The FT “few question Mr Corbyn’s seriousness and integrity”; Boris Johnson’s verdict: thoughtful, caring and principled
Extracts from an article by George Parker, the FT’s political editor:
Mr Parker said that, in a Europe where anti-austerity parties are on the march, Jeremy Corbyn offers a more radical approach, capturing some of the leftwing anger of Syriza or Podemos: “I have been in Greece, I have been in Spain. It’s very interesting that social democratic parties that accept the austerity agenda and end up implementing it end up losing a lot of members and a lot of support.” He continued:
“He often turned out to be right in the causes he pursued though it did not always feel that way:
- He backed the jailed Nelson Mandela;
- spoke up for the people wrongly convicted of the 1974 IRA pub bombings in the UK; opposed Mr Blair’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003
- and engaged with “friends” in Hamas and Hizbollah in pursuit of Middle East peace.
At the time he ‘earned criticism’ but, Parker adds an accolade, “few question Mr Corbyn’s seriousness and integrity . . . he offers ideological certainty” – in other words he knows his mind and speaks the truth – a rare commodity in today’s politics.
Boris Johnson would say that wouldn’t he?
Writing in the Sun Boris Johnson, London mayor, says: “Of course, he won’t actually win this leadership election. His ideas would be economically ruinous and would impose huge new taxes on working people”.
He may well be quite wrong: Corbyn may win this leadership election; his implemented policies could lead to increased employment and higher taxes on those who can afford them may well be used constructively.
Johnson says that the reason Jeremy Corbyn strikes such a chord with the electorate can be summed up in one word: Authenticity: “Whatever you say about the veteran MP for Islington, he has thought about his positions. He cares. And he puts his principles into practice” and asks: “Can you really say he has been as eccentric as all that?
- He spent decades campaigning for higher minimum wages for workers.
- Yes, he was one of the early campaigners against apartheid. Quite right, too — these days Mandela is regarded as a kind of modern saint.
- Yes, he was in favour of bringing the IRA to the negotiating table, a view treated as semi-treacherous at the time.
- These days he looks prescient — Martin McGuinness meets the Queen and no one bats an eyelid. Yes, he abominated the Iraq war and rebelled countless times against the government of Tony Blair.
- But these days you look at what is happening in Iraq and Syria — the almost daily bombings and massacres — and you have to respect his judgment.
“The reason he is doing so well is that by comparison with the other Labour leadership candidates — a bunch of relatively anaemic, gelatinous and vacillating opportunists — Jeremy Corbyn looks passionate and principled. And that has lessons for everyone in politics”.
Not convinced? Watch him on Newsnight:http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02y2ffn
Britain’s last best hope
Do governments “callously and deliberately neglect” food producers to avoid alienating corporate party funders?
Ms Truss, the Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, says British farming is one of the Government’s key successes – though farmers are taking their own lives at a rate of one a week, according to many sources, though officialdom is reticent about this.
The Times of India reports that Maharashtra’s farmer suicide count in the six-month span from January to June this year stood at 1,300 cases, the state’s revenue department figures show.
Respected analyst Devinder Sharma points out that indebtedness and bankruptcy tops the reasons behind these suicides; followed by family problems and farming related issues. In both countries the authorities try to evade the real issue and blame the availability of shotguns, pesticides and so on.
Snapshots from a presentation to the UN summarises the real reasons:
British and Indian governments daren’t offend the party funding middlemen and corporate end-buyers who – without lifting a finger – profit from the food produced at the expense of the hard-working producers who are often obliged to sell at a loss.
More respect from the new Greek government
At least – the Financial Times points out – in Greece, Syriza is allowing some leeway to those producing the most essential goods. They are refusing to increase the financial burdens on farmers, who at present pay 13% per cent income tax, compared with the general 25% rate, and receive special treatment for fuel and fertiliser expenses.
With 12.4% of the country’s labour force employed in producing food and cotton and a thriving fishing industry, the new Greece government is showing some grasp of essentials and priorities – would that the British and Indian governments showed similar respect for their most important workers.
Multinational vultures cluster round Greece’s carcase, picking off airports, ports, tourist resorts, energy assets and utilities
The sentence of privatisation, which Britain has found inefficient and expensive in most cases, has been passed on Greece.
On July 12, the summit of eurozone leaders dictated terms to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who accepted all, including the sale of Greece’s remaining public assets.
Business Insider reports that Eurozone leaders demanded that Greek public assets be transferred to an independent fund renamed the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF), to help to make the scheduled repayment of the new loan and recapitalization of banks and other assets. The fund was set up in July 2011 after the Greek sovereign debt crisis and opposed by Syriza, which suspended most planned privatisations when it came to power.
