Monthly Archives: September 2009

thebadPoll: Where to live in Barcelona?


Gemma and I are beginning the process of looking for a new house. Our awesome little flat in Cerdanyola del Vallès was perfect as a starting point for our life together here but 7 years on, it’s not getting any bigger. We’re looking in Cerdanyola, because we like the area where we live. But we’re also going to look at places in other parts of the metropolitan zone. This thebadPoll is really very simple: where would you choose to live in BCN if you could choose right now? Do you like the narrow streets of the Gòtic, or do you prefer the seaside charm of Vilanova i la Geltrù?

The list of options is not exhaustive, so feel free to recommend a place if you really think it needs a special mention.

As usual, you can vote on the right >> … but it’s your comments I’m hungry for.

What happened to Valencia?

This post could have been a kind of thebadPoll but in the end, I decided an open question suits the subject matter better.

Gemma and I watched the Granada TV (UK) 1983 documentary about the Spanish civil war this weekend. Among many other conversation points, it raised an issue I’ve never quite understood since the first time I read about the war: how did Valencia move from being one of the last bastions of the Republic to becoming the key PP stronghold it is today? I’ve heard claims that Valencia was ‘settled’ by Francoists in an attempt to break left-wing loyalty there, though I’ve never seen any evidence for this.

So what happened? Was there a concerted effort to change Valencia’s demographics, and therefore politics, or did this shift occur ‘naturally’ because of changes in industry and other conditions there? Or maybe it was a mixture. Or maybe Valencia was never as socialist as I’ve been told. All opinions are welcome, but what I’d like best is some evidence supporting your position.

Joan Laporta: candidate for independence?

The president of FC Barcelona, Joan Laporta, has been ‘invited’ to head up the electoral list of a Catalan separatist party. Reagrupament, a group that split from Esquerra Republicana (essentially on the grounds that the ERC leadership were allegedly losing their direction by participating in a coalition with the Madrid-controlled PSC), asked the Barça chief to be their first candidate in next year’s Generalitat election.

Laporta will end his Barça presidency in June, and until then he appears unlikely to announce any plan for his future career. That career, according to many commentators, will consist of a long-planned Catalanista political thrust, a rumour backed up by Laporta’s presence at the alternative celebrations for the Diada, last September 11th.

If it does happen, it will hardly be a surprise. Laporta has overseen the completion of the Catalanisation process at FC Barcelona, a process which begins with the club’s own constitution. If he does accept the Reagrupament job, he’ll likely prove to be a smooth and cunning opponent in the election. Is it just me, or is there a lot more independentist stuff bubbling on the stove at the moment?

WordPress is dicking me about with images at the moment… but anyway, here’s a nice pic of Laporta looking extremely comfortable with PSOE stooge, Montilla


thebadPoll: Song for a desert island

Now before I get started with this re-inauguration of thebadPoll, let me clarify something: this is a different type of thebadPoll that’s entirely comment-driven. The old fashioned voting one will be back next week. This actually started out as a ‘what song would you like played at your funeral?’ post… but I felt that I risked sounding way too morbid for a cheerful late-summer Saturday evening.

My question to you is simple: which song would you pick if you had to pick just one song? Imagine yourself on a desert island, with only one song to accompany you… what would it be? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below… if you comment with a YouTube/similar link, I’ll add the video to this post.

My choice: it was a difficult decision, but currently I lean in favour of I’ll Be Your Mirror, by Lou Reed, performed by Nico and the Velvet Underground. It’s a near-perfect love song with great guitar that still manages to pack some poetic punch. Here’s a video, in case you didn’t already know this fantastic piece of music.


Continue reading thebadPoll: Song for a desert island

British patriotism alive and kicking on Facebook

While at work the other day, I stumbled upon a Facebook application called simply “I am British“. Emblazoned with a Union Jack, the app’s homepage shows that it has over 90,000 ‘fans’. So I had to install it and see what all the fuss is about.

