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From The Socialist newspaper, 20 March 2013

Alexis Tsipras in London

What way forward for Greece and the working class in Europe?

Amalia Loizidou

On Friday 15 March 500 people attended a public meeting organised by the London branch of Syriza, the left party in Greece. Alexis Tsipras, Syriza's leader, spoke at the meeting.

Tsipras attracted Greek people living in London and left activists, looking for debate on the way out of the crisis.

However, Tsipras kept his radical rhetoric to explaining the effects of capitalism in Europe and vague proposals, not fully satisfying the audience.

He described the devastating consequences of austerity in Greece and explained why the government and its allies abroad are supporting and implementing such policies: "They seek the creation of an economic environment based on cheap labour, Special Economic Zones, deregulation of the labour market, tax exemptions for capital, and extensive privatisation of public goods and services."

He outlined his vision of the way out of the crisis - "the model of the 1953 London Debt Agreement, which gave the post-war German economy a kick start" on the basis of huge investment through the Marshall Plan.

This is a way of avoiding the demand for debt cancellation. The situation in Greece in 2013 is not comparable with post-war Germany.

There is no state in the position to implement a Marshall plan. Nor do world governments today have the same geo-strategic, ideological and political motivation to do so.

Banking system

"Our first priority is to freeze all measures reducing wages and pensions and to restore the minimum wage to pre-Memorandum levels" said Tsipras.

It is welcomed that this point was emphasised as others in Syriza's leadership have recently stated that this restoration will be harder to achieve as the economy shrinks further.

However, is this demand possible while Greece is crushed by its debt? Tsipras outlined: "We will secure the viability of the banking system by introducing social and public control of banks...

"What we need is a banking system devoted to the public interest - not one bowing to capitalist profit."

There was no mention of public ownership of the banking system or of the basic sectors of the economy. If left in private hands they will not be devoted to the public interest.

Syriza is the party working class people are looking to, but not necessarily joining, at the present time as the best alternative to the pro-Troika parties in Greece.

There are signs of the leadership of Syriza shifting to the right - desperate to avoid an open clash with Greek big business and the Troika.

Initiative of 1000

But there is also an attempt by sections of the left, grouped around the Initiative of 1000', calling for a united Left, to build a strong, socialist opposition, and to push a future Syriza-led government to implement socialist politics.

Before the meeting took place, Tsipras met with Labour Party representatives and later said that Labour is "one of the few parties...with whom we share a lot of positions".

Instead of looking towards pro-capitalist parties, the people at the Syriza London meeting showed that there is a search to unite the resistance all over Europe from below.

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In The Socialist 20 March 2013:


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