“John McCain was an American political giant. He was internationally recognised. Launch yourself from that springboard and into your own research into his life and look beyond the headlines.”Read More Did you know John McCain?
“In complete honesty, I wouldn’t have taken the punt at all if I had to worry about visas and the right to work. I was 26, had never taught before, and it would have been too much of a risk and expense. If the job wanted me, terrific – if it didn’t, I’d go home. The lack of bureaucratic ‘fluff’ made the situation infinitely easier and the rewards all the more satisfying when the whole thing worked out.”Read More We expats are still under a cloud of uncertainty about our residency rights
“There is no easy answer. As soon as a news story breaks, a production company is placed in the impossible position of being seen to side with their star by not taking action or cutting their losses for the sake of their image. Netflix cut ties with Spacey as a result of the allegations, a decision that cost the streaming service about $39 million.”Read More Reflections on trial by media
As royal wedding fever takes over, writer Alastair Stewart asks whether the best thing to do would be to keep the constitutional monarchy but make it open to election rather than by bloodline – a very British fudge. I RECENTLY had a conversation with a friend about the Royal Family. Fatigued by the constant coverage of […]Read More A very British fudge – why democratising the monarchy may be the best compromise
Brexit makes me angry. It makes me very angry. This, as they say, might just be the proverbial understatement. There are no gritted teeth, just a visceral sense of powerlessness. I live and work in Spain and have done for the last four years. I spend three months every year in the UK and the […]Read More Brexit makes me angry, and you should be too
The debate over Brexit isn’t about Brexit anymore. It’s about democratic accountability and the limits of referenda in modern politics. They are, bluntly, a fad. There is no stipulation or law that mandates their results be taken as gospel nor a limit as to how many ones you can have. According to the House of […]Read More It’s time to call Theresa May undemocratic
When proposing better voting rights for expats abroad one of the most common questions is ‘why?’ The argument follows that if someone has left the UK, there’s absolutely nothing the British government could do to affect them. From the signing of the Schengen Agreement in 1985 to the Brexit vote in 2016, this argument held […]Read More Votes for Life must only be the beginning
Brits overseas are a curious bunch. For the folks back home it looks as if we’ve sailed away for sun, fortune and a better life. But that’s the cliche and prevailing stereotype of the ‘expat’. British citizens abroad are, well, just that. It’s impossible to categorise their motivation for leaving home, and it’s arrogant presumption […]Read More Why it’s time for overseas MPs
ALASTAIR STEWART, a freelance writer and teacher based between Edinburgh and Almeria, has launched a petition to introduce Members of Parliament for British citizens living abroad. The petition to ‘Introduce MPs to represent the interests of British citizens living abroad’ is calling on the UK Government to acknowledge the unique concerns of British citizens across the […]Read More Petition launched for expat MPs
“With little surprise, it turns out the ‘new’ blue British passports are now to be made by a Franco-Dutch company. The irony can’t hit hard enough. Lord Palmerston once spoke of Britain’s splendid isolation from Europe. In the 21st century, nothing could be further from the truth, no matter how much Brexiteers try to pretend otherwise.”Read More Passports are a hint of things to come
“Seldom is any real attention given to the outright reform of gun ownership. Onlookers can expect messages of ‘thoughts and prayers’ from presidents, congressmen and senators and even the public after all too familiar of mass slaughter. There can be no other word than ‘system’ for the complicit and non-reactionary way in which governments, commentators and citizens battle it out over rights versus freedoms in the aftermath of shootings. If you want to restrict guns, you’re treading on the Constitution. If you don’t, you’re perpetuating a system of mass murder.”Read More Guns will stop the U.S government? Give me a break
“If Nigel Farage admits the issue should be put to bed, it’s important to understand why that is. A democratic mandate must be granted to the pledges of a government so it can act. This can only be done at the final stage of negotiations when a clear package of proposals can be approved or disapproved. A referendum is only half the battle, and if May’s government is to act with purpose and conviction it should call another general election when the final settlement is clear and on the table.”Read More If Nigel Farage is calling for a second referendum, it’s time for a rethink
“Well, yes and no. In the gloriously apt and heartbreakingly missed ‘The Thick of It’, Malcolm Tucker spits that “People don’t like their politicians to be comfortable. They don’t like you having expenses; they don’t like you being paid, they’d rather you lived in a fucking cave.”Read More Has Kezia Dugdale done anything wrong?
