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. Garish but informative.
- Say no more . . . An option on the coffee machine in the John Lewis department store:-
- Spain – often in the van on social issues – belatedly enters the 21st century on the issue of the definition of 'rape'.
- This is one of someone's best 10 wines of 2018: 2011 Bodegas Ysios Rioja Reserva. Usual sort of guff to go with the recommendation: Ysios - named after an Egyptian goddess of magic who had oversight of winemaking - is a boutique winery that is part of the Campo Viejo family of wines. Made in a more modern style, this Rioja wine is crafted of 100% Tempranillo and sourced from vineyards that average 35 years. Deep red with tinges of purple in the glass despite having a little age. Ripe blackberries and raspberry on the nose. But this is no fruit bomb. After all, this is Rioja. Nice juicy palate of fresh dark fruit, vanilla, spice, and cedar. It was both intense and powerful as well as elegant. Smooth and round with well integrated tannins. Just a very nice wine all around. It’s had a few years in the bottle and seems close to hitting to its prime but can go a few more years. Seems to cost upwards of €22 a bottle in Spain, 30 dollars in the USA, and 27 quid in the UK. [BTW . . It's cost me some time to get that last bit of info. My son-in-law's internet access controls were so tight I couldn't get access any site sniffing of alcohol. Even that of the Wine Society.]
- Another take on the Andalucian success of the Vox party. And its implications for Spain.
- I often tell North European friends they have no idea of how much of their taxes passes through sticky hands in Spain. For example - per the article just cited - 1. The appalling ERE scam, which fleeced around one billion euros for Andalucia's leaders. And: 2. A fake training scheme scandal which may well end up amounting to even more.
The UK and Brexit
- Richard North – possibly the most knowledgable person in the UK on this issue – suspects that there's evidence for the government's increasing confidence that Mrs May will get her almost-universally-un-admired deal approved by parliament in January. Heralding several more years of tortuous negotiations during which all the court cards will be in the hands of Brussels. As I've said, returning to the status quo ante would be better than this. But this is politically unachievable, they say. Probably correctly. But, anyway, North says parliamentary acceptance will arrive after the evidence accumulates on the adverse effects of a "no deal", when enough MPs are finally convinced that this course of action would be economic suicide, drowning out the prattling "ultras".
- Below is an interesting article on the anti-democratic elitism of both the EU and British establishments.
- Another article on the various challenges the new empire faces, which it – so far - shows little evidence of properly dealing with. Opening para: After muddling through a series of profound crises over the past decade, the EU now finds itself confronted with a political meltdown in Britain, a potential trade war with the US, and mounting security threats on its periphery. To address these and other challenges, Europe will have to make decisions it would rather continue to postpone. And the final para: Whereas 2018 was a year of confusion, 2019 will be year for decision-making. European leaders must face up to the brutal realities of a changing world. Only then will voters trust them to forge a new path toward a future of peace and prosperity.
- A friend this week asked if I knew the origin of a favourite word – doolally. I guessed India. Which was right, as it relates to a lunatic asylum in the town of Deolali. Hence the correct expression: “He's gone doolally”, not “He is doolally”
Finally . . .
- My 'smart'phone appears to have gone dumb. When the battery indicates 23-30% it switches off and then shows 2-3% when I switch it back on. But the very second I plug in a charger it again shows the higher percentage, and stays at it even after I unplug the charger. It's a bloody nuisance. Especially as I bought a new battery because the old one was doing the very same thing.
- I leave you with what I've read is the bestselling track of 2018. Melodious, it ain't. Come back almost anyone from the last 50 years.
© [David] Colin Davies
Hard-line Remainers reject democracy itself in elitist attempt to subvert Brexit: Richard Tombs.
The most disturbing aspect of the Brexit debate is not the risk of traffic jams at Dover or possibly having to pay £7 every two years to visit our beloved Continent, but the anger, contempt and loathing that has erupted on both sides. Each blames the other. Yet the two are not equivalent. Brexiteers have insisted – sometimes, no doubt, in outspoken terms – that our political institutions and practices should be respected, and that national sovereignty as understood for centuries should be upheld. As Burke said of the Glorious Revolution, it was done not to overthrow but to defend “laws and liberties”.
