The sun is shining in Jerez. Everyone tells me how much it has cooled down, but twenty-eight degrees celsius is hot enough for me. It was ten degrees higher and the heat is, apparently, set to return by the end of the week. After a two month gap I’m happy to be back in Jerez again ( two months is much too long to be away ).
In Plaza Arenal the ornate merry-go-round is in place, just along from the Unidos Podemos stand, where canvassers hand out leaflets urging folk to ‘Vote for Change’. They are captioned ‘La sonrisa de un pais’ ( The dawn of a country ), though the UP rhetoric of recent days has been toned down somewhat, rowing back from the more extreme anti-austerity messages. UP volunteers are bright – eyed believers wearing purple T-shirts eager to discuss not only Spanish politics but also the UK’s referendum. They don’t understand why we should want to leave. And they are worried that, if we do, others will follow and the EU itself will fracture.
Beyond the UP stand are the anarchist trade union banners from CGT headquarters fulminating against Jerez’ PP mayor Maman Sanchez. ‘El barca se hunde‘ they say – the ship is sinking.
The sky, however is wonderfully blue and the feather – flowered trees in Plaza Arroyo are in bloom. The jacarandas are just finished but occasionally one treads on a fallen blossom and it’s exquisite perfume is released. Espana are through to the next round of the Copaeuropa with a decisive victory. I was eating outside on Friday evening and one could tell Spain scored three goals just from the noise emanating from the squares and streets. In Summer football is watched communally outside.
The Jerez Diario carries articles about Brexit of a type rather more cerebral than in London – on Saturday drawing parallels between the campaigns and Plato’s Republic ‘rhetoric of sentiment’. Why aren’t people formulating reasoned judgements? It’s very hard to explain, possibly because I don’t understand the apparent unwillingness to be rational myself.
Is it an ‘anti-globalisation’ vote? Or is it simply that large swathes of the population are suffering under austerity now ( and the EU has promoted austerity as fiscal policy ) and see a vote for Leave gives them an illusion of control, of making some sort of change. How much worse can it be? Answer – lots and, of course, it is the poor and those who are already squeezed, who will suffer more if we exit. A falling pound, a collapsing economy and inflation at the least.
Brexit is on every news bulletin here, which carry the latest polls. There has been just as much, over the last few days, as on Spain ‘s own politics, though that may be because of the dreadful murder of Jo Cox. Many of the Spanish with whom I spoke don’t know what to make of this – political assassination or the wild action of a madman? The first doesn’t happen in Britain and the second, well, doesn’t the UK have hospitals or other care for those who are mentally ill? Not any more, I say, it’s austerity, the cutbacks – they nod, sagely. This they know. Will whomever they elect in the circo really act against austerity?
Watch this space.