“The figures themselves are deeply troubling. In 2016, the suicide rate for males was more than two and a half times that for females. In 1981, 63 percent of UK suicides were male, but in 2013 the figure was 78 percent. The proportion of male to female deaths by suicide has increased steadily since the early 1980s. The NHS estimates that around 9% of men in the UK show signs of alcohol dependence against 3% of UK women. Testicular cancer incidences have increased by 28 percent since the early 1990s. The list continues.”Read More Shouldn’t International Men’s Day be as important as International Women’s Day?
For “whom the gods would destroy they first make mad” said Prometheus, as he learned of Alex Salmond’s new RT-backed television show. After more than twenty years Salmond’s thespian need for attention and the drive for Scottish independence have finally now become an inseparable pursuit in his head. And what better evidence? RT, formerly called Russia Today, […]Read More Lights, Camera, Salmond!
Splutter your coffee all ye may, ol’ Dave is coming back to play. Such is the nursery rhyme that will bewilder future generations if there is any truth to it. Shock at the prospect should not discount the very real consideration that David Cameron, the not so recently departed Prime Minister, should rejoin Theresa […]Read More Theresa May should bring back David Cameron
Was the Catalan vote for independence illegal? Yes. It’s that simple. The 1978 Spanish Constitution, agreed across the country in the years following General Francisco Franco’s death in 1975, makes two explicit provisions regarding Spain’s unity. The first is that “the Constitution is based on the indissoluble unity of the Spanish Nation”. Secondly, “political […]Read More Why history matters to Catalonia
IRREDENTISM is any political or popular movement intended to reclaim and reoccupy an area that the movement’s members consider “lost” or “unredeemed”. Most people know the concept, but not the word. It matters because it explains most, if not all, of the current Brexit debate. The Balkans is the textbook example of the topic. Ideas […]Read More Why irredentism explains Brexit
WAS the Catalan vote for independence illegal? Yes. It’s that simple. The 1978 Spanish Constitution, agreed across the country in the years after Franco’s death in 1975, makes two explicit provisions regarding the now real possibility of Spain’s disintegration. The first is that the “the Constitution is based on the indissoluble unity of the Spanish […]Read More Catalonia was a gross injustice, plain and simple
The leader of Spain’s Catalonia region, Carles Puigdemont, has called an independence referendum for October 2017, in defiance of the Spanish Government. The announcement follows Catalonia holding a non-binding vote in 2014, called a ‘consultation’, on independence in which 80 percent of ballots cast supported a breakaway, but with only a 35 percent voter turnout. […]Read More Can you compare Scotland and Catalonia?
‘Moggmentum’ is sweeping the UK and it’s gotten a little out of hand. The online campaign to elect Jacob Rees-Mogg Conservative leader is rooted in a pseudo-ironic play on the ‘Momentum’ movement that launched Jeremy Corbyn to the Labour leadership. The problem is people presume contemptuous political positions must be held by reasonable people if […]Read More Moggmentum is the last straw of sanity
At the time of writing this, the death toll in the Grenfell Tower fire stands at 30. The sight of a burning building in London could well be an effigy for government incompetence at local and UK level. Who is responsible for the building? Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council in charge of housing, but […]Read More The Grenfell Tower victims deserve justice
The funny thing about Spain and Great Britain is they’re really the two distant cousins who always wrangle at family gatherings. Over the last three years alone, the Spanish Government has rebuffed Scottish independence, threatened the rights of British expats in the EU and promised to veto post-Brexit access to the single market. As a […]Read More Why Spain and Britain are two peas in a pod
Gibraltar is only a bugbear to Spanish people when it’s mentioned. It seldom is. How many times do you recall outrage and protests outside the U.K embassy in Madrid? No. One must be careful to avoid thinking the Spanish see Gibraltar as some kind of occupation. It’s neither a nightmare of history or a daily […]Read More Gibraltar doesn’t, shouldn’t and won’t bother the Spanish
WELL, politicians don’t lie, but they do obfuscate. That seems to be the polite way to conclude a few hundred years of British politics (certainly when the general public just thinks “they’re all full of shit”). Backbenchers, you may have noticed, are typically quite happy to play fast and the loose with their opinions. Members […]Read More Tired of government officials lying to you?
