Thursday, November 05, 2015

Sorrier Seems To Be The Hardest Word

So there was I, not for the first time, labouring under a misapprehension of pronunciation. Sorry, sorrier, sorriest. The latter two, to me at any rate, sound odd in English, even if they are legitimate usage. The middle one - sorrier - doesn't sound odd if applied correctly (roughly speaking as it were) to the name of the national government's pantomime villain, José Manuel Soria. José Manuel is more sorry. He is sorrier.

Except of course that he isn't. José Manuel is not for apologising. Instead, José Manuel is for saying that's how it is, and you can lump it, the latest example of this take-it-or-leave-it attitude being reflected in the small matter of 63 million euros that the Balearic government would rather like to get its hands on and fritter away on Playa de Palma.

The problem, partly, is that José Manuel is none too convinced that what meagre amounts of investment for tourism purposes that Madrid has felt benevolent enough to transfer to the Balearic government's bank account have been spent wisely in the past. He may of course have a point, but such detail is of no importance to the current Balearic leadership. We want, nay we demand, our 63 million, and we demand it now. And with it, Playa de Palma will become Magalluf Mark II. Or something like that.

If it were all a simple case of justifiable spending of the nation's money, then this 63 million spat might be resolved with relative ease and a touch of maturity. However, it isn't so simple. One has to stress the "partly" nature of the problem. There are other parts which are somewhat larger and all a bit immature.

President Armengol tarried long enough at the World Travel Market to hear Soria not say that he was sorry and to hear him deliver a lecture against the evils of the tourist tax. Once he was finished, La Presidenta was there to deliver her own lecture, a public handbagging for national government enemy number one (a position Soria vies for along with Rajoy and Montoro). While she was launching into him, behind the pantomime villain - he's behind you! - was El Vice-Presidente, Biel Barceló, smirking with an ironic smirk. 

Were he to have to deal only with a PSOE-ist like Armengol, matters might be less fraught, but there are also the econationalists, i.e. Barceló, to contend with as well. Soria, solid Partido Popular citizen that he is, finds no common ground with such ecological self-governing tendencies, especially those that involve taxing tourists for whatever reason.

The withdrawal (or at best paralysing) of the 63 million smacks of being a punitive measure: a reprisal for the tourist tax. This may not be the reason, but perceptions suggest otherwise. And the one who did the withdrawing was Soria's number two, the Mallorcan Isabel Borrego, someone detested by the Balearic left and considered, how can one put it, rather ineffective by most of the tourism industry. Borrego seems to be the only aspect of Mallorcan and Balearic existence with whom or with which Soria can find common cause. In other words, he appears to have it in for the Balearics, regardless of which political party is in power.

This latest difference of opinion with the tourism supremo and his sidekick comes in the wake of several others, mostly all of which involved Soria butting heads with ex-president Bauzá. There is, therefore, form when it comes to Soria's dealings with the Balearic archipelago (and let it not be forgotten that he originates from a different set of sun-and-beach holidaying isles, i.e. the Canaries).

There was a time when Soria was declared persona non grata in the Balearics. He still is. This wasn't so much to do with tourism but with one of the other governmental hats he wears, that for energy. And energy means oil. The barrel of the gun that Bauzá pointed at Soria in having him firmly in his sights was principally one aimed at oil exploration off Balearic shores. However, there was more to it. Bauzá, it was widely suggested, also had Soria's job in his sights. This seems odd, now that Bauzá has been despatched to exile in the Senate chamber, but there was a time when he was a bit of a Madrid darling. So bad were relations between Soria and Bauzá that they once both contrived to avoid each other at the Berlin travel fair by pulling a sickie, having succumbed to the flu. The tourism industry was far from impressed by the fact that neither of them put in an appearance.

At least Soria was prepared to go to London (the flu season doesn't start for a couple of months yet), fully aware that the new guns of the Balearic government lay in wait to take a pop at him. Was he sorry or sorrier? No.

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