Thursday, 31 May 2012

GM technology is not the answer

In the past week a row has broken out over the actions of a group of protesters called 'Take the Flour Back ', which threatened to trash some GM wheat crops being grown as part of field trials in Hertfordshire by scientists from the Rothamsted Research Institute. On the day, the attempt was foiled by Police but the event raised arguments about whether opposition to GM crops is 'anti-science', and whether GM technology should be used in this way.

Jenny Jones, who recently stood as the Green Party London Mayoral candidate, attended the event and wrote a blog post criticising the decision to carry out field trials of the GM crop. As a result she, and the Party, were criticised in a Daily Telegraph blog by Tom Chivers as being anti-science. Of course Chivers could have bothered to look at Green Party policy before heading a blog post "Don't vote Green until they drop the anti-science zealotry", because as Jenny pointed out in her response to him, the Party's position is not anti-science but "sceptical and precautionary", and for very good reasons as I will explore below.

In an earlier post, I referred to an international report by 400 scientists which stated that GM technology was not the answer to feeding the world as has been claimed by its supporters. At the time the report was published the Daily Mail commented:
"Genetically-modified crops are not the solution to spiralling food prices or Third World hunger, according to a powerful international report published yesterday." and
"Professor Watson [UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser] and his team made clear that GM or transgenics - moving genes between plant species - was not the solution to providing plentiful cheap food."
This was a scientific report and the proponents of GM appear to have conveniently ignored this scientific view. Does that mean they are anti-science?

On Monday, whilst driving, I heard Professor John Beddington, the Chief Government Scientist, make supportive comments about the trials on Radio 4, during the interview he referred to the fact that food prices had surged in 2007 as if this was some sort of justification for GM crop technology. What he didn't say however was that the increases were caused by market speculators. A recent report from the World Development Movement said:
"Financial speculators have flooded food commodity markets, creating massive inflation and sudden price spikes. These broken markets are bad news for people in the UK, whose average annual food bills increased by £260 in one year alone. But for people in poverty in developing countries, price rises are disastrous,"
There is no compelling evidence I have seen that GM will reduce food prices and I believe that speculation in food should be banned. Food should not be treated like any other commodity, it is far too important for that. The problem of food shortages is caused by speculation and distribution. GM technology isn't going to solve that problem.

Organic vegetables at a farmer's market in Argentina

But if GM technology is not needed to feed the world what about the actual field trials that are being carried out? Those who oppose the field trials are not 'anti-science', they have legitimate concerns, based on science, that field trials pose unacceptable risks. The danger is that the trials will cause contamination of surrounding plants and crops or will have unexpected effects on organisms the food chain. In this particular trial:
"There is serious doubt that the aphid alarm pheromone as found in this GM crop would even work. Other scientists have raised concerns that if aphids get habituated and insufficient predators are available, this may increase the aphid burden on the wheat and thus potentially increasing the need for pesticides and chemical spraying against aphids."
In a small crowded island like ours these fears are very real, particularly amongst people who support organic agriculture, which would be ruined by such contamination. There is also a danger that the traits in GM crops such as herbicide resistance will be passed on the native plants creating 'superweeds', that there will be knock-on effects on biodiversity and environmental food webs, and harm to human health - see here. The pros and cons of GM are too complex to go into in this post but the key point is that supporters of GM have attempted to paint the protestors as 'anti-science'. This is not true. They are concerned about the use of GM technology, not science or research. They also have legitimate concerns about how this technology will be used by commercial interests.

The fact that the field trials were publicly funded and carried out by Rothamsted has been used by supporters to demonstrate the 'neutrality' of the scientists carrying out the research but according to Jonathan Matthews of the Ecologist:
"And this industry alignment is perfectly illustrated by Rothamsted itself, which partners up with corporations like Bayer, Syngenta and Dupont and has an Institute Director who not only drives a Porsche with a GMO number plate but has a c.v. to match. It is Maurice Moloney’s GM research that lies behind Monsanto’s GM oilseed rape."
Which is why its such a pity that commentators like Will Hutton have chosen to rush to support this slanted and unfair view of both Jenny Jones and the protestors. The problem is, of course, that science can easily be presented as 'progress' and opposition to it as 'Luddite'. Nuclear technology is science-based but there are plenty of good reasons, science based and otherwise, to be opposed to it. There is nothing anti-science about that. My view is that the protestors should have protested but have stuck to the arguments rather than threatening to damage the crops, making themselves an easy target for the likes of Will Hutton. I also believe that public money could be much better spent on research into methods of improving organic agriculture, which is more energy efficient, employs more people, and has the potential to feed to world in a sustainable way without risks to human health or the wider environment.

