Thursday, October 27, 2016

Pontevedra Pensées: 27.10.16

SPANISH LIFE/CULTURE

Those Russian Ships: Expert as they are in deceiving themselves about the difference between Gibraltar ('An unacceptable colonial relic') and Ceuta ('Just an enclave in North Africa') the Spanish government clearly felt the world would fall for their line that, unlike Spain, the latter wasn't tecnically covered by NATO treaty principles. It must have been quite a surprise, then, for the relevant Minister - the execrable Motormouth Margallo – to discover that no-one outside Spain and Russia fell for this specious nonsense. Cue quick re-think in Madrid. They must have been mad to think they could get away with it. So, reviewing all the conflicting comments and denials:-
  • Did Russia make a request but then withdraw it?
  • Did Russia never make any request?
  • Did Russia receive an invitation from Spain but never respond to it?
  • Did Russia never receive any invitation from Spain?
  • Did Spain issue an invitation but then withdraw it?
  • Did Spain never issue an invitation?
  • Did Spain receive a request from Russia?
  • Did Spain initially agree to a request from Russia?
  • Did Spain refuse a request from Russia?
  • Did Spain agree to a request but then change its mind?
Above all . . . Did Spain act unbelievably stupidly? That's probably the only one of these questions we'll get an answer to.

Flamenco and Jazz: I'm not a great fan of either of these art forms. At least when the jazz is very 'jazzy' and so performed more for the benefit of the musicians than for me. But, thanks, to Lenox of Business Over Tapas, I've enjoyed to a bit of fusion this morning. Though admittedly only as background listening.

Places to See in Spain: Out of the goodness of its heart, Travago has given us these 30 suggestions, all beautifully snapped. By pure coincidence, I've been pondering going to either Finisterra or El Cañon del Sil today. But, as this depended on the decision of a Latin lady friend, it seems neither place will enjoy a visit from me this week.

SPANISH POLITICS

The Next Government: The right-of-centre PP party will be back in power by next Monday but the left-of-centre parties who have more seats have said they won't approve its budget. As someone has asked, what's the point of allowing the PP to stay into power if you're going to then stymie them at every serious turn? Doubtless it'll all come out in the wash. Meanwhile, it's correctly been said that deadlock had been converted into gridlock. While all the while the EU it telling Madrid it had better start soon on expanding its austerity measures. The very policies resisted by the parties of the Left. What fun.

THE EU & THE UK

What the Eurocrats Fear Most: See the first article at the end of this post.

Humiliating Mrs May: The second article probably represents the majority British view of last week's development. Or mine, at least: Taster: This week, through all the worrying, I remembered that I voted Leave because I felt strongly that it was our one chance to get out from under an increasingly powerful yet perennially ridiculous superstate marching us forward to a decaying hegemony of paper-pushers armed with tanks and tax control and more competing agendas than a series of Celebrity Big Brother.

GALICIAN STUFF

Los Ancares: This is a beautiful area in northern Galicia, famous for its wildlife. And houses made of straw. I went there, full of animal expectations, about 10 years ago. Didn't even see a sparrow.

A Strange Castle Tale: Would you believe that a government-owned Parador hotel has been declared illegal? Of course you would. It's Spain.

LOCAL STUFF

Saturday's Football Match between the Porcos Bravos and the Sheffield Stags: This travesty of justice is covered in depth – occasionally hilariously - from Comment 84 to this page, some in English but most in Spanish. Anything which produces so much good humour can't be bad. I particularly enjoyed the brief but accurate comment that: The referee John Doe wasn't allowed time to settle into the game. Incidentally, one of the Shefield lads told me before the match that they'd arrived 4 hours early at Liverpool airport and gone straight to the bar. Once in Pontevedra, they were kindly taken out on the tiles all night. When I hinted this hadn't been exactly accidental, he replied: “Yes, we knew it was their strategy but we still went along with it.” So, perhaps they deserved to be robbed.

FINALLY

Practical Advice:-
  • When cutting superglue off your finger, be careful not to take off a centimetre of skin in the process.
  • When cutting the plastic off the top of a bottle of Modena vinegar with a carving knife, be careful not to take off the entire top of said bottle and spray both the kitchen and yourself with black stuff.
  • If you've been adopted by a male kitten, don't leave your leather jacket where it can leap up, pull it down and chew holes in it.
You're welcome.

THE GALLERY

Random item from the collection of a twice-married man . . . .



THE CORRUPTION CAVALCADE

Here's the latest case:-

The case
The Accused
   Positions
 Allegation
  Status

Caso Majestic
Two ex-mayors and 7 civil servants in Casares
Various in the town hall
- Money laundering
- False property classifications
- Bribery


The hearing has been postponed until March.


