Saturday, January 19, 2019

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 19.1.19

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain. 
  • News of an impressive Spanish achievement.
  • Less impressive - Gambling is reported to represent 15% of per capita income here. Can this be true??
  • If you’re renting out property here, be aware that, as of the end of this month, estate agents/realtors will be acting - like the traffic police - as an arm of the Tax Office. They’ll be sending the Hacienda details of all third party monies passing through their hands.
  • Spain’s economic growth last year was a very decent 2.4% but it’s forecast to fall to 2.2% this year. As if these numbers can ever be so accurate. As I regularly say, there’s quite a gap between the macro and micro performances of the economy. I suspect the rich are still getting richer.
  • Specifically, the tourism sector grew again last year, to a new record, but not as quickly as in previous years. Competitor countries are back in business.
  • As for the longer term . . . The proportion of over 65 year olds is expected to increase from 26% to almost 40% by 2050. When Spain will have one of the oldest populations in the world, having overtaken Germany and Italy. This, of course, has very serious implications for the economy. And for the pension you might get then.
  • With the PSOE leaving power in Andalucia after many decades in charge, it’s been revealed - as if it was a secret - that many thousand of enchufados were employed outside the confines of the budget. They will now be 'let go'.
  • Intriguingly, the currently rampant far-right Vox party has been discovered to have been financed by an Iranian - to the tune of €800k. One wonders why.
  • Here’s what The Local thinks Vox's participation in the Andalucian coalition will mean.
  • For Brits in Spain, the Spanish government offers advice here on preparing for a Brexit. Assuming one eventually comes along.
  • Here and here are reports of an interesting new statue in Segovia.
The UK and Brexit
  • Richard North: It’s hardly surprising that people are, as someone has said, "none the wiser".  The convoluted mess that hovers around Mrs May, like a cloud of flies over rotting meat, it quite beyond the scope of understanding for mere humans. 
  • Europeans, says The Guardian, are turning to scenes of the British parliament - especially the antics of the Speaker - for light relief. Who can blame them?
  • Heading back to the UK because of Brexit? Here’s some advice from The Olive Press.
  • If you’re ever in Liverpool and are desperate for decent tapas dishes, this might just be the place for you. Unless it’s a ‘sponsored’ article. Not exactly in the city centre . . . 
  • Below is a fascinating article from a dejected Brexiteer.
Finally . . . 
  • A nice cartoon on current British politics:-


Sorry Leavers, but the managerial Deep State that runs Britain has officially killed off Brexit

I regret to inform my fellow Leave voters that the Establishment have successfully stitched us up. We may have voted for Brexit, but through a mixture of willful incompetence and orchestrated sabotage, Remainer MPs, are now in the final stages of killing it off.

It is tempting to see the events unfolding as inevitable - a shafting of voters by malevolent, arrogant MPs. But this overlooks a jarring contradiction that characterises the politicians thwarting democracy. The likes of Philip Hammond and Nick Boles have a control freakish fervour for regulated sameness and are allergic to leaps into the unknown. But, paradoxically, they are willing to risk the chaos of own deselection and the destruction of their democracy just to preserve the status quo, and stay in the EU.

So how to square the circle? How to explain the contradictory characters of the people imperiling the future of democracy? It seems that our parliamentarians have been possessed by the cult of managerialism. The latter is a pathological devotion to order, paradoxically grounded in an irrational delusion that the universe can be entirely controlled.

Its adherents view “change” as a malign cosmic force. They believe that only an enlightened bureaucratic dictatorship is capable of manipulating "change" in a way that prevents the flattening modern civilisation. Their determination to keep us in the EU is not some kind of misplaced pragmatism. It is existential and ideological.

The managerialist cult originates in 1950s USA, when the American Dream of peppy, white-picket-fenced entrepreneurialism congealed into paper-rustling Ivy League careers in sprawling corporations. It reached our shores and spread via MBA programs in London and Manchester universities the 1960s. Over the decades, it has ravaged virtually all British institutions, from the church of England to the NHS. But, in particular, it has utterly devastated the mother of parliaments.

Although Britain has sleepwalked into an executive dictatorship slowly over several decades, it in the era of Tony Blair that much of the damage was done.

The controlling impulses and jargonish artificiality of both New Labour and managerialism made them ideal bed partners. Under Mr Blair, politics became a meaningless synthesis of "devolved centralism" and "conservative radicalism", peddled out via a web of control-freakish spin doctors, autocratic departmental tsars and tightly selected focus groups. 

Twelve years may have passed since the era of Blair, but our democracy is officially screwed. Our Parliament is peopled with spreadsheet saboteurs like Philip Hammond. The chancellor embodies how a once instinctively creative individual can have all the life in them sucked out by the drab elitism of the bureaucratic system.

It is staggering to think that Mr Hammond was once an aspiring Richard Branson. This man started off running school discos in church halls as a teenager, sold Ford cars out of a plant in Dagenham during his student days, and cut deals in property development. And yet he has, from the start, refused to contemplate Brexit’s entrepreneurial potential.

So infatuated is this man in the oleaginous gloss of corporate status that he is positively ashamed of his buccaneering past. Having failed to land a job in the City in his youth, he is said to regret his lack of experience in the big business world. Ah, how he must now relish assuring the CEOs he is in awe of that they needn’t worry about a no-deal via conference calls. He is Mr semi-detached pathetically drooling as he rubs shoulders with the penthouse men.

Then there are the tragic, nerdy types like Nick Boles, who are putting themselves on course for deselection, in order to preserve the status quo. Mr Boles, despite being a Tory, is your classic New Labourish, Notting Hill type. He is a vapid globalist who always thought he'd wind up as a “international, IMF, World Bank-type civil servant”. Perhaps he the Tory MP is willing to risk his own parliamentary career because he is utterly enthralled with the idea of Britain being rules by an insipid, policy wonkish executive dictatorship - after all, it is a world order that institutionally overvalues clever incompetents such as himself. 

Crucially and tragically, Parliament is home to hundreds of Philip Hammonds and Nick Boles. In check-mating the Prime Minister into taking no-deal off the table. They have completely wrecked Brexit in other words. Ultimately therefore, the only way to save Brexit and British democracy is to vote them all out at the next election.

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