Syriza and the SNP playbook

There’s an echo in Syriza’s presentation of the options to the Greek people in the SNP’s approach to the independence referendum in September 2014.

The SNP campaigned promising a plan A of keeping Sterling, (because they knew the Scots were afraid of the unknown alternatives), yet having full sovereignty over fiscal policy.  All other UK parties announced that this would not be conceded.

The SNP revealed no plan B, on the basis that they insisted it would be in the interests of the  Rest of UK [RUK] to grant continued membership.  This was a pretty astonishing claim.  Given the unfolding of the Eurozone crisis, caused by a combination of independent fiscal policies and a common monetary policy, just what the SNP were asking for, it is pretty plausible that the RUK parties claim that Sterling membership would not be on offer was real, and not a ploy.

So Syriza are campaigning promising Euro membership, which they know is popular in Greece, safe deposits, but a rejection of terms offered by the creditors.  Yet without the creditors (probably even with them) deposits are nothing like safe.  And without the creditors, the governments’ financing needs cannot be met any other way than either starving those dependent on the public sector, and many others, or printing their own currency.   Syriza are offering something it is not in their power to offer, because the creditors won’t agree to it.

Just like with the SNP, Syriza try to portray their own demands as in the interests of the creditors themselves.  And they have done this month after month in spite of the creditors’ resistance.  And in spite of the fears of contagion on which Syriza’s argument that giving in is wise for the creditors  depends, not being realised.  Just as with the SNP, Syriza reveal no plan B in case their demands are not met.  Just as in the indyref, therefore, voters can’t gauge the benefits of supporting their representatives in pursuit of plan A, since they don’t know what they will actually get by pursuing it.

A genuine vote in the independence referendum depended on the Scots seeing through the SNPs rhetoric on complex matters of macro and finance.  Who knows whether they did or not.  Likewise, a genuine vote on Sunday depends on the Greeks understanding the likely consequences of a yes or a no.

As I watch events unfold, it’s particularly sad to see the emphasis placed by Syriza on the referendum being the ultimate expression of democracy.   When the consequences of the different votes are not explained properly, and in fact are actively concealed, the vote can’t be said to be an informed one.  That is a very poor expression of democracy from its inventors.


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7 Responses to Syriza and the SNP playbook

  1. C Milas says:

    Amazing piece; without doubt, SYRIZA is copying SNP. Now then, what is unclear to me is the following. If YES wins, SYRIZA ( if stays in power) will implement a version of the Troika plans. Remember, however, that these proposals involve fiscal targets which (of course) are difficult to be met. Missing the targets suggests new measures. Will the government proceed with the new measures in the name of the YES vote or it will go for a new referendum?

    • Tony Yates says:

      Good points. A yes vote isn’t the end of the uncertainty. Another false aspect of the ‘democracy’ in the referendum is the outdating of the referendum itself by the change in circumstances since the offer was made. An offer that’s no longer even current.

      • Eleftherios Athanasiou says:

        What is happening in Greece is beyond me. People are having a referendum, which is not based on a valid proposal (it expired on the 30th of June), with SYRIZA marching people to vote “no” as this symbolically translates into the Greek people being against proposed austerity measures, WHILE stating that the EU is fool to believe that this referendum has a symbolic interpretation as it does not signify a general yes/no answer towards Greece’s European membership. At this point my head explodes… The bitter truth is that neither a yes nor a no vote will bring a better proposal than those that were already on the table. All other talk is purely for the media to have something to feast on.

      • Tony Yates says:

        Thanks for this, E. I hope something good comes out of it, now the referendum has been held.

  2. Barr, Malcolm says:

    Tony – I thought your choice of words in the final three sentences of this was nothing short of poetic. I hope you don’t mind if I quote you at some point!

    • Tony Yates says:

      Oh dear, I usually aspire to bureaucratic functionary economese. Something must have gone wrong. It’s all on the record, so you are welcome to quote me.

  3. Ben Birnberg says:

    Tony. I think your parallel between SNP policy of keeping the £ in the event of independence and Syriza’s policy of staying in the Eurozone whilst ditching austerity is apt. In each case a notorious inconsistency. I have come round to the view that Greece must exit the Eurozone, harsh as the short-term consequences will prove and this view is shared increasingly by many in the country (as we experienced on our recent visit), whatever the outcome of what will be an artificial Referendum called by Syriza, counterproductive as it may turn out because a majority fear the uncertainties of going out into a problematic world without nanny. Seumas Milne has a good piece in today’s Guardian on the subject. Ben

    Date: Wed, 1 Jul 2015 20:00:48 +0000 To:

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