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
Sunday 30 March 1997
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.
- 2 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face the death penalty
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Robert Mugabe eats a zoo for 'obscene' 91st birthday party
Michelle Rodriguez: Fast & Furious actor apologises after telling 'minorities' to stop taking on 'white' roles
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Putin critic may have been murdered by Islamic extremists, says president-led committee
British are sexually uptight, dirty and drink too much – according to Spanish book
Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face the death penalty
PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...
£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...
£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...