The UK election from Spain

Two big parties struggling to cope with the exit of bipartisan politics, widespread detest of the elites, a ruling conservative government claiming the economy has turned around, arguing against the left who focus on inequality and unrestrained power at the top… there are several similarities between politics in Spain and the United Kingdom in what is an election year for both.  Continue reading The UK election from Spain

Yes we can?

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Imagine if the United Kingdom had been affected rather differently by the economic crisis. Imagine if we had been so badly hit that 54% of the country had moved to an inferior social class, while over half of young people were still unemployed. In this imaginary United Kingdom students are desperate to emigrate and work elsewhere in the EU to escape.

Meanwhile, in a series of corruption scandals, the governing Conservative party is going to court and has seen its treasurer sent to prison in relation to allegations of secret illegal slush funds used to pay for party headquarters, campaigns, and even the Prime Minister’s clothing. The Labour party has faced its own accusations about regional politicians and dodgy use of local government funds. Continue reading Yes we can?

Spain and corruption

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“Spain is different” was a slogan composed by Spanish minister Manuel Fraga in the 1960s to persuade the first planeloads of tourists to visit the sun-kissed nation. Spain at the time was under the rule Franco, a former ally of Hitler and Mussolini who won power with their help in a bloody civil war and cemented his grip on it for the next four decades through brutal repression of political opponents. While Britain enjoyed the swinging sixties and French students took to the barricades in hope of a better future in May ’68, Spain was under a fundamentalist catholic regime, where films were censored to get rid of anything subversive to Christian morality and priests raged against the sin of the Northern European bikini. Spain certainly was different.

Spain is now a liberal, outwards-looking, modern, democratic country. Yet it retains certain particularities. Things happen in Spain which would not be tolerated north of the Pyrenees. Corruption, or suspicion of it, has checkered Spain’s political landscape since the democracy was established.

Read the rest of this article at The London Economic

The new transition

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A shortened version of this article was published in SUR in English

The political earthquake in Spain may have been triggered by the economic crisis and widespread corruption scandals. But the underlying forces moving the tectonic plates are generational. Continue reading The new transition

Why young people should vote

This article appeared in The Palatinate

Russell Brand
Russell Brand has given a voice to the disillusioned masses. “I fervently believe that we deserve more from our democratic system than the few derisory tit-bits tossed from the carousel of the mighty, when they hop a few inches left or right” he declares, representing the common man in not-so-common language. To pare it down, he thinks politicians just don’t get it and are all the same and as such voting makes no difference. Continue reading Why young people should vote

Frànçois & The Atlas Mountains

A version of this article was published on Purple Radio

On the modern international pop music scene, France has specialised in exporting electro-pop, with David Guetta’s mass-produced club dross, Daft Punk’s retro-disco and beyond that the likes of Modji (remember them?), M83, Phoenix and Cassius.

One French band you probably won’t have heard of is the indie-rock outfit Frànçois & The Atlas Mountains. They sound quite a lot like Metronomy or Vampire Weekend, and represent a multicultural, international type of French music, as you’d expect from a band named, in English, after a North African mountain range. Frontman François Marry moved to Bristol in 2003 and played in pubs with locals before setting up the group a few years later. They are signed to Domino Records, an English label which boasts Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand and Four Tet.

Continue reading Frànçois & The Atlas Mountains

Let’s hope change in Caracas follows change in Havana

Dilma Rousseff receiving a Hugo Chávez picture from Nicolás Maduro

As the United States ends its embargo on Cuba, many foresee the slow break down of the Caribbean country’s isolation, with an American-style way of life seeping in, bringing with it more business, liberalisation, democracy, and of course more McDonalds.

The reverberations of this deal are being felt across Latin America. Perhaps the biggest impact will be in Venezuela, which has been Cuba’s strongest ally for the past 20 years.  Under Hugo Chavez, and now his hand-picked successor Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela has provided cheap oil in exchange for, among other things, high-level intelligence expertise and many thousands of Cuban medical personnel.

Continue reading Let’s hope change in Caracas follows change in Havana