A report in 2007 concluded that:
"organic methods could produce enough food on a global per capita basis to sustain the current human population, and potentially an even larger population, without increasing the agricultural land base. (from the abstract)"
Perhaps we should re-name it 'organic technology' so that it can be taken more seriously by scientists themselves? But the real problem with organic farming is that it doesn't provide agribusiness with the same opportunity to make a profit. That is why so little research, publicly funded or otherwise, is being carried out.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

David Cameron's illiterate class war 'economics'

Once again David Cameron's chums in the capitalist class have seen an opportunity to kick the workers of the UK whilst they are down. Workers who have been subjected to pay freezes and pension cuts to pay for a crisis that was not of their making are to have their employment rights trashed to benefit those  'free' market fundamentalists who helped to cause  the crisis.
David Cameron: economically illiterate class warrior
In time-honoured fashion whenever a UK government has a 'problem' to solve they turn to a 'businessman' for ideas. And those ideas, which are habitually presented as being from someone who is 'dynamic' and 'innovative', always personally benefit the individual who came up with them, and people like him, at the expense of other people, usually workers. In this case, step forward Adrian Beecroft, a venture capitalist and Conservative Party donor, who thinks that fair compensation for loss of earnings at an employment tribunal, and reasonable notice of redundancy are hampering 'growth'. Even people inside government recognise that Beecroft is talking nonsense. See this quote from Garry Gibbon's blog about Beecroft's 15 page report:

"Government aide: “crap – supported by only one person in No. 10,” (Steve Hilton, allegedly)".

And Beecroft  is one of the people behind the company Wonga which provides small short term 'payday' loans at 4214% and have been described by campaigners as "legal loan sharks".

The Daily Telegraph claims this is a war on red tape, but then I guess that the pundits at the Telegraph think that any legislation which makes our society fairer and gives ordinary people decent protection at the expense of their chums in business has got to be a bad thing. I have no doubt that David Cameron's, and the Telegraph's lust for worker-bashing will only be satisfied when most of us are reduced to the abject penury and wage-slavery that they and their 'free' market fundamentalist buddies appear to think ought to be the lot of all UK workers - their own children and families excepted of course.

This is pretty pernicious stuff in itself but what makes it worse is that it is economically illiterate also. These kind of so-called 'structural' changes won't make one iota of improvement to UK growth, in fact, by making people poorer they are likely to reduce it. It was James Tobin the economist who came up with the financial transaction tax known as the Robin Hood Tax who said; "structural labour market policies can make only marginal improvements". 

Just as 'growth' and 'cutting red tape' are the fraudulent excuses for David Cameron waging class war on UK workers, now the government have shifted their excuses for our failing economy onto the Eurozone crisis. Before it was Labour government overspending that was the cause. So, one lie replaces another. Finally, one bit of good news today is that the Guardian now seems to have caught up with reality. Its well worth reading this editorial, and I'm quoting one of the key passages:
"At the heart of this calamitous [government] strategy is a wholesale misdiagnosis of how the market economy functions and a complete failure to understand why the financial crisis took place, the profundity of its impact and its implications for policy. For a generation, business and finance, cheered on by US neoconservatives and free market fundamentalists, have argued that the less capitalism is governed, regulated and shaped by the state, the better it works. Markets do everything best – managing business and systemic risk, innovating, investing, organising executive reward – without the intervention of the supposed dead hand of the state and without any acknowledgement of wider social obligations.
The lesson of the financial crisis is that this is complete hokum that serves the political and personal interests of the very rich."[my italics]

Really pleased to see that the Guardian has at last picked up on my "free market fundamentalist" tag. Someone must have been reading my blog :)

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Greece: the frontline in the battle against austerity

In July 2011 I posted on this blog about how 'The Greeks MUST default on 'their' debt'. Getting on for 12 months later that default is looking increasingly likely. The Greeks are being sacrificed for the sake of the Eurozone and the banks. The crucial point is that the bailouts were never intended to help the Greek people. The purpose of the bailouts is to save banks, Greek, German and French banks, NOT the Greek people. The pain the Greeks are suffering is to save bust institutions which made bad lending decisions. Once again, banks are too 'big to fail' but people lose their jobs and go hungry and homeless, or lack access to medicine - that is OK, apparently.

