Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Today’s papers carried reports of attacks yesterday on the president of the PP party by ‘young Catalan extremists’. Needless to say, they branded him a ‘fascist’ before roughing him up a bit. In the UK, where the only fascists have been a 1930s joke, this pejorative term carries no weight at all. I imagine much the same is true of the USA. But here in Spain, against the backcloth of a relatively recent fascist dictatorship, it’s naturally a heavyweight insult. Or, rather, it would be if it weren’t used by those on the left of the political spectrum for any shade of opinion even slightly to the right of them. In such a way is language devalued. Basically, it’s now a word used by juveniles to describe anyone who disagrees with them in any way. Especially ‘nationalists’, it would seem. So, fortunately, it won’t be long before it carries no weight here either.

To my surprise, there’s at least one statue of Franco still standing in Spain – in the military academy in Zaragoza. Not before time, the Minister of Defence has announced he’s pursuing its removal. On reflection, I suppose those opposing this really would be fascists.

From 2007, Spain will lose its number one position at the EU trough to Poland but, notwithstanding its recent economic growth and apparent widespread wealth, it will remain in the second position until at least 2013. That other poor country, Italy, is at no. 3 and Germany ranks no. 5. And it’s not pennies we’re talking about. It must make sense to someone.

One of the national papers today carried an article on prostitution in Germany during the World Cup. It headlined this with a quote from a Swedish Minister to the effect that the Swedes regard the buying of sex as a form of assault on women. I fear we might have to wait a while for this view to become common currency here.

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