Greece – Merkel decides

Posted by Ivan Rendall on Saturday, 13 June 2015 in Blogging

Posted over two weeks ago!

Not much changes, does it?

The prospect of “Grexit” is being pumped through the bodies economic,  politic, and philosophic of Europe.

La Garde seems to have washed her hands of the problem because the IMF can’t stand the idea of doing things differently for once and thereby setting a precedent.

So it’s Europe’s problem and that means it’s Merkel’s problem.

The body economic in Europe feel much the same as the IMF, they want to wash their hands too. But the economics are pretty clear: nobody any longer thinks of the debt in purely economic terms. One way or another it’s going to get written off, in part or in whole, rescheduled over a couple of centuries, eased by Russia, or it may get lost in a mixture of all three in the political muddle that will be with us over the next couple of months in the event of a default.

The problem is that it’s now gone beyond economics and even politics, even the EU’s penchant for incomprehensible political solutions. It’s now becoming personal and that means dirty.

The press and media (see Bild’s double speak today) are not on the side of solutions, they want a drama, and some of them are playing up the Greek storyline in the EU soap opera because they have nothing to go on. They have personalised the debt.

A Bloomberg poll suggests 51% of Germans want Greece out of the Euro while 41% want it to stay in. That view has been informed not so much by rational debate as by seeing, reading and listening to coy correspondents recording their strangely uninformative, torpid stories (always delivered with excitement though) against a backdrop of the unimaginably costly hotels, shiny black cars, travel details, group photographs and videos of our leaders.

Surely Merkel has made her decision. She’s looked at the abyss and decided now is a bad time for an apocalypse. She’s waiting until the Greek government is firmly stretched out on the rack, then she’ll wait until the last second before Greece defaults, and everybody else is exhausted, before serenely producing her solution when the Greek government can’t take the credit?

Merkel and Tsipris both want all the credit now. That’s why it’s now personal. It’s squirmy, payback and legacy time.

Remember, Merkel works for the German people. I think her strategy is to blink last, then beat up the Greek government, especially Tsipras and Varoufakis, then save their Greek people from their own vanquished, “obdurate” government, all to the applause of the press and media, especially in Germany.

The backdrop will be to portray the Greek people positively, diverting opinion from Bad Greeks to Good Greece, in particular the people saving lives in Lesbos, the brave Greeks shouldering the refugee burden on EU’s rocky shores.

Imagine Default. Imagine the outcry the Greek government could make if it was forced to default while it’s people were saving lives of refugees. It would bind the government and people together while the rest of Europe (including Germany) would be cast as unfeeling skinflints letting desperate people drown as they struggle from the waves. Interesting that there is a  story this morning that Germany is going to take more refugees, especially well-trained Syrian professionals, engineers, managers and doctors.

And Britain. All this makes Farage, Cameron, limping Labour and the British press look mean, negative and ill-informed. (We need engineers, managers and doctors after all.)

The British people seem to want to play a positive role in Europe and in the Mediterranean refugee calamity. We should do more than send HMS Bulwark (brilliant and utterly professional though their crew is). But the minimalist and carping policies of BritGov are being determined by a weak PM having to cuddle up to 80 odd fruit-cake, loony right wing Tories.

We are losing the attention of Merkel and others we need in Europe not because of our demands but because Britain is seen to be confused and weak something which no amount of caterwauling about our economy will change.

We are seen as weak because Cameron has turned double speak, muddle and U-turnery into an art. Merkel will treat us as she treats the Greeks – as people without too many options while she has the time to let us hang ourselves.

She is keeping her loonies quiet by much more subtle means and through the power of personal presence. Cameron makes her look powerful, and she’ll exploit that while Cameron makes Nicola Sturgeon look powerful.

We need a new PM, like Greece.

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