Sunday, 5 July 2015


I’ve never been a big fan of the IMF, for reasons to numerous to go into here; they seem to have gone round the world leaving chaos in their wake. But I’ve always been an EU fan and, somewhat naively, I’ve been a supporter of the Euro, for all the obvious reasons of convenience and certainty of transactions in a single market and currency area.

Of course the fact that I have been employed and paid by EU funding and that I’ve seen how much it can do, by comparison with the far more limited UK or Scottish funding has been a part of firing that enthusiasm.

I always felt too, that the worst excesses of the right wing British (English) governments could be mitigated in some way by the more progressive EU directives.

And the very fact that the EU annoyed the hell out of Mrs Thatcher and gave John Major, and later Cameron, ulcers, was enough to endear it to me.

But the more I have read about the Greek crisis, the more I have begun to doubt what I have for so long believed. I've begun to see the EU in a different light, and not a particularly endearing one.

The Euro project seems to have failed, beaten by the crisis of 2008 and on. Of course in the beginning Greece seems to have fiddled the figures to get into the Euro project, but the people who audited the Greek books prior to its joining, to verify its convergence with mainstream European economic performance, should have been bright enough to see through the pretence that the Greek economy was in a suitable state to work alongside economies like those of Germany, Austria, Finland and other rich countries.

Clearly too, just like in so many other countries (not least the UK), the Greek super wealthy don’t bother with the inconvenience of paying tax, and probably never will. And making these people pay taxes they don’t want to pay, is a virtual impossibility. Ask any country that has tried it.

As an economic dunce I can see that there can be no future for Greece in the Euro. It means never-ending and ever-increasing bail-outs to pay off the last bail-outs. With no money spare from paying back the banks at outrageous interest rates, the country can hardly grow the economy, and as we all know austerity never grew economies. It just, in some strange way, makes rich people richer.

Our blogroll has an Alex Andreou, a Greek, who besides writing an occasional blog, is a freelance journalist and actor. This is his take on the current situation. I think he expresses it far better than I could. I suggest it is worth a read because it talks about today’s crisis and ties it in with the current situation in Scotland, because whatever has happened  or will happen in Greece, things have changed forever, just as they have here.

Whatever the outcome of today’s referendum, I wish the long suffering ordinary Greek, badly served by hopeless government and the greedy elite, the very best. As a person living in the UK I can sympathise and empathise.
Our mate, Pa Broon, has a two-for-one offer on Amazon. Some of you may already have read his travelogues, but there are many new readers here since we talked about the individual books, what seems like years ago. So can I suggest you have a look. 

I can guarantee that they are a damned good read, full of facts mixed with amusing anecdotes and written in Paul's usual self-deprecating, yet endearing witty style.

If you doubt me, here's what Paul says of it himself! And who could doubt him?

Additionally, it's worth remembering that every penny goes to the Scouts and the great work they do with young people.

 A value for money amalgamation of two previously published travelogues. Short enough to leave you feeling satisfied but not cheated out of valuable time - thoroughly recommended for the smallest room.

Want to know what really happens on Scout trips? Steady, its not that exciting. Two short travelogues that are entertaining and useful if you're going to walk the Great Glen Way between Fort William and Inverness or if you're thinking about visiting the Island of Arran.

Handy tips on where to camp, where to shop and where you can go for a free hot shower in the middle of no where. But wait, that's not all; you also get information on wild campsites, on why the canal was built and on where not to stay in Inverness and a beautiful set of complimentary soup spoons.*

Meanwhile, if you're on Arran - lots of quirky information about the tiny villages that abound along with social commentary on day wear, geology and snow but sadly no information about pubs & restaurants because the young folk were skint.

Each book bought means the Scout Group is closer to not having to do jumble sales - these are loathsome disgusting and horrible. Buy a copy for friends as well - all proceeds go to the scout group to which the young folk belong.

* There are no complimentary soup spoons, its a lie.
Sloppy Sunday hasn't disappeared. It can still be found here, for those looking for the awww factor.


  1. Going to make this short because I keep losing internet. I feel so much the same way about Europe and the Greek situation that I feel I could have written the same thing. Voted against in 1975, changed my mind and now here is the rub, if Cameron and crew want to stay in should we? I think it is time for Banking to be put back where it belongs as a support industry and not as the ONLY industry.

    1. Well, Helena, it is something that we will have to decide over the next couple of years with Mr Cameron's Neverendum coming up (well, that's what he called a two year campaign in Scotland, so I assume it's the same thing when he does it...but maybe not, because he went to Eton, which we know, changes everything).

