Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 27.2.19

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
           Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain
  • Spanish politics: Anyone looking for evidence of how irrational politics can be should look to Catalonia right now.  . . . . In forcing early elections and the potential fall of the S├ínchez government, the Catalan separatists appear willing to forfeit the best chance they have had in decades to advance Catalan autonomy.  . . . The chances are that a new right-wing government in Madrid would be even more intolerant of Catalan separatism than Mr. Rajoy was. Why would the separatists possibly want this outcome? An explanation, in the NY Times, here
  • Project Fear? Brits face airport hell, at least in Spain, if not in Portugal.
  • Reader Sierra has written about banks in his village and has pointed out that his Lugo province village has 10 bars for 5,000 people. Or 1 per 500 resident. But I have to add that this is far below the alleged national average of 169.
  • More Gib nonsense.
  • How the EU's strategy on plastic will affect us residents in Spain.
  • Here's Don Quijones on an issue that's been bubbling along for a couple of weeks - One of the biggest cases of mass discrimination since the foundation of Spain’s democracy some 40 years ago
  • Dear god. Or should that be Dear dog?¡
Brexit and The UK
  • Two leaders, two U-turns in two days. As expected, the extension of Article 50 for at least 2 months has surged to the front of the numerous possibilities. But, in reality, nothing has changed. There still isn't any certainty of anything.
  • Richard North today: We see the most likely effect of a no-deal Brexit to be economic, expressed in terms of lower GDP, businesses going into liquidation, substantial increases in unemployment, and a significant drop in tax income.  So, it is very difficult to accept that there can be any validity in Mrs May's claim that we can make a "success" of a no-deal, either in the immediate future or in the longer term. At the very least, it will trigger a prolonged economic recession. Most likely, it will cost us a substantial fall in growth and a permanent reduction in GDP. Bear in mind that RN is a Brexiteer. Albeit an informed and sensible one. They do exist.
  • See the article below on the latest machinations of a very conflicted Labour Party.
  • Comes in at No 35 in the health stakes, I've now read. Not very impressive for such a rich country.
The World
  • And you thought Fake News was already a major problem . . . Well . . . We must prepare for an age when AI allows anyone with a grudge to create convincing bogus clips. Political convulsions are visible everywhere in the western democratic world. On both left and right, debate has become increasingly febrile and ideological. Non-consensus is the new normal, and this is provides fertile ground for abuse by malign actors who seek to undermine western democracies. They will do so more easily with the help of technology. Advances in AI mean that predictive algorithms are able to generate synthetic content — fake audio and video — that will be indistinguishable from the real thing. When seeing is no longer believing, the very nature of reality disintegrates.  . . . Deep fakes are a grenade ready to be lobbed into an already explosive mix of declining trust in our political processes, leaders and institutions.
  • The good news:  A London based research team is looking to build software which detects deep fakes. It is backed by the Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity, a group of senior politicians including the former Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen and the former US vice-president Joe Biden.
Nutters Corner
Finally . . .
  • I mentioned fashionistas yesterday. Last night I read this: Indecision is not confined to Brexit-era politics. Fashion is having an ambivalent moment and, with shoppers apparently unwilling or unable to choose between 2 distinct designs, the trend for 'pre-clashed clothes' is growing. Dear dog!

Jeremy Corbyn is committed to a second referendum he must pray will never happen: Allison Pearson

The Archbishop of Canterbury is so concerned about the state of the nation after March 29th that he is planning five days of prayer. Is he quite sure five days is enough?

A sample of headlines just from the past 48 hours: Brexit may be delayed by two months! Article 50 extended! A second referendum (for crying out loud…)! Please can they make it stop?

Seriously, apart from the headbangers on both sides, everyone has had enough. Not a week more. Not a minute longer than is absolutely necessary. If we can get out on March 29th with the shirt on our backs, a few quid for the bus and a Thorntons voucher from Donald Tusk, let’s just do it. End of. Done. Had it. Fini. No more.

Brexit is no longer about what the people want. (Was it ever?) It’s party management now.

Jeremy Corbyn, a lifelong opponent of the European Union, tries to stem the tide of Labour defections with the promise (fingers crossed behind his back) of a second referendum. Music to the ears of Labour’s Remainer metropolitans, but complete anathema to millions of constituents in the North and the Midlands.

Labour’s unexpectedly strong performance in the 2017 general election came on the back of a manifesto promise to honour the first referendum result. Corbyn is committed to a second referendum he must pray will never happen.

For her part, Theresa “no deal is better than a bad deal” May tries to stop Cabinet mutinies with a promise (fingers crossed behind her back) to let MPs delay Brexit if they reject her deal with the EU again next month. No deal may be better than a bad deal, but we can forget about that now because Parliament will never let us have one. The Prime Minister has promised to “stick by” commitments she must pray will never happen.

It’s bad enough keeping track of what has happened, let alone getting to grips with what might happen, but mustn’t be allowed to happen. Perhaps that’s the point of all this. To grind us down. To bring us to the point where we’re sick of the sight of them and will go along with anything. If Brexit was an illness, most of us would have booked a one-way flight to Dignitas by now.

“Sod it, I just want to sell my flat,” cries a colleague. It’s a plea for normality, for the resumption of a life we vaguely remember where people weren’t defined by the Manichean categories of Leave or Remain.

I’ve been pro-Brexit throughout. I don’t think the UK could ever wear being part of a United States of Europe, which is what staying in would mean, ultimately.

“We have our own dream and our own task,” as Churchill said. “If Britain must choose between Europe and the open sea, she must always choose the open sea.”

Now, though, I’m sickened by the bile, the sheer divisive nastiness. One comment on the Telegraph website referred to a “Filthy Remainer”. I shuddered. How did it descend to that? We simply can’t go on like this, and a second referendum would only make things even more bitter.

So, please can MPs agree to a deal that can let us leave on the appointed date? They owe the country that much. Doesn’t matter if it matches the purists’ perfect plan. Life will go on, the daffodils will poke up through the earth, plenty will happen in the EU over the next few years that could change everything.

As for prayers after 29th March…

“Dear God, Give us this day our daily news without any mention of Michel Barnier,
And forgive us for never understanding the Backstop,
And lead us not into the Common Fisheries Policy
A and deliver us from Soubry.
For this will make a welcome change.”

Amen to that.


Sierra said...

Given the following figures, the actual problems of healthcare in USA is crazy - most of the money disappears into the insurance company profits

Health consumption expenditures per capita, U.S. dollars 2017

United States $10,224
Switzerland $8,009
Germany $5,728
Sweden $5,511
Austria $5,440
Netherlands $5,386
Comparable Country Average $5,280
France $4,902
Canada $4,826
Belgium $4,774
Japan $4,717
Australia $4,543
United Kingdom $4,246

Spain spends about the same % of gdp as Uk

Eamon said...

"Project Fear? Brits face airport hell, at least in Spain, if not in Portugal." More fake news to stir things up. I travelled to Spain many times via air, ship and train before Spain became part of the EU. Everything ran smoothly. Via ship and train it meant opening your suitcase while the customs officer checked what was inside before they gave you the all clear (a chalk mark on your suitcase)! Spanish passport holders were checked more thoroughly and from memory there were lots of fines and confiscations. For an experience pass through USA customs and immigration.