From opposite corners of Europe, this week has already seen a spate of disasters, drama and infighting among various left-wing political groups. Conservatives and centrists are surely rubbing their hands together with glee as every news report seems to indicate bad news for the liberals. Left-wing voters, meanwhile, can only shake their heads at the sorry state of socialist leadership across the continent.
THE GREEK COUNTDOWN
Greece now stands 6 days (and more pertinently, 1.6 billion euro) away from being effectively forced out of the Eurozone. The payment currently overdue to the IMF represents the diplomatic chickens coming home to roost for the hard left Syriza party led by Alexis Tsipras. Syriza’s recent whirlwind election success seems to have been spurred on by bravado verging on arrogance. Their promises were to end austerity (Germans/French/whoever be damned) and a lot of “hard man” talk about Greece not bowing to international pressure. Within weeks of election, his finance minister was making glib references to money owed to Greece by Germany as part of second world war reparations. Hilarious? Witty? Absolutely. Practically diplomatic when dealing with the continental bank, who were and are the only way to fund his economically incompetent state? Almost certainly not. Greece’s debt to GDP ratio has increased from 120% in 2008 to almost 140% now. In other words, Greece is trying to borrow its way out of debt, and the party in charge have won their power by insulting and deriding the debt collectors. Sadly for both Syriza and the Greek people, nobody’s laughing at the Syriza joke anymore. Greek unemployment stands at an almost unfathomable 25%. With their debt spiralling, their government starting to look like they’re wearing the emperor’s new clothes, and a recent history of civil unrest, all does not look bright or rosy for the Greek people. If a political party that gains sudden popularity based on frothing liberal nonsense and a refusal to present practical solutions in lieu of empty rhetoric sounds familiar to Irish readers, it should. Sinn Fein stand proudly with Syriza as ideological and strategic kith and kin. Is Greece a sign of things to come should we elect Sinn Fein in next year’s election?
As for the predictions on what happens when a “Grexit” actually occurs, nobody really knows. There’s no blueprint for Eurozone exit. What’s certain is that while the EU financiers rush back and forth spouting numbers, the Greek people will ultimately pay for the mistakes of successive governments: first in disgraceful economic management, and more recently in diplomatic incompetence on a spectacular scale.
JOAN BURTON VS. SINGLE PARENT FAMILIES
Joan Burton, Minister for Social Protection and not knowing when to stop talking, has this week repeatedly defended her department’s decision to cut the lone parent allowance for any family whose youngest child is over the age of seven. This decision, supported yesterday by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, shows once again the inability of Burton’s department to examine the long-term effects of short-term financial savings. Earlier today her verbal acrobatics struck again, explaining that the government merely “wants people getting a well paid job at an earlier stage.”. Where, pray tell, does the Tanaiste thinks these jobs are going to come from? In the last 5 years the coalition has had only two solutions for creating jobs
- Encourage the unemployed to emigrate
- Foster a culture of near-slave labour through the pitiful Jobsbridge program
This calculated move, based entirely on merit of savings with no regard for the human impact, will be the difference between subsistence and poverty for thousands of already stretched families around Ireland. Worse still is that this is being presented by the junior coalition party, whose entire raison d’être was to counter the overt conservatism of Fine Gael. Perhaps the Tanaiste will soon incentivise impoverished single-parent families to sell their “expensive iPhones“. That way they can probably afford some cake to feed their children.
Jimi is the editor-in-chief of Soapbox. You can get in touch with him here.