I guess stupefaction would be a good way to describe the initial British reaction to the appointment of Baroness Ashton as the new EU High Representative for Foreign Relations and Security. At least we knew the new President’s name because it has been knocked around for the last few weeks. But no one seems to have heard of the lady at all. Even in Britain. Worse, she is singularly inexperienced in what the high profile position seems to require. So, I’d love to see the Job and the Perfect Bride Specs for the holder. Assuming they started with these. Which I rather doubt. But, apart from this, all went as predicted here; the Big Beasts of Germany and France got exactly what they wanted and everybody got to shaft Tony Blair.
And politicians wonder why they’re not much respected. Anyway, here’s an interesting (eurosceptic) take on the nonsense. Sampler:- It is hugely ironic that after decades of slaving away at crafting the foundations of a European superstate, the Eurofederalists have been left with two of the dullest politicians on earth as the public face of the European Union. Incidentally, the menu for last night’s election dinner special included wild mushrooms.
An Israeli historian has just published a book in which he makes the general claim that Jewish history was invented in the 19th century and the specific claim that the Romans never expelled the Jews from Palestine. The same general observation applies, he says, to Germany, France and Italy. Their histories are all the invention of romantic 19th century nationalists. And I can think of one or two examples closer to home.
As it happens, one of the waitresses in this wi-fi café has just given me a history of Galicia. Since it’s in Gallego, I’m guessing it’ll prove conclusively that Galicia is not only quintessentially Gaelic but also that it’s been a downtrodden real nation for hundreds of years. But I’ll let you know. Though this might take some time; she’s given me two other books as well. I see one is entitled “Myths, Rites and Legends of Galicia: The Magic of the Celtic Legacy”. There you go. Will I get an answer to my question of why Galicia is considered so much more Celtic than our next-door neighbour Asturias? Which really did successfully resist the Muslim conquest, by the way.
The Galician supreme court – I think every region in Spain has one – has pronounced that a house built very close to the sea by one of the Xunta members is illegal and must be demolished. Even though she should have known the law better than most, the lady in question has dismissed this as political persecution. It will be interesting to see whether the demolition order is ever carried out. There do seem to be rather a lot here that aren’t.
But maybe she has a case, as there’s widespread confusion about what the planning laws actually are in any place around Spain. And about who has the power to change them, as between the municipal, provincial, regional and state administrations. Hence the ability for some court to rule that thousands of houses owned by expatriates are illegal even after they’d been assured by the local authority they were legal. As someone has written, “Surely it is time for central government to take on a new overall role and impose a same-size-fits-all policy for the entire country. And now is the time to do it. Many town halls are rapidly running out of money and so some sort of replacement funding could be the incentive for the town halls to bring their municipalities into line with new rules established by Madrid.” So, is there the political will? Probably not. Bigger fish to fry.
The company which has high-jacked my phone to send me a recorded message every time I get an international call is Interec. I wonder if Telefónica know what’s going on. Assuming they don’t own it.
Finally . . . Confused about how much red wine to drink? Consult this and then relax. After that, start worrying that the research was by the University of Bordeaux.
Footnote: Most Unwise Quote of the Week, made on Wednesday
The days when France and Germany could decide things for a small cosy club are long gone. And a good thing too.
- An East European diplomat. Possibly about to be an ex-diplomat.