A highly successful public meeting last Friday saw about seventy people turn up to the Birmingham Left Unity meeting to hear Marina Prentoulis of Syriza speak of the situation that the new anti-austerity government is facing in Greece.
She talked of the very tough negotiating conditions that were being imposed by EU leaders, but how they were determined to start rolling back the years of appalling austerity, and that their project has only just begun. She said how Syriza would like to solve all the problems of European nations suffering under austerity, but how they could not do it alone.
In that respect, it was good to see a delegation from the Spanish Podemos in the room, giving solidarity to the anti-austerity struggle. The Spanish elections are due at the end of the year, and Podemos is hoping to become the second anti-austerity government in Europe.
The meeting was introduced by Robert Brenchley, the Birmingham Left Unity candidate for the council ward of Ladywood on May 7th. He described it as a ward where the Labour votes are taken for granted, but how the residents get little in return.
There was plenty of time for discussion, and some of the topics that were touched on were the “Grexit”, defaulting on debts, and a very favourable comparison of Syriza to the British Labour Party and its sister party PASOK.
Marina talked of how Syriza began as an electoral coalition, but how in 2012 it turned itself into a party and its various components, for example Synaspismos, dissolved themselves, and everyone now presented themselves as Syriza members in public.
Syriza members still have the right to organise as platforms within the party. For example, the left platform is a significant minority and has taken a critical stance towards recent negotiations.
It would be good for there to be a realistic chance of an anti-austerity party coming to power in this country, but things are clearly nowhere near as advanced as in Greece and Spain.
An appeal was made at the end of the meeting for all those present to join Left Unity and to help bring us a bit nearer towards that goal.
The audience listens to a Podemos speaker