      I'm inclined towards staying in Europe, and possibly for the first time in my life, I agree with Cameron that some things about it should be changed...we probably don't agree about what things. He wants it to stop interfering in English/British laws; I don't (someone has to, otherwise we'll all be eating mud soon).

      But I must admit that, anything that Cameron and Osborne want has to be viewed with suspicion, given that their apparent aim is a return to Dickensian Britain. On the other hand the First and Deputy First Minister are for the EU, and their vision for us is very different.

      We need to examine both sides carefully. Doubtless this discussion will last a long time.

  2. Just a wee thought here Tris caused by something I read on Twitter last night.

    Germany, yes THAT Germany, has been bailed out and had its debt cut FOUR times in the 20th Century ... 1919, 1923, 1945 and 1953. Meanwhile back in the world of today Greece has been bailed out ONCE and had NO cuts to its debt. Not only that but in the 1953 cut to Germany's debt GREECE was one of the signatories who agreed to the cut in debt!

    Imay be wrong here but the current LACK of support for Greece from a certain European country appears to be a perfect case of "one set of rules for us and a different set of rules for you."

    1. Completely agree. We've heard about the rich German taxpayers having to bail out Greece, but we haven't heard that it was their turn... or, in fact, that most of the bail out money went to big banks, including German ones.

    2. Greek creditors took a haircut - they had an enforced cut in their debt - a few years back.

      As I pointed out elsewhere. Who had the good idea of "nationalising" the Greek debt in the first place? Governments don't routinely borrow from each other, they issue bonds on the "markets". Private investors, insurance companies, pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, middle eastern potentates, hedge funds, banks. All of them "private investors" lend the money. Somewhere along the line they got their money back and the "European taxpayer" got to hold all the IOU's.

      So you have the people - cos Angela was there and so were Dave and Gideon - who might have put the brakes on the madness. Well they are indignant at taxpayers being asked to bail out the Greeks. Yet what did they do to make sure in the last 5 years alone that it wasn't going to be "taxpayers" in the EU who'd be taking any loss on Greek debts?

      Instead of giving the Greeks a hard time, perhaps Europeans should be pointing a finger at their own politicians. It was they who allowed the ECB to lend "taxpayers" money to Greece. It was they who let the "private investors" escape the consequences of their error in lending to Greece.

      As to Greece having lax tax collection, an overburdened public sector, and little except olives to export. Well that has been the situation as long as I can remember. I can only assume that lenders took that into consideration when they collected loan arrangement fees and interest payments before the "European taxpayer" bought them out. Were they perhaps really only lending the money in the sure certainty that the "EU taxpayer" was underwriting it all along?

      If so, then they played the EU politicians well.

      Germans should be asking for the heads of their own bankers, and their political leaders here, and not for Tsipras. From where I'm sitting he looks like the only person who is trying to do what the voters expected him to do.

      OXI. And good luck to them.

    3. The trouble was, I think, that the banks didn't care whom or what, they lent to.

      I think it's high time that we all asked demanded, the heads of the bankers.

      Why can't we do this? They are criminals. They have been found 'fixing' just about anything there was that could be fixed to make more money from their grubby little selves.

      The clever people in actually doing it, or the stupid people up in the board rooms that didn't understand what was going on but kept setting high and higher bars for their staff to achieve... They are all criminals, and in the UK not one of them has suffered. The Jock amongst them had his stupid title taken away, while some others got stupider titles and government ministerial jobs.

      In Iceland they got 3 years of porridge.

    4. Oh I agree 121% APR ( :) ) with you there Tris. I have pointed out frequently on the doorsteps at campaigns, the Icelandic robust response versus ours. Is there not a network of public schools in Iceland?

      And is it not wickedly funny how every new miss selling or market manipulation scandal sees the banks fined. Sees compensation being paid. But the people who pay the fines - us when its RBS, cos we own it - are not the ones who benefited from the crime. In addition to rarely hearing about anyone being arrested for any of this stuff in the UK, I can recall zero proceeds of crime orders.

      Its all smoke and mirrors while the pals of those who wield power in our society all scratch each others backs while the rest of us pick up the tab.

    5. Please send the President of Iceland to sort out the UK... Maybe we can adopt some of their other policies too ... but no, as you point out there isn't quite the same hierarchy starting with families that fly in water from the Jordan to christen their bairns all the way down to moronic coke head ministers!

  3. tris

    no not a return to Dickensian Britain. more a world like Hieronymus Bosch

    1. Well, you could be right there.

  4. Germany needs the euro more than we Greeks stick them back on
    the Deutschmark

    1. That's not going to happen. They have profited far too much by being part of a relatively weak currency, as opposed to the DMark which was always strong, even when they took on 22 million impoverished OMark users.... and their run down economy and infrastructure.

