Will Syriza put an end to the Greek tragedy? Photo: Getty
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Anti-austerity party Syriza wins Greece’s general election

The party’s leader, and future prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, has vowed to end Greece’s “five years of humiliation and pain”.

The anti-austerity party, Syriza, won the general election in Greece on Sunday. It is just two seats short of an absolute majority, and its leader, Alexis Tsipras, will be the country’s next prime minister.

The party’s pledge is to renegotiate the terms of Greece’s dramatic international bailout, which has inflicted years of difficult austerity on the country. Tsipras has vowed to end, “five years of humiliation and pain”.

Syriza’s win, joyously celebrated by supporters in Greece and other left-wing, anti-austerity parties throughout Europe – including the UK’s Greens – has caused concern among others about Greece’s future in the eurozone and the prospect of Grexit. David Cameron has voiced a warning following the result, saying it will, “increase economic uncertainty across Europe”.

The euro fell to $1.11 against the US dollar following the election result, which is the lowest level it has fallen to in over a decade.

An elected Syriza member told the BBC’s Today programme this morning that his party’s win is a “poisoned chalice” because of the pressures ahead to satisfy the majority of the Greek electorate that has been hit so hard by austerity policies devised by the EU and Germany.

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No, David Cameron’s speech was not “left wing”

Come on, guys.

There is a strange journalistic phenomenon that occurs when a party leader makes a speech. It is a blend of groupthink, relief, utter certainty, and online backslapping. It happened particularly quickly after David Cameron’s speech to Tory party conference today. A few pundits decided that – because he mentioned, like, diversity and social mobility – this was a centre-left speech. A leftwing speech, even. Or at least a clear grab for the liberal centre ground. And so that’s what everyone now believes. The analysis is decided. The commentary is written. Thank God for that.

Really? It’s quite easy, even as one of those nasty, wicked Tories, to mention that you actually don’t much like racism, and point out that you’d quite like poor children to get jobs, without moving onto Labour's "territory". Which normal person is in favour of discriminating against someone on the basis of race, or blocking opportunity on the basis of class? Of course he’s against that. He’s a politician operating in a liberal democracy. And this isn’t Ukip conference.

Looking at the whole package, it was actually quite a rightwing speech. It was a paean to defence – championing drones, protecting Britain from the evils of the world, and getting all excited about “launching the biggest aircraft carriers in our history”.

It was a festival of flagwaving guff about the British “character”, a celebration of shoehorning our history chronologically onto the curriculum, looking towards a “Greater Britain”, asking for more “national pride”. There was even a Bake Off pun.

He also deployed the illiberal device of inculcating a divide-and-rule fear of the “shadow of extremism – hanging over every single one of us”, informing us that children in UK madrassas are having their “heads filled with poison and their hearts filled with hate”, and saying Britain shouldn’t be “overwhelmed” with refugees, before quickly changing the subject to ousting Assad. How unashamedly centrist, of you, Mr Prime Minister.

Benefit cuts and a reduction of tax credits will mean the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm for “equality of opportunity, as opposed to equality of outcome” will be just that – with the outcome pretty bleak for those who end up losing any opportunity that comes with state support. And his excitement about diversity in his cabinet rings a little hollow the day following a tubthumping anti-immigration speech from his Home Secretary.

If this year's Tory conference wins the party votes, it’ll be because of its conservative commitment – not lefty love bombing.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.