the Labour party constitution which committed it to socialism. He carried on the Tories’ policy of privatising whatever remained of the state sector, including the NHS. And like the Tories, the American Republicans and Clinton’s New Democrats, New Labour was also determined to cut down the welfare state. Hence the introduction of the work capability test, taken from the ideas of an American medical insurance firm, and administered by Atos, in order to satisfy the Conservative desire to see more people thrown off benefits and into poverty.

I’ve said that Blair and New Labour are Thatcherite entryists. They’ve been pursuing right-wing, Tory policies, despite the fact that they belong to an historically left-wing party. Blair’s tactic was all about convincing the establishment – business, the banks and the press – that Labour was now thoroughly neoliberal and economically orthodox, and so would form a responsible government. In other words, one that would do everything the upper classes wanted.

Hillary Clinton in her own way was even more ‘establishment’. She made hundreds of thousands of dollars from giving speeches to Wall Street bankers, and was as corrupt and corporatist as the other American politicians, for all her claim that she was somehow an outsider because she was female. In the 1990s she briefly supported free universal healthcare and education, before she then started receiving donations from the medical insurers and other big corporations. She and the head of the Democrat Party, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, stole the nomination from Bernie Sanders, just as the Blairites in the Labour party tried everything in their power to stop Corbyn being elected as leader. And that includes purging voters from the rolls. Faced with Trump being nominated as their presidential candidate, many leading Republicans threw in their lot with Shrillary. She tried to make a show of supporting organised labour and American working people with a speech to an audience of trade unionists, in which she pledged to support them. But the damage was done. The left-wing Democrat base knew that she had betrayed them, and that her promises counted for nothing. Especially as American jobs were being harmed by the very free trade deals, the TPP, NAFTA and so on that she and Obama supported.

And now that policy has come crashing down. Hillary’s attempt to be as corporate establishment as the Republicans failed to get her into the White House, and she lost to a racist, misogynist braggart and wannabe Fascist.

Now The Young Turks have posted up a piece arguing that the Democrats will probably try and blame their defeat on Bernie Sanders. I think that’s highly likely. They’re absolutely wrong, of course. They lost for a variety of reasons. Sexism was one – many Americans objected to the idea of a woman holding the presidency. Media bias was another – for all Trump’s claims that the media were biased against him, they gave him hours and millions of dollars worth of free airtime. Pervasive racism is another factor. But Hillary’s own political stance was also a major factor. The Young Turks, Secular Talk and other shows made the point that if Bernie Sanders had been elected instead, then he would have beaten Trump easily.

But that was a step too far for the Democrats, who’d clearly rather have a Fascist buffoon in the White House than someone, who genuinely spoke for working Americans.

This should be the end of the line for the New Democrat, and by extension, the New Labour project. It has shown that copying the pro-privatisation, neoliberal line of the Republicans won’t get you into the White House. The Democrats really can’t go any further to the right, without returning to their original stance as the party of the KKK. And as that strategy has failed across the Pond, it’s going to fail over here. The Blairites in the Labour party should be worried. Clinton’s defeat has shown that they can’t and won’t get into power by copying the Tories. That was, after all, also the message of Ed Miliband’s defeat as well, followed by the victory of Jeremy Corbyn. But I doubt Bomber Benn and the other Thatcherite entryists will take any notice. They’re probably too busy concentrating on saving their careers and all the lucrative seats on private health and utility companies they can get after they leave politics.

So, you can expect further screaming that it’s all somehow Bernie Sanders’ fault from Shrillary and her team across the Pond, and violent denunciation of ‘unelectable’ Jeremy Corbyn from the Blairites and their right-wing colleagues in the media over here. Because with Clinton’s defeat, they know only too well that Corbyn is all too electable, and represents the end of their project.


Vox Political: Real Wages Fall by Ten Per Cent Under Tories

July 30, 2016

Mike also published a piece last week on a report published on Wednesday by the TUC, which found that while wages had grown in real terms across the EU between 2007 and 2015, they had fallen in Britain by 10.4%. The average rise in wages across the EU was 6.7 per cent. In Poland, wages had risen by 23 per cent. In Germany wages rose by nearly 14 per cent, and in France by 10.5 per cent. The only countries across the OECD which suffered a fall in wages were Portugal, Britain and Greece.

