Both sides in Bonn claim Blair for their own

Imre Karacs, in the second of a series on the election from abroad, on how the Germans see it

The German parliament's bookshop has recently added two new volumes to its stock. Alongside memoirs and biographies of home-grown politicians, the MPs can now read about the blue-eyed wonder whom everybody expects to move into Downing Street soon; a left-winger about to sweep "an inherently conservative nation" off its feet. Tony Blair, like the Spice Girls, is making headlines in Germany, smiling out of every newspaper and magazine.

His imminent success - Germans' slavish respect for poll statistics will not allow any doubt to creep in - is the clincher in almost all political debates. To the leaderless Social Democrats, Mr Blair is living proof that the left can still win in western Europe, if it can find a Messiah. To the right, who applaud Mr Blair's "courage" in repudiating the welfare state of old and dragging a herd of dinosaurs into the 21st century, the prime-minister-in-waiting embodies the bankruptcy of socialism. Both sides feel that the Tories are a spent force, and look to New Labour to consolidate rather than reverse the achievements of the past 18 years.

On balance, most German observers praise Britain's Conservative Government for arresting the country's economic decline, but are horrified by the social cost. "The Tories carried out a radical restructuring of the country and overcame the worst economic crisis since the war," commented last week's Woche. The paper, like its rivals, has run a series of charts contrasting Britain's economic near-miracle with the lacklustre performance of its competitors. In growth, job creation and incoming foreign investments, Britain blows Germany out of the water.

The falling British unemployment rate - now not much more than half the German figure - has surfaced in parliamentary debates in Bonn, but this has not led to public demands for the British model to be followed. The reason is the negative side of the equation; Germans returning from weekends in "cool" London bring tales of deprivation unseen in their own country. Britain is a country, the media report, where capitalism is so rampant that a rail company leaves a corpse by the track for hours in order to keep its profit margins intact.

There is, therefore, no surprise in Germany at the evident paradox of an economically successful government on its way to defeat. Boom or no boom, Woche writes, Britons of every class are terrified of falling out of their precious jobs into a Dickensian morass. When they cast their ballots on 1 May, they will be voting against that fear.

There are of course many in Germany, particularly on the libertarian right, who would quite like to feed their own society a dose of Thatcherism. The banks and big business are trying to push Deutschland AG towards the more dynamic Anglo-Saxon model, one in which "share-holder value" takes precedence over industrial harmony.

Germany's election campaign next year is expected to be fought on similar ground, and its outcome will be heavily influenced by developments across the Channel. Many feel that the future of German prosperity is increasingly determined in Wall Street, the City of London, and in Britain's low-wage factories. That is, after all, where German jobs are going.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Parker says: 'I once had a taster use the phrase 'smells like the sex glands of a lemming'. Who in the world can relate to that?'
food + drinkRobert Parker's 100-point scale is a benchmark of achievement for wine-makers everywhere
News
i100
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing