Greece, London, Scotland and Europe 277

The entire purpose of this blog is to ask you to think outside the box. It therefore cuts across the lines of dogma of any group, and is formed purely by my own independent thought. As I have frequently stated, if anybody agrees with every point I make, something is wrong.

This is going to annoy both left on Greece and right on banks, and my own party on the SNP and Labour. Here goes.

The citizens of the United Kingdom gave 45,000 pounds each, every man woman and child of them, direct to the bankers in bailouts. We will be paying off that money in taxes – with vast sums in interest to the same bankers, from whom we borrowed virtual money they did not have, to give to them as real money – for generations to come. Quantitive easing gives yet more money to the bankers, cash in place of risky bonds they wish to dump.

When you add it all together including interest, every man, woman and child in the UK will pay over 100,000 pounds each to the bankers, to bail out the bankers from the mess their own extreme greed had created. Indeed it is possible to argue rationally that the payment will be infinite, as the debt incurred will never be repaid but continually rolled over, and interest payments continue.

We did not have to do this. We could have let the bad banks go bust, started new ones, and boosted the economy by spending just 20% of the money we have given the banks on crucially needed public infrastructure works – railways, renewable energy, housing, insulation, hospitals, schools etc. But Gordon Brown and New Labour decided just to give money to the bankers instead.

In Greece, the people have actually given much less to the bankers for bailout than people in the UK. It is important to acknowledge that the causes of the Greek financial collapse are different. Greece was rather a recipient of bad lending, a country which received loans it could not possibly afford. Due to corrupt networks of elite collusion embracing both government and private sector, much of this money was simply siphoned out of the country into overseas accounts in London and Cyprus. The British people are suffering from the banking collapse through being forced to bail out the bankers. Greece is more in the position of somebody in a huge house who could not afford the mortgage – except for the vital distinction that all the people in Greece were paying the mortgage, but the large majority living in sheds behind the mansion.

I welcome Syriza’s victory as an indication that people are not content just to accept the narrative given them by the mainstream media and the parties in the pocket of corporations. I hope that they negotiate hard and force the banks to take a huge haircut on Greek sovereign debt. I acknowledge their commitment to social justice. But I do hope they will be realistic with both themselves and their people on the amount of blood, sweat and tears that is going to need to go in to building a productive Greek economy. An example of Keynesian stimulus is much needed by the rest of Europe.

Gordon Brown’s bank bailout was probably the biggest single gift any politician has ever given his corporate masters in the entire history of the world. It is worth reminding ourselves just how very right wing the Red Tories are. Not to mention the fact their front bench remains littered with war criminals. I therefore have grave reservations about Nicola Sturgeon’s weekend interview indication that the People of Scotland want a Labour Government with SNP support. I don’t. I am not going to elect somebody to represent me as chief bag carrier to a war criminal.

The SNP leadership remain infected by managerialism. It is easy to convince yourself you are doing good things while not changing anything fundamental, and at the same time building a very well paid career and a personal powerbase. I don’t want devo-max, I don’t want more powers, I don’t want something “as close to federalism as possible”. I want freedom for my country. I want independence. I want to live in a country which does not illegally invade other countries, collude in torture, carry out mass surveillance of its citizens, or possess nuclear weapons. The idea of running the Union a little bit better, making it a teeny bit more humane and competent, does not interest me. Nor does dulling the edge of austerity, when it is going to behead us anyway.

Besides which I am absolutely convinced the Tories will win the election, which will make all this jostling for position look rather foolish.

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277 thoughts on “Greece, London, Scotland and Europe

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  • Abe Rene

    @ Craig The citizens of the United Kingdom gave 45,000 pounds each, every man woman and child of them, direct to the bankers in bailouts.

    I don’t have £45,000. Never have had. 🙂

  • craig Post author

    Abe Rene

    No, you borrowed it to give it. Nobody asked you if you wanted to. You will be paying it off in tax (including VAT) the rest of your life.

  • DtP

    I’m not sure i’m as convinced of a Tory majority. Sure, Miliband is bad but it’s like an ugly baby contest. Someone wisely pointed out that if they empty chair a leader in the debates then the empty chair will win it.

  • Phil

    Probably the tories will win but otherwise I hear murmurings of a labour/tory coalition. Unimaginable of course. Yet not.

  • SAL the GAL

    Hopeless failure, Craig. Think you can piss everyone off, huh? Well, I agree with every word. Apart from not being Scottish or in Scotland, and if I were, I’d agree with that, too.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    I posted this on my Facebook account yesterday, it does relate to austerity and to the inhumanity of the British state, but is otherwise a little off topic. Thought you might be interested though.

