Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim i
- It’s not only right-wing parties which are fracturing in Spain, Portugal and the UK. The relatively new ‘far left’ Podemos party is in trouble too. Here’s the excellent Matthew Bennett on the development.
- I spoke of back pudding and morcilla. Right on cue . . .
- Spain’s richest and poorest barrios.
The EU and Brexit
- There really is one thing on which everyone agrees - No one wants a restored border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of Great Britain, of course. Ireland and the EU have caused huge problems in the British parliament by demanding that this be avoided by some sort of back-up in the event of the failure to negotiate a future trading relationship between the EU and GB. But Brussels has now come out of the long grass and admitted that a restored border will be the inevitable result of the looming ‘No Deal Brexit’. Which (almost) no one wants. This is believed to put pressure on the Irish government to soften its position. But we will see. You would think it would also put pressure on Brussels to come up with something but this is not happening yet.
- Just in case you don’t know:- “A backstop to ensure that a hard border does not emerge after Brexit is the most contested element of the withdrawal agreement because it has the potential to lock Britain into a customs union with the EU and draw new regulatory boundaries between the mainland and Northern Ireland.” If my analysis here is wrong . . . I wouldn’t be at all surprised.
- And Just in case the above isn’t sufficiently confusing, some believe there’s no way Dublin would dare restore a border in the event of a No Deal Brexit. The British government has said it never will.
- Following my comments about Diane Abbott yesterday, you wouldn’t expect me to pass up the opportunity to publish the article below . . .
The UK and Brexit
- Given the astonishing pot-pourri of various options in Westminster, of which none can garner majority support, it’s inevitable that no one can really understand either what is going on or what, if anything, is going to emerge as a way out of the current mess. Last night, I read of an animal called ‘Common Market 2.0’, which is said to be gaining support. My guess is that this is a customs union with the EU but no political involvement. In other words, what most Brits thought they were signing up for in the 1970s. Whatever it is, I doubt it’ll wash with Brussels. But reality seems to be something which few in Westminster are acquainted with.
- Here’s a pure guess - It suits Mrs May to suffer the House of Commons to take over the Brexit negotiating process so that it can be responsible for seeking a postponement of the end March deadline. With some blame accruing to the opposition Labour party for supporting this.
- Word of the Day: Aburrido
- My Dutch friend, Peter, has given me a calendar comprised of daily sheets, each containing an obsolete word or phrse. I shall be including these from time to time. Here’s the first:- 'Chow’d mouse': Scottish. ‘A worn-out person. One who gives the appearance in the morning of having spent the night riotously.’
- Speeding fines . . . I’ve mentioned more than once the classic ‘trap’ of removing a 70 sign so that the 50 limit of the preceding village remains in place until you reach at ‘End of 70’ sign and can go at 90. Your assumption that the limit has changed once you’re in the countryside - shown as rational and, indeed, to have once been the case by the still-existing End of 70 sign - can get you - and many others - fined by the Tráfico department of the Hacienda. I mention this again because, driving to Santiago on the N550 yesterday, I noticed that there’s just such a set-up not far out of Pontevedra. The rest of the trip, was of course, one of constant vigilance in respect of the mare’s nest of changing signs on that road. Where a 70 strip can last for as little as 50-100m before you come up against, say, a junction, ahead of which the limit is (briefly) lowered to 50. Not to mention to the procession of 80, 50 and 40 signs before every roundabout. Why not just say SLOW DOWN? But IGIMSTS.
Booing Abbott has nothing to do with race - it’s because she is utterly hopeless
Is Fiona Bruce racist? All right, before we answer that, let’s try a small test. See how you react to the following words: “The Home Secretary Diane Abbott.” No. Don’t drop marmalade on the dog, Marjorie. Did I detect a batsqueak of dismay at the mere idea? A groan of despairing disbelief that such a misfortune might ever befall our country? Bear in mind this is the same Diane Abbott who, in an infamous interview with Nick Ferrari on LBC in 2017, gave several estimates for how much 10,000 new police officers would cost, ranging from £300,000 to £80 million to what may as well have been “Let’s call it £9.95, babe, and keep the change.”
If you don’t find the prospect of Abbott being in charge of law and order somewhat alarming then I congratulate you on your medication.
