Parliamentary Sketch : Still carrying the torch

Posted on: 31st May 2012

The Ministry of  Britishness has issued an edict to the people of West Cornwall re the Olympic Torch: “Jolly well done. Now, carry on.”

And I felt enormously proud as I hosted a visit from the Greek Embassy, hoping I could assure that troubled country that we could demonstrate both pride and respect in our handling of this symbol of sporting achievement and nations in harmony.

In fact, as the plane arrived direct from Athens at “Culdrose international airport” to deliver its priceless cargo to a large and welcoming crowd, the Greek Cultural Attaché (Dr Victoria Solomonidis) momentarily, became overwhelmed and shed a tear. She mentioned the stress, future uncertainty and pain of Greece contrasted with the joy of seeing this symbol treated with such reverence.

Then on Saturday we were privileged to attend the glorious commencement of the torch’s from Land’s End through Newlyn, Penzance, Marazion, Rosudgeon, Ashton, Breage, Helston and beyond. Though there were (as there often are) unintended (at least I hope they were) errors when our language had been masked at Land’s End and an expectant crowd as bypassed near Marazion, the event went off very well. We did ourselves proud.

The international connections will be reciprocated for a couple of whistlestop days next week when I will be privileged to accept an invitation to meet some of the movers and shakers in Athens as their political classes lock horns for another General Election – it seems that Coalition Governments are less easy to harmonise when faced with the even more extreme conditions in that country.

Distant commentators and leaders of other countries are blunt about the choice for Greek. They can either “take their austerity medicine and stay in the Euro” or refuse and leave. Yet the Greek Party most likely to succeed is one which says that the country can have it all. Less austerity and remain in the Euro. Parties in this country who claim that they can miraculously tax less and spend more are usually found out and rejected by the electorate.

But, I believe that a compromise could emerge. Perhaps the austerity package is too severe, some now admit. A Greek exit (or ‘Grexit’) from the Euro could be catastrophic for others (including the UK) not just Greece.

Though I would also give them back the Parthenon Marbles we stole from them over 200 years ago, it seems there is more we can do to both force Greece to face up to its own obvious challenges whilst helping them out.

We are all torch carriers for a better future.

22nd May 2012