This is appalling and inhuman, and what it tells us is about the kind of economy we live in, an economy where people come a long way second to money, and financial institutions. It also tells us a lot about the EU, and what kind of institution it has become. Angela Merkel had the nerve to talk about Solidarity with Greece. But what is happening is the exact opposite of solidarity. The Greeks are being screwed. It is the Germans who have benefited from years of having a weak currency, the Euro, which has helped them to export. This has been at the expense of Greece and other southern European countries.

In the aftermath of the recent Greek election, now that the parties have failed to form a coalition, the screws are being turned on the Greek people once again. Threatening noises have been made in Germany and elsewhere. There is a clear attempt to bully the Greeks into voting for a coalition in June which will implement to terms of the bailout which have been imposed on Greece. This has come about largely due to the resistance of the SYRIZA coalition which came second in the recent election. Quite rightly, SYRIZA have insisted that the terms of the bailout must be renegotiated because they recognise that the debt can never be repaid on these terms and the Greek economy is being destroyed. Its well worth reading the letter that Alex Tsipras, leader of SYRIZA, sent to Manuel Barroso, President of the European Comission. It is perfectly level headed and points out that the terms of the bailout have to be re-negotiated.

SYRIZA: fighting austerity

So where does that leave us? Another election, in which SYRIZA is expected to gain even more of the Greek vote. And we are today being told that if SYRIZA win Greece will have to leave the Euro. So much for solidarity! The tragedy is that 70% of Greeks still want to remain in the Euro. I can only assume they would feel that it would be a national humiliation to leave. But what could be more humiliating than the position they now find themselves in? A default and a return to the Drachma would be hard. Banks would go bust and close. But the outcome, the longer term would be that Greeks could regain their self-respect, and a much larger measure of sovereignty than they have now. It would be a chance to re-build their economy and it has been done before, most recently in Argentina.

You can be sure that the Eurocrats are shoring up the EU economy as best they can, to protect themselves against a default. What they should be doing is helping the Greeks out of the mess both they and the leaders of Greece have created. Whatever happens, and make no mistake a Greek default could have serious ramifications for the world economy, the EU has been severely damaged by this debacle, which leaves a very nasty taste in the mouth.

Monday, 14 May 2012

After Caroline - what next?

I'm guessing most Green Party members were shocked by the news last night that Caroline Lucas is not seeking re-election as the Party leader. I also suspect that our political opponents will be relieved. As party leader Caroline played a blinder as an advocate for the Party's policies of social justice, economic regeneration, fighting climate change, and support for the public sector. As leader, she is going to be sorely missed, and hard to replace, so perhaps I should have said - "who next?"

Caroline Lucas
After the local elections, and the news of Caroline's departure as leader, Green Party members need to take stock of where we are, before thinking about what they want from a new leader. We are still a minority party and, although we punch well above our weight, we have a long way to go before we can get into government, even as part of a coalition. We keep making gains in local elections but we have failed to make a national breakthrough despite our anti-austerity message and support for jobs and public services. Many people in the party are committed to plugging away, doing the hard work of leaflet delivering and canvassing, and, whilst this is necessary and commendable, on its own it is not enough.

What the Green Party needs is a strategy which will increase both membership and support in the country as well as energising many of our less active members. What's worrying about the GPEW statement about Caroline (link above) is the talk about attracting disillusioned Liberal Democrats, because that is not the best way forward for GPEW. Why? because the Liberal Democrat Party is neither radical nor green, despite what many of its current and ex-members might like to think. It is an entirely conventional, grey, neoliberal party committed to austerity and the 'business as usual approach' so often condemned by Caroline Lucas herself.

Depressingly, there are those in GPEW who think entirely in conventional political terms and would like to see GPEW replace the Liberal Democrats in Westminster. This is delusional politics for two main reasons: Firstly, the last thing the UK needs is another Liberal Democrat Party, even if it was a fairer, greener version, and the voters won't be fooled by any attempt to do this; Secondly, this is a potentially a move to the right, to what some people would see as the centre ground, though centre-right would be more accurate, and risks the GPEW falling into the same trap as the Irish Greens did - I posted previously about this trap here.

