Tag Archives: United Kingdom

The Greeks – they’re just like us!

First published  17th March 2015, The News Hub…. www.the-newshub.com

The relationship between the European Union, the Eurozone and Greece is no different to the relationships between many governments and their own citizens. The EU-Greece relationship is no more than a macro model of what is currently occurring, for instance, in the United Kingdom.


Let’s face it since the Greek crisis started a few years ago, in the main, the Greeks have been caricatured as lazy, workshy and the architects of their own misfortune. That naturally led to the assumption that they didn’t ‘deserve’ support from their richer European cousins unless they changed their ways.

Here in the United Kingdom, the scrounging working classes, just like the Greek nation, have really been clobbered over the last few years. They have been characterised as lazy, workshy and sitting back, as hard-working richer people fed them undeserved benefits. Government slogans such as “The workshy”, ” Abuse of the system” and “Benefits Culture” became common.


The government not only blamed them for a poorly designed welfare system by cutting benefits but humiliated the sick and disabled by forcing them to undergo questions and tests to ascertain whether they were deserving of government support.
Welfare benefits were even reduced if the State decided that they had more bedrooms than they really needed!
This was forced austerity without purpose.

The Greeks are taking the rap not just for their own economic shortcomings but for a very badly conceived and designed Eurozone. Their punishment too was humiliation through austerity.


Poor Brits had the state machinery and official interrogation to contend with whilst the Greeks were humiliated by the fiscal police known as ‘the troika’. Same principle, different scale.


The EU continues its slogan of “We want Greece to remain within the EU”, when all the evidence so far, is to the contrary.
The equivalent UK slogans are all about those ubiquitous ‘hard-working people’ and being ‘In it together’, which just like the EU – is supposed to be a club that everyone needs to belong to.

The oppressed eventually find a hate figure. The Greeks have found themselves the Nazis and poor Brits have found themselves ‘the toffs’ and the bankers. The Greeks want reparations for the damage done during WW2 and the Brits are enjoying bankers forgoing their comedy bonuses. The oppressors (real or imaginary) also need to be punished – an economic quid pro quo!


The Eurozone’s motives in not being too overt in helping the Greeks are very straightforward.


They say that they want to avoid a possible Greek exit from the Eurozone but in fact, it’s much more than that. There are other states within the European Union which are just below the radar and could potentially be in just as much trouble as the Greek economy. Spain and Portugal immediately spring to mind.


If Eurozone officials were not seen to dispense a certain amount of punishment to the Greeks before helping them, or if Greece decided to leave the Eurozone as a result of not being able to stand any more EU humiliation, others would doubtless follow . That means that Greece can only be helped by being thrown the occasional EU morsel, preceded by a public serving of abuse or austerity.

In the United Kingdom, the poor are being kept in line by also being thrown the occasional morsel such as an increase in minimum wage, a meaningless shift in tax bands or mini handouts which no doubt will be expressed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in this week’s Budget.
It’s all about keeping the poor in check without giving others any ideas.

Royal Baby – Obsession or Media Hype?

As the world’s media whips itself into a frenzy over Prince William and his wife Kate’s baby, some bemused spectators are wondering if Britain’s royal family really is that fascinating or just hype.

From breathless reports about the baby’s due date to endless speculation about the name and manner of delivery, TV crews from around the world have been delivering almost hourly updates outside the London hospital where Kate is due to give birth.

But do audiences really share their enthusiasm about the birth of a child who will be third in line to the British throne, or are they, like Queen Elizabeth’s cousin Margaret Rhodes, struggling to see what all the fuss is about.

“You know everybody has babies, and it’s lovely, but I don’t get wildly excited about it,” Rhodes, 88, told CNN.

Recent opinion polls suggest she is not the only one who has not been transfixed by the daily press barrage or glued to some British newspapers’ live web shots of the as-yet unbreached entrance to St Mary’s Hospital in west London.

According to the Pew Research Center, only 25 percent of Americans surveyed last December when Kate’s pregnancy was announced were very or fairly closely following the news.

Previous studies of interest in eight British royal stories dating back to 1986 – including William and Kate’s sumptuous wedding in April 2011 – found 60 percent did not follow or were not closely following these events.

There was one exception. The 1997 death of William’s mother Princess Diana in a car crash in Paris grabbed the attention of 85 percent of U.S. respondents.

BRITISH CYNICISM

Even in Britain a YouGov poll this week found only 46 percent were very or fairly interested in the birth, which was less than in India, where 57 percent of those surveyed expressed an interest in the arrival of the new royal.

“In Britain there seems to be more cynicism to the royal family, whereas abroad, particularly in America, there is a more romantic imagining of what royal life is like,” said Arianne Chernock, an expert on the history of monarchy at Boston University.

“It helps having a few very charismatic figures, but it has to do with the legacy of Britain and the power it had in the world in the 18th and 19th centuries.”

Wei Zhang from Hong Kong Phoenix TV, camped outside St Mary’s hospital, said there was huge interest in Hong Kong, a British colony until 1997, and in mainland China.

People back home, he told Reuters, wanted to see pictures and videos of “the royal family, everything about the royal family. The princes, the queen, everything”.

Chernock said the media fuelled the fascination.

“We are seeing an amplification because of social media, the 24/7 news cycle and the fact there are so many media outlets now,” she told Reuters.

GENUINE AFFECTION

For citizens in countries such as Canada and Australia, two of the 16 realms of which the baby is destined to be the future king or queen, even those who want to get rid of the monarchy admit there is genuine affection and interest.

“The fact is most Australians have nothing but goodwill for the royal family in Britain,” Australian Republican Movement national director David Morris told Reuters. “But that does not mean that we see them as ruling over us.”

So why do people still care about the British royals, who wield no real power and whose position is largely ceremonial?

Part of the fascination stems from the triumph of a highly rated public relations team that over the last decade has rebranded a staid institution, aided by the emergence of media-savvy royals such as William and his younger brother Harry.

Interest was also boosted by the travails of the royal family in the 1990s, with the marriage breakdowns of three of the queen’s children, most notably that of Prince Charles and Diana, which turned them into a celebrity soap opera.

“Twenty-one years ago, everyone talked about the soap opera of the British royal family in tragic and disastrous terms, and fair enough, it’s all come good,” royal historian Robert Lacey told Reuters.

“So if it was a soap opera then, all the more so now.”

Carolyn Harris, a Canadian historian who specialises in European monarchies, said the constant attention creates a familiarity that in turn fans the appeal.

“Audiences worldwide feel as though they watched William and Harry grow up and mourned with them when Princess Diana died in 1997,” she told Reuters.

Author Claudia Joseph, who has penned a biography of Kate, said the huge popularity of Diana and now Kate also helped.

“Everybody’s been waiting for a royal princess to step into Diana’s footsteps. William is immensely popular around the world because of being Diana’s son as well as the way he carries himself,” she told Reuters.

“People like a fairytale, and the idea you can come from nowhere and marry a prince.”


By Michael Holden

REUTERS

(Additional reporting by Belinda Goldsmith and Amritha John in London, and James Grubel in Canberra; Editing by Will Waterman)