….there was a little rhyme about the Isle of Wight which played on the names of various towns and landmarks. It began ‘Needles you can’t thread, Cowes you can’t milk…’. I grew older and read ‘1984’, with its Newspeak and Ministry of Truth and I appreciated Orwell’s inversion of the meaning of words. Now I think I’m a grown-up and have put away childish things, but those word-plays and ironies are still around, only very much for real.
The Greeks vote ‘No’ and the rest of Europe and its financial system demand that they deliver even more austerity in return for more loans that they cannot possibly repay and ‘guarantees’ which will only last until the next time.
Is it the Greeks fault? In part, of course. But it’s also others fault – for lending recklessly in order to make money (sound familiar?), for backing expansion in order to further the wider ‘European project’, for making hay while the sun shone without thought of the inevitable rain to follow. But what can Greece do? The system strangles Greece. What price ‘democracy’ in the land which gave us the word? Wasn’t that what Syriza wanted us to ask?
In the UK, only two months after the startling conservative electoral victory, we have a re-distributive Tory budget, wealth being taken from the poor and disabled and given to the rich and well-heeled. The living wage cannot but be a good thing, except no one can live on it. Without tax credits this will be insufficient to live in anything but squalor and want.
Total annual earnings based upon £7.20 per hour, the new rate, assuming a person works for nine hours a day, five days a week and has no holidays, with a taxation threshold at £10,000 = £15,478. Sum calculated by the independent Centre for Research in Social Policy using the Minimum Income Standard for a single person to have a minimum standard of living in the UK in 2014 is £17,072. For a married couple with two children it’s £20, 287 each and for a single parent with one child it’s £27,073. Those figures will have increased since last year. Even if one could find a job providing employment for nine hours a day, five days a week for fifty two days of the year, this is Orwellian the ‘living wage’.
In Spain a party named ‘We Can'(Podemos) is garnering support, while distancing itself from Syriza. Can we? Really? Greece can’t.
Spain is already in pre-election mode, its national poll takes place this year and there is furious speculation in the media about the result. A recent poll showed the electorate to be spilt in similar proportions to May’s municipal election result in Jerez. This would have the PP with most overall votes, but with PSOE and Podemos together taking considerably more, but separately falling short. Finally, Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos, begins to talk about uniting the left. There is also huge speculation about the potential king-making position of some of the smaller parties, most especially the party for Catalan independence (again, sound familiar?)
So, a democratic vote in Greece, after a draconian reduction in living standards, cannot determine the fate of the voters’ country. A newly elected UK government (the UK being a democracy in which 4m votes gets 1 MP for UKIP) introduces a draconian reduction in living standards for many, alleviated by a non-‘living wage’. In Spain, ‘We Can’ might need to do an old-style deal and even then find that it Cannot – the financial systems won’t let it.
‘Democracy’, ‘Living wage’, ‘We Can’.
Hey ho – ‘Needles…, Cowes…’
Please note this blogger is not a UKIP supporter, this has been happening to minority parties for years, it’s just the most blatant recent example. The reference ‘When I was a child..’ is, of course, to St Paul, 1 Corinthians 13, I’m getting positively biblical in my earnestness.
If you enjoyed this blog piece try A new sort of politics…?