Brighton MP speaks up for Greeks as debt crisis escalates

Posted On 29 Jun 2015 at 7:07 pm

Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas is taking part in a demonstration intended to show solidarity with the people of Greece as the country’s debt crisis worsens.

The Green MP is joining the demo in Trafalgar Square in London this evening (Monday 29 June).

She wrote an article for Global Justice Now – formerly the World Development Movement – today calling for a change of approach.

Caroline Lucas

Caroline Lucas

And she was one of the signatories of a letter in The Guardian newspaper today calling on the Prime Minister David Cameron “to support the organisation of a European conference to agree debt cancellation for Greece”.

The letter said: “We urge the creation of UN rules to deal with government debt crises promptly, fairly and with respect for human rights, and to signal to the banks and financiers that we won’t keep bailing them out for reckless lending.”

In her article for Global Justice Now she wrote: “It’s all too easy, when you hear of markets in disarray and banks closing on the other side of the continent, to forget about the terrible human impacts of the crisis in Greece.

“Over 40 per cent of children are living in poverty, a quarter of the workforce is unemployed, youth unemployment is at almost 50 per cent and the healthcare system is close to collapse.

“Beyond the hackneyed headlines of a ‘Greek tragedy’ are people living on the brink, struggling to feed and clothe their families.

“It’s abundantly clear that the Troika’s (the IMF, EU and European Central Bank’s) plan is failing in human terms – but it’s an economic failure too.

“Greece’s government debt has grown from 133 per cent of GDP (gross domestic product) in 2010 to 174 per cent today.

“Since 2010 the Troika has lent €252 billion to the Greek government. Of this, the vast majority of the money was used to bail out banks, pay off the private sector to accept restructuring and repay old debts and interest from reckless lending.

“Less than 10 per cent of the money has actually reached the people who need it in Greece.

“In light of this profound failure, it’s clear that a change of direction is desperately needed from the Troika.

“But the solution to such misery being offered by European Governments and the IMF is … more misery.

“They want more austerity inflicted on the Greeks, indeed they want to entirely strip down the Greek state and refashion it as a servant of capital rather than people.

Greece debt protest pic from the Global Justice Now website“The stand off we’re seeing this week matters to all of us. It involves a democratically elected government that’s trying – against all the odds – to protect people from the ravages of austerity, pitted against an unelected Troika hellbent on defying the will of the Greek people.

“The Greek government isn’t rejecting any change whatsoever but instead calling for a debt conference, based on the ‘London conference’ which agreed debt cancellation for Germany in 1953.

“That conference agreed to cancel 50 per cent of Germany’s debt to governments, people and institutions outside the country and paved the way for Germany to recover from the crippling war.

“This evening I’ll be joining many others at the Greek Solidarity Demonstration in Trafalgar Square.

“Our demand is that our Prime Minister supports calls for a European conference along the lines of what happened in 1953 to bring Greece back from the brink.

“The people of Greece have shown incredible resilience in extremely difficult times.

“They’ve worked together to provide on-the-ground assistance to those in need – from medical treatment to food banks.

“But there’s only so much cutting the social fabric in Greece can take before it tears apart.

“Any self-respecting democrat can see that further forced austerity in Greece is wrong.

“It’s time for Europe’s leaders, including David Cameron, to stand up for democracy and back a credible solution to Greece’s dire problems.”

  1. martin Lawrence Reply

    Are the TV cameras there?

  2. Rostrum Reply

    Another day .. Another BandWagon ….

  3. Kimosabe Reply

    How about showing some solidarity for the residents of Brighton and Hove as they try to figure out how it’s okay for the ex CEO to be paid £10,000 for being returning officer and £270,000 for leaving a job? How about that solidarity or does she now consider this a safe seat.

    • Miles cheverton Reply

      I think she can do both? Although to be fair the council thing is to do with the council. Let’s see Labour sort it out?

  4. Chris Reply

    If I took out a loan, and was dependent on members of my family giving me sums of money towards paying off that loan, I would be keen to collect that money and to pay it off. If I defaulted, I would expect the loan provider to ask me how I was going to sort it out. If I asked for the loan to just be written off I wouldn’t expect to get very far, but might hope for a bit of time to sort things out with my family.

    If a country takes out a loan, and is dependent on its citizens to provide money (taxes) towards paying the loan off then I would expect the country’s government to try and collect the taxes. For decades, it seems to have been almost a national sport to avoid paying tax in Greece with the obvious result of a government running out of money to run the country. Add a bit of corruption and the situation gets worse.