The way forward is for the Green Party to strengthen its position as a party of social justice and radical economic change. By the latter I mean an explicit rejection of neoliberalism, austerity, corporate domination, and the democratic deficit in the EU, and a commitment to the alternatives such as the Green New Deal, ending privatisation and de-regulation, saving the NHS, ending tuition fees, government planning, and control of the banks.  What we should be aiming to do is to attract support from the huge pool of young people, many of whom have never voted, and who want real change, and access to jobs. We should also be attracting support from the millions of ex-Labour voters who believe in the public sector and social justice. And we need to do much better in attracting support from the ethnic minorities. These are all potential supporters who are more likely to be attracted by a party offering a radical alternative than many of the disillusioned Liberal Democrats.

As things stand, Ed Millband is likely to be Prime Minister in 2015, if not before. But this will be a victory by default. People will vote Labour to get the Tories out, not because they love Labour, but in the hope that things will be less worse than they are now. There is still plenty of room for a radical party of social justice at the next general election. We are more likely to make gains then, by going down the route I have described, than the dead-end advocated by those who see replacing the Liberal Democrats as the best bet.

One of the things those on the right of GPEW, who oppose a more radical Party direction, need to come to terms with, is that that green, environmental politics and 'free' market capitalism are ultimately incompatible. This is the elephant in the room, and is central to the whole debate about what kind of Party the GPEW should be. The kind of society we Greens want, is more democratic, more fairly regulated, more local, more community based and truly sustainable, and this is anathema to the corporations, because they understand fully that such a green economy would exclude both them and their destructive practices. That is why people like Nigel Lawson of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) expend so much energy and cash railing against climate change. And that is why so many commenters in CiF rage about Greens being eco-fascists. They get it even if some Greens don't. As I said in a previous post:
" have to ask - why is it that climate change has become a left vs right issue over the past decade or so? Why do right-wingers like Nigel Lawson, of the GWPF, Tory MPs, and Ruth Lea seem to think that all environmentalists are lefties and climate change is a left-wing plot to bring about an eco-socialist world? Why do they object so strongly? The answer is simple - capitalism and corporate profits. The 'free' market right have recognised that climate change is a potential threat to established big businesses and capitalist accumulation, which relies on compound growth."
If Ruth Lea and co. think like that, then it makes Green politics radical and anti-capitalist whether you like it or not. Don't believe me? Then read this excellent article by Naomi Klein, "Climate vs Capitalism", which sums up why capitalists are out to kill climate change and green politics. Here is a telling quote:
"The [climate change] deniers did not decide that climate change is a left-wing conspiracy by uncovering some covert socialist plot. They arrived at this analysis by taking a hard look at what it would take to lower global emissions as drastically and as rapidly as climate science demands. They have concluded that this can be done only by radically reordering our economic and political systems in ways antithetical to their “free market” belief system."
There is no route to a green future in going down the same political cul-de-sac as the Liberal Democrats, and no point in wasting time with the illusion that capitalists will 'see the light' and suddenly become socially and environmentally responsible. In addition, as I've made clear in previous posts, neoliberal capitalism will never revive our economy, and those that believe that existing economic systems can be made to work in the face of climate change are doomed to disappointment and failure.

Finally, there was an interesting post in the Guardian today by party colleague Jim Jepps entitled "Caroline Lucas stepping down is good for the Greens". I do hope he is right. For my money there is only one Party member who has the track record and credibility to replace Caroline Lucas as leader. I just hope he is willing and able to stand.


I just wanted to update this post to clarify some of the points I made in the light of comments I have received here and elsewhere. As for Lib Dems:

1. Lib Dems may be active and disillusioned but do they really share our values? - I don't think so. I'm sure that many ex-Labour supporters and members have values which are closer to our own. I can't pretend this is scientific but it is based on my 40 years of involvement in politics. I am, of course, not opposed to ex-Lib Dem supporters or members who share our values joining GPEW -  In fact I would welcome them.

2. Following on from 1; Five million voters deserted Labour from 2005 onwards, there are over 1 million unemployed people under 25, and many others who are politically disengaged. We also need to reach out to ethnic minority voters. This is a much larger pool of people than disillusioned Lib Dems and these are people we should be targeting. Targeting Lib Dems is a very limited approach for a party that wants to make a breakthrough and shows a lack of ambition as far as I'm concerned.

