With Parliament, and with it politics and political commentary, soon to return to the broadcast airwaves, this might not have been the time for the monumentally and over-promoted uselessness of some in the Pundit Establishment to show the world that they do not, and probably never did, know their subject. But for the serially clueless Tim Montgomerie, such thoughts are not allowed to enter. So he has gone ahead anyway.
Yes Monty, you've goofed again
Monty has decided to show that he knows all about the EU, except he does not, which for several years has not prevented the more easily impressed TV show bookers from asking him to dispense his superior insights for the benefit of their viewers. It took just one outburst at European Council President Donald Tusk for him to make his point.
Tusk had marked the occasion when Greece finally exited its bailout programme, telling “Congratulations to Greece and its people on ending the programme of financial assistance. With huge efforts and European solidarity you seized the day”. Monty, in return, sniffed “‘European solidarity’ involved 30% unemployment in Greece, a 25% drop in GDP and lasting political radicalisation. Tusk etc treated Greece imperially - like a wayward colony rather than a neighbour and partner”.
The reaction was severely adverse from the word go, with Richard Bentall reminding The Great Man “Such a BS and one-sided account of Greek crisis, which was created by decades of Greek fiscal mismanagement and corruption. As Chritine Lagarde said, it would not have happened if the Greeks had paid their taxes” and James Barrow mused “'Tusk etc treated Greece imperially - like a wayward colony rather than a neighbour and partner'. Did someone whisper 'Scotland' in my ear? Or was it a plaintive cry of hope for independence?” And then came Alex Andreou. And he wasn’t a happy bunny.
“One can be both accurate AND disingenuous. Your camp’s line, for years, was ‘why should the UK pay to bail Greece out’. You have consistently used my country’s misery to strengthen your anti-EU cause and cynically rediscovered ‘solidarity’ when it boosted your nationalist agenda”. And that was a mere sighting shot.
“When an exemption to all future bail outs after Ireland’s was negotiated you posited it still wasn’t enough, because the UK would still pay indirectly, and continued to use the image of the lazy feckless PIIGS leeching off the British tax payer. Where was your solidarity then?”. Worse for Monty, there was more on that Irish bailout.
Justin Walker noted “the participation in the Irish bailout was only to prevent Ulster Bank from being the final nail in the RBS coffin”, while Morton Joinas added “As far as I remember from my time in Ireland, the Irish actually wanted to pay back in full ahead of time to save on interest. Most EU countries were fine with this, but UK insisted on taking it to the full duration to get the most money from Ireland”. Ah, perfidious Albion once more!
Meanwhile, Andreou wasn’t finished with Montgomerie. “When Greece struggled under the weight of a million refugees in a single summer, when bodies were washing up in our beaches, from a war Greece did nothing to create (and the UK was instrumental in), Eurosceptics shrieked to ‘close the borders’. Where was your solidarity then?” It was that kind of silent solidarity, the heads-down and fingers-in-ears variety.
[Monty’s “solidarity”, such as it was, extended to musings such as “Don't think that the risk-free option is Remaining... Grexit. Turkey. Refugees. Schengen. Rebate. Failure of TTIP … Ashdown listed Russian aggression, refugee crisis etc as reason to stay in EU but all happening while we are in EU” in the run-up to the EU referendum]
As a result, Alex Andreou is dead right to conclude “So, thanks for the belatedly discovered solidarity and love for my country, @montie, but Greece doesn’t need your sort of destructive, disingenuous, hollow ‘support’”. And political punditry doesn’t need the likes of Montgomerie and his serially clueless, yet entitled, approach.
But he’ll be there, along with all the other pillars of the Pundit Establishment, as soon as the new term begins. And some in and around the broadcast media wonder why they are losing viewers, listeners, and indeed credibility. I’ll just leave that one there.
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