Sunday, January 14, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia: 14.1.18

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain. 

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here.

  • Plans continue for an in absentia election of Sr P as the Catalan president. Farcial but very serious.
  • Here's an article which, a propos Cataluña, casts an eye over the key players, assesses where they go from here and asks: What does this outcome mean for the key political actors, both in Catalonia and across Spain? Stating the rather obvious, the writer concludes: Not for the first time in the past few months, Spain is in uncharted waters The option that would appear to satisfy the greatest number would be meaningful constitutional reform which would grant new powers, especially over taxation, to Catalonia. But this is a route beset with obstacles which would require deft political manoeuvring and compromise from a variety of actors. At this point in  time, that kind of arrangement seems unlikely. Perhaps the only really surprising point made is that the PP grande legume likely to fall on a sword might not be the hapless Sr Rajoy but his hitherto all-powerful VP, the 'poisoned dwarf', Soraya Saenz de Santamaria
  • Here's an article - really about the mad situation in Greece - which endorses my view that there are so many pharmacies in Spain because the cartel keeps them all very profitable. Greece, in effect, is just competition-evading Spain writ much, much larger. In contrast, look at the Danish stats!
  • And here's something kindly supplied by reader Sierra, under the label Only in Spain?.
The EU
  • Here's the EU sceptic Don Quijones on the empire's  (mad?) expansion plans.
  • And here's news of rank-breaking among EU members around Brexit. Currently no larger than a man's hand on the horizon. One of them - Gib notwithstanding - is Spain. Rather unexepected.
  • According to a source close to the US president:- Donald Trump cancelled a proposed visit to London to open America’s new embassy because he believed he had “not been shown enough love” by the British government. This is hardly surprising, given how much affection he oozes for others and how loveable this nothing-if-not-sensitive man is.
  • Detail of the global challenge of translating Fart's bons mots.
  • This says it all: The prospect of a television celebrity with no political experience reaching the White House would have been laughed at even two years ago but Trump’s shock 2016 victory has guaranteed that “Oprah 2020” is being taken deadly seriously. But: If the Democrats go for Oprah Winfrey next time, they will be doubling down on the identity politics of gender and race which is dividing the country. The very fact that her furious feminist Golden Globes speech should be regarded as a presidential election bid tells you everything you need to know about the state of American political debate.
The UK
  • At the end of this post, there's an article from an even bigger eurosceptic whom I've been following since at least 2000. He gives us the real reason why De Gaulle twice vetoed UK membership of the Common Market, which was all the EU Project was back then. At least for public consumption. The reality was very different but electors couldn't be trusted with the truth until years later, after the build-up of momentum. 
Nutters Corner
  • One of the comments arising from the Golden Globes farce: I felt sorry for McGowan, watching her cause and her people — the losers — being cannibalised by a bunch of painted vampires. The seriousness of this attempt at “activism” can be summed up by the words of Stone’s make-up artist, who claimed she had “imbued” her client’s purple eyeshadow “with the message of female empowerment and solidarity” by using colours “inspired by the suffragettes”
  • This is Oporto's famous Café Majestic – where, these days, you have to queue to get in:-

The prices are stratospheric but worth it, at least once, if you want to savour the décor and the ambience. Nowadays, at least half of the clients doing this are Asian. These 2 preferred to spend the entire half an hour they were there ignoring the place's attractions, never once raising their eyes from, I supposed, a game which needed them to share the earpieces of the cable plugged into one phone.


The horrifying true story of how France used the EU to undermine British agriculture: Christopher Booker

Michael Gove’s recent musings about Britain’s post-Brexit farming policy provide an apt cue to recall one of the most curious episodes in the entire history of the EU: the true origins of its notorious Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The shocking story behind this only emerged when, some years back, Richard North and I were researching our history of the EU, The Great Deception. And much else this also helped to explain, from the real reason Charles de Gaulle twice vetoed British entry in the Sixties to why Margaret Thatcher had to battle for our budget rebate in the Eighties.

The official, entirely bogus version has it that the CAP was devised by a benevolent Brussels to guarantee Europe’s “food security” and to save its farmers from the kind of depression they had suffered in the Thirties.

The truth is that, immediately after the war, all Western European countries, including Britain, introduced their own farm subsidies. But by the early Sixties this was leading in France to disaster, building up unsaleable food surpluses at such an unaffordable cost that a drastic solution had to be found.

The clever French noted that the Treaty of Rome promised a Common Agricultural Policy but without giving any details. So their answer was to devise a CAP so absurdly loaded in France’s favour that two other countries would not only provide a market for its surpluses but pay for subsidising them into the bargain. Those countries were Germany and Britain, which by then had announced its intention to join the Common Market.

But the UK had to be kept out until all these arcane financial arrangements had been agreed. Otherwise Britain, with then the most efficient agricultural sector in Europe, might well block such a one-sided deal: hence the real reason for de Gaulle’s two vetoes in 1963 and 1967. Only in 1969, at a summit in The Hague, did the French finally get the agreement they wanted. The very next item on the agenda was to reconsider Britain’s application to join.

The following year, Edward Heath was so keen to get us into “Europe” that he accepted the CAP without demur. In 1973, the year we went in, British farm incomes were higher in real terms than ever before or since. But so loaded against us were the financial arrangements for the CAP that, by 1979, it was clear that within six years the UK would be the largest single net contributor to the Brussels budget, of which the CAP was then taking 90 per cent: hence Mrs Thatcher’s five-year battle to win her rebate.

Since then, much of British agriculture has been in decline. We now import 30 per cent of our food from the EU. Much of it comes from France, which continues to be the largest beneficiary of the CAP.

It may seem odd that this strange story is not better known. But the Brits have never really understood the bizarre form of government we have lived under for 44 years: which is why we are now making such a horrifying mess of our efforts to leave it. 

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