Archive for the ‘PSOE’ Category

The show of shows

You don’t get a political night bigger than this. It’s not just an Americn election, it’s not just the American election that will end the disastrous Bush presidency, it’s the American election that will end the disastrous Bush presidency and be starting (fingers crossed) the Obama presidency, a black man with a completely un-American approach to politics, more European if you like.

Tonight half of the world will be glued to a TV to follow this election coverage, you know the famous ‘and CNN is now ready to call the state of ???? for Senator/Congressman/Governor ???’.

In proper American style, I have got myself plenty of beers, potato skins, hotdogs and doritos with tomato salsa to get through the night. Also bought a nice bottle of champagne to celebrate a historic moment (if it is to be).

I will not be blogging tonight because American elections, like Hollywood, is a show to be enjoyed free of distractions. Iain Dale is doing a live chat in his blog if you are feeling active tonight. On this side of London I will be watching CNN and BBC simultaneously with a beer in my hand waiting for the numbers to come in. And by the way if you are a numbers-geek or simply want some great quality polling commentary go over to this great great site.

Now sit back, relax and enjoy the show!

I leave you with two videos one with Obama working as an intern for Zapatero (with this second time, do you reckon Zapatero is the most mentioned foreign leader in this election?) and a hilarious one, an American introduction to football on Phoenix from the Flames, bless them! (Mark this one is for you mate!)



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The big picture: the economy

Two days ago the Spanish finance minister, Pedro Solbes, wrote an article for the FT in which he explained the situation of the Spanish economy and the way the government plans to face the current crisis.

This article should be a must read for Alistair Darling and his entire department.

When an economic crisis hits home there are two messages that any government needs to put out to the electorate, a big picture analysis of what is going on and secondly a clear set of measures (no flipflopping, please) to handle that big picture.

A comprehensive and consistent approach to the economy is the only way to reassure voters that the government is able to handle the situation. In his article Solbes clearly presents the big picture of the state of the Spanish economy, its strengths and weaknesses. Transparency is a must in these situations, Darling needs to come out and clearly describe the state of the British economy so when proposals are put out there to alleviate the crisis the electorate understands what problem each one of them is targetting specifically.

Reassurance, information and transparency for stakeholders are the key to any succesful business, this Labour government needs to follow that exact same path to revive its fortunes for a comeback during the conference season.

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As promised yesterday I would like to throw out there a couple of ideas for a new political message for Labour. Now that Brown is finally taking some time out (and hopefully getting some good sleep to clear his head) I hope No. 10 staffers are working hard on the new message and calendar to plan a proper (and final) comeback in September.

Here are my two contributions to the debate:

– Firstly, emphasise difference between the Tories and Labour on the economy. They are the party of the rich and powerful, Labour that of the middle and working classes, let’s remind voters of that. In Spain the Zapatero government is dealing with a serious economic crisis of similar proportions to that of the UK. Of course Zapatero, four months after his reelection, is taking a toll on his popularity because of the crisis. But he’s holding up by emphasising the differences in the way he and a Conservative government would handle the crisis. No government is going to have the silver bullet to finish off the crisis at once. It’s an international crisis, and for the UK economy, highly dependent on financial services, the global trend will mark the national trend. So the government should focus on alleviating the crisis for those that are more vulnerable to it. Zapatero has promised in Spain to guarantee social spending during the crisis no matter what, pensions, dependency law, minimum wage, work safety, they won’t be affected by the crisis and at the same time helping people restructure their mortgages to ease their economic circumstances (true, Spain had healthier public savings than the UK but there are ways around it, that’s the challenge for Labour economists). Moreover Zapatero has announced that no public money will be used to save private companies that are in trouble by their own mistakes, pure liberal orthodoxy. At the same time long term measures are being taken to guarantee a switch to a more sustainable economic model (energy saving, investment in railways, higher productivity, less construction and more manufacturing). These announcements give working people the feeling that the government is on their side, not using their taxes to pump up the same economic model that has caused the crisis. Sure, they still feel the pain, but in the long term until the crisis passes this is the only way to get through it. Moreover, Zapatero keeps reminding voters of what the Aznar government did during the 2000 crisis, freezing public sector salaries for years, reduction in public services investment and privatisations without a plan that turned public monopolies into private ones with no promotion of competition (think Telefonica). When voters see the differences between the two approaches they do come around to more progressive ways of doing politics. And this is what Brown needs to do in Britain. Alleviate the pain of the vulnerable and make sure to reform the supervision mechanisms to guarantee enough solvency in the financial sector for the future. Around these ideas should be Labour’s economic message.

– A second idea is that Labour needs to go on the offensive. Find wedge issues, remember the Tory revolt on comprehensive schools?, to stir the Tory backbenches. There are plenty of issues that Cameron is embracing that old Tories are simply uncomfortable with, on social issues, civil liberties, environment. Let’s put those divisive issues out there. Voters are only seeing the nice face of the Tories because Cameron is doing well, let’s show their nasty side by bringing up those issues where their leadership and backbenchers disagree. There are plenty and some of them long overdue to be taken into consideration.

These are my two contributions to the debate on a new message for Labour. They need to emphasise what are the differences between the parties, what makes Labour a better choice, and that should be that it cares about people and it supports them better through difficult times than the Tories would ever do.

