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This may not interest you, local Spanish politics is not everyone's glass of warm vino, but I would value your input. There are 2 months to go before the local elections on May 22, and I have been making comparisons between my experience as a councillor in England what happens here.
For example
1) The Mayor and all the councillors here become full time paid employees. They give up their day jobs, and councillors in the winning party are given jobs. So you can guess that some committee chairs are pretty superfluous.

2) The debt in my local Town Hall is equal to the annual budget. (There are no reserves) But the mayor does not worry because it is 'within the amount laid down by law.' The fact that the interest on the debt prevents the council from spending any money on new services is not mentioned

3) Finally, Dates for full Council meetings are not planned ahead. They are held with 3 days notice. That gives the opposition parties little or no time to prepare for a meaningful debate. And the General Public even less, if they ever hear about it.

Don't you just love this place
Mike
 

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This may not interest you, local Spanish politics is not everyone's glass of warm vino, but I would value your input. There are 2 months to go before the local elections on May 22, and I have been making comparisons between my experience as a councillor in England what happens here.
For example
1) The Mayor and all the councillors here become full time paid employees. They give up their day jobs, and councillors in the winning party are given jobs. So you can guess that some committee chairs are pretty superfluous.

2) The debt in my local Town Hall is equal to the annual budget. (There are no reserves) But the mayor does not worry because it is 'within the amount laid down by law.' The fact that the interest on the debt prevents the council from spending any money on new services is not mentioned

3) Finally, Dates for full Council meetings are not planned ahead. They are held with 3 days notice. That gives the opposition parties little or no time to prepare for a meaningful debate. And the General Public even less, if they ever hear about it.

Don't you just love this place
Mike

I share your incomprehension as I too was a Councillor, Mayor and Group Leader in the UK. Having had a little experience of local government and politics in Prague - my friend's husband was local Mayor - and now in Spain where I'm helping one of our local candidates - I've come to accept that a one-size-fits-all model, although perhaps desirable if it's our model, just doesn't export.
Both the Czech Republic and Spain have in the last century experienced totalitarianism and have practised democracy only for comparatively few decades.
We've had centuries to 'perfect' our structures yet I'm sure you'd agree that a few alterations in the way we do things might be desirable.
But politics here does seem to be more of a 'closed shop' than in the UK and accountability and transparency don't feature high on the 'things to do' wish-list.
 

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They´ve been holding "citizen participation" workshops in our town to try and get people more involved, But most people here (pop. 5000) are related to at least one of the councillors, so maybe they find out what´s going on that way!
 

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This is why, rightly or wrongly, I dont want to vote in the elections here. I have no understanding of their practices or policies and unless I'm comfortable with what I'm voting for then its wrong for me to do it IMO.

Jo xxx
 

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This is why, rightly or wrongly, I dont want to vote in the elections here. I have no understanding of their practices or policies and unless I'm comfortable with what I'm voting for then its wrong for me to do it IMO.

Jo xxx
I felt like that when I left the UK. By the time I left (2008) the three main parties´manifestos were so similar I couldn´t tell them apart.

Unfortunately I will be in the UK on 22 May. Does anyone know if there is proxy or postal voting here?
 

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I felt like that when I left the UK. By the time I left (2008) the three main parties´manifestos were so similar I couldn´t tell them apart.
Yes, I agree. But why do you think that is? That is the interesting question.
The only time in my memory when there has been clear red/blue water between the main Parties was in 1983 when Labour's Manifesto presented a clear alternative invoving state ownership and higher taxation plus nuclear disarmament. It was, rightly as it turned out, described as 'the longest suicide note in history' and brought Labour the lowest vote of the century.
There is a disturbing inevitability about this apparent convergence between the main Parties.
As for postal votes....I doubt it very much. In a process already considered dubious by many the possibilities of fraud involved in a postal vote system are far too obvious....as we have seen in parts of the UK.
My grandmother actually came back early from a trip to Canada in the 1970s to see my aunt in order to vote in a local election. She was old enough to remember the Suffragettes....To her a vote was so important. She had a very long life - died in her nineties - and it was said that she never missed an election.
Do we care that much these days, I wonder.... After all, our voice doesn't count for much when it comes down to it.
 