  5. I'm in favour of trading agreements within the EU, but absolutely no political or monetary union. The Human Rights Act was something sorely needed, but it has been hijacked by lawyers.

    It's difficult to separate countries from the EU once they are in, but the EU needs to change drastically. Corruption is endemic and if I'm right, on third of the budget is used for farm subsidies.

    I can't find common ground with any political party with regards to EU, SNP included.

    Greece is a basket case regardless of what happens. I can sympathise with those impacted, but then again why should the taxpayers of another country bail them out?

    The banking industry sorely needs proper regulation, but it won't happen. And it is this industry that has a major responsibility in the economic problems we face today.

    1. Well, Anon, we aren't in total agreement, but I'm more favourable to a trading organisation and free market than what is happening just now.

      I don't however trust whatever it is that Cameron wants to do with it, on the basis that I wouldn't trust Cameron if he said 1 + 1 = 2.

      Being outside the EU, in a similar position to Norway would have seemed reasonable, and certainly Scotland on its own might achieve that, but I can't imagine for a second the EFTA countries wanting Britain in their club.

      The populations of these countries are small, and although they have very different systems (Iceland and Norway on one hand and Switzerland and Lichtenstein on the other), they are much richer than the UK.

      And we all know what the UK is like when it gets anywhere... Now we will do it our way.

      Banks will never be regulated... one of Cameron's main arguments with the EU, apart from the obvious one that he cant stand foreigners unless they are Americans or Saudi royals, is that the City of London must be free from regulations, so that they can continue to fleece the world for the benefit of a few thousand Tory contributors.

    2. They bankroll Labour as well to keep them both on board.

      Greeks have more guts than the wimps who voted No last Sept here.

    3. Yes, that's true. They hedge their bets so that they can hold whichever chancellor in their greasy dirty paws. Heaven knows who else they bribe. It's not like the establishment in the Uk wasn't crooked.

      Yeah, there's not many who would turn down the chance of freedom from Tory rule and the supremacy of the bankers and super rich. Hopefully the Greeks have more courage than the Scots.

  6. I see from the illustration that that's the Pa Broon that writes the fazzledown blog. Should be worth a read. He has me in stitches. Not blogged for a while though.

    1. One and the same Anon, and you're right he has a very witty style. I recommend the books, very good reads, and almost a give away.

  7. The exit polls, look as though Greece has told the troika to sod off.

    1. Good for them and I believe Holland has come out in support.

    2. Good. Someone has to do something about the banks.

      Max reckons that Deutsche Bank could be in big trouble now, because above all they lent silly money to Greece when they shouldn't have. I'd not be surprised if some of the Uk banks don't go squealing like stuck pigs to Osborne demanding more taxpayer money.

      Bravo Greece. You taught us a thing or two.

  8. Tris

    I don't pretend to understand everything that has gone on since we were all shafted in 2008 but I do know that I admire the Icelanders and I admire the Greeks and hope they stick to their guns. If the EU can't look after its people over the bankers then the EU can do one. While we live in a Victorian fairyland where we are told to worship at the alter of our latest princess who was baptised by water from the river jordan, people are bricking it because on Wednesday the scum that is the Tory party will fire the first guns in what will be a war.

    I am more like you and had faith in Europe but Europe has let us all down by protecting the bankers over its people, just like the scumbag Tories. I have had enough of these wankers now. We all better get ready for Wednesday and the potential of Europe shafting the Greeks. We need to decide what government and business is for, is it for the betterment of all or just a tiny few. Osbourne will as good as kill people this week with a smile, I really hope people start to get involved and not take this sitting down.

    But overall I am sick of these pricks.


    1. I have to say Bruce, I'm not looking forward to the havoc that Osborne is going to cause with his austerity budget. I'm getting ready to step up the food bank shops. More decent people will have to resort to them.

      Osborne, Cameron and Smith need... nope I'll not say it. You can probably guess, but the hint is it involves a lamp post and a rope.

      As for bloody leaching princesses and water from the Jordan flown over to baptise her, because she's not an ordinary baby and couldn't possibly have the ordinary water that ordinary people's ordinary babies have, even the hard-working ordinary ones up and down the ordinary country. Pffffffffff. I hope Liz paid for the flight and all the partying and security that it cost us, but I bloody doubt if the old tight wad put her hand in her purse.

      It's fortunate that we are such a rich kingdom and can afford all these fripperies. Never mind that a million or so are starving...and they don't (mind).

  9. Replies
    1. Sums things up perfectly. This needs to be carved on a large tablet of stone (I believe there is a spare going somewhere.......) and shoved up IDS's arse.