Greece's Syriza are 'extremists' engaging in 'fantasy politics', Labour's Liz Kendall says

The leadership contender does not want to emulate the Greek governing party

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Greece’s governing Syriza party are “extremists” engaging in “fantasy politics”, a contender for the Labour leadership has said.

Wading into the Greek crisis, Liz Kendall said Labour should not follow the course of left-wing party, which has faced down creditors and EU institutions to reject austerity in the face of international pressure.

"We progressive social democratic parties have to find a credible alternative to the ever-continuing austerity ... on the one hand, and the fantasy politics of Syriza and Podemos on the other," she told an event hosted by the news channel CNBC.

"And that is just as much, I believe, a challenge for the UK Labour party as it is for our sister parties right across Europe.

"We have to find a different alternative, otherwise we will allow the extremists – whether from the left or the right – to come in.”

Liz Kendall at the event, organised by CNBC

She later added: "Trying to turn Labour into some kind of Syriza or Podemos party or simply saying what we’ve said over the past five years – albeit with a leader with a different gender or a different accent – will not cut the mustard."

Ms Kendall is one of four contenders for the leadership of her party, the other three being Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham, and Jeremy Corbyn.


Yanis Varoufakis resigned as Greece's finance minister on Monday (Getty)

The Labour MP is widely viewed as the candidate most favoured by the centrist or 'Blairite' wing of the party, though she has said she rejects such a label.

Her competitor Mr Corbyn has previously called for Greece’s debt to be cancelled as a “signal to the banks and financiers that we won’t keep bailing them out for reckless lending”.

Ms Kendall’s attack on the Greek government is also in contrast to the approach of the Green Party.

The environmentalists’ MP Caroline Lucas said last week that European authorities had deliberately set out to “humiliate” the country with austerity.

“Austerity isn’t only socially destructive, as we know – it is economically deluded as well. Greece’s government debt to GDP ratio hasn’t gone down as austerity was imposed, it has increased,” she told a crowd in Trafalgar Square,” she told a solidarity demonstration in Trafalgar Square.


“This was never about supporting the people of Greece – it has always been about humiliating and defeating a government which has dared to stand up to the ideology of austerity.”

A poll of Greek voters conducted by the University of Macedonia last month found that Syriza had an 18-point lead over its nearest rival, a dramatic increase in support since its entered government.

A poll taken at the same time in the UK showed Labour 12 points behind the Conservatives a month after a shock election defeat.

The Greek government, led by Alexis Tsipras, is trying to forge a last-minute deal with creditors after a referendum giving it a mandate to reject an earlier proposal.