For 30 years Michael Heseltine has been remembered as the man who toppled Margaret Thatcher as prime minister. And Heseltine, at the age of 83, is at it again. Since 2010 he has served in government advisory roles to David Cameron and Theresa May. Until last week, that is, when he was sacked after backing […]Read More The old men in grey suits should be listened to
The death of the former IRA commander Martin McGuinness has provoked a ferocious debate about whether he was a peacemaker or a butcher. For all the semantics of historical judgement, a day after his death London suffered the type of crime that McGuinness was regularly accused (but never convicted) of orchestrating. The March 22 attacks […]Read More History and hope over terror and tyranny
Brexit is the most significant political issue in a generation. The prime minister is right to call a general election because of it. To proceed on a legitimate mandate to withdraw from the EU, Theresa May has, rightly, decided to elicit the support of the people. Many across the political spectrum accept the Brexit verdict […]Read More May is right to hold a general election
FOR British expatriates living in Almeria, Brexit is the elephant in the room. Everyone will have different ties back to the UK, but most will have some financial connection whether by property, pensions or family. In the last two weeks, Theresa May’s pricey £1bn deal to forge a pact with the DUP represents the most […]Read More Why Brexit matters in Almeria
In the aftermath of the London terror attacks, Theresa May said she would change human rights laws if they “get in the way” of tackling terror in the UK. The problem with this is three-fold. Firstly, British security services already possess extensive anti-terrorism powers that have been denounced by Amnesty International as among “the most […]Read More Why May is wrong about human rights
Tim Farron was Liberal Democrat leader for just shy of two years. In that time, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone that singled him out as a key player with policies and a rhetorical flourish that felt like a kick in the teeth for his opponents. And don’t fool yourself. Once, the Liberals frequently […]Read More Why Tim Farron had to go
Jeremy Corbyn’s victory is increasingly possible. In recent days, the passion of his convictions has seen even tempered next to the joyless hubris of Prime Minister Theresa May and her acolytes. Britain’s next government is the subject of intense interest to its European neighbours. Will they continue to play derisive hardball with May or will […]Read More How do the Spanish feel about the UK general election
In October of 1974, Harold Wilson called a general election and wildly hedged his bets. Wilson, who had a minority government after a hung result that same year, came to regret it: the exit poll prediction of a 132 seat majority turned out to be worth only three for the Labour prime minister. He resigned […]Read More Mayday: Looking at the general election result
Do you know your PP from your PSOE, and what they stand for? Firstly, since Spain’s transition to democracy, there have been no coalitions, only majority and minority national governments in the Spanish Parliament, The Cortes Generales. The People’s Party (PP) and the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) have been predominant since 1979 (the former […]Read More Understanding political parties in Almeria
There’s a real danger that our responses to terrorist incidents are giving the murderers behind them what they want. Over the last three months, the UK has been hit by four terror attacks in Manchester and London. In the inevitable media frenzy, the repeated questions and statements were about how the perpetrator was radicalised, what […]Read More Our responses to terror must be consistent
A dual mandate is a practice whereby an elected representative serves in more than one elected position simultaneously. For example, an individual could be a Member of the Scottish Parliament, a local councillor, a Member of Parliament in Westminster or a Member of the European Parliament. MPs receive a salary of £74,000, but their other […]Read More Dual mandates are wrecking British politics
In Almeria, like politics everywhere, it can be a little difficult to know who the key players are, and that’s what we’re looking at this week. Susana Diaz has been President of Andalusia since 2013. She’s also a leading national figure in PSOE, having contested the leadership of the national party in 2017, losing to […]Read More Who’s who in Almeria
With no shortage of irony, the Parnell Academy in Mijas has set up a ‘Brexpats Spanish Nationality Course’ where they teach how expats can apply to become a Spanish citizen if they don’t much fancy a decade of uncertainty over Brexit. Cynics might call this a headline gamble to show-up the kindness of Europeans next […]Read More May, Rajoy and ‘Brexpats’
Boris Johnson, with his straw-blonde hair and instant name recognition, is now the de facto leader of the campaign to leave the European Union. A former Eton schoolmate and long-time rival of David Cameron, the Mayor of London and MP is unique in being culturally formed by strong European antecedents all while rejecting the EU: he was […]Read More Boris, Brexit and Britons in Spain
Does it not seem a lifetime ago that David Cameron was laughing off fears of a Brexit? Theresa May’s Conservative Party conference speech has not only buried the patrician legacy of her predecessor but also indulged the Conservative membership to the hilt. Like a pop star coming on for an encore, she’s gone mad for […]Read More Through a glass, darkly: Theresa May’s Conference Speech
The idea of Europe and the practicalities of Europe are, by and large, the differences between resident UK citizens and British expats. For many back home, it’s not unfair to say that Europe is seen as a behemoth of bureaucracy or the political right’s nightmare child that inflicts red tape, open borders and pedantic rules. […]Read More At home and abroad: What does Europe mean?