Hard-line Remainers, in contrast, have been and are willing to push their campaign beyond legitimate politics as previously understood. First, they have encouraged foreign authorities to resist the policy of the UK, and have thereby done much to sabotage that policy. Second, they have attempted to delegitimise legal votes, using arguments that would take us back 150 years and more – essentially, that ordinary people are incapable of taking a major national decision and that they must therefore be overruled.
I am a member of a group of academics called Briefings for Brexit, and we have been reflecting on this “Remainer Revolt”. We have noted that civil servants detest disruption. We have suggested that the issue has become one of “identity politics”, with vehement Remainers motivated less by affection for the EU than by contempt for those they think support Brexit – above all the white working class. We have identified Tory Remainers with those who think that all that really matters in politics is delivering material benefits to the masses.
Yet I felt something was still missing. The penny dropped when I read the vocal Remainer and former MP Matthew Parris in the latest Spectator. For him, Brexit means “trusting the people”: “I don’t,” he writes. “Never have and never will.” Rejecting the idea of “an unseen bond between parliament and people”, he sees its job as curbing “the instincts of the mob”. The enlightened elite must govern by subterfuge if necessary.
How far backwards elitist rejection – principled rejection, if you like – of democracy takes us. Even in the 1830s the prescient political thinker Alexis de Tocqueville, aristocrat though he was, acknowledged that ordinary people had a shrewd grasp of things within their experience. Gladstone, our greatest liberal, considered the popular electorate more moral than the elite.
Nearly 200 years after Tocqueville, how much wider is popular experience of the world than he could have imagined. Yet a lady in Newnham (Cambridge’s miniature Islington) told me recently that she had only understood Brexit because her Leave-voting gardener and cleaning lady had explained it: it did not occur to her that their views had any value – though her own were, to use an apt term, nebulous. She could not conceive that their experience of working and bringing up families could have given them a knowledge of the world as valid as her view from the ivory tower.
If such arrogance had any justification, it would be the surpassing excellence of elitist rule. All those Old Regime states were run by experienced and sophisticated professionals, and all are on the scrapheap of history. What of their present-day successor, the European Union itself, that magnet for Europe’s new post-national aristocracy? Its boldest creation, the euro, condemns millions of Europe’s young to unemployment or forced migration. Its trading policies impoverish poor countries and add to the tide of migrants. Its supra-national power is undermining Europe’s fragile and painfully achieved democracies – the real danger to peace and order.
And our own political elite: do they consider themselves so infallible and trusted that they can override a referendum and a general election? By what power could they legitimately do so? The phrase “the sovereignty of parliament” is freely bandied about, but that sovereignty is limited. Moreover, it is the institution of parliament that holds sovereignty, not its confused and disunited members. If they cannot in conscience carry out a programme on which they were elected, their honourable course is to resign, not to break their promises and certainly not to intrigue to undermine them.
The Remain-Leave debate is no longer primarily about the EU, if it ever was. It has become, as Parris disarmingly admits, about who governs, and by what right. Not for the first time in our history, we have a relatively small but influential faction, utterly confident of its own intellectual and moral entitlement, which often appears to despise its own country and prefers to pledge its loyalty elsewhere. We saw it with the Puritans and their successors. We saw it with those who acclaimed Stalin’s Russia as a higher civilization. In each case, intellectual stubbornness blocked out reality.
Shall we recover from our present political, social and cultural tussles? I believe so. But not through the usual British fudge, in this case presenting a surrender as a compromise. The readiness of the Government to let the EU pick our pocket – who can blame Michel Barnier for obliging? – has produced a “deal” that risks condemning us to years of internal recrimination and wrangling with our neighbours. A second referendum is so patently a ruse, and its leaders so politically discredited, that only the most blinkered or cynical could propose it as a means of reconciliation.
The only way left to restore calm now is a “managed no deal”, for which all sides are preparing. Most Remainers are not hard-liners but understandably worry about economic apocalypse. If and when that does not materialise – and with sensible preparations it will not – then our politics will go off the boil, and ex-prime ministers will resume what Dr Johnson called the innocent employment of making money. We are not, after all, in as febrile a state as the United States, France, Italy, Spain or even Germany. The Brexit vote calmed down our politics, eliminating Ukip and strengthening the two main parties. Once carried out it can do so again.