Although still bitter about the fact that 52% of those who bothered to vote decided that Brexit was a sensible solution to the perceived problems of a massively wealthy country with a privileged relationship with the largest trading partnership in the world – I can at least see that a distant professional political class linked to obvious disparity in the distribution of wealth and the completely unscrupulous campaign of a group of post-truth ruthlessly selfish, self-seeking political opportunists might offer some sort of explanation for what appears (still) to be a collective decision to shoot whatever feet were available to view.
If I hear another person say something to the effect that, “Things are not as bad as those who said we would really suffer when we left the EU are they?” just once again. I will scream.
May I point out that we have not actually left the EU? We are still full members of that organization, though we now appear not to go to certain meetings, allowing the French and Germans to decide whatever is best for their own interests. We have not left. That is years in the future. A future completely and utterly unsafe in the conspiratorial hands of an unelected Prime Minister of a Party that . . . well, you can see the way that this rant is going. And the point I want to make is not about the UK but my adopted country of Spain.
The Conservatives, you will not be surprised to learn, is not my party of choice. I have veered in my life between utter contempt for the Conservative Party (it was a real effort for me to give the title of such a beggared organization capital letters) to downright loathing.
At the moment I tend more to the latter than the former. It is difficult to feel anything remotely positive about an unelected Prime Minister who presents her choice of Foreign Secretary as anything than a joke in poor taste and, further, who expects to be taken seriously when she suddenly pulls the emaciated and ossified corpse of the rabbit of the reintroduction of grammar schools from the cesspit of unthinking Tory appeasement. And that is enough of a mixed metaphor to be going on with.
Just a reminder about the subject of this diatribe – which is Spain.
However, just before we get to that country, I would like to make a link between this ‘policy’ suggestion of the re-introduction of grammar schools and the Anglican Church. As an Anglican Atheist myself, I feel a certain nostalgic concern for the doings of the Church and I am always fascinated by Religion. There are important concerns that religion attempts to wrestle with and believers and non-believers can gain from studying the way that the Church has struggled with some of the major philosophical and social questions since its institution. It has thought long and hard and Church thinkers have contributed to the intellectual development of our civilization. It is therefore all the more frustrating that sizeable sections of the modern church find challenges like social and political inequality too difficult to cope with and so turn to ‘easy’ questions to which there appear to be equally ‘easy’ answers.
If you find that church leaders are attempting to find ways to challenge the vested interests of the status quo, the easiest way to unsettle their socialist tendencies is to raise the twin concerns which are guaranteed to act in the same way as the chorus of sheep in Animal Farm who chanted, “Four legs good; two legs bad!” as soon as any other animal challenged the authority of the pigs. The two key areas whose discussion will swamp anything else are, of course, the questions of Abortion and the ‘question’ of homosexuality.
If you want another example of one stupid thing swamping discussion from my experience as a teacher, then it would be an item on a staff meeting agenda discussing school uniform and the pupils’ wearing of jewellery.
The amount of time that I have listened to discussions about the size, positioning, composition and cost of various items of clothing and earrings to be worn by school children make medieval scholastic discussions about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin look like casual throw-away lines!
So, the point that I am making is, the unelected May is raising the ghost of a lost policy with the concept of new grammar schools. If she fails (and she should because there is no educational expert who thinks that they work for all children) then she can point to the fact that she did her best but the establishment (sic) did her down. If she succeeds then she will make the middle class grunts in the shires happy as they will assume that their privileged darlings will obviously get to the grammar schools and the lesser breeds without the law (who don’t vote Conservative anyway) will get the Sec Mods that they deserve!
I can’t wait to see the Jesuitical logic that will have to be used to show that naïf little Candide’s tutor was right all along and they will be the best possible schools in this best of all possible educational worlds.
I assume that all of Trump’s speeches are being video recorded for cabinet ministers to learn from. After all, the fact that the rambling gibberish that he spouts has nothing to do with education doesn’t make any difference as he finds it difficult to focus on anything at all, apart from spouting twisted childhood memories of the nursery rhyme about Dumpty Dumpty – and it all seems to go down well with a certain section of the Republican Party. And how different are the American and British Conservatives anyway? It’s just the Brits don’t have guns. Yet.
We have just had the results from the election in Galicia and the PP (the Spanish Conservative Party) has won an overall majority. Again.
If you do not live in Spain that may mean little. If you do live in Spain it is incredible.
PP has had the sort of catastrophically bad publicity for months and months and months that would be amusing if it were not all too real. Every treasurer of the party, since it was founded, has been charged with criminal mismanagement. Corruption has become synonymous with the name of the party and day after day companies, politicians, businessmen, party workers, anyone in fact who has had any contact with this toxic brand have been accused. The scale, of what can only be called theft, is astonishing and scalps have been claimed by courageous media types who bring the latest misdemeanours to light.
The epic mismanagement of public funds in Valencia has degenerated into pure farce with the senator for Valencia being accused by the High Court and then resigning from PP who put her there so that the acting president (PP) can claim it is nothing to do with him because she is no longer in the party! In an ironic touch which is poignant to the point of insult: the ‘senadora’ actually gets paid more now that she is not in a party and has extra funds allocated so that she can manage alone outside the framework of an established organization! The idea of resignation for the misdemeanours of her dictatorial and grasping reign in Valencia does not of course enter her head and, with a brazen audacity that takes the breath away she continues to flaunt her apparent disinterest in the chaos that she has caused.
It is difficult to give a true impression of just how overwhelming the stench of corruption is in this country. Any one of the tens of major scandals that have rocked this country would have settled the hash of any government in the UK trying to brave it out. But in Spain, few of the true criminals are actually in prison.
Spain has a whole section of society that is above ordinary justice: thousands of people who cannot be tried in the same way as ordinary citizens. The UK has no one who is above the law in this way. German has no one who is above the law in this way.
Spain may point to the fact that the sister of the present King was actually arraigned in court for corruption and was cross-examined. And as part of her evidence she said, “I don’t know” hundreds of times. I think in a British court she would have been charged with contempt. And we are still waiting for a judgement. I am not holding my breath that she will spend the time in prison that one of the prosecutors has demanded. Her husband was arraigned with her, charged with exploiting the royal name and overcharging by misappropriating public funds (guess where!) etc etc.
In spite of the torrent of adverse publicity, Galicia has voted in a majority PP government in its autonomous region! It makes one weep. In spite of the massive amount of evidence that points to institutional systemic corruption, they vote for more of the same.
It is, sometimes, difficult to maintain an optimistic approach. But not impossible.
There are solutions to the present situation. The parties of the left could find some sort of way to work together to stop what would be a total disaster – the continuation of the ‘government’ of PP. They must find a way.
In a very real sense, the future of a united Spain depends on it.