The Shadow Home Secretary appeared on Thursday’s Question Time from Derby, which was Bruce’s second appearance in the chair. Abbott’s fellow panellist Isabel Oakeshott got in a good point about Jeremy Corbyn refusing to engage with Theresa May, which was warmly applauded, and then pointed out that Labour were “way behind in the polls”. Abbott replied that “we are kind of level-pegging” and Bruce objected, saying that Labour were “definitely” behind. (Oakeshott was referring to the latest independent YouGov poll which showed Labour to be six points adrift, and that after one of the worst weeks in Conservative history.)
Cue confected outrage from hard-left Momentum supporters. They hunt in a pack, these social-justice warriors, savaging anyone who dares to criticise the Blessed Leader or his acolytes. Fiona Bruce was accused of “legitimising racist abuse” while her husband was attacked on social media because his advertising company has done work for the Government.
“A broadcaster like the BBC should be expected to be a model of impartiality and equality,” sniffed a holier-than-thou statement from Abbott’s office, “The BBC cannot claim anything of the sort when analysis of the programme shows that the only black woman on the panel was jeered at and interrupted more times than any other panellist, including by the chair herself. The media must stop legitimising mistreatment, bias and abuse against Ms Abbott as a black woman in public life.”
All I can say is, try being a white, female, Brexit-backing Daily Telegraph columnist on Question Time or Any Questions. It’s a lonely business. Prior to the referendum, when the only other “woman” on the panel was Eddie Izzard (or so I was solemnly informed by a researcher), I was cut off repeatedly by David Dimbleby, despite the fact that, when I could make myself heard, I got a lot of applause.
Such panels are invariably weighted in favour of Remain (count your beleaguered self lucky if you have even one ally) and it always feels like the audience is rammed full of Labour activists who boo if you give a reply which dares to represent what the majority of British people actually think.
Diane Abbott must have developed a rhino hide over her thirty years in Parliament. She has been on the receiving end of some of the most appalling trolling in the past. Research from Amnesty International last year found that she received 10 times more abuse than any other female MP in the run-up to the election and 8 times more abuse than any other female MP during the entire period of analysis.
But don’t believe her protestations of woe this time. The truth is she was badly rattled on Thursday night. A Derby audience should have been on her side. Instead, they gave an England-scores-a-penalty cheer when Oakeshott spoke up for No Deal. It’s a matter of acute political embarrassment that the Labour heartlands now constitute the main opposition to their own party’s Brexit policy.
The race card was promptly played to cover up for what was a pretty feeble personal performance. Cheap trick, Diane. You’re fooling no one.
The reason some members of the audience allegedly booed when Abbott’s name was announced has nothing to do with her ethnicity. (Compare and contrast with the respectful reception afforded to the excellent Tory MP, Kemi Badenoch.) It’s because she has a well-earned reputation for being utterly hopeless. The Hackney MP blamed her car-crash LBC appearance on Type 2 diabetes; funny, you never hear the Prime Minister attribute any of her mishaps to the much more serious Type 1 diabetes, do you?
As for being interrupted more than the other Question Time panellists, that’s because Diane talks ve-e-e-r-y v-e-e--r-rr-y-y slo-ww-oo-l-ly, dredging the reluctant vowels up from some bottomless treacly well. (The effect is maddeningly condescending, as though she feels she has to literally spell everything out for the Hard of Understanding.) If Fiona Bruce allowed Diane Abbott to get to the ends of one of her meandering sentences, the programme would be over before she finished.
Blaming the “biased” BBC for Labour’s unpopularity is a classic Momentum ploy. The Opposition should be streets ahead in the polls by now but, thank God, the public remains largely of the view that Corbyn and Abbott should not be trusted to run a gluten-free flapjack stall for Venezuela.
Himself is not a political person, not at all. Having watched Question Time, however, he turned to me and said that, if he ever found himself in Guantanamo Bay, all they would have to do is “play a Diane Abbott interview on a loop” and he would be begging to confess.
It is both despicable and absurd to accuse Fiona Bruce of legitimising racist abuse, let alone prejudice against women. As if! The new QT presenter mustn’t lose her nerve or let the Momentum thugs get to her. The left never had a problem with BBC “bias”. When it was in their favour. Diane Abbott demands the broadcaster be “a model of impartiality and equality”. Well, you got it, honey. See how it feels for a change.