ARTICLES

Brexit could pull the pin out of the EU grenade. That's why the Eurocrats are terrified: Asa Bennett

Britain is leaving the European Union, and the great and good in Brussels are on edge. The move could be "the beginning of the destruction of not only the EU but also Western political civilisation in its entirety", Donald Tusk warned just before the referendum. Jean-Claude Juncker was more restrained after the vote to leave, but conceded that "there are splits out there and often fragmentation".

The EU is in crisis, and its leaders know that Britain's departure could be the bloc's breaking point. Mr Tusk and his fellow Eurocrats know that many citizens are unhappy with the way things are going, and so could be inspired by Britain if it can show that a better future awaits outside of the EU. A successful Brexit could in effect be the start of a stampede of member states towards the exit door that could see the EU crumble. 

So they will find little to rejoice in new research out today from think-tank Demos, which sheds light on how many European citizens are feeling as averse towards the bloc as British people are.

Britons are most keen for their country to be out of the European Union, with 45 per cent saying it should be its "long-term" aim. This remains higher than the proportion who want Britain to remain in the EU (39 per cent). Fewer people in France (22 per cent) and Germany (16 per cent) feel their country's destiny is outside of the bloc - although many more of them want to see the its powers curtailed (33 per cent in French and 23 in Germany). This latent Euroscepticism is remarkable enough given that these two countries have been the linchpin of the European Union.

This research may, if anything, present too rosy a picture of how Europeans feel about the EU's future. A survey by the University of Edinburgh found that 33 per cent of French people would vote to leave the bloc in a referendum, not too far behind the 40 per cent that would vote to remain. It wouldn't be hard for a "Frexit" movement to make their case to voters given that - according to the Pew Research Center - over 60 per cent of French people feel unfavourably about the EU.

France isn't unique as a hot-bed of pro-Leave sentiment, as Ipsos found that a similar proportion - 33 per cent- of of citizens in the European nations it surveyed would vote to get out of the EU. Nearly half (48 per cent) thought that other countries would end up following Britain out of the exit door, so the Brexit process is being watched by Eurosceptics across the continent. 

France and Germany's leaders have consistently sought to defend the EU and further its powers, but many of their citizens feel the enterprise is pointless, or should at least be cut back. They have been making their feelings known at the ballot box by voting for far-right anti-EU parties like the Front National and the Alternative for Germany. They are not alone in their Euroscepticism, as YouGov found that 32 per cent of those in Poland, 31 per cent in Spain and 32 per cent in Sweden want the EU's wings to be clipped. 

EU leaders are for now pledging to stick together in response to Brexit in order to keep the bloc alive, but they should be worried as many Europeans are feeling the same disaffection and anxieties that drove Britons to vote for Brexit. 

YouGov finds palpable concern in its polling for Demos among voters across the continent about the impact of immigration - an issue many Britons voted to leave the EU over - and multiculturalism on European society. 

Nearly half of those polled in France said that their society had changed "for the worse" by becoming "more ethnically and religiously diverse", 40 per cent of those say in the same in Poland, as do 37 per cent in Germany. Border control, is not solely a British concern. 

Europeans don't just feel ignored by their leaders over issues like immigration, but worry that they aren't leading them towards a better future. 

Do Europeans think things will get better or worse for the following over the next twelve months? -
Almost half (47 per cent) of the French people surveyed thought things would get worse over for Europe over the next year, with fractionally more (53 per cent) thinking their same about their own country. Similar pessimism is rife among the other European nations, as 45 per cent in Germany think the next year will only see things get worse across the continent, and 43 per cent say the same in Sweden. The most optimistic country is Spain, where just over a third (36 per cent) of those polled feel things will improve in Europe and at home (32 per cent) in the next year.

Voters love to give their national leaders a kick, but the European Union fares little better in Demos' research. Nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of those in France say they have low trust in the Commission and 66 per cent in the European Parliament. If the EU can't enthuse citizens in one of the countries at the heart of its creation, something has gone deeply awry. 

Mr Tusk and his fellow Eurocrats are itching to ostracise Britain after its vote to leave the European Union, but their desperate rush to tar it as a pariah is a sign of something more: panic. The EU's leaders know that Britain's exit could inspire many European citizens who have little but scorn for the bloc, so are rushing to put them off getting any ideas. 

The EU is in a parlous state as it is, so Britain's exit will unsettle it even further. If the bloc was a grenade, Brexit could be the pin. That's why the Eurocrats are terrified about it.



This week's preposterous EU summit reminded me exactly why I voted Leave in the first place: Ayesha Vardag


The first European Council meeting since the EU referendum was marred with the indignity of the European leaders snubbing Theresa May. Leaving her to wait until the waiters were standing by to clear for the night before letting her speak.

Greeting her short, functional speech with a planned stony silence. It was petty. It was designed to humiliate. It looked rather like a bunch of schoolboy louts ganging up and bullying.