On Capitalism:

If you have read other posts on this blog you will know that I have been careful to distinguish between "capitalism" and the "private sector". By capitalists I mean people who own the means of production such as Branson, Murdoch etc, people who control and own the the corporations. However, I have no problem with the "private sector". Your local newsagent, pub landlord, tenant farmer, co-operative, and numerous other small businesses etc etc are not capitalists. I welcome the contribution these people make to our economy, in fact, I think it is essential. The problem of "capitalism" centres around the power and sheer social, economic, and environmental destructive capacity of corporations and financial capitalism, including the banking sector. If we want social justice and to fight climate change and deal with resource depletion we will have to move away from the current "capitalist" model which is unsustainable in any case, as I have argued above, and in other posts.

A key part of the purpose of this blog as far as I am concerned is to share ideas and stimulate debate so I welcome both comments that are supportive, and those that are critical, the latter as long as they are constructive and deal with the arguments. I don't publish comments from people who are simply out to slag me off or be abusive.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Why we can and must build our own economy

UK companies are sitting on a cash pile of about £750 billion, and EU companies have about €2 trillion stashed away. So why on earth is our economy struggling? There is plenty of cash to get the economy moving and create the much vaunted 2.5 million private sector jobs that George Osborne has been promising us. Why isn't this private sector job creation happening? Apparently it's because firms don't want to invest due to a lack of "confidence" (sic!). The problem is that neoliberal austerity policies are reducing the share of national income for working people and depressing demand in a consumer capitalist society. This is confirmed by a quote from the following article in the Wall Street Journal which states:
".... that policies aimed at further depressing the share of labor in national income will further undermine economic growth. He [SimonTilford] suggests increasing corporate income won't help spur investment while squeezing households by cutting wages will damp growth." [my italics]
In other words neoliberalism is self-defeating as I argued in a recent post. Erm... but isn't our government meant to be doing what the private sector - the market - wants? If the corporations and banks want austerity, why haven't they any confidence? What this situation clearly illustrates is that capitalism always wants to have its cake and to eat it. They want austerity to make us pay for the crisis and to trash the welfare state but they also want us to be able to buy their products!

If we can't rely on either governments or the private sector to lift the economy and produce the jobs that we so desperately need, what are we going to do? Well, we can forget the banks and the corporations because they are not going to help us. They are part of a failing neoliberal economic system which is essentially exploitative and destructive, a system which is eating the planet, and in the process, destroying the prosperity of most of us, of the 99%. As capitalism gobbles up the planet's resources, cannibalises the public sector, and indulges in an orgy of financial and property speculation in order to try and maintain its falling profitability, millions of people are suffering globally. Not just people in the so-called third world, but people in the once prosperous west, and nowhere has this become more obvious than Greece, which is the front-line of neoliberal austerity.

But one the starkest outcomes of this crisis is in the modern home of capitalism itself, the USA. Detroit, the motor city, and once great power house of American capitalism has been devastated. Paul Craig Roberts has written about this in The Ruins of Detroit :
"Detroit’s population has declined by half. A quarter of the city 35 square miles is desolate with only a few houses still standing on largely abandoned streets. If the local government can get the money from Washington, urban planners are going to shrink the city and establish rural areas or green zones where neighborhoods used to be. President Obama and economists provide platitudes about recovery. But how does an economy recover when its economic leaders have spent more than a decade moving high productivity, high value-added middle class jobs offshore along with the Gross Domestic Product associated with them?"

