Thursday, May 08, 2014

The EU elections; Great thinkers; The Vatican; Telecoms: Spaniards in London; & Sub-editing


64% of Spaniards are forecast to vote in the upcoming EU elections. This is rather surprising, given the low opinion they have of their current politicians. Perhaps it's in the expectation of a better form of democracy. Some hope. I'd be surprised if more than 35% of Brits go to the polls, being even less trusting of European politicians than they are of their own. And most of those who do vote will be making a protest by supporting UKIP. Which will be a meaningless result.

Prospect magazine has published a list of the world's greatest thinkers, as elected by its readers. Three of the first 5 are Indian, which was a bit of a surprise. But not as much as the inclusion of Pope Francis at number 5.

Talking of prominent Catholics . . . I was a little surprised to read recently that the latter's number 2 - sacked from his position as head of the Vatican's corrupt financial ministry - had ignored his boss's example of humility and moved into a vast apartment of great splendour. Which possibly says something about the reactionary forces Pope Francis is up against.

One of the numerous obligations imposed by the EU on its member states is that everyone should have an internet speed of at least 30 megas by some date in the future. Locally (i. e. in my barrio), Telefónica don't seem much concerned with this but nationally they've persuaded the government to bring in a law allowing them to expropriate private properties - e. g. terraces - to install telecoms infrastructure. Does this happen elsewhere, I wonder, as I plod along with my 'up to 10 megas'. Meaning around 0.5 megas in practice.

Seven years ago, a tube train crashed in Valencia. As with the recent rail crash near Santiago, all the blame was heaped on the driver, who'd conveniently died in the accident. But now a judge has decided to question 3 technicians of the city's railway company, FGV and, once again, it's the braking system which is the centre of the investigation. Better late than never. Which is a comment which seems to be of general application to the Spanish judicial system.

For those who read Spanish, the blog Guirilandia is an excellent read. The author is a Spaniard living in London, writing about how he finds life there. Today there's an article from Sergio Delgado Somodevilla on what a foreigner should do to fit in with British/London life and how to overcome the psychological barriers to this

Finally . . . A couple more beauties missed by the teenage sub-editors of the Daily Telegraph:

  • First Minister faces renewed demands for an apoogy after saying he admires 'some aspects' of Putin's leadership
  • The Ecclestone daugter who lives on another planet

3 comments:

Perry said...

3. When in Rome do as the Romans:

Try telling that to the Muslims in the UK. The Roman Empire was multiracial, not multicultural. It collapsed in the west when it became multicultural.

http://www.askelm.com/people/peo011.htm

Anonymous said...

Colin,

Part 1 You speak of Brits going to the EU polls - Well they might go in greater numbers this time due to the "Farage effect", we'll see.

Meanwhile there was a joyous piece in the FT today re. Torremolinos Ex-pat Brits choosing between voting and looking forward to the first pint of the day - I reproduce it here as your readers may not have found their way through the paywall

Brits in Spain take a break from EU elections
Ex. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/552d9e6e-d75e-11e3-a47c-00144feabdc0.html
By Tobias Buck in Torremolinos

It is not yet lunchtime, but the British pubs in downtown Torremolinos are already filling up with pale-skinned customers looking to escape the sting of the Andalucían sun.

Many tackle the first pint of the day hunched over a tabloid newspaper, silently contemplating the latest celebrity fashion outrage and news of another surge in London house prices.

Others chat and exchange gossip. The big talking point is the recent loss by many British households in southern Spain of access to the BBC and other UK channels thanks to a satellite repositioning, depriving swaths of the Costa del Sol of soap operas such as Eastenders and Coronation Street. “It’s a huge issue. People hate missing out on their soaps,” confides one pub owner.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, such passions are absent when talk turns to the forthcoming European parliamentary elections. Most expats interviewed on the stretch of coast between Fuengirola and Nerja were unaware of the May 25 contest. Not one said they would vote, either in Spain or the UK.

On paper, the election should matter greatly to the hundreds of thousands of Britons living in Spain. They are in many ways exemplary Europeans, the embodiment of what the EU has been trying to achieve over nearly six decades: peaceful, good-natured coexistence between former antagonists and the free flow of people, capital, goods and services across European borders.

The Costa expats are also far more likely than their compatriots back home to benefit – and suffer – from changes in pan-European laws dealing with issues such as the portability of pensions and access to foreign health services.

