A glimmer at the end of a tunnel

A glimmer at the end of a tunnel

The Guardian reports a change of leadership in the SPD. The winners are Norbert Walter-Borjans and Saskia Esken, from the left of the SPD. They have called for major policy concessions from Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), and say they are prepared to pull the plug on the partnership. We should remember that the decision by the SPD to re-enter the coalition for a 2nd time in 2017 was controversial within the Party and followed the decision in 2013 not to attempt a coalition albeit with a tiny majority with Die Linke & Die Grüne. When discussing the proposal of “Remain & Reform” with respect to Brexit, it has become clear to me that European Socialists in the European Parliament need to end their commitment to the Grand Coalition and look to their left for a majority, athough we’d need to avoid the fuck-ups that led to Labou halving it’s EU Parliamentary Group earlier this year. This is most unlikely to happen while the SPD is wedded to an alternative. (They should learn from the sectarianism of Merkel and the CDU in her imposition of Von der Leyen as President of the Commission.)  There’s a glimmer of hope that the German SPD is changing it’s mind.

Image rightsfrom DW, (c) picture-alliance/dpa . This picture is cropped, and stored and processed for reasons of addressability, longevity and performance. This has not been made available. …

Back me or …

Back me or …

A couple of days ago, the Guardian brought to my attention that a major political candidate for Prime Minister gave a Conference speech, where they demanded their party back them or sack them. They got a standing ovation, I assume for their courage and clarity. The Leader is Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the Leader of Germany’s CDU, the major party in the country’s coalition government. Can you imagine how the press would report such an event in the Labour Party? …

Bundestag 2017

Bundestag 2017

As the results from the German election trickle through, it’s not good news for many. The headline results are that the “at best” right wing populists, the Alternative for Germany has entered the Bundestag. Merkel’s centre right alliance, CSU/CDU and their government partners the centre left Social Democrats (SPD) both lost seats with the latter announcing that despite the arithmetic working that they would look to return to opposition. This leaves Merkel looking to form a “Jamaica” coalition with the Free Democrats & Greens. We’ll see. I wonder if this like the wake up call in the UK, at the 2014 European Parliamentary elections is a signpost of worse to come. …

PASOKisation in Britain

PASOKisation in Britain

The once mighty PASOK has been reduced to the smallest Party in the new Greek Parliament. In 2009, it won 44% of the popular vote and formed the Government; earlier this year, it won a under 5%. Its decision to join the New Democrat led coalition in 2010 had led to a split, with much of the left of PASOK leaving to support its eventual replacement, Syrizia. PASOK has been killed by its own austerity policies and walking away from the hopes and causes of their political base.  …

Germany turns Left

Germany turns Left

While I was meeting up with fellow conference delegates from Lewisham on Sunday night, the results from the German general election were being forecast and announced.

As expected the German conservatives increased their share of the vote and the number of seats in the Bundestag, the lower house of the German Federal Parliament, but their parliamentary allies and the source of their parliamentary majority, the Free Democrats (FDP) failed to reach the threshold required to get seats. The FDP have been voted out of the parliament and consequently the right wing are five seats short of a majority. …

Greece, Football, the Euro and tomorrow’s Election

On the journey to the airport this a.m., there was much more political posters and graffiti; most of it from the KKE, I saw one PASOK graffito and two New Democracy posters in Corfu town.

We were still on a high from having seen England’s best football performance since 2001, and the first one I’ve watched since 2004. Our taxi driver, Dimitrios, gave us a detailed preview of the Greek team and management. He started with the phrase, “If I knew, I’d tell the manager”, He did say, that at least it remained in their hands and all that Greece had to do was win. He identified the problems of age, too old and too young, weakness in at the left back position, wrong goal keeper selection,  he’s not a fan of Georgios Samaras, and starting the game 10 minutes after the opposition and the kick off whistle. He characterised the Greek team as fighters not exponents of the beautiful game, “We are not Brazil”.

We spoke about the election, what he said suggested that he saw it as a referendum on the Euro, but that he had seen a Greek language article in Germany’s equivalent of the Financial Times translating an appeal from Angela Merkel for the Greek people to vote for the Euro and the bailout agreements. He suggested that appeals from foreign politicians were unlikely to succeed in changing anyone’s mind in favour of their views and you’d think she’d have learnt from her so-successful support of Sarkozy. (Interestingly, the English language, Greek Reporter attribute the article’s editorial to the FT De alone, and elsewhere Merkel is quoted as declining to give advice to the Greek people.)

On arrival at the airport, the taxi rank full of taxis waiting for arriving passengers acts as a potent symbol to Europe’s and the Euro-zone’s economic policy makers, that they’re all in this together! It’s full of Mercedes, and to a lesser extent Peugeots. A Deutsch Mark would be more valuable then the Euro, they’d find it harder to sell their cars, the Greeks won’t be able to afford their Mercedes if they are expelled from the Euro and the new Drachma devalues. (I wanted to take a picture, but we entered the hell that is the Easyjet checkin queue at Corfu airport, and all thoughts of tourism exited my mind. It’s not a good way to end such a relaxing holiday; I wonder if we can do better.) …

Just one more cadre

I recently wrote to Loz Kaye, the leader of the UK Pirate Party, to congratulate him and his party on their brother’s and sister’s victory in Berlin. I pointed out that in Europe they were at a cross roads. As they grow in maturity and power as a political party, something yet to occur in the UK, it will become harder to talk to and work with supporters in other political parties. There is a mature balancing act to be taken in advancing their ideas, most of which I agree with, and winning political power. In my mind, they have to find a route between supporting the growth of broad campaigning groups such as the ORG or building their own organisation. There is a tendency in both the Liberal Democrats and the British Trotskyist movement to consider each new party member a victory for the cause. Both parties often win these cadres at the cost of those they create, dispirited by defeat who give up on politics. Each person who gives up on politics and hope is a loss to democracy, and we are not winning. …

Dave’s European Trip

I undertook a European trip, visiting Sun staff in Sweden and Italy. I posted a travelogue style  couple of blogs in my sun/oracle blog some of which I reposted here in July 2016. I report on my travel experiences, lingering too long on the airports. I also reflect on some aspects of doing business in Italy. …