Thursday, May 03, 2012


So, Gerníka was the first town in the world to suffer a devastating aerial bombardment, yes? Well, no actually. This sad honour goes to Chaouen in Morocco, which was reduced to rubble twelve years earlier, by Spanish planes. I guess it's easy to understand why one town is remembered and the other ignored in Spain. To be balanced, I should stress that this article cites even earlier British urban bombing expeditions.

Talking of colonial heritages . . I accessed the webpage of the UK's National Health Service (NHS) yesterday and was interested to note I could also read the page in Arabic, Bengali, Cantonese, Czech, Farsi, French, Kurdish, Mandarin, Polish, Punjabi, Tigrinya and Urdu. If, like me, you'd like to know what Tigrinya is, here's the answer.

Getting out of my car in Leeds, I noticed a host of bird droppings on my bonnet(hood). Indeed, I could hardly miss them as they were large. Very large. And thick, with the smallest being about 2 inches(5cm) wide and the biggest around four inches(10cm). As far as I could recall, I hadn't parked the car under any tree since leaving home. So I concluded there must have been a gang of ostriches roosting in the rafters of Deck 4 on the Pont Avon. So, now do we have something to complain about!

Incidentally, leaving Pontevedra I joined the motorway to Santiago. Or, rather, I didn't. Being on autopilot, I joined it to Vigo. Happily, I realised this after only a couple of minutes and came off it at the first exit. But I don't think it was just this that caused my sister to leave indentations in the grab-handle on her door, when she got out in Santander. She's just not used to Spanish driving. Or mine.

Blimey, no sooner do I say that we Europeans are still wrestling with the problem of what Germany's role should be in the EU than our Ambrose - not usually an optimist - comes along and says that the period of German hegemony is over. Indeed, he even claims that "the epicentre of Europe's political crisis may soon be Germany itself." More here.

Meanwhile, his colleague Jeremy Warner believes that the euro crisis just got worse. I mentioned yesterday that Germany didn't follow others in their strategy to deal with the Great Depression but went its own (errant) way. Something very similar is happening now. But in reverse. As Mr Warner points out - "The hair shirt prescribed for others is most assuredly not being donned by austerity's cheerleader in chief, Germany. In fact, German government consumption is continuing to rise quite strongly, even in real terms, and the fiscal squeeze pencilled in by Berlin for itself for the next three years is marginal compared with virtually everyone else. Germany is requiring others to adopt policies it has no intention of following itself." But, he adds, "[Nothing] is going to be solved by austerity. For now, there is no majority in any eurozone country for leaving the single currency, but one thing is certain: nation states won't allow themselves to be locked into permanent recession. Eventually, national solutions will be sought. The whole thing is held together only by the fear that leaving will induce something even worse than the current austerity. This is not a formula for lasting monetary union." More here.

I guess an (awful?) lot depends on Sunday's elections in La Belle France.

Finally . . . Click here for Alfie Mittington's recipe for a superior curry dip.

Finally, finally . . . This is a request to Moscow to re-send his Comment re the British obsession with the past, particularly The War. It's appeared in my email but not below the relevant blog post. So I can't answer it.

6 comments:

Azra said...

One of my former students spoke Tigrinya or a variation of it. And having just come from London a few days ago - and having witnessed a protest held by the Eritrean and Ethiopian people, I find it ironic.

Colin said...

Indeed. What were they protesting about? Can't have been the non-use of Tigrinya by the UK NHS.

Azra said...

They were protesting outside Parliament - something about the UK should stop selling arms to Eritrea and Ethiopia and that they want peace.

Alfred B. Mittington said...

Knowing a thing or two about the region in question, I must say I find it extremely positive that Eritreans and Ethiopians would be protesting together (!) for peace and against arms-sales. Let's hope that doing so in London is only the start of something bigger.

moscow said...

Sorry Colin I can't re-post because I didn't save it. I can sum up the gist. Commentators in the UK, including the two in today's blog plus yourself tend to dwell on and read too much in certain aspects of past history. The vast majority of British commentators are unendingly ignorant about Europe. Germany is very different from the UK. There are superficial cultural similarities and often this leads to assume that they are greater than they really are. Schaeuble is an interesting example. A protestant from Swabia, he is an advocate of the European Union on the grounds of common humnanistic christian values - something you would never hear from even the most ardently pro-European britisher.
He is scathing about the anglo (I should really say british) economic model based on manipulating capital rather than generating it. The article in Business Week indicated that exports in Spain are still growing (the rate of growth has slowed but that still does not imply decline in exports). Whereas the article in the telegraph showed that the UK is uncapable of exporting its way out of the crisis. Contrary to Britain, in Spain a job in manufacturing is held in high esteem. The best and brightest do not necessarily go into financial jobs. Spain will copy the best ideas from wherever they come from, but right now the German model seems a lot more appealing than the anglo one.
I expect Spain to resurface thanks to a mix of budgetary austerity, structural reforms and an injection of capital to revive growth. Growth in Europe is in Germany's own interest even if for German politicians it is often hard to admit that too openly to its own electorate. Schaeuble knows that very well. A bunch of fleet street hacks writing banilities will not change reality. Rather they and their fellow Britons will be confronted with the crudeness of that reality when Britain starts running out of options. The AAA will go first, then the pound will sink like a lead baloon, and the rest will follow down the sewage soon after.

Colin said...

Thanks, Moscow. My apologies for the delay n responding.

Yep, it's certainly true that no one in the UK would push a major political experiment on the back of a belief in common humanistic principles.

As I've said before, I believe Spain, as well as Britain, would find it difficult to export its way out of the crisis, even if they are growing.

You are right that engineers in the UK are not called Dr and held in the same regard as elsewhere (not just Europe) but I think you overstate the British disregard of a manufacturing job. Especially now as unemployments rises.

I first heard about the superior German model in 1970 (in Management Today). It certainly seems to work for Germany, who were fortunate to start from scratch (on American money) in 1945 (better not say 'after the war'). But it's surprising how few countries seem to have emulated it in 40 plus years. I wonder why.

Yes, it's in Germany's interests for the eurozone to survive. But are the Germans willing to pay to secure this? I guess we will soon see.

With the pound up at 1.25, I admire your courage in making specific predictions about the UK economy. Though there's no timeframe.

Vamos a ver.

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