Saturday, June 09, 2012

On The Prospect Of Bailing Out The Spanish Banks

The news that Eurozone ministers are to have a pow-wow over the question of bailing out the Spanish banks brings to mind a book I read earlier this year, John  Hooper's 'The New Spaniards'.

First published in 1994, it was updated in 1998 and I believe it may have been again in 2006, although it was the 1998 version I had in my hands. This is a very interesting book, particularly given its date of publication, in that it fully records the history of Felipe Gonzalez's government; from the standpoint of 2012, the degree of apparent similarity between the policies of Gonzalez in Spain and the policies of New Labour is striking. It is almost as if Blair was following Gonzalez's blueprint.

It is a very dense and rewarding read. To regurgigate only a few items from it, it seems to be the case that unemployment in Spain has historically always been high, so while the current level of unemployment should be considered problematic it might not be a matter for us to become hysterical about it in the context of longer-term Spanish history.

Similarly, it very clearly records how the Spanish constitution of 1978 appointed the armed forces to be the guarantors of Spain's territorial integrity. That being the case, if that clause in that constitution is still in force it seems that the Scottish National Party has been grossly disingenuous in associating itself with Catalan politicians and in citing Catalonia as a model for Scotland to follow, as under the laws of Spain Catalonia will be kept in Spain by force.

However, the most striking aspect of all was Mr. Hooper's recounting of the various property bubbles which have blown up in recent Spanish history, and of how, after the restoration of democracy, improving home ownership was deemed to be a backdoor way of preventing strikes; if you have a mortage to pay, you need money to pay it.

It is impossible not to think that this was one of the motives behind the advent of British 'right to buy' legislation'; to 'give' something to someone that in the broad sense they could  already be said to own, which in turn causes them to voluntarily restrict their exercise of other rights you find less palatable.

A bit evil, that one, isn't it?

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