Friday, February 01, 2013

Here in Hamburg I'm inevitably suffering a degree of culture shock:-
  • There are no TVs in the cafés.
  • People talk without shouting and I can hear the conversation of the people 3 tables away, never mind the one next to us. Can't understand it but can hear it.
  • People on bikes keep to the cycle lane on the edge of the pavement and don't weave in and out of the pedestrian traffic.
  • Germans over 60 nearly all have grey or white hair ('graveyard blond' as they call it here), so clearly have poorer genes than the Spanish. Who never suffer this fate if they're female and hardly ever if they're male.
  • Fewer pretty women. But that could be the climate. It's raining non-stop.
  • Plenty of ginger on sale in the market.
  • Parents tell their children to move aside as adults pass.
  • The children obey their parents.
  • There are real Indian restaurants.
But, anyway, back in Madrid, things are unfolding as predicted here yesterday. The General Secretary of the PP party has insisted that:-
  • The documents could contain all sorts of things – the truth and things that are not true. They could be reworked, manipulated or cut.
  • All salaries and payments given to officials were reported to tax authorities.
  • Someone is trying to hurt the PP party.
  • The records obtained by El País are false.
  • The PP is considering suing over the publication of the ledgers.
  • The scandal will not affect President Rajoy's ability to tackle the recession.
  • There is only one accounting process done at the PP Party and it is submitted annually to the Court of Auditors.
  • All leaders, all employees receive their salaries through bank transfers from their regular payroll.
  • The PP Party has no knowledge of the handwritten notes that were published or their contents, and they cannot be recognised as part of the party’s books.
  • So, it's all a stitch-up, Gov.
None of these (conflicting) claims are remotely convincing, of course. Any more than the avowal from another senior official that the Spain 'brand' hasn't been damaged by these developments.

Rajoy himself, as is his wont, has been absent from the scene, though we're promised a statement tomorrow. After he and his advisors have decided on their damage limitation strategy.

If the allegations of annual 'overpayments' of 25k to Rajoy are true, this will mean he was drawing not just the three salaries I cited a couple of weeks ago but a greedy four. Can he stay in power? A simple enough question to answer in some other countries but not so easy in Spain. There's traditionally a lot of Catholic forgiveness here. Or weary resignation, perhaps.

Separately, the royal son-in-law who's been arraigned for corruption appears to be putting his faith in what we might call the Harry Redkapp Defence, viz. that he has a low IQ and his wife (the princess) is illiterate. So neither of them could really have been behind all the corruption in which he's mired. Good luck with that.

Finally . . . Click here for news of a new Basque currency, over the border in France. Coming to Spain soon?

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