    Department Of Work And Pensions Knows It Is Deliberately Starving Claimants For Two Weeks At A Time. It Says So In Its Guidance.

    I can hardly believe what I have just discovered about the Department of Work and Pensions. Apologies to people who know all about this already, maybe from personal experience.

    Grateful thanks to Alison Garnham, Chief Executive of the Child Poverty Action Group who has given evidence on this matter to Parliament’s Work and Pensions Committee’s sanction enquiry, and to the blogger Johnny Void for publicising her evidence. I was so incredulous I went back to the source material myself, and jolly hard work it was digging it out, too.

    People who are claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance and have had their claim suspended, and therefore have no money to live on if they have no other resource, can apply for a hardship payment from the Department of Work and Pensions. I have been unable to discover exactly how much the weekly hardship payment is (Amazing, isn’t it? You’d think that would be really easy on the internet. But no.), but the DWP says it is a “reduced amount of Jobseeker’s Allowance” and I have seen estimates of roughly £70 per week (£50 or so if under 25).

    You cannot, however, apply for hardship payments for the first two weeks of a suspended claim, unless you are a member of a vulnerable group. This two week gap is imposed by the Department of Work and Pensions in the full knowledge that its effect will (or may) be, on a normal, healthy human being:

    That they will be deprived of essential items, such as food, clothing, heating and accommodation, and;

    that they will be without sufficient money to buy essential items, and;

    that this will cause deterioration in their health.

    Go back and read that again if you like. I couldn’t believe it either. The DWP knows perfectly well that the effect of its hardship payment policy on people with no other resource will be to starve them for two weeks, and that this will adversely affect their health. They say so in their Decision Maker’s Guide. The only people who can get money during those two weeks are people whose health will suffer more than a normal healthy adult’s would by being starved and deprived of essential items for survival.

    Don’t believe me? I refer you to the DWP’s Decision Maker’s Guide, volume 6, chapter 35, “Hardship”, paragraphs 35293, 35098, 35099, and 35073, which demonstrate, beyond dispute, exactly what I have just said.…/decision-makers-guide-vols-4-5-6-and-7…


    John x

  • Johnny

    I only voted for independence as I saw it as a way of ditching a lot of baggage including the SNP. How anyone could vote for this Christian cult backed party is beyond me.

  • Phil

    I heard an interesting analysis on the radio (don’t know who it was).

    The SNP will make impossible demands that trash negotiations with labour. The tories make a government and the SNP start screaming “look it’s tory England again!”.

    FWIW looks like I am going to be an election agent.

  • Jay

    The deficit in the system are socialised to protect the accumulated pensions including the welfare systems offered by government.
    Augmentation is a necessary narrative of economic growth and I don’t here that.
    That’s the argument I have been given.

    So is financial austerity necessary to effect quality of living with a decline in economic growth. That would end the accumulation of debt narrative.

  • Jake Gittes

    Forensically put Craig, your prose is dagger like. I too believe the Tories will win in May. The key reason being that Milliband is an already well established figure of ridicule in the key South East marginals, a sentiment which will only build during The April campaign. In fact I can see the Labour vote in the south / south East collapsing totally with leftist elements going Green and conservative elements of their vote going to UKIP.
    I follow the point you are making about SNP strategy but the idea behind it is to maximise support among the 55 and soft Labour voters among the 45. You might say, at what cost – the abandonment of fundamental principle? Well I think we are in a very fluid political environment and tactics and strategy need to be equally fluid. This SNP strategy is a tactical manoeuvre to achieve a larger purpose – to destroy the Labour Party in Scotland and the residual muscle memory of support it still has.

  • Pete

    Excellent post Craig. However the new Greek government will have more on their plate than just rebuilding their economy, because the USA (and the dominant EU countries I suppose too) will be working to destabilise and undermine them by any means necessary, as in Venezuela and so many other countries. After all Greece had a miltary dictatorship in the 1970s.

    As regards Brown, as you say he gave more to the bankers than anyone in history- he also seems to have grovelled to Murdoch at least as much as Blair,both as PM and as Chancellor (according to the new book “Hack Attack” by Nick Davies, reviewed in Lobster magazine).

    The great mystery of Brown is how so many left-wing Labour party members managed to beleive that he was any different to Blair. I guess it is just testimony to the human mind’s immense capacity for self-delusion.

