Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Political Prisoners Of The Balearic Parliament

Members of the Balearic parliament last week became political prisoners, if only because they had attached small posters to the lids of their laptops in order to disguise which of them have got the latest and most expensive Mac PowerBook. These members were declaring their support for the Jordis, brothers in quasi-revolutionary arms who are currently banged up somewhere in Catalonia. Liberty for the Jordis read the posters displayed on the laptops.

Staring earnestly at the laptop screens were, quite naturally, the brother and sisterhood of Més and Podemos. PSOE, ostensibly partners in government, eschewed the opportunity to join in and become political prisoners. In fact, PSOE members of parliament don't tend to bother looking at laptops at all. Maybe they have more important things to do, like being parliamentarians. I mean, what do the likes of Més wild man David Abril find of such interest on a laptop? The Euromillions numbers?

If you've never taken the time to peer into a local estate agents, I recommend that you do. You will then appreciate how similar estate agents are to members of Més and Podemos. There they all are, eagerly ogling a computer screen. Well, I suppose if you're hunting for the commission on the sale of a five million euro gaff in Puerto Andratx, then you would do. That's the estate agents, by the way; not members of Més or Podemos (or maybe that's what they're doing in parliament as well).

Given that we learned once more last week that seven-figure properties are flying off the shelves (or rather the computer screens) but that local authorities can't find it within their generosity to make land available for affordable housing, perhaps the laptop-obsessed parliamentarians should display solidarity with those closer to home: Jordis plus families in Mallorca living in semi-penury and unable to find somewhere decent to live because all the property which isn't being flogged for seven figures had been snapped up and thrown up on Airbnb (before the government came along and put a stop to that - and rightly so).

Not, it has to be said, that this would go down at all well with the estate agents. A two hundred grand hovel in Inca? Not worth my while getting out of bed, mate.

But no, the parliamentarians - some of them - insist on campaigning for the Jordis and raising motions demanding that the Supreme Court immediately orders their release. Personally, I don't disagree - the Jordis and the others shouldn't be in prison - it's just that one feels these dear elected officials should be spending their time and taxpayer money in pursuit of more meaningful matters.

Someone asked me the other day if we are all led to believe that island politicians make themselves out to be a lot more important than they really are. The answer to which was unquestionably yes. Some are undoubtedly worthy and do worthy things, but how many are basically just nits who consider it worthwhile to waste parliament time on motions for which the parliament does not in any event have any say? (Separation of powers and all that; a regional parliament has no authority whatsoever to tell the Supreme Court what it should or shouldn't do.)

And how many of these nits have been thrust into a political spotlight courtesy of a small percentage share of the vote and now wish to foist Catalonia Mark II onto a populace that would rather slit its collective wrist than ever be under the control of Barcelona and find itself part of the mythical Catalan Lands?

Excluded, it must be stressed, from the ranks of the nit is our favourite president (aka speaker) of the Balearic parliament. Balti celebrated his first year as president last week, and he said that people may feel as though they can identify more with him than with someone who wears a suit and a tie.

If one looks like a one-time bass guitarist with The Allman Brothers Band, favours a pair of Converse and drives a clapped-out Renault Twingo, then one probably does identify with Balti. But this is a disparagement. Balti's image may be somewhat unconventional, but he believes - and he's probably right to believe - that he's doing a decent enough job. And why shouldn't he?

He spoke last week about his first year, suggesting that people have got used to him now. More important was how sincere he sounded. Unlike some who are on-message with all the consensus and citizens guff, when he said that his motivation is to help the citizens, you were left under no illusion that he really meant it. There's a humility with the bloke that is endearing. And it's not as though he's actually coining it in. He earns 3,400 euros a month, and 800 of that is handed over to Podemos.

"I know why I took this step (to become speaker). I know we must be very clear in not falling into any temptation." Amen. Balti? Why not Balti? Think who has occupied the speaker's chair in the past. One of them will be looking at the inside of a prison cell for at least seven more years. And no, she is not a political prisoner.

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