Ben Chu (the Independent) reports that Germany originally proposed that HRADF be run from Luxembourg by a German state bank, prompting accusations on social media of a German “coup”.
‘Big-ticket items’ listed on the HRADF’s website for interested buyers
- state lottery,
- Olympic venues,
- Athens International Airport,
- 37 regional airports,
- Port of Piraeus and 100% of the shares of 11 other ports,
- many marinas,
- tourist resorts,
- state real estate especially on picture-perfect islands,
- thermal springs on the mainland,
- hotels with high historical and cultural value in privileged locations,
- Greek real estate holdings in New York, Washington and Belgrade
- And the Public Power Corporation S.A., which provides energy to four-fifths of the country’s population.
Other companies which may be sold include a natural gas importer and distributor, three oil refineries, Athens water company, the postal provider, ELTA, more than 400 miles of roads, TRAINOSE (railroad and bus transport) and ROSCO which maintains Greek trains.
Ben Chu adds that the IMF estimates Greece’s saleable state assets were worth around half the sum needed and that the proceeds from future privatisations are likely to be only €500m a year: “At that rate the €50bn would not be reached for 100 years”.
A ‘smoke and mirrors’ measure?
His conclusion: “(T)he fund is more like a face-saving measure by Germany, designed to give the impression to German voters that the Greeks will pay for their own bailout”.
But where will this leave Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who was elected largely on a promise to stop and reverse high-profile privatization of valuable state-owned assets?
And how do the Greek people regard these measures?
The Global Minotaur, a monster born in the ‘70s, became the ‘engine’ pulling the world economy from the early ‘80s to 2008
News of Zed Books’ free e-book from the new finance minister of Greece, Yanis Varoufakis, has been received.
Promising a backlash against EU fiscal policy, Alexis Tspiras’ young leftist party intends to address the austerity regime punishing Europe.
At the centre of the political storm is Yanis Varoufakis, a former economics professor, appointed as finance minister of the new Greek coalition government. Varoufakis has already described austerity as a form of “fiscal waterboarding”, and promised that Syriza will “destroy the Greek oligarchy system”. He has outlined what he sees as the cause of the financial crisis – and his plans for pulling Greece out of it – in his book The Global Minotaur.
In recognition of this sea-change in European politics, Zed Books have released a special free e-book containing key extracts from The Global Minotaur, America, Europe and the Future of the Global Economy (a modified sub-title). Europe After the Minotaur outlines Varoufakis’ economic and political thinking and his belief that Europe can move beyond cuts and austerity.
Varoufakis shows how today’s crisis in Europe is one inevitable symptom of a global ‘system’ which is now as unsustainable as it is unbalanced. With clarity and conviction, he lays out the options available for reintroducing reason into a highly irrational global economic order.
To download your free copy of Europe After the Minotaur, follow this link.
For the common good: economists advocate a moral vision to rescue our manipulated, extractive and highly unequal economy
Mark Mazower, a British professor of history based at Columbia University, writes in the FT that the moral reasoning that lay behind the Greek election result began from a simple insight: that the economic trauma of the severity Greece has suffered is destroying society:
“With youth unemployment above 50%, an entire generation is being consigned to the scrap heap. At the same time, the notion of the common good is being sacrificed through forced sell-offs of state-owned lands as well as businesses, with the prospect of ecological destruction as a result.
“What is the moral vision the creditor nations propose?
“Frugality is not a policy. And if finance is to serve Europe rather than run it, a notion of the common good needs to be restored. The alternative is an increasingly fractious continent”.
Urban Britain also has a disturbing level of youth unemployment and has sold its state-run utilities for a pittance to foreign companies
To replace our “desiccated, manipulated, disloyal, extractive and highly unequal economy that has been allowed, and – by some administrations – encouraged”, Birmingham-based economist Emeritus Professor Michael Wilkes advocates a new discipline, socionomics,
A citizenry of good intent
He acknowledges that the social and moral education needed to produce a citizenry of good intent that will make the socioeconomic system work properly and sustain it for future generations, and that winding back globalisation will take longer and will involve more people and organisations and other countries.
Wilkes advocates certain steps that could be taken immediately:
- the restoration of equitable and redistributive taxation,
- the introduction of living wages,
- the plugging of many loopholes for tax avoidance,
- the undertaking of thorough corporate reform
- and the recreation of an active, interventionist and self confident public sector.
He concludes: “These measures would represent leadership in its finest form. This, and the promotion of the concept of stewardship in place of the present self serving forms of ‘leadership’ ”.