And for someone like me who initially regretted my vote to Leave, it could not have been more calculated to remind me why I chose to get out. Indeed, I feel, for the first time since the vote, that I did the right thing. That bunch of codgers trying to insult Theresa May made my head echo, on her behalf and our own behalf, with a resounding "screw you".

It felt like all those times when I was starting in the very old-guard male world of the law, and I'd be in rooms full of middle aged lawyers in grey suits who'd been complacently under-performing for years, telling me I didn't know what I was talking about, telling me I couldn't be successful as a single mother, or with a new legal argument, or a new law firm with a new way of doing things, until I beat the hell out of them, again and again, in business and in court, and then they had to console themselves with sniping behind my back.

So I can imagine how May feels. But I hope she doesn't let those old muckers get her down. Things have been run by bitchy old men protecting their patch for far too long. And what a remarkable PR own-goal for the EU club – to turn May from Cruella de Ville into Boadicea overnight is an achievement that Blair's finest spin doctors could only have dreamt of. 

Don't get me wrong: I'm still not happy about the way the referendum was fought, about the untruths that flew hither and thither, the drumming up of hatred and contempt by both sides. I still can't help feeling it was all so casual for such a big decision, and wish the threshold for leaving had been higher (in a global economy, our stability has a high value).

I still wish, too, that people had really known what they were voting for – that there had been any way of asking Leave voters what kind of Brexit we actually wanted, what price we would put on controlling our borders versus staying in the single market.

I even wish young people had been more organised, that our system of voting was not so slanted towards older people used to plodding down to the post office in person rather than doing everything on their phones. 

But this week the EU reminded me what a millstone, what an albatross around our necks, it always was. It has allowed a trade deal between Canada and the EU, seven years in the making, to founder in the Walloon-Flemish tensions of Belgium – apparently Wallonia thought Canada wasn't socialist enough to do a trade deal, or the trade deal wasn't socialist enough, or something wasn't socialist enough.

It's a tyranny of incompetence and vested interests. Nobody can get anything done. It is, as the Canadian Foreign Minister pointed out, hopeless.  


Because the EU's herd of bad-tempered cats can't get their act together, the entire trade deal is off. Because, of course, the EU blocks all member countries from conducting negotiations or deals on their own account. Fortress Europe brooks no side deals. 

Instead, all the EU's power is concentrated in the Commission, and the Commission is a bunch of bureaucrats who have been given massive power over the lives of the ordinary people of Europe.
They trashed Greece. They're trashing Italy. They've started to mutter about trashing Malta. They're trying to run Ireland's taxation policy. They're even planning to set up their own army. Jean-Claude Juncker is drunk on power that no one meant to give him.

Am I worried about rising racism in Britain? Yes, just as I worry about it in the US, in France, in Austria, throughout the Middle East. There are a lot of reasons why racism and tribalism is on the rise, and Brexit is not any sort of root cause, even if the vilest and basest elements of our politics have tapped into Brexit as a rallying cry.

Equally, a few of those who advocated Brexit did tap into this racism and xenophobia, but the racism was created in the first place by a poverty and by a failure to invest in communities.

Ironically though, this failure was partly rooted in the EU's own ban on state aid to national industries – even if Remainers would prefer to blame it purely on the Tories.

So yes, of course I'm worried about the pound dropping below what can be seen as a useful readjustment helpful to our manufacturing industries. Of course I am worried about European talent leaving Britain, and about bankers bailing on us, and about credit flowing out.

I'm worried that the Commission is too egotistical and too stubborn to give us any sort of free trade deal. I am worried sick about all of these things. 

But God, this week, through all the worrying, I remembered that I voted Leave because I felt strongly that it was our one chance to get out from under an increasingly powerful yet perennially ridiculous superstate marching us forward to a decaying hegemony of paper-pushers armed with tanks and tax control and more competing agendas than a series of Celebrity Big Brother.

For the first time since the sick feeling I had when Boris folded and the Brexit leadership crumbled, I am bloody, righteously glad we're getting out from under that bunch of offensive, mediocre, self-exonerating old buzzards. And I pray that the other nations, the other peoples of the Europe I really do love and passionately want to be part of, get out from under them too.

5 comments:

Sierra said...

Another factor in the "Russian ships" saga - given the depreciation in sterling, Spain is facing a reduction in UK tourists next year, and looking for replacements:

http://murciatoday.com/murcia-region-hunting-health-conscious-russians-in-moscow_32220-a.html#leftcol

Diego said...

Colin,
Acetone dissolves superglue.
It works great when the tip of the glue container is obstructed, just dip it in acetone until it clears up.

Hope i saved some fingers.

O Derradeiro Xabarín Ceibe said...

Home meu, tamén hai moitos comentarios en galego.
Non é por nada. Grazas por facerte eco da XIII

Forza Porcos!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Colin Davies said...

Many thanks, Dioego.

Colin Davies said...

@ O Derradeiro Xabarín Ceibe. Apologies. Will correct tomorrow.

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