Kanellos the Riot DogΚαλημέρα σύντροφοι,
You’re gathering shortly to vote on the latest package of privatisations and cuts as Europe’s latest indignants gather beneath you. Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy, the IMF, and the European Central Bank are desperate for you to vote this deal through. They tell you it’s essential for Greece’s future. If you think your interests are aligned with theirs and that they genuinely care about what’s fair for the people you represent, fine, keep going with the fire sale and the shock doctrine.

Perhaps you will succeed and they will get what they want – a shoring up of their irresponsible banking sector and the unstable currency you share with them. Wouldn’t it be great if you could save yourselves without having to do anything about the tax evasion Greeks have joked about for decades (sample line: “Greece is a poor country, but there are no poor Greeks” – not that the latter is true).

If, however, you think they’re putting their interests ahead of yours, trying to keep you on the debt and bailout treadmill while getting access to Greek assets at knockdown prices, turn them down, default on their debt and get out of the single currency. Whoever made this banner went too far, mind. Then you can start fixing your tax system on your own terms, and tackling other problems like the breaks given to some pretty corrupt monks.

It’ll be very hard – for generations the bureaucracy has served itself and cut corners, and a whole lot of money was lent to Greece on a false prospectus. But it doesn’t need to be done in a way that puts the poorest in the firing line. They are, just as in Britain, not the source of the problem, and you will get little return from squeezing them.

A degree of austerity is inevitable, but that still leaves you a choice. Austerity for the poor and a weakened state, stripped of assets to keep the French and German bankers in the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed, or austerity for the tax-dodging better off, a reduction in the absurdly over-funded military, and, yes, tackling some of the truly inefficient ways the public sector works. My favourite from my Greek friends was the literally no-work job with no application process, merely a waiting list, up which you could move if you knew the right people. Over to you.

Anyway, I hope you don’t find this cheeky – it’s written with lot of love for Greece, as well as family and friendship connections. I feel your pain, even though as a political class you’re certainly primarily responsible for it, and best of luck with your tough choice today.