Mike’s article has two illustrations – one is a graph showing the rise in real wages in various countries, while another is a meme showing the massive pay rises enjoyed by other, very privileged groups, in Britain. Like Bankers, whose pay has risen by 35%, directors of FTSE 100 companies, 14%, and MPs, whose pay has gone up by 11%.

Mike makes the point that New Labour must share some of the blame for this, as not only was Peter Mandelson and his chums very relaxed about people making money, they were also extremely relaxed about wages stagnating. He makes the point that the crash his the poorest the hardest, and the austerity launched by the Tories has been punishing and impoverishing the poor to bail out the bankers and the rich. He also makes the point that Owen Smith’s solutions are just cosmetic, and won’t do anything without concrete proposals for the redistribution of the extra money gained through the ‘wealth tax’ he proposes.

See the article:

Mike’s right about New Labour being very relaxed about wages stagnating. In fact, wage restraint has been a major part of the neoliberal consensus ever since Maggie Thatcher took power in 1979. Keynsianism tolerated high inflation – and in the 1970s at times the inflation rate in Britain was truly eye-watering – as it was coupled to an expanding economy. Both Labour and the Tories attempted to keep pay rises within certain boundaries nevertheless. Thatcher’s Monetarism was much harder towards inflation. It saw this it as the major obstacle to economic growth, and so demanded that it be ruthlessly cut, even if this meant shedding jobs on a truly massive scale, accompanied by a fall in real wages, and the dismantlement of various welfare programmes. It also meant abandoning the Keynsian commitment, pursued over 40 years, to full employment.

Robin Ramsay in a piece on his ‘News from the Bridge’ column in Lobster, made the point that when he was studying economics at Uni in the 1970s, Monetarism as an economic theory was so poorly regarded by his lecturers that they left it to the undergrads to work out what was wrong with it. Which shows you it was known even then to be totally rubbish and useless. He argues that it was adopted by the Tory party because it gave them a rationale for doing what they wanted to do on other grounds – destroy organised labour, dismantle the welfare state, including the Health Service, and grind the working class into poverty.

Now a number of economists are pointing out that, despite the emphasis by the Tories on wage restraint and very low inflation rates, the economy is not growing. I think Han Joon Chang is one of these in his 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism.

The comparison with Greece is particularly chilling. Greece has been ruthlessly punished by the Troika with very harsh austerity policies, partly because the Greeks dared to defy the Eurozone authorities and elected Syriza, a radical anti-austerity party. Counterpunch has attacked the economic despoliation of the country by mainly German banks as a form of economic warfare. Greece was one of the countries that suffered from the effective collapse of the Eurozone. The result has been grinding mass poverty for its people. One recent programme on the country’s plight showed children picking rubbish off dumps to sale, just as they do in Developing Nations. The presenter looked on, aghast, and made the point that he had never seen this before in what was supposed to be a developed, European country.

Is this what New Labour and the Tories have in store for us? One of the books I found in one of the secondhand bookshops in Cheltenham yesterday was about how Britain would have a ‘third world’ economy by 2014. Clearly the book was written a little while ago, and the timing’s out, but nevertheless, the appearance of third world conditions in Britain is a real possibility. There are already 3.7 million people living in ‘food poverty’, and hundreds of thousands facing off poverty only because of food banks. I also remember how this was predicted on a BBC Horizon programme, entitled, ‘Icon Earth’, twenty years ago. The programme was about how the image of the Earth in space, taken from the Moon by the Apollo astronauts, had affected global religious, political and economic perspectives. That image had stimulated people around the world to realise that everyone on Earth shared a common home. One result of this, so the programme claimed, was globalisation. It discussed the growing campaigns against migration from the developing world with an Indian anti-racism activist. She predicted that as globalisation progressed, pockets of the third world would appear in the first.

She’s right. This has happened with Greece, and it is occurring in Britain, thanks to the Tories and New Labour. But unlike Greece, we cannot blame the EU. We never joined the Eurozone, and the deterioration in wages and conditions will occur because of Brexit. The cause of this stagnation ultimately is three and half decades and more of Thatcherism.

