:: Tuesday, March 16, 2004 ::

Spanish Lessons


Photo: Mural at St. Johns Church Princes Street, Edinburgh by Artists for Justice and Peace

Tony Blair finds himself more isolated today in Europe with the loss of his key ally Spanish premiere Aznar. Aznar's attempt to win votes by spin-doctoring the Madrid bombing atrocity has been met by revulsion from the electorate. The war in Iraq was hugely unpopular in Spain and Aznar failed to turn that around.

More significantly this result signals a warning that there is an electoral price to pay for backing Bush. Here in Britain I think the war has damaged Blair amongst a sector of the electorate who are now looking for an alternative. And there's the problem. Unlike in Spain, the main opposition, the Tories, have the same position on Iraq as Blair. So where is the alternative?

The Lib-Dems mild opposition to the war will win them some votes although they are nowhere near as vocal as PSOE on the issue and certainly don't back withdrawing troops (whether PSOE will really stand up to America remains to be seen, I'm sure that arms are being twisted already). Whether, in England and Wales, the new RESPECT coalition is strong enough or has a high enough profile to win votes remains to be seen. I hope they do, despite misgivings about the low level of their programme. In Scotland I think the SSP and greens will continue to gain support on the basis of their consistent opposition to war and more credible profile. The grim performance of Swinney's SNP will mean they will fail to win votes but of course still remain a significant force and the main opposition in the Scottish parliament.

It is certainly true that there are more reasons for the defeat of Aznar in Spain than simply the war in Iraq, or even the cynical manipulation of the Madrid bombings by the Popular Party government. Like most countries in Europe and indeed worldwide Spain has seen an attempt to attack workers' rights in the field of pensions and many other issues. I myself was in Madrid when millions of Spanish workers participated in a general strike against Aznar's plans. And here in Britain the war will be just one amongst many issues that are voted on in June.

:: Alister | 12:30 pm | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | |


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