The good news is that a Greek suppository is about to relieve the EU’s economic constipation. The bad is that there’s a Castro in our midst posing — just as Fidel did 56 years ago — as a democratically elected populist. Back then it was Uncle Sam who was the bogyman. Now it’s the EU. Back then the Soviet Bear came to Fidel’s rescue. Now it’s Putin. Personally, I’d take Vlad over the faceless unelected Brussels gang anytime. The problem is Tsipras, a vulgar-sounding name if ever there was one. Add to it the fact that he has two sons, one named after Che Guevara, the other after Carlos, the murdering Venezuelan terrorist at present languishing in a French jail. Does that tell you anything about the person the Greeks voted for to lead them out of their misery? It tells me plenty.
Athens was very quiet the night of Syriza’s victory. Most of my friends were obviously appalled at the size of Tsipras’s win. I asked them what they expected after four years of austerity. A Samaras victory? A good friend expostulated, ‘But Samaras is a cousin of mine...’ As if that made it OK. They’re funny, the Greeks. The Brussels gang inserts a Trojan Horse, Samaras, to do its bidding, the middle class disappears — 6,000 doctors go west — and my Greek friends are surprised when a Castro appears and wins big.
The losing centre-right and centre-left made mistakes big time. The first was not to leave, or threaten to leave, the euro when the crisis first broke. The Brussels gang was running very scared in 2010. No longer. Another was to turn all the power of government against Golden Dawn, a so-called neo-Nazi party, something Golden Dawn is not. Many of its members are languishing in jail on trumped-up charges, something that will come back to haunt Greeks once Tsipras shows his true colours and begins to jail people for ‘anti-Greek activities’, such as speaking out freely against his Marxist policies. Let’s not forget that it was Golden Dawn that made sure Muslim extremists did not spread their evil messages and activities around Athens and Salonica, the two largest cities. They beat the crap out of budding jihadists and criminals who threatened the poor, something long-suffering Brits and French should have done long ago.
As I said, they’re funny these modern Hellenes. Just last week I was watching Andrew Neil’s The Daily Politics. Our chairman had a Greek comedian on the show, someone I had never heard of but whose dress and manners reminded me of modern Greece. All the comedian did was bitch against the Germans. He was obviously a man who had never asked himself whether it was the Germans who forced the Greeks to borrow far more than they could afford and then fiddled the figures under the expert advice of Goldman Sachs. A man who never doubted the guilt of Angela Merkel where tax collection is concerned and a system that lost 20 billion euros per year in unpaid taxes. And of course it was Merkel’s fault that a Greek government came begging Germany for help once the game was up.
Never mind. Introspection is not our strongest characteristic. Had we pegged the drachma to the dollar five years ago and asked nicely to be allowed to exit, while offering some port facilities to Uncle Vlad in return for some cheap oil, we’d be thumping our noses to the permatanned head of the IMF and to the rest of the EU clowns. But no, Samaras and his acolytes wanted the outriders, the Brussels conferences and the rest of the jazz that goes with being in power nowadays. And to hell with the people who have lost everything, especially the young who are suffering a 62 per cent unemployment rate.
Fidel Tsipras was elected when it dawned on the people that all the money given to Greece has been used simply to pay interest and principal on debt. The present bunch is a motley collection of communist trade-unionists, long-winded academics with no experience of governing whatsoever, and corner café left-wing orators. They are as likely to govern well as I am to stop drinking and devote my life to furthering minority rights.
Although it’s very early days, this is a government that thinks it can bluff its way through the crisis. It cannot and will not. Germany will decide, whether Greeks like it or not. The fragility of the Greek banks is such that one false bluff and the game’s up. Ironically, it’s our only good hand. If Greek banks go down the Swannee, so will many European ones after bank runs. What I’d like to know is how Fidel junior hopes to increase the minimum wage, rehire civil servants (most of them crooks and incompetents) and expand the state with unaffordable public subsidies. And all that time use leverage against the gang in Brussels to protest sanctions against Uncle Vlad?
Here are Taki’s suggestions for the survival of the nation: most important are structural reforms, not feelgood bullshit. Public sector unions are choking the nation’s economy, whereas the private sector is booming. Starting a business is almost impossible owing to bureaucratic blackmails, while overregulation is stifling economic activity. Free the economy and stop protecting cartels, shrink the state and in five years Greece will be the Switzerland of the south. And if Tsipras follows my advice I shall be having a sex change quicker than you can say Syriza. In the meantime, the Greek suppository is working.