William Blum on Right-Wing Coups in Greece

December 28, 2015

This is another interesting piece from William Blum’s Anti-Empire Report. Blum is a long-time critic of American imperialism. I’ve already reblogged several of his pieces. In issue 137 of his Report, he comments on the election of the new Syriza government in Greece. A number of the commenters on Mike’s blog wondered how far Syriza would be allowed to go in defying the Troika and its economic diktats before they were overthrown by the Fascist right, all in the name of fiscal responsibility, properly paying off the debt, Greece honouring its international obligations, and so forth.

They weren’t alone in fearing for Greece’s future as a democratic country in the face of pressure from the EU and the international financial and industrial nexus. Blum also wondered how long they would last, based on the historical precedents. After the War, Greece was forced into the Western, capitalist bloc following the agreement Churchill and the Americans had made with Stalin at Yalta. The result was a bloody civil war fought against the Communist partisans, who had done the most to stop the Italians and had fought hardest against the Germans. Then, in 1964, when the liberal Papandreou came to power and began to pursue an independent line, he was overthrown in a coup, backed again by the CIA and the Americans. Blum writes

American historian D.F. Fleming, writing of the post-World War II period in his eminent history of the Cold War, stated that “Greece was the first of the liberated states to be openly and forcibly compelled to accept the political system of the occupying Great Power. It was Churchill who acted first and Stalin who followed his example, in Bulgaria and then in Rumania, though with less bloodshed.”

The British intervened in Greece while World War II was still raging. His Majesty’s Army waged war against ELAS, the left-wing guerrillas who had played a major role in forcing the Nazi occupiers to flee. Shortly after the war ended, the United States joined the Brits in this great anti-communist crusade, intervening in what was now a civil war, taking the side of the neo-fascists against the Greek left. The neo-fascists won and instituted a highly brutal regime, for which the CIA created a suitably repressive internal security agency (KYP in Greek).

In 1964, the liberal George Papandreou came to power, but in April 1967 a military coup took place, just before elections which appeared certain to bring Papandreou back as prime minister. The coup had been a joint effort of the Royal Court, the Greek military, the KYP, the CIA, and the American military stationed in Greece, and was followed immediately by the traditional martial law, censorship, arrests, beatings, and killings, the victims totaling some 8,000 in the first month. This was accompanied by the equally traditional declaration that this was all being done to save the nation from a “communist takeover”. Torture, inflicted in the most gruesome of ways, often with equipment supplied by the United States, became routine.

George Papandreou was not any kind of radical. He was a liberal anti-communist type. But his son Andreas, the heir-apparent, while only a little to the left of his father, had not disguised his wish to take Greece out of the Cold War, and had questioned remaining in NATO, or at least as a satellite of the United States.

As far as I can tell, all of this is correct. Misha Glenny, talking about his book on the Balkans at the Cheltenham Literature Festival back in the ’90s, stated that the division between the ‘east’ and ‘west’ bloc countries was entirely artificial, and was made according to the interests of the great powers, not the people of those countries themselves. The Communists were far stronger in Greece than in Romania, for example, but geopolitical considerations decided that Greece ended up in the West, and Romania in the Communist bloc.

The full article can be read at: The article’s entitled, Some Things Not To Forget, Which the New Greek Leaders Have Not’.


Vox Political: Syriza Will Attempt to Block TTIP Deal

February 2, 2015

Mike over at Vox Political has a piece about the Syriza government in Greece making it very clear that they object to and will not sign the TTIP. The deputy minister for administrative reform and former MEP, Georgios Katrougkalos, told the EurActiv site shortly before the Greek elections last month that the Syriza government would do everything it could do destroy the treaty, at least in its present form.

Mike’s article is at The article contains a link to the original story on EurActiv.

This is welcome news for just about everyone on the European left, worried that this will leave multinational corporations free to sue national governments for legislation that may harm their domestic industries. This is particularly worrying in Britain as it will cement in the Coalition’s privatisation of the NHS.

