In spain, today is “Spanishness Day” and there’s a big military parade in Madrid. My own view is that this is sort of thing is a relic from a previous age. But, that said, I doubt it’s going to disappear from the Spanish scene for a while. So, a few months ahead of the elections and against the background of not just nationalist advances but also isolated acts of desecration against the national flag and the monarchy, it was inevitable the right-of-centre PP party would try to use the day for political advantage. Specifically, it’s called for a lot of loyalist flag-waving around the country. And it will probably get it. Whether all this means, as some commentators allege, that Spain is more divided now than at any time since 1936, I don’t feel qualified to say. But I guess it’s easier to be pessimistic than optimistic. If concern really is widespread and growing, then the logical development would be the ousting of the left-of-centre PSOE party at next year’s general election. So, vamos a ver. Not long now. Assuming the situation doesn’t turn nastier.
The EU has said it’s looking into whether the Spanish government gave illegal tax relief to those companies which bought overseas operations such as the Abbey National, BAA and Scottish Energy, helping them to beat out competitors. The marvellous response from Madrid - surely disingenuous - is that the assistance can’t have distorted competition as all Spanish companies were entitled to it.
A BBC headline this morning is that a survey has found that British kids are not enjoying their childhood because they’re stressed by school tests, a fear of crime and consumerism. And this after 10 years of a left-of-centre government. Apart from kicking this out - which seems far from unlikely after this week’s debacles - one wonders how on earth this situation could be reversed. Can consumerism ever die? Or even go backwards? A new Puritan age?
Spain - or at least the word ‘Spanish’ - appears in the British media again this morning. But only in the context of the government-owned Post Office and the claim that workers there have called a strike because they want to keep the restrictive work measures which are called ‘Spanish practices’ in English. As condoms are called ‘French letters’. Which reminds me - A reader has asked why it’s considered racist in Britain to tell jokes about the Chinese but not about the Spanish. I have to say, firstly, I don’t know but, secondly, I’ve never heard an anti-Spanish joke.
Which, in turn, reminds me that a reader has insisted that the correct description is ‘Great Britain and Northern Ireland’. Technically true, but in everyday life everyone uses the shorthand term ‘Britain’ to include Northern Ireland. It’s a British practice.