Such factors, however, are often outweighed by the strange sense that they never quite left their home country in the first place. “Many people haven’t really moved to Spain. They have moved part of England to Spain. It’s like England, but with better weather,” says Ben Harris-Quinney, president of the Madrid branch of Conservatives Abroad.

Could interest in European affairs perk up as concern rises about a possible British exit from the EU? For many in the UK, this month’s poll is a test case for a possible future referendum on UK membership of the 28-nation bloc. The anti-Europe UK Independence party is predicted to emerge strongly, highlighting a broad backlash against Brussels.

If the UK one day decided to leave the EU, some of the EU-backed rights and protections enjoyed by its citizens living elsewhere in Europe are likely to face tough scrutiny. Yet that prospect is largely waved away by the carefree Britons of southern Spain. “The attitude is: the Spanish won’t chuck us out [if the UK quits the EU] because we bring money into the country,” says Dilip Kuner, editor of Euro Weekly News, an English-language newspaper aimed at expats in Spain.

It is with much the same reasoning that many British expats reject the comparison between their status in Spain and that of eastern European immigrants arriving in the UK. Some openly bemoan the influx of foreigners into Britain, while strongly defending their own right to remain in Spain.

“We financed this coast,” says Derek Anderson, a British resident of Torremolinos. England, by contrast, is “full up”, he says. “We have millions of unemployed Brits, they are letting in hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Europe – so therefore there are no jobs for the English.”

PART 2 to follow (4096 character max)

Anonymous said...

Part 2 :-

For UKIP, the stoutly nationalist views held by at least part of the expat community present an opportunity. “If you think about the expat demographic, it’s not surprising that quite a few are sympathetic to us,” says Gawain Towler, Ukip candidate for South West England and Gibraltar. “In many cases they are retirees, which is where we are especially strong. Then you have the community of small business people, often targeting British holiday-makers. These people are tattooed red-white-and-blue,” he says.

The description captures part of expat reality, but will be rejected with horror by those expats who take pains to blend into Spanish society, learn the language and – in some cases – stand as candidates for local office.

The key challenge for political activists eyeing the expat vote, however, is how to mobilise an important but largely unwilling slice of the electorate.

According to recent data, there are 300,000 Britons registered as living in Spain, though diplomats believe twice as many again may be in the country without being formally recorded. Yet the official number of overseas Britons in Spain registered to vote in the UK stands at less than 16,000.

To Mr Harris-Quinney, the discrepancy is a source of intense frustration: “The 800,000 voters are enough to change the course of any elections,” he says. He says the low turnout is at least partly explained by the fact that Britain makes it harder than other countries to vote from abroad – and bars anyone from voting who has lived outside the country for more than 15 years. “Britain, under any government, has not done enough to reach out and engage with them,” he says.

The other explanation, of course, is that the vast majority of expats simply do not care much about politics, whether UK or European. As one British patron in Annie’s Irish Pub in Nerja says: “Most people down here just want to get together and have a laugh.”

For UKIP, the stoutly nationalist views held by at least part of the expat community present an opportunity. “If you think about the expat demographic, it’s not surprising that quite a few are sympathetic to us,” says Gawain Towler, UKIP candidate for South West England and Gibraltar. “In many cases they are retirees, which is where we are especially strong. Then you have the community of small business people, often targeting British holiday-makers. These people are tattooed red-white-and-blue,” he says.

The description captures part of expat reality, but will be rejected with horror by those expats who take pains to blend into Spanish society, learn the language and – in some cases – stand as candidates for local office.

The key challenge for political activists eyeing the expat vote, however, is how to mobilise an important but largely unwilling slice of the electorate.

According to recent data, there are 300,000 Britons registered as living in Spain, though diplomats believe twice as many again may be in the country without being formally recorded. Yet the official number of overseas Britons in Spain registered to vote in the UK stands at less than 16,000.

To Mr Harris-Quinney, the discrepancy is a source of intense frustration: “The 800,000 voters are enough to change the course of any elections,” he says. He says the low turnout is at least partly explained by the fact that Britain makes it harder than other countries to vote from abroad – and bars anyone from voting who has lived outside the country for more than 15 years. “Britain, under any government, has not done enough to reach out and engage with them,” he says.

The other explanation, of course, is that the vast majority of expats simply do not care much about politics, whether UK or European. As one British patron in Annie’s Irish Pub in Nerja says: “Most people down here just want to get together and have a laugh.”
============
So Colin, have you passed the 15yr deadline, or will you be voting for Gawain Towler, or couldn't you care less?

Regards, Q1-10 (Oops, did I say 13 before?)

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