Monthly Archives: July 2015

Britain could use its own Yanis Varoufakis

“I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride”; so said outgoing Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis yesterday, as he announced his post-referendum resignation with characteristic acerbic wit. Such blunt openness is chiefly why it’s Varoufakis, and not Greek PM Alexis Tsipras, who’s been hogging the press attention as the crisis in Greece has unfolded. In just a short time, Varoufakis has made a huge impact in world politics and challenged the shaky status quo in Europe. Now apparent pressure from other European finance ministers and his own party has meant Varoufakis’s ministerial job will go to another.

Varoufakis’s resignation-with-a-push is no doubt in part down to his laissez-faire approach to life – saying what he likes about who he likes, or doesn’t, and pressing on with what he believes in even in the face of staunch opposition. Varoufakis is nothing like our finance minister in the UK, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. In appearance alone they are strikingly dissimilar. Whereas Osborne’s an ill-fitted suit-and-tie man nervously holding a battered red briefcase, Varoufakis prefers leather jacket and t-shirt, looking every bit like the shaven-headed gym instructor to Osborne’s uptight, plastic-haired estate agent.

Predictably, in dealing with a politician slightly off-centre, the world’s media has presented Varoufakis as some kind of rock star, a motorcycle-riding rebel with a wife who inspires hit Pulp songs. It’s a distraction – Varoufakis may appear outwardly meme-worthy, but he’s been the real deal for Greece, negotiating tirelessly with a ruthless Europe over whether or not the country deserves a paddle whilst they’re up shit creek. George Osborne, in contrast, is the personification of cronyism in British politics, a long-time friend of the PM who found his way into the Conservative Party through an Oxford contact. One sweats over crucial meetings in Europe, the other can’t even stay tuned in for PMQs. If one appears to care too much, the other sometimes doesn’t appear to care at all.

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The party of contradictions

Don’t you just hate it when you condemn a group of people for doing something you do yourself? The Tories certainly do. Last week we had not one but two such contradictions from senior Tory ministers.

Iain Duncan Smith – in the press recently for his hand in redefining child poverty in the face of rising figures and the upcoming £12bn cuts to welfare – has had his expenses credit card suspended for failing to prove the expenses were legitimate. Smith had his card blocked when he failed to repay the £1,057.28 of spending which he had not proved was genuine. This comes from a work and pensions secretary who previously backed giving benefits claimants prepaid cards to control what they can spend their money on. As usual with the Tories, one rule for them, and another for their constituents.

Meanwhile, the education secretary, Nicky Morgan, on Tuesday warned that children with homophobic views are more likely to become extremists. (Confusingly, when asked for traits that might indicate extreme views, Morgan replied, “Sadly, Isis are extremely intolerant of homosexuality.”) Perhaps opposing gay marriage would be a sure sign of homophobic views – however, this is exactly the position of Morgan herself, having voted against gay marriage in 2013.

With a party so full of hypocrites, seemingly contradicting itself on an almost daily basis, it’s sometimes difficult to understand what the government believes in and is trying to achieve. Whatever it is, you can be pretty sure it’s not something we need.


Featured Image: UK In Spain (via Flickr)