Thursday, March 17, 2011

This Fascist Groove Thing: Political insults

The parliamentarians of the Balearics will be breaking up soon. Their spring holidays will be a time for preparing for government - the next one - or for looking around for gainful employment if and when the elections on 22 May add them to the statistics of the unemployed. A dozen deputies will be given a little bonus, six grand's worth of payment to tide them over between parliament's dissolution on 28 March and the results of the elections being announced. Not exactly huge parachute payments, but nice work if you can get it.

One among the parliamentary ranks, finance minister Carles Manera, has been making plans. He will, assuming he is no longer in charge of the islands' coffers come the end of May, be dividing his time between the universities of Palma, Barcelona and the LSE. He may not be Milton Friedman, but future economists of Britain will be able to say that they were once taught by the chap at the helm when the Balearics' economy went into meltdown.

At the penultimate session of parliament, Manera has been doing his best to play down charges regarding irregularities with the islands' public companies, by which are meant organisations that are in effect government agencies. Hey ho, always an irregularity or several to keep local politicians occupied.

Manera will be just one of the jolly figures who has kept us entertained over the past four years to duck out of local politics. Some have already said that they are calling it a day, opportunely perhaps. Catalina Julve, she of the waste-collection scandal, is to quit politics. Presumably, she won't be emptying the bins anywhere near you soon.

Miguel Grimalt, our old friend "Enviro Man", is to be recycled into business somewhere. How much we once enjoyed him. We saw him here, we saw him there, we saw Enviro Man everywhere; one day planting a tree, the next reclaiming a dune, always immaculately turned out, even when he put on some wellies to go and dig to save the planet.

The dying days of the current parliament are a time for politicians to make hay while the sun sets. If not the finance minister and his attempts at regularising the allegedly irregular, then any number of the honourable gentlemen and ladies having their acerbic centimo's worth. Peculiarly, you might be interested to know, there is an insistence that decorum prevails and deputies are afforded the respect of being referred to as "honourable", just as in Westminster. Rarely has an adjective become so abused.

And abuse has been flying in the parliamentary chamber, as warring politicos engage in last-minute recriminations and pitch for the electorate's affections. Parliamentary speeches, Balearics-style, are with the aid of microphones, making the deputies like karaoke politicians, reading from a monitor of insults. Ravens, crows or vultures, the word "cuervos" can mean them all, and is but one affront to be traded as predatory Partido Popular politicos circle to pick over the carrion of the decaying body of the Antich administration.

Another insult is "fascist", an expression of contempt loaded with historical resonance, and one coming from the Partido Popular's Antoni Pastor in the direction of the Antich socialists. Why fascist? It doesn't much matter why, and it doesn't really hold much weight when the one using the insult is seated next to his party leader (José Bauzá) who, one suspects, he dislikes more than he does the opposition.

"Fascist" may count more as an insult in a country that was once so, but it is still an easy term to toss around, rather as it used to be in my days of student politics when everyone was a fascist. Unless you know someone to be the genuine article, and it was my misfortune to have known one (a key strategist with the BNP, though it wasn't realised that he was at the time), then it's an insult best left on the grooves in the political karaoke database.

But maybe this fascist thing is appropriate. As spring beckons, and some politicians (the Partido Popular's probably) will look forward to the darling buds of a return to power in May, we might remember Mel Brooks' song from "The Producers". "Springtime For Hitler" ... (substitute as and if you feel appropriate).

Any comments to please.

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