Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Violent Times They Are A-Changin'

Valtònyc's back in the news. Mallorca's youthful, radical rapper has been accused of assaulting a young conservative, the representative of the Partido Popular's Nuevas Generaciones in Sineu, Marc Álvarez Gelabert. The rapper insists that he hit no one and had merely intervened in an argument. The PP has, nevertheless, called in the cops and President Bauzá has condemned the aggression and demanded that there be punishment.

The alleged assault by Valtònyc coincided with a speech at a gathering of Toledo's young conservatives that was given by the national secretary-general of the PP, María Dolores de Cospedal, in which she accused PSOE and other parties of inciting violence among the nation's youth. PSOE has responded by saying that Cospedal's accusations are "unfounded and malicious".

It hasn't, it must be said, been obvious that PSOE has been going around inciting anyone to violence, but there is form between Cospedal and PSOE when it comes to such accusations. In July last year, the spokesperson for the PP in Castilla-La Mancha, the region for which Cospedal is president, attacked PSOE for having orchestrated protests and incited "verbal violence" directed against Cospedal during the opening of a festival of theatre.

Cospedal's speech has not only attracted PSOE's rejection of her accusations. It has been interpreted as an attempt to raise a smokescreen to obscure the various woes that currently plague the PP. Cospedal is one of those who was named in the Bárcenas ledgers of allegedly suspicious payments to members of the PP. The ledgers, with their implication of corruption, are an example, so any number of commentators on the internet would have it, of the "violence" perpetrated by the PP. Others include other corruption allegations, cuts to public services, unemployment ... the list goes on.

As ever when youthful violence with a political dimension raises its ugly head and takes to the streets (and to be fair, there hasn't been a great deal of it and there wasn't a great deal of it even when the "indignados" were in full public-square occupancy mode), politicians reel off the it's only a small minority cliché. True to form, Cospedal has done just this, neglecting the fact that while a small minority may act in a violent fashion a much larger minority or even a majority may feel that it has a legitimate beef, as in the 50%-plus unemployed youth of the country.

Addressing a bunch of young conservatives is not the best way to show that she might be wanting to engage with disaffected youth. Nuevas Generaciones represent only one part of that youth and are therefore not representative of younger people as a whole. She was speaking to the converted, those likely to end up in a confrontation with more radical youth elements, as would appear to have been the case in Sineu.

It is the failure of politicians to appear to be inclusive that helps to fan the flames of frustration. And by firing off accusations against PSOE, Cospedal has managed to fan these flames further, as her speech has been interpreted as a diversionary tactic. She does, she will argue and did in her speech, understand the frustration. Sort of. There was frustration before, she said. In the 1990s when Spain was in recession. But the country came out of that, and it will again and so, rather than there being no hope and no future, there will be both (I'm paraphrasing slightly). What she of course ignored was that the 1990s recession was quite unlike the current situation. And then, to make matters far worse, she went on to commit the cardinal sin of any politician who wants to try and come across as being vaguely "hip" and falls flat on his or her face. She resorted to mentioning a figure from popular youth culture, albeit one who is now well past pensionable age. She quoted Bob Dylan. In 1963, Dylan sang about how the times were changing, she pointed out. And my, how the times have changed since then. Internet, Twitter, a contract signed with a company in China only that very day; Cospedal cited them all as evidence of change and so, by implication, of a bright, technological future.

Why did she mention Dylan though? Did she not realise what Dylan was singing about? That Dylan was the voice of protest for a generation, one of civil rights, of anti-war demonstrations? That where that protest generation led was to deaths at Kent State University, students shot dead by the National Guard?

I've got a suggestion for Valtònyc's next release. Rap Dylan.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

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