As I write this the news is coming in that
radical left party, Syriza, will be the dominant force in Greek politics after
the elections there. It is currently unclear if Syriza will win enough seats to
form a majority government. What is clear is that Syriza’s triumph will have
implications across Europe including in the UK. Our economy is healing but
still very delicate and the slightest shock could knock it off course. Syriza’s
anti-cuts policy could be that shock.
I can understand the Greek people choosing to turn their backs on what they regard as
Brussels imposed austerity. Without a Greek
central bank to make it cheaper for Greeks to borrow, and cheaper for
foreigners to buy Greek goods, Greece
has suffered terrible since the credit crunch. According to the European
Commission last year one in every four Greeks was unemployed. Contrast
this with the record number of people in work in the UK, and you can start to imagine
the pain of the Greek people. Many Greeks feel they are being forced to make
cuts for Brussels, while Brussels and the European Central Bank does
nothing to help them. It is completely understandable that Syriza’s defiant
message appeals to them.
There may be consequences for the
UK from Greece’s
decision. I respect and empathise with the sovereign will of the Greek people,
and I wouldn’t dare tell them what they should do. However, David Cameron’s
government has had to make difficult decisions to put the UK on the path
to a secure future. The Prime Minister also acknowledges to reach that better,
brighter future more difficult decisions will be needed. If, as a result of
this Greek election, the European economy and financial system is plunged into
chaos again those decisions will become even harder to make.
That is why it is important that we have a government that has shown it has a long-term economic plan. If our economy receives a shock we need to have politicians in place with a plan for dealing with that. Under David Cameron and George Osborne
creating more jobs than any other major economy is, wages are starting to get
ahead of prices, and our deficit has been halved. That is a record that
shows that, if the Greek elections do set off a chain reaction across Europe, we have a team in government capable of dealing
with it. It is yet another reason to trust the Conservatives to deliver the
secure, brighter future we all want.