  • YouKnowMyName

    Craig, when you mentioned Gordon Brown being partial to the Banking world, perhaps surprisingly so, your comments reminded me of the Telegraph 2012 blog about the mystery of the UK Gold now known as ‘Brown Bottom’, nothing to do with trousers lost on a train

    Zero Hedge went further than Telegraph and named the ‘rescued’ investment (casino) banks as AIG (AIG International Ltd., part of American International Group Inc) & Rothschild (NM Rothschild & Sons Ltd., the London-based unit of investment bank


  • Robert Crawford


    That is why I will not be sending wee Johnny the barber to Westminster, or, the Occupational Therapist to Holyrood as Justice Minister.

    How anyone can vote Labour after the mess they got us into beats me. Having said that, what is put into your head via your parent’s knee is almost impossible to remove.

    When the SNP said they would hold a General Elaction in Scotland after they had won the Independence vote, scared the—- out of me.

    I could see a Labour Government back in Power.

    For that same reason, the public might just vote Labour as the “protest vote” that it is, against the Tories.

    I also know from my own personal experience, and replies I am receiving at the moment, the SNP are not better than the rest.

    I thought they were, wrong again Robert.

    They are all the bloody same!!!.

    ME, ME, ME. and NO, NO, NO.

  • John Goss

    Youknowmyname, my understanding of the value of gold is much different from that of the bankers, accountants and economists. Its only value to me is its weight. This is quantifiable. Giving it a monetary value is mythical. It is just what financial speculators say it is. It will always change in value allowing men (and a few women) in pin-stripe suits to rob one another on a daily, weekly, monthly or year to year basis. At the moment it means nothing because it is not the reserve upon which world markets are trading. That is the petro-dollar. It will change of course.

    As to Syriza and the debt it inherited, that debt is really owed by the bankers and financiers who have moved their money elsewhere. Greece’s solution is to start a New Drachma making the old-currencies worthless as a means of exchange, after paying Europe in old currency. Then all those who stole the money from the people are stuck with a worthless fistful of shit. That’s the opposite way from how things operate now.

  • Richard

    There is a problem you don’t address. Namely, the big banks deserved to fail, but their customers did not. If you want to address “too big to fall” (and we should), we need a mechanism which simultaneously allows the complete destruction of a bank (from the perspective of shareholders and employees) while completely preserving its functions (from the perspective of depositors, traders, electronic transactions etc). The latter is why Gordon Brown had to save them.

  • MBC

    I listened to Sturgeon’s interview and I never heard her say that the people of Scotland want a Labour government with SNP support. You are twisting her words.

    1. The Scottish people voted 55% to remain in the Union. She did her best to prevent that, (so did I) but there you have it. She has to accept that for now.
    2. Given that we are stuck with the Union she is urging people to back SNP for Westminster as they will better push Scotland’s interests than Labour MPs would.
    3. She recognises that we have to shift a significant number of the 55% over to Yes, the ones who were fooled or terrorised by BT. When that is reached, she will call for another referendum.
    4. SNP will not form a formal coalition but would support a minority Labour government on a vote by vote basis but only if they agree to stall on Trident.

    That was what she said.

  • MBC

    I wish I knew more about Greece. What I want to know is who controls the army and the police. Resistance to austerity has so far avoided mass disorder. Why is that? Anyway, I commend the Greeks for their restraint in seeking a peaceful democratic route.

    As long as the bankers don’t control private armies they can go stuff themselves as far as I’m concerned. If Greece refuses to pay, what can they do about it? Syriza is not refusing to pay, just to renegotiate.

  • Mary

    UK Personal Debt

    People in the UK owed £1.463 trillion at the end of November 2014. This is up from £1.433 trillion at the end of November 2013 – an extra £591 per UK adu

    The average total debt per household – including mortgages – was £55,384 in November. The revised figure for October was £55,297.

    Per adult in the UK that’s an average debt of £28,968 in November – around 115.0% of average earnings. This is up from a revised £28,922 in October.

    Based on November 2014 trends, the UK’s total interest repayments on personal debt over a 12 month period would have been £55.6 billion. That’s an average of £152 million per day. This means that households in the UK would have paid an average of £2,105 in annual interest repayments. Per person that’s £1,101 – 4.37% of average earnings

    + more statistics on

  • Peter

    @John Spencer-Davis

    To continue your off-topic comment, what you write around the issue of sanctions is only scratching the surface of the horror of what is being done – the situation is truly grim beyond belief. If you are really interested go to the following Guardian article and read it (Patrick Butler writes some excellent articles in the Guardian concerning the goings-on with the DWP – search the Guardian website for ‘Patrick Butler’ and you can easily get to his articles).

