I don’t claim special insight into Greek politics – merely a strong emotional attachment. This dates back to the war (1939-45) – when Tony and Betty Ambatielou lodged with us in Cardiff. After the war, when Tony was under sentence of death and Betty led the international campaign for his release, all of our family was both politically and emotionally involved.
Later, during the military dictatorship, we helped several of the refugees and my personal emotional attachment became stronger. So I’ve followed every twist and turn in Greek politics for 70+ years and, naturally, was overjoyed by the rise of Syriza.
Syriza is not responsible for what previous governments did – the blame for the deficit rests squarely with the ultra-rich and their allies in Europe. The recent EU/troika ‘bailouts’ have been paid to the very people that caused the problem whilst, in contrast, the EU/troika insists that ordinary Greek people suffer through reduced pensions and other impositions.
So I was delighted to read this open letter from leading Trade Unionists, left-wing Labour MPs (naturally including Jeremy Corbyn), Plaid Cymru and SNP MPs and, naturally, Caroline Lucas. I have only one thing to add.
As Caroline has pointed out in a separate statement, in 1953 the wartime allies agreed to write off most of Germany’s historic debts, facilitating Germany’s economic recovery. It is ironic that the present German government is so resolutely opposed to Greece being given similar dispensation.
We call on David Cameron to support the organisation of a European conference to agree debt cancellation for Greece and other countries that need it, informed by debt audits and funded by recovering money from the banks and financial speculators who were the real beneficiaries of bailouts. We believe there must be an end to the enforcing of austerity policies that are causing injustice and poverty in Europe and across the world. 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.
Frances O’Grady General secretary, TUC
Len McCluskey General secretary, Unite the Union
Paul Kenny General secretary, GMB
Manuel Cortes General secretary, TSSA
Sarah-Jayne Clifton Director, Jubilee Debt Campaign
Paul Mackney Chair, Greece Solidarity Campaign
Nick Dearden Global Justice Now
Owen Epsley War on Want
James Meadway New Economics Foundation
Ann Pettifor Prime Economics
Diane Abbott MP Dave Anderson MP Richard Burgon MP Jeremy Corbyn MP Jonathan Edwards MP Roger Godsiff MP Harry Harpham MP Carolyn Harris MP George Kerevan MP Ian Lavery MP Clive Lewis MP Rebecca Long-Bailey MP Caroline Lucas MP John McDonnell MP Liz Mcinnes MP Rachael Maskell MP Michael Meacher MP Grahame Morris MP Kate Osamor MP Liz Saville-Roberts MP Cat Smith MP Chris Stephens MP Jo Stevens MP Catherine West MP Hywel Williams MP