    However much one sympathises with the situation in Greece, and wonders what effects will cascade to other countries, the fact remains that a country needs income to survive and its government needs to sort out that income by tax collection. Providing ones creditor with a cogent plan is more likely to meet with a compromise to clear the debt.

    • HJarrs Reply

      But if your family had encouraged you to take out those loans to buy things from them, not only that, but provided you with the dodgy financial advisers to tell you everything was just fine and dandy, then I think you would rightly be miffed when they called in the bailiffs.

      • AC Reply

        No one in the family did anything of the sort though. Greece cooked their books to fraudulently join the Euro in order to get their hands on cheap money. No one held a gun to their head. Their demise is their own doing.

      • Chris Reply

        I don’t think you’ve got the gist of my comment. By “family” I don’t mean the EU or anybody outside Greece – they are the loan providers. Whether they provided bad advice is not mentioned by me. I would have expected the Greek authorities to have been more careful when taking out the loans but, in common with most of the world nowadays, everybody wants “jam today” without worrying about tomorrow. It’s not as if Greece hasn’t been given lots of time and options to sort out the finances.

    • Arthur Petworth Reply

      Avoiding taxes is a hobby amongst affluent conservatives.

      • Gerald Wiley Reply

        And apparently the practice is rife in Greece. So your point is what?

  5. HJarrs Reply

    As ever, the rich have salted away vast sums of money from the Greek economy, much invested in UK property (we are not rushing to hand the money back!) and the poorest pick up the tab.

    The wealthy elite that run world institutions have shown themselves to be inept over a long period of time. Tax eveasion and dodgy accounting was rife for years in Greece we are told, the same people were falling over themselves to lend money to encourage the mountain of debt the Greek people now find themselves crushed by.

    Once again, I am struck by the painful, slow, hateful suffering inflicted upon the ordinary Greek citizens contrasted to banks and financial institutions across the world that bankrupted themselves, but that were saved in a click of the fingers (again by ordinary people paying!) and quantative easing (printing money) used to bolster ailing economies.

    Greeks, your failing was to not declare yourself to be a bank!

    • Gerald Wiley Reply

      So once again the problem, according to you, is capitalism and what is needed is a return to the socialist ideals of the 70s when your left-wing idols caused galloping inflation and high unemployment.

      So apparently the poor people of Greece were duped into taking all this money by the world institutions – perhaps if you ever went to Greece you would see how so much money was given to them for projects from the EU and how this has been wasted on partially completed projects.

      Perhaps it is time for the Greek people to take responsibility for the situation they have gotten themselves into (you remember the word ‘responsibility’ that green party members don’t know the meaning of) and decide how to get out of it.

      I assume your solution would be to just follow your standard incommpetent left-wing solution of just printing more money and so allowing inflation to reduce debts.

      If you recall quantitative easing did NOT cause galloping inflation.

  6. Arthur Petworth Reply

    Gethard Willy, the people of Greece were indeed duped into this ‘wonga’loan by their previous Government. Austerity Measures have not worked in Greece, things have got worse! Any deal is a bad one leaving Greece in debt and in Austerity for at least 15 years if things go really well, which they won’t. The Greeks voted a new Government in because they have had enough hardship. The Euro paymasters arte determined to subdue and discredit all legitimate plans to oppose their neo-liberalist Austerity (for the poorest) method to solve a crisis by their brethren in the finance industry who should be made to ay these debts.

    • Gerald Wiley Reply

      @Arhtur – a very interesting article on the BBC New web site about this – see Greek debt crisis: How did Greece get in this mess? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-33232074

      In this is comments “The problem therefore is not so much that Greece is incapable of reform or does not know what needs doing, but that it has wasted five years of the bailout without making serious attempts to fix the structural problems that beset the economy – and in many cases it is actually going backwards.”.

      You may choose you believe this is all the fault of the ‘Euro Paymasters’ but the Greeks have to accept some responsibility themselves.

      You might also want to read Why Greece’s richest village is voting ‘yes’ at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-33329624 to see how this particular village did really well from the EU – until “Greece’s much lambasted bureaucracy” got involved.

      But of course, if you are a left-wing anti-capitalist who values irresponsibility, as practiced by the green party disciples, then you probably think otherwise.

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