    Five things we’ve learned about benefit sanctions

    Once you’ve read the article start reading the ‘comments’ section that follows. In particular I would strongly recommend reading the comments made by a commentor under the title ‘Ephemerid’ – she really knows here stuff out of experience of actually trying to claim in the current ‘welfare’ (once known as Social Security – eh, but what’s in a word) system.

    A couple of Ephemerid’s comments were in response to comments made by someone under the title ‘Ganapathi’. If you read those comments you will find that DWP are now piloting schemes in some areas in the UK whereby claiments can have enforced upon them ‘psychological therapy’. The therapy can be applied by a DWP desk clerk (beyond belief, I know) or by so called ‘Providers’ (private for profit companies). The claimant can refuse to have therapy enforced on them – but, if they do refuse, guess what happens, they get sanctioned. Utterly unbelievable but this is now happening in the UK.

    P.S. At this point in time the minimum duration for a sanction is four weeks.

  • Martin Jackson

    Odious debt
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    In international law, odious debt, also known as illegitimate debt, is a legal theory that holds that the national debt incurred by a regime for purposes that do not serve the best interests of the nation, should not be enforceable. Such debts are, thus, considered by this doctrine to be personal debts of the regime that incurred them and not debts of the state. In some respects, the concept is analogous to the invalidity of contracts signed under coercion.

    I would argue this applies to all the bank bailouts and to much of the debt incurred by Greece prior to Euro entry.

    Delighted by Syriza win but disapointed by choice of coalition partner, don’t think it will last 4 years. Nice to see swearing in minus Orthodox priests!

  • Mary

    Branson did well out of the crash.

    Revealed: The chaos behind the bank crisis and how authorities
    6 Jan 2015
    Just a day before Northern Rock officially applied to the Bank of England for … Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin empire and investment firm Olivant.

    17 November 2011
    Northern Rock sold to Virgin Money
    Comments (893)
    Chancellor George Osborne said: “We are creating a powerful new presence on the High Street”

    Virgin Money looks to join the mainstream
    Q&A: Virgin’s Rock deal
    Balls queries Rock timing

    Northern Rock is being sold to Virgin Money for £747m, the government has announced.

    The bank was nationalised in 2008 following its near collapse at the onset of the global credit crunch.

    Northern Rock plc will be rebranded as Virgin Money, which has pledged no compulsory job cuts for three years.

    BBC business editor Robert Peston said the sale would see taxpayers end up with a “paper” loss of somewhere between £400m and £650m.

    The bank currently employs 2,500 people, down from 5,500 when it was nationalised.

    On nationalisation, the government subsequently split the bank into two, Northern Rock plc, and Northern Rock (Asset Management), into which was placed its bad debt.

    Sources at Northern Rock told the BBC that there were cheers at the bank’s Newcastle headquarters when the news of the Virgin Money deal was announced.



    I see he is floating his Virgin Active for £1.5bn

    They always want more and are never satisfied with their massive wealth.

  • John Goss

    Thanks for that Martin. So a new US regime can cancel the $19 trillion which would cancel all other countries’ debts and we can start again with nationalised banks and a proper system which does not over-reward the few at the expense of the many. Bankers can learn what it is like to sweep swarf off a milling-machine and dig manure into the land. Herald the day.

  • bevin

    When Greece was first put under Troika rule, US hegemony was challenged only by marginal forces in the global community. Does the Troika still want to add Greece to its enemies?
    During the past three years, in large part because they can’t say “No” to the neo-con Obama, the positions of the EU, Germany and the IMF have been considerably compromised by their decision to go to war with Russia, put pressure on China and turn down Iran whenever it comes up with terms of surrender.
    And the new pipeline through Turkey is planned to bring cheap Russian gas to the Greek border.
    The point is that Syriza has options that didn’t exist as recently as the time when Papandreou’s promise that there would be a referendum on Troika conditions- a promise that, along with the PASOK leader, was crushed in short order.

  • Tristan

    Syrzia will go the same way as Mitterand’s government, trying something vaguely radical, but the rich will exercise their financial muscle to force a U-turn. Either that or the military will step in.

    The SNP has fallen victim to the usual problem of electoral politics – the real power does not lie in parliament, it lies outside – the rich force policies that benefit themselves, and the security forces do the same.
    This has caused many a radical young politician to turn into a right-wing shill.

    The false god of electoralism promises much and delivers little, its only when the masses force the hands of power that anything is gained.

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