The “I am British” app was produced by i2we, a San Francisco based app developer that has come up with dozens of similarly named apps like “I am soccer / futbol”, “I am lesbian” and “I am childbirth professional”. What these apps seem to allow you to do is (a) define yourself by your nation, sport or profession; (b) earn points by saying you’re doing stuff connected with your chosen app (like “I am toast and marmite” or “I am binge drinking”; and (c) socialise with like-minded people. So far, so stultifyingly dull.

But what really interested me about this app is what users of “I am British” say about the app and themselves. The app reviews are enlightening. They range from slightly confused but determined calls to preserve Britishness:

Must keep up our heritage remember the little things fish n chips on a friday,bacon butties fof breakfast.Support the local harvest festival.Donate to your local church.Most of all dont tarmac or blockpave over you gardens,people who do this are killing our green pastures our HERITAGE.

…to barely literate threats:

Born n bred british
i die 4 this fuckin country
so if u dont like it here fuck off i aint dying 4 u

…and there are even some opposing views:

You should be proud of what you achieve, not what you are. Saying you’re proud of your heritage is as stupid as being proud of your eye colour.

When one young guy says that he was “Givin shit to pakis :)” – he receives a high five. Someone else comments that he’s “Sick to death of the vile infection of freeloading scum washing up on our shores for a free handout!!!!:(” – which leads to a “Hear hear” and a further clarification from the original poster that:

At Present I find myself unemployed,All I
need to help fix this problem is a Gun and
an ammunition supplier that can keep up
with the demand for bullet’s. 🙂

I like how a vague threat of terrible violence is rendered fluffy by the inclusion of a smiley.

The problem with “I am British” is that racist opinions aren’t in the minority. Most reviews and many wall posts seem to espouse pure BNP ideology, though not couched in that party’s flowery language.

see if u look above there no black in the flag so is our country overrun with blacks

i work for livin an pay ma taxis unlike these fukin imagrantes thats what makes u british.this country is gettin raped

I no that many people class them selves British even the ones who was born in this country but i kida disagree because if you was born in England then you are English. Government wants us to call our self’s British even when we are totally the opposite. If the foreigners get to choose if they are Asian or any other race but we cant call our selves English. Personally i think it is terrible the why the foreigners get everything and we get nothing when we are the true citizens. I think there is going to be a big riot if the government dont do nothing because we are getting sick of all of it. Soon the white race will be gone if we dont do nothing. We aint racist we are realists. Bring back England


I know I shouldn’t be surprised by this sort of thing. But with Modbury suddenly flying multiple England flags and Union Jacks, I’m concerned that Britain is seeing an increase in a type of patriotism that seems to be predominantly based on race hate. Maybe I should “leave the country” (that won’t be difficult)? Or maybe I’m just over reacting and nothing has really changed.

Barcelona sex mayhem – stories from Sunday night

Now I don’t know how late Giles Tremlett filed this story about Barcelona. But the Guardian has it timestamped at 1938 Madrid time, which is certainly late enough to have come after a very hearty lunch indeed. One clue suggesting that this is the case comes in the form of the article’s shortness. Tremlett isn’t the most wordy of reporters but all the same…

Another oddity is Tremlett’s insistence that “Although Las Ramblas has always attracted prostitutes, they used to occupy a small area near the port”, which is, as a local travelling tinker muttered to me, “a complete load of bollocks”. I’m not sure when this golden age of non bollock grabbing Rambline strolling is supposed to have occurred but it was certainly not very recently. Barcelona has always been packed to the rafters with ladies and gentlemen of the night (and plenty of lady gentlemen too). Indeed, it’d be hard to walk down a single street in the city without passing some brothel or other (even if you don’t realise it).

What this whole story really represents is the latest development in a late-summer-nothing-to-publish episode, where El País shocked our sensibilities (and had us checking again and again) with some pictures of a long-haired tourist making the beast with one back with a prostitute round the back of an overpriced market. Noted local newspaper, 20 Minutos (oh, yes I did!) interviewed various pillars of the community the other day, asking them whether they thought that Les Rambles has a major problem with prostitution. General opinion: it’s a hell of a lot better now than it used to be.

My feelings: Mexican sombreros and €7 a beer are far more offensive and nearly as exploitative.

