By Luke James in Britain:
Greece rejects austerity – so must Britain
Tuesday 27th January 2015
15 MPs urge Labour to offer a real alternative
Fifteen MPs issued a statement urging shadow chancellor Ed Balls to replace his “tragic” support for spending cuts with a plan to “kick-start the economy” with public investment.
Their call came as Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras was sworn in as Greek Prime Minister in Athens.
Syriza more than doubled its seats amid anger over savage “troika” cuts that have seen unemployment soar to 25 per cent, wages slashed and public services wither away.
Mr Tsipras formed a coalition government with the right-wing Greek Independents after falling two short of an overall majority.
But the result remained a “firm rejection of disastrous austerity policies,” according to Mr McCluskey.
He said: “The fight of the Greek people against austerity is the same fight that British, Irish and millions of other working people across Europe are waging against the failed politics that protects the rich and well-off at the expense of the poor.”
Syriza’s victory was helped by a huge slump in support for Labour’s Greek sister party Pasok, as well as the desertion of many Pasok members to the Syriza cause.
Pasok won power in 2009 with 43 per cent support but that plummeted to just 4.8 on Sunday as voters punished it for agreeing extreme austerity measures as part of a £179 billion bailout.
TSSA rail union leader Manuel Cortes was among Labour figures to warn the party could face a similar backlash unless it challenges austerity.
“Labour’s sister party Pasok pulverised as a result of its support of inhumane neoliberal austerity — Miliband should take note,” he wrote on Twitter.
In the wake of Syriza’s victory, Labour leader Ed Miliband said each country must “choose its own path on how to deal with the economic and social challenges they face.
“We have set out our path for Britain — to make sure our country is fairer and more prosperous and balance the books,” he said.
But the group of 15 Labour MPs have called on Mr Miliband to defy the Tory deficit reduction straightjacket and invest in the economy.
Mr Meacher, who penned their statement, argued Labour could exploit 0.5 per cent interest rates or use nationalised banks to invest “without any increase in public borrowing at all.”
Spending £30bn in key industries would be enough to create a million jobs with proper pay and conditions within 2-3 years, Mr Meacher explained.
The leftwinger also told Labour List that returning the railways to public ownership should be the start of a new role for the public sector in driving the economy.
And the group of left MPs said new collective bargaining to curb corporate power should also be a priority.
Diane Abbott, Dave Anderson, Katy Clark, Jeremy Corbyn, Fabian Hamilton, Kelvin Hopkins, Ian Lavery, John McDonnell, Michael Meacher, Ian Mearns, Grahame Morris, Linda Riordan, Steve Rotherham, Jim Sheridan and Chris Williamson all supported the statement.
Cameron set to congratulate Tsipras on Syriza win
TORY PM David Cameron was last night expected to congratulate Alexis Tsipras on his election as Greek Prime Minister.
Mr Cameron was due to speak to the Syriza leader by phone in the early evening — hours after he was sworn in at the Greek Parliament.
A triumphant Mr Tsipras told Greeks that his party’s win meant an end to “austerity and destruction” in a victory speech in central Athens.
A Downing Street spokeswoman said yesterday that Mr Cameron “respects the decision of the Greek people.”
But the PM and Chancellor George Osborne made a concerted effort to play down the rejection of their austerity politics.
Mr Osborne claimed the result was “not a defeat of austerity, it is a defeat of economic plans that do not work.”
Mr Cameron and Mr Tsipras are set to meet face-to-face for the first time at a European Council meeting on February 12.