Hateful scapegoating and economic garbage from the UKIP supporting paper
‘EU membership is dragging Greece into the Dark Ages’, says the Daily Express’s Leo McKinstry.
His column today blames Greece’s current economic woes on 1) its being part of the Eurozone, which he elides with membership of the European Union, and 2) migration into Greece from outside Europe, which he also blames on the EU.
The piece uses Greece as a way to argue about British membership of the EU by proxy. It’s therefore important to highlight why his argument is complete garbage.
For one thing, the Greek economy is not comparable to that of Britain. The UK is a much richer country with far less corruption than Greece. Crucially, the UK has its own currency and central bank, and can therefore print more money if it needs too, whereas Greece has the Euro and is at the mercy of the European Central Bank (ECB).
The behaviour of the ECB is the proximate cause of Greece’s torturous position. Its insistence on austerity measures in return for financial help is grinding Greek society into dust, and has done little to help its economy. Public hatred of this German-led policy is what propelled Syriza into government in Greece in January.
In other words, the trouble is with the administration of the Eurozone, not membership of it per se. After all, there are 19 countries using the Euro as their currency, and they don’t all have the same problems as Greece.
Does McKinstry seriously mean to say the UK economy is more comparable to that of Greece than Germany? Or why not compare it to other EU members with their own currency, such as Poland, which has thrived since joining the EU?
A report last week found Poland was outperforming Britain on health, education and using its wealth to benefit its citizens. This in a country which, as Express hero Nigel Farage keeps reminding us, was a communist dictatorship a few decades ago.
On point 2: to blame migration from what he calls ‘war-torn Somalia and Syria’ for Greece’s economic crisis is a hateful lie. People would be fleeing the war in Syria regardless of the size of Greece’s debt.
This is the sort of scapegoating that degrades the British press in the eyes of the world.
McKinstry even quotes the far-right Greek politician Panos Kamenos threatening to flood Europe with migrants – that is, spouting the equivalent of the racial demagogy carried by the Daily Express.
There are certainly lessons to be drawn from the Greek crisis for Britain, not least on austerity economics. But among them is not, as the Express would have it, to leave the EU, pull up the drawbridge, and elect Nigel Farage to high office.
Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter
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