“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
Social media’s a bit of a bombsite. If your accounts resemble mine, they’re a patchwork of random likes and superfluous information that’s grown and grown to indecipherable levels. Academics and social media users alike seem to agree that social media has an addictive quality that erodes people’s quality of life. Paul Levy, a researcher at […]Read More Decluttering social media
…and hogwash of the highest order. If I had a penny for every time the indulgently aggrandising ‘new year, new you’ phrase was plastered online, and I’d be a millionaire. Not only is it a meaningless cliche, but it’s also an appalling set up for a spectacular fall. Midnight chimes and the losers are […]Read More New Year’s resolutions are hogwash
Alastair continues his examination of the best sources to understand Churchill the man over Churchill the public myth. He continues this week looking at Churchill’s reputation as a boorish war leader with a penchant for expeditions over expediency. Is it justified?Read More Remember the man, not the myth: Churchill as a military leader – Part 2
“It’s long overdue for a return to the heady days of Christopher Reeve’s Superman. Everyone who hears John Williams’ orchestral march feels ecstatic because Reeves’ portrayal is so rich in simple decency. The pants and red-caped moralism fell into cliche long ago because the world felt these creations weren’t equipped to deal with modernity. Perhaps it’s the other way around?”Read More It’s not superhero fatigue, it’s misery fatigue
“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 Machiavelli, the people are the moral universalism at the heart of The Prince. Across 26 chapters, he directs princes to pay their attention to the limits and tolerances of the populace. Whether in hereditary, mixed, ecclesiastical or new principalities, Machiavelli attempts to achieve a delicate balance of protecting the people, protecting the prince and protecting them both from the other.”Read More Machiavelli was a striking moralist
Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Edinburgh. There’s something about the city that just radiates nostalgic indulgence. The pub that had just the right music. The view that was hit by just the right light. The kebab that hit just the right spot. You know the story. But even for a city as old as Edinburgh, the streets are […]Read More Edinburgh’s best bookshops
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!
“What is beyond doubt is Churchill’s chief commitment to the preservation of human life. It is easy to get bogged down in what he did or did not think about institutions such as the Council of Europe or the creation of the European Economic Community. These are fads, topical because they are today’s challenges. What is neglected, criminally so, is the motivation of a man remembered for war but who lived for peace.”Read More Churchill was a peacemaker, not just a warrior
“With Frank Underwood’s asides, the audience is invited into his thinking and to share in his schemes. Like all good Machiavellian characters, viewers indulge a faux Stockholm syndrome for scurrilous bastards because they love to be in the know. It’s a macabre indulgence, but that’s the game – audiences love feeling intelligent, and they’re never more in tune with that feeling than when the character speaks to them.”Read More Kevin Spacey has betrayed his fans and they’re hurting too
Alastair begins a new series examining ‘the real’ sources of information about Churchill, distilling what’s real from anecdote and discussing the best sources for you to appreciate the military, political and human man behind the legend.Read More Remember Churchill the man, not the myth: Debunking the cult of Churchill – Part 1
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
“And they likely would. A crowning is more than the literal crown on the head; it’s a commitment before God as much as a wedding is more than a piece of paper. Doesn’t it deserve some respect, then?”Read More The rise of the social media wedding
SCOTS are famous for many things, but trying to kill Franco isn’t typically one of them. Nevertheless, on 11 August 1964, an 18-year-old anarchist by the name of Stuart Christie was arrested in Madrid attempting to do just that. To make matters worse, not only was he carrying a kilo of explosives, but they were […]Read More The Scot who nearly killed Franco
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
On a recent trip to Greece, I was struck by the number of stray cats and dogs. After some research, I discovered I was not alone. One woman went so far as to say that she’d found the perfect resort for her wedding, but cancelled the booking after seeing how many strays were in the […]Read More Brits abroad must support cats and dogs abroad
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?
The Spanish Civil War is widely considered a prelude to the Second World War. All the central powers were peripherally involved, and Spain owed a debt of $212 million for supplies given by Nazi Germany to General Francisco Franco’s Nationalists. As such, there was a fear that Spain might come out on the side of […]Read More When Churchill bribed Franco
HIROSHIMA and Nagasaki: the only two occasions in history when nuclear weapons were used in combat. But who remembers the time America accidentally bombed Spain? The 1966 Palomares B-52 crash occurred on 17 January when an American bomber collided with a refuelling tanker over the Mediterranean Sea, killing seven of the 11 crew members. The aircraft carried four […]Read More A street called 17 January 1966
BOND. Ja- well, you know the rest. Handsome spy saving civilisation from dastardly men (and a few women) who all have something common. No, not the cat. Or the volcano hideaway. Or the penchant for talking about the plan so much that Bond has a chance to escape. 17 out of the 24 official films […]Read More Have you noticed something about Bond villains?
“Empire 2.0” is the Brexit plan now being touted by the UK Government. The term was coined by sceptical officials, worried about the importance given by ministers to creating an African free trade area ahead of Brexit negotiations with Europe. Some are holding the comment up as everything right about the promise of Brexit. Yet […]Read More Did the sun really set on the British Empire?
‘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
There are only few cinemas in Andalusia which show films in English. How would Spaniards feel if only English speakers were allowed in? That’s the ignorant comparison which some are making of the situation in Austin, Texas where the Alamo Drafthouse announced an all-female screening of Wonder Woman. Is the comparison or the hate-filled […]Read More Of course Wonder Woman deserves an all-female showing
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 end is nigh! Hold your loved ones and kiss them goodbye. A woman has stolen to the keys to the TARDIS and isn’t giving them back! The apocalyptic slaughter of male icons doesn’t just end there, oh no – they’re getting replaced with female doppelgangers. First, the womenfolk took over the government, then they […]Read More Stop panicking about Jodie Whittaker
Christopher Nolan’s latest epic is just that. It’s a self-contained piece of cinematography the likes of which audiences have not seen in decades. From flawless direction to edge-of-your-seat suspense, it’s not so much a film as an experience. And it can only be enjoyed at the cinema. A lot has been made of Dunkirk’s cinematic […]Read More Read this before you see Dunkirk
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
There’s something to be said for good health. Certainly there is when it wanes, fades and goes. A year ago I was convinced I had testicular cancer when I found a lump on my right testicle. Did I immediately consult a physician? No, because I was abroad, my Spanish was poor and I’d yet to […]Read More Don’t be afraid of the big, bad doctor
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
In Spain, as in the UK for that matter, government and bureaucracy can often seem very confusing. For expats in Almeria, it might be just a little bit harder to figure out who exactly has responsibility for the bins, the roads or the hospitals, given the often stark language barrier. Unlike the UK, Spain has […]Read More Trains, planes and bins: how Almeria works
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’
As Apple celebrates the iPhone’s 10th anniversary, it might be worth pondering why Spain has no love for the acclaimed device. The numbers are not flattering. According to research group Kantar, Google Android has a 90 percent market share in Spain with the iPhone falling way behind on 4.3 percent. And the numbers have consistently […]Read More Why doesn’t Spain love the iPhone?
For 54 years Doctor Who has been travelling to new and strange worlds. For most of that time, it was touring the quarries of Great Britain. Every now and again, though, the show took a left turn and went to the Iberian Peninsula. As of 2017, Doctor Who has filmed seven stories in Spain. Despite […]Read More All of space, time…and Spain.
Has the death knell been sounded for pubs and restaurants? Customers can now order food and drink to their table through downloadable mobile apps. Food, drink and re-orders are paid for with the push of a button with servers left to deliver them. The ‘order and pay’ app has already been adopted by pub chains […]Read More Will apps kill pubs?