Thursday, March 26, 2009

Regular readers will know I occasionally cite the blog of Tory MEP, Daniel Hannan. Who’s possibly rather more famous today than he was yesterday, thanks to a speech critical of Gordon Brown which he gave early this week when the British Prime Minister attended the EU parliament. Just in case you’ve missed it, here it is. I don’t suppose it hurt Mr Brown as much as the unsupportive comments of the Governor of the Bank of England yesterday. But it was a lot more entertaining.

I mentioned yesterday that the Chairman of Telefónica aspires to making it the world’s leading digital communications company. In this, he says, he sees only Vodaphone as a serious threat. So, it was little surprising to read these two companies will be sharing mobile phone networks in various countries. Less surprising was today’s news that Spain’s broadband and mobile phone rates are much higher than the European average.

Like the economist Paul Krugman, the EU Commission sees the need for significant structural reforms in the Spanish economy, if competitiveness is to be increased. These would include improved training, a regularisation of work contracts and a stronger link between wages and productivity. There’s even been talk of salary cuts. Over at Ibex Salad, Charles Butler - acting as a proxy - has something to say on the last mentioned.

When you’re desperate to improve relations with the USA, just about the dumbest thing you could do would be to unilaterally pull your troops out of Kosovo without giving the Americans any advance notice. But this is what the Spanish government has just done and for which it is now trying to make rapid amends. It’s hard to know whether this gaffe is the responsibility of a young, relatively inexperienced Ministress of Defence or of the man, President Zapatero, who appointed her in the first place. Same thing, really.

Generally speaking, you need a lot more syllables with Spanish than with English to get a point across. The examples are countless but the words stupid (2) and estupido (4) are a good enough example. Except that, at least in schools, no one in Britain is allowed to call anyone stupid these days. The correct phrase is now ‘slow processing skills’.

Finally . . . I may be 62; I may have spent my life travelling; and I may have lived in six countries. But my mother today still felt it necessary to tell me which platform the train to Liverpool would leave from. So, thank God I had my haircut before I left Spain.

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