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Reading the Murcia local daily yesterday on the pool side away from the mundane noise come news of the death of Olive Riley, the world’s oldest blogger.

Olive Riley, died 108 years old in New South Wales, Australia. Her blog became an international hit after it was launched in February 2007. Her blog doesn’t seem to be working properly at the moment but you can read some of her entries here.

Riley’s fearless embrace of the internet at such old age is a great encouragement to old people across the world that can find on the internet and other activities new energy despite bad health eroding one’s will.

P.S.: Surfing around a little bit I found a Spanish 95 year old Socialist blogger. She has even met Zapatero! You can see some pictures of it here

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The so-called Maroni census, named after Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, is the latest and gravest attempt in Europe to haunt inmigrants and violate their human rights.

The Maroni census created by the Berlusconi government aims at recording the identities of all Gypsies in Italy, but not just their identity also their ethnicity and religion. The census is an specific attempt to control the Gypsy community in Italy, both national and foreigners, and discriminate them for their ethnicity despite the Italian Constitution, and the EU charter for that matter, guarantee of equality independently of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, etc.

The Maroni census is the last example of ‘paranoia Europe’. Tougher laws that gamble with basic human rights both within the new European directive and national governments’ legislation. While the economic boom was happening we well used inmigrants to provide cheap labour and take care of our elderly, children and clean our houses. But when the bust has arrived we are being so ungrateful to those same people; we have made them scapegoats of an economic model we built and enjoyed.

It’s easy to attack inmigrants because they have no political voice in Europe. They are politically speaking second class citizens. Anti-immigration rhetoric is popular with natives and it doesn’t hurt because inmigrants don’t vote. Maybe it’s time to change that. The Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) had its federal convention this past weekend in Madrid. The delegates approved a proposal to allow non-EU inmigrants residing in Spain to vote in local and regional elections. I applaud this action. The right to vote for legal inmigrants will show political parties that pseudo-racist and xenophobic populism has an electoral cost, moreover the inmigrant communities will gain a certain level of political power for their communities to be taken into account rather than marginalised (think of the French banlieus here).

An inmigration vote is the best thing that could happen to a Europe who was once proud of its openness. If inmigrants were to vote our politicians will think twice about using inmigration to manipulate the electorate. How are we to lecture other nations on human rights if we are unable to respect them ourselves?

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Today’s Spanish daily Publico has an article on the compatibility between the Zapatero government and its electorate in terms of political positioning.

Zapatero hasn’t been doing too well lately due to the economic crisis. But when those that voted for him in the May 9 general election were asked how close where they to Zapatero’s political ideas the results were pretty stunning. In a scale from 1 to 7, 1 being extreme left and 7 extreme right, Zapatero was perceived to be at 2,9, left of the centre. Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, deputy Prime Minister, was on 2,8 and Jose Bono, the House Speaker was on 3,6. Then PSOE voters were asked to position themselves in the same scale, the average Socialist voter in Spain position himself on 2.9, exactly the same point as Zapatero.

Despite the economic crisis, which has an international component to it and a national construction boom that has aggravated it, this can only be good news for Zapatero. If Zapatero is able to steer the ship through the economic crisis and forced by events finally restructure the Spanish economy to make it less dependent on construction and internal consumption, in other areas he’s perfectly in tune with his electoral base.

I would like to see an analysis like this on Gordon Brown and the Labour electorate. It could probably give Labour a point of reference on where they are failing and which direction to go. I think in a sense Brown is probably trying to neutralise the negativity of the economic crisis by going right on social legislation. He will be wrong to do that, they aren’t related, the economy should take his full attention while maintain his original views on social issues where probably his electorate was in tune with him before the latest right wing turn. Personally I see myself agreeing with Brown on social liberalism and welfare state while much more to his left on immigration and civil liberties.

How do you see yourself in relation to Brown?

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The Spanish Conservative Party (PP) today started its party convention in Valencia.

After his crashing defeat in the May 9 general election Rajoy has been openly criticised by several high-profile party leaders within PP. The party leaders in Madrid and the Basque Country, Esperanza Aguirre and Maria San Gil, as well as MEPs’ leader Jaime Mayor Oreja have been his most vocal opponents. But they were unable to challenge him with an alternative leadership campaign. However in the last month it’s believed that the ultimate party boss, and former Spanish PM, Jose Maria Aznar was starting to plot against Rajoy after the latter moved Aznar’s speech to the convention to Saturday rather from the closing day, Sunday, to avoid Aznar stealing the limelight.

Well have a close loo at the video. Aznar arrives late to interrupt the convention. Like a rockstar he walks up to take his seat and effusively kisses Madrid President Esperanza Aguirre and shakes hands with everyone, however when he gets to Rajoy he shakes hand very quickly without even making eye contact (don’t even think of a hug to the party leader to show one’s support).

That’s gotta hurt! Rajoy needs to come out of the convention as a strong leader to take on the economic crisis and battle with Zapatero for four long years in Congress. Aznar today has just blown the first day, two more to go and Aznar’s speech is tomorrow!

Have a look at the video, notice Aznar in second 41 kissing Aguirre and then in second 51blowing Rajoy away with all the camera flashes on them. Ouch!

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