Tuesday, November 26, 2013

José Ramón Bauzá: The Interview

The Spanish television channel La Sexta first really came onto my radar during the 2006 World Cup. It was the home to the late Andrés Montes, the commentator attributed with having coined the expression "tiki-taka", and his two fellow commentators who together had the unnerving habit of singing during matches. La Sexta is, therefore, forever etched in my mind as the channel of the Three Tenor commentators, a channel of levity, one not to be taken that seriously. However, it has become a channel with more gravitas. It was La Sexta which took an in-depth look at the charmers who were the German Hell's Angels and at their organised criminality that had become centred on Mallorca. Now, it has given us José Ramón Bauzá: The Interview.

There is something distinctly odd going on with Bauzá at present. He is behaving as though he were a president. Not of a collection of small islands in the Mediterranean but of somewhere rather grander. He has been whizzing off here, whizzing off there, and it hasn't gone unnoticed. Why hasn't he been stuck behind his desk in Palma attending to domestic affairs rather than gadding off to the USA, South America and goodness knows where else? He's off to Brussels this week and at the weekend he was in Madrid for The Interview.

Going on La Sexta might, by comparison with Bauzá the statesman in foreign lands, seem relatively unimportant, but it was in fact quite the opposite. This is a president like others, notably his dear leader Rajoy, who don't as a rule do things such as give big interviews on national television. They prefer to keep mum, which in Rajoy's case is normally wise. Bauzá might have put in the odd appearance on Mallorca's IB3, but he wouldn't have expected there to be any awkward moments. Not when the channel is firmly under the control of his party. La Sexta is a different matter entirely. So, he should be commended, but the question is, what's he up to? Or where might he be heading?

The answers might be nothing and nowhere, but the sudden emergence of dynamic, man-about-the-international scene Bauzá inevitably leads some to suggest that he is being measured up for a suit with more than just a Mallorcan style. Why else would the nation wish to hear from a president of some islands which can scrape together only a fraction more than a million people, located some fair old distance from the Valencian coastline and known by most Spaniards, as by mostly everyone else, as places to spend their summer jollies?

Of course, certain things have been happening in the Balearics which could be said to be of some national interest, not least the whole teaching carry-on, and it was this - trilingual education, the teachers' strike, etc. - which was a key item on the agenda for The Interview. It is perhaps a shame that a subservient media in Mallorca wouldn't subject Bauzá to a grilling, even if he were to let it, and that the consequent communication weren't little more than press release propaganda, but then Mallorca and the Balearics are only Mallorca and the Balearics. They are not of national importance to the ambitious politician.

So, what did he have to say in The Interview? Some of it was, it must be said, perfectly reasonable. "Politics and indoctrination must be kept out of the classroom." Amen. A concern of mine regarding the teachers' strike and issues related to TIL is that it potentially radicalises schoolchildren. But then, who was it who started the politics? For Bauzá it was clear. "Behind the strike were the unions, PSOE and nationalists (i.e. Mallorcan/Balearics nationalists) who manipulated parents." These parents were among the thousands who demonstrated against TIL at the end of September. Bauzá offered his "maximum respect" to the protests but he went on to say that "the parents did not have all the information", such as the fact that TIL supposedly meant only a couple of hours more of English per week.

He was implying that parents had been misled or misinformed but what he wasn't saying was the regional government made such a pig's ear of communicating effectively with the public over TIL. Rather like teachers and unions had several months to get used to the idea of TIL and prepare for it, so the government had several months to prepare the public for its introduction and to explain it properly. It didn't. 

Leaving time to put in a good word for Aina Calvo as the new leader of PSOE in the Balearics (because she would be inclined not to scrap TIL were she to be leader and president of the islands), The Interview came to an end, the nation now familiar with the man who would be. Would be what? Was that what it was all about?

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