Capitalism at work: economic devastation in Detroit

But amongst the runs of Detroit, at the grassroots, economic activity is stirring. This is a grassroots revolution. People are beginning to come together and realise that if they want a better economy they are going to have to do it for themselves, and they are starting to re-build from the ground upwards through co-operatives like the Evergreen Co-op. What's so inspiring about this re-birth is that it is community focused and lead not by overseas investors or the 'entrepreneurs' of neoliberal myth, and hungry for a buck, but 'ordinary' citizens, and what it shows is just how extraordinary us ordinary people can be. Here is an extract from the recent Re-imagining Work in the Motor City conference:
"In another discussion, participants acknowledged that relying on political and economic leaders to lead was a fruitless endeavor because they have forgotten the people they are supposed to represent. A “we have to do it ourselves” attitude permeated the conference in a recognition that representative democracy is in serious decline. Besides, they said, societal change usually occurs at the grassroots level—and rigid social class distinctions and hierarchies have no place in the new economy we are envisioning". [my italics]
People in Detroit have realised an essential truth - that capitalism dis-empowers all of us. The system is designed to make us think that we need the super-managers and capitalists, that without them, we just couldn't survive. This system is designed to keep us in our place, and to keep them in the luxury that only they can afford. But as a result of this crisis, in which whole communities have been abandoned, this myth has been busted, because more and more people are beginning to understand that 'they' need us but we really don't need them.

But its not just in Detroit that this phenomenon is happening. All over the USA people are beginning to turns their backs on capitalism and the banks and find their own solutions by building their own economy. According to Gar Alperovitz in his New York Times article entitled Worker Owners of America Unite:
"Some 130 million Americans, for example, now participate in the ownership of co-op businesses and credit unions. More than 13 million Americans have become worker-owners of more than 11,000 employee-owned companies, six million more than belong to private-sector unions."
The politicians and corporations who control our economy want us to believe that it can be restored, but only on their terms, and they are resorting to ever more desperate means to try and continue as if the great crash of 2008 never happened. In the process, through neoliberal austerity they are making the poorest pay for the crisis, but they're also beginning to scrape the bottom of the fossil fuels barrel with tar sands extraction and shale gas exploitation, both of which are environmentally destructive. These are acts of desperation, meant to prop up a failed system which has run its course.

The truth is that we cannot rely on capitalism and its tame politicians like Obama and Cameron to help us. Essentially, we are on our own. But that, despite the hardship, gives us an opportunity, an opportunity to build an economy which we own and control ourselves. Such an economy needs to be co-operative and community based, supported by local banks and credit unions, which are subject to democratic control. Co-operatives create wealth and employment, they are rooted in communities, they do not downsize or outsource jobs overseas. They build strong local economies which are resilient in the face of climate change. Best of all, there are no fat-cat managers or owners to cream off the bulk of the wealth that is created. That does not mean we should ignore political parties, we need to support and help build parties like the Green Party in England and Wales which are supportive of this kind of economic development. And we need to help to propel such parties, through the democratic process, into government. Then we can really get down to the business of re-building an economy that is truly our own.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Will Hollande beat the EU austerity stitch-up?

Good news for all those on the left of politics who want to fight the neoliberal austerity programme being forced onto the people of Europe by the EU! -  Francois Hollande has been elected President of France on an anti austerity ticket and the Greek parties New Democracy and PASOK who collaborated in the EU, IMF and  ECB bankers carve-up of Greece have been battered in the latest elections.

The problem remains that the European neoliberal elite of politicians, bankers and corporations who run the EU are committed to crushing all democratic attempts to derail their austerity programme, which is designed to protect banks and bondholders at the expense of ordinary Europeans. As I've blogged before, previous attempts by the people of Europe to stymie this elite have been defeated. The Irish, French and Dutch people tried and failed to block the European constitution (we were told it wasn't really a constitution) in referendums but the attempts were in vain.

The Euro-elite have a way of dealing with the inconvenience of democratic decisions - they make you vote until you give them the required answer. This has happened in Ireland - twice. Now that Hollande has been elected and the Greek pro-austerity parties have been humiliated, you can be sure that Brussels and Berlin will be working overtime to ensure that their plans can't be derailed.

The obvious answer in Greece, as it has been in other European countries before, is to make the Greeks vote until they come up with a pro-austerity choice. New Democracy has failed to form a coalition, lets hope that SYRIZA can do it, if they can't, its likely that the `Greeks will be required to vote once again. As for Hollande, we can only hope that he is serious in bringing about real change, and even if he is, then he may be bullied into submission for all we know.

Need the European elite worry about the inconvenience of democracy ?

So conformist and robotic has been the acquiescence of Euro-politicians to neoliberalism and austerity that its tempting to think that they must have Euro-microchips fitted before they are allowed to take power. Lets hope that Hollande can avoid this fate. Whatever happens its clear that the European people, when they get a chance, want no truck with austerity, and the sooner the left can get its act together and respond to this the better. In the UK the Green Party have made a good start, but its time for others to stand up and follow.