In the aftermath of a disaster, it is often easy to think the event was somehow inevitable. Even for seasoned politicos and spectators alike, the election of Donald J. Trump to the White House has surpassed Brexit as a seismic global game changer. Why does it matter for Britons in Europe? Simply, America’s economic weight, […]Read More Why Trump matters to Europe
Last week, Esteban Gonzalez Pons, who leads the Spanish delegation of MEPs in the European Parliament’s largest political grouping, said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s demands for Scotland to stay in the single market were “impossible”. The comments are the latest in an intermittent and sporadic series of remarks from members of the Spanish Government iterating […]Read More Why remarks about Scotland from Spanish politicians don’t matter
Last week, The Independent reported that David Cameron’s Government had agreed with a House of Lords committee finding that referendums “cannot be legally binding in the UK, and are therefore advisory.” The rediscovery is a deeply embarrassing one for Theresa May because it gives a hint of the direction her predecessor’s government would have taken if it […]Read More The UK is not coming apart at the seams over Europe
A peculiar thing happens to British people when they move abroad, and we’re all guilty of it. We might take the plunge and set up camp in another country, work there and live there for many years, but we never stop calling each other expatriates or ‘expats’. The term is remarkable when you stop […]Read More Expatriates need to stop calling themselves ‘expats’
The most recent attack in London is a horrific reminder of the continuing vulnerability of British people to indiscriminate murder. The third such attack in three months has seen a wretched pattern emerge. Absolute horror ensues, the emergency services rally to their duty; heroes prevail and a torrent of ‘we will not yield’ rhetoric flourishes […]Read More Terrorism can’t become normalised
REMEMBER ‘Deal or No Deal? Noel Edmonds chinwagging to a fictional banker as players tried to deduce the random chance distribution money in red boxes. Don’t dismiss the premise. It was genuinely nail-biting stuff before the faux tension faded after a few seasons. And now politics emulates the game. Theresa May seems to be having […]Read More Brexit, the game show!
“A case in point is that the supposedly politically kindred likes of Ken Clarke and Michael Heseltine are condemning their own prime minister. It’s more telling, still, that the one-nation mantra was borrowed unapologetically by Labour leader Ed Miliband in 2015 and he wore the banner with greater accuracy than either Cameron or May.”Read More Has May got a one-nation Brexit policy?
“Whatever the result, Nicola’s Sturgeon’s Scottish Nationalist Party pose a significant threat to Spain’s delicate regional politics. If the SNP claim most of Scotland’s Westminster seats, the democratic deficit of a Tory government, coupled with a hard Brexit, will likely fuel calls for a second independence referendum. “Read More Alastair Stewart | How do the Spanish feel about the UK general election?
That’s extremely important given today’s politics. So much of Scotland’s past is used as a resource to fuel arguments, on both sides, of the constitutional debate that it’s rare to find a rhizomatic reading of history concerned with how well the system worked. How the Scottish justice, health, education systems operated with and through the Scotland Office; its ministers and its instruments and scope of its power in Scotland make for a fascinating read and serves an accessible index of political parties and policies still asking for your vote today.Read More Review | ‘The Broken Journey: A Life of Scotland 1976-99’ by Kenneth Roy