Arenys de Munt independence ‘consultation’ banned

A non-binding public consultation on Catalan independence, which was due to take place in Arenys de Munt this September 13th has been banned. A judge in Barcelona accepted the Madrid government’s argument that only they have the authority to operate public consultations. The court also ruled that a town may not have a consultation that includes issues that are not wholly municipal, and that the Ajuntament (town hall) was too involved in the event, which is also illegal. The pretend referendum is being organised by MAPA, the Arenys group for Catalan self-determination (not by the town hall).

The vote gained widespread attention because fascist throwbacks, the Falange de las JONS announced a plan to protest against any movement for Catalan independence. In Arenys de Munt. On the 13th. Because that wouldn’t be remotely confrontational.

Anyway, what we see here is further use of the PSOE’s favourite tactic for disallowing democratic processes it feels it cannot control. The government typically waits until around a week before the event in question and then deploys its legal arguments, knowing that an appeal would be costly and would have to be done quickly. They did the same thing with their attempted criminalisation of Iniciativa Internacionalista and they’ve dealt with Basque political parties in a similar way.

As one commentator has asked: why all this effort to not hear what people want?

Organisers of the consultation have put a brave face on it: they reckon that a postal vote is still permitted. This story ain’t over yet.

The PP’s persecution complex

It’s the biggest political scandal in Spain for years. Numerous activists, officials, elected representatives and friends of the Partido Popular appear to be linked to a corruption case known as Gürtel. Centred on the PP in the Comunitat Valenciana, the case involves TV station managers, tailors, mayors and even the Valencian president, Francisco Camps. The accused are alleged to have taken and/or paid bribes in order to obtain public contracts for friendly companies. The most famous accusation is that Camps received €5,000 worth of suits as a gift, paid for by the company Orange Market, which ended up receiving various works contracts from the Valencian government. For background and also a lot more detail on the case, see South of Watford where Graeme has written plenty of posts about it.

Today’s Público carries the story that PP leader Mariano Rajoy yesterday claimed that “Since 2004, no PP militante [activist/party member] has been convicted… and there are several, later let off by the government, from the PSOE who were charged”. He was being questioned about the allegations that just won’t go away. What Público finds unusual about Rajoy’s rigorous defence of his party’s integrity is his less than rigorous memory of the last five years. The newspaper points out that he’s forgetting a minimum of 41 names – 41 PP activists who have been convicted of corruption or connected crimes. Now, I’m not very good with names either, so I understand his difficulty. I guess he’ll thank Público later for jogging his memory.

Denial has been a mainstay of the PP’s defence over the last few months. There’s nothing unusual about that. Few political parties, faced with a devastating series of accusations, would react differently. Though it saddens me, this seems to have become one of the primary functions of a political party (though I shouldn’t think it’s a recent a development as all that). The second defence the PP has employed – and it’s one that seems to be growing in popularity within the party – is that of political persecution. The PP has been quietly hinting from the rooftops that the Socialist government might be pursuing these corruption allegations for purely political reasons.

And it was in this spirit that PP publicity officer Esteban González Pons yesterday claimed that PP officials – even senior ‘big beasts’ like Rajoy and Aguirre – feel that they’re “being spied on”, that they have to “speak in codes on the phone” and that they “are certain” that there is a “black hand” which is politically influencing the courts and the police. It’s an old trick, of course: if you can’t win court cases fairly (and let’s face it, unless one of the judges is a mate, they don’t seem to be doing too well), you claim that the court is illegitimate. The PP are going a little further and seem to be saying that the entire justice system in Spain is illegitimate: González added this heart-rending appeal: “We’ve lived through a year during which the PP has been treated in a way that no other party has been treated since the Transition*. The government has persecuted us and has used the police and the courts to discredit our officials”.

I guess that means that pretty much anything any PP militante does is OK. Because in a country where the courts are controlled politically, there can be no justice, and no crime, right?


*There was no ‘Dictatorship’ only 40 blank years and then a ‘Transition’. Please amend your history books in accordance with this new decree.