I blogged earlier about how nasty the TTIP was likely to be in a piece about the British waste company, Veolia, which is now suing the Egyptian government. The company is using another, similar piece of legislation prosecute them for raising the minimum wage for Egyptian workers. If the TTIP go through, it won’t be long before we see similar legal actions here.

With their firm rejection of austerity, neo-liberalism and the TTIP, I wonder how long it will be before there’s a covert attempt to unseat them and replace them with someone much more pliable.


Lobster on the Ukraine as Monsanto Trojan Horse

February 2, 2015

Robin Ramsay, writing in the ‘View from the Bridge’ column in Lobster 68, has some very interesting things to say about the current civil war in Ukraine. Ramsay considers that the American-EU attempt to detach the country from Russia made about as much sense as the Russians trying to form a trade and military alliance with Canada or Mexico. It doesn’t make much sense, considering these nations’ historic and geographic connections to the US, and would only serve to frighten and annoy their larger neighbour to the south.

His analysis of the real purpose of the IMF loan to Ukraine is interesting. It was made with the usual demands for restructuring. In other words, in return for the loan, the Ukraine would have to substantially wreck large parts of its economy by selling off its agricultural and industrial infrastructure to foreign investors. He also notes that the loan was so large it could never really be repaid. He suggests that this was deliberate, with the intention of handing over large parts of Ukraine’s immensely fertile chernozem agricultural land to Monsanto. They would then seed it with their GM crops as part of an attempt to do an end-run on the EU legislation banning them. Once Ukraine became part of the EU, Monsanto could claim that the ban was a dead letter, because they were already growing them there.

Unfortunately for the Americans the plan was scuppered as the Russians made the Ukrainians a better off. Hence the coup. The ‘View from the Bridge’ section of Lobster 68 is available on the web as a free download at This section is entitled ‘Ukraine and the Major Media’, and it’s on pages 3-4.

And Greece?

This weekend Mike over at Vox Political published a piece by Tsipras, the new Greek president. Tsipras is the head of the anti-austerity Syriza party, now frightening the Neo-libs all over Europe. It was part of a speech Tsipras gave in Germany trying to explain to the German financiers why his country was abandoning the austerity foisted on them by the troika. He also mentioned that he objected to the IMF loan to his country, not because it was too little, but because it was too much. The Greek couldn’t pay it off, and the further loan given to the Greeks to service the debt simply made it worse and prolonged it even further.

Which sounds very similar to what Robin Ramsay proposes was done to the Ukraine.

It makes me wonder whether the purpose of these loans is really to bail out these countries’ economies, or wreck them, and make them poor, dependent economic colonies of America and the more prosperous EU nations to their north and west.


Vox Political and Tax Research: Greek Debt Excuse to Destroy Syriza

January 29, 2015

Mike has a little piece over at Vox Political commenting on a guest post over at Tax Research UK. This begins by stating that the current concerns about Greek debt

is, quite simply, a device to wreck the Syriza government as quickly as possible, and to make sure that what happens can be laid at the feet of that government, and not blamed on the ECB, IMF, EC, or any other EU country, or – and this is most important – global capital (by which I primarily mean multi-national corporations, the 1% and their agents and supporters).

The articles warn that the leaders of multinational capital are alarmed at the fact that for the first time in decades a government has been elected that has rejected Neoliberalism. They predict that over the coming three months, Greece will be subjected to increasing attack and pressure, all to undermine their new government.

The Tax Research UK article further states that the Syriza government is also uncomfortable and unwelcome to the Social Democratic parties in Europe, such as New Labour in Britain, that bought into Neoliberalism, and lobbied hard for the interests of big business, telling their supporter there was no other way.

Syriza is a threat because if it succeeds, it will embolden other, non-Neoliberal parties like the Podremos in Spain. And after strengthening them, it will then spread elsewhere in Europe, most probably first to France. The Neoliberals and their multinational corporate paymasters are on the defensive. And they will do their utmost to bring down Syriza.

Mike comments that it is to be hoped the new Greek president, Mr Tsipras, now has the strength, determination and statesmanlike qualities that so determined Britain’s Churchill in our struggle against Nazism. ‘Cometh the hour, cometh the man.’

Vox Political’s article is at

Tax Research UK’s article is at