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It seems to me that the parties, in a desperate bid to attract EVERYONE, have sold themselves and just agree with everyone and everything. They've become an amalgam!! That coupled with the fact that from what I can see, behind the scenes, they're all pretty much run by big businesses, and dressed up by PR companies! It makes a mockery of "democracy". Its simply who can say the right things, in the right way and look the prettiest while saying it!

There!! Thats my naive view on politics

Jo xxx
 

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This may not interest you, local Spanish politics is not everyone's glass of warm vino, but I would value your input. There are 2 months to go before the local elections on May 22, and I have been making comparisons between my experience as a councillor in England what happens here.
For example
1) The Mayor and all the councillors here become full time paid employees. They give up their day jobs, and councillors in the winning party are given jobs. So you can guess that some committee chairs are pretty superfluous.

2) The debt in my local Town Hall is equal to the annual budget. (There are no reserves) But the mayor does not worry because it is 'within the amount laid down by law.' The fact that the interest on the debt prevents the council from spending any money on new services is not mentioned

3) Finally, Dates for full Council meetings are not planned ahead. They are held with 3 days notice. That gives the opposition parties little or no time to prepare for a meaningful debate. And the General Public even less, if they ever hear about it.

Don't you just love this place
Mike
Yes, I do actually!!

Do you know if your number 1 is automatically true in all town halls, or is it just the bigger ones?

2, and 3. Yes, I think that's the way it's done in Spain. Planning ahead and financial planning are just not a strong points, but I don't see why they shouldn't be changed slowly, in fact they have to be if any headway is going to be made, but there's no use moaning about it and comparing to the UK 'cos this isn't the UK, and I hope it never will be.

And of course there is a postal vote!
 

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It seems to me that the parties, in a desperate bid to attract EVERYONE, have sold themselves and just agree with everyone and everything. They've become an amalgam!! That coupled with the fact that from what I can see, behind the scenes, they're all pretty much run by big businesses, and dressed up by PR companies! It makes a mockery of "democracy". Its simply who can say the right things, in the right way and look the prettiest while saying it!

There!! Thats my naive view on politics

Jo xxx
There really is very little wiggle room for any politician to make drastic changes, in the UK or anywhere.
It's got nothing to do with 'selling themselves' or PR although I agree that PR is a major part of the presentation process and democracy does exist albeit if only in a superficial way. We do get the chance to vote, albeit for clones.
Fact is, that the world is run by global corporations and financial institutions. Since the fall of Communism neo-con/neo-liberal economic theories have been adopted by international institutions such as the World Bank and IMF. Tony Blair, nor Cameron, is heir to Thatcher.
We accept this because most people in the world have to a greater or lesser degree benefitted from this state of affairs. We rarely come across those at the bottom of the pile and only get a glimpse of the shocking poverty that is the norm in many parts of the world from the media.
We feel bad about this but are too busy clinging to our own precarious lives to do more than spare a passing thought or put a few coppers in a collecting tin.
The fact that people care more about an interrupted holiday than the well-being of the workers of a country whose hospitality we enjoy is a symptom of this.
There is very little we can do to change the world for the better so we get on with our own lives and turn our backs on politics as we see it as a pointless exercise. I'm only helping our local candidate because by his actions he has proved himself an honest decent man and I suspect his chief opponent isn't.
Neither you, nor I, nor any politician has the power to make the world a better place. Religion won't help either. We can only do the little we can in our own lives and in our own circle.
Sadly.
 

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It used to be so much easier when Conservatives all owned factories and stately homes and went hunting every weekend and mistreated the underpaid workers and labour party supporters owned whippets, ate black pudding, went on strike at the drop of a hat and fancied pigeons.

You used to know who to vote for back in the good old days....
 

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It used to be so much easier when Conservatives all owned factories and stately homes and went hunting every weekend and mistreated the underpaid workers and labour party supporters owned whippets, ate black pudding, went on strike at the drop of a hat and fancied pigeons.

You used to know who to vote for back in the good old days....
Actually, you're probably right. What seems to have happened is as the poor become richer and the rich become poorer, the line between the two parties seems to have overlapped somewhat !!! :D


Jo xxx
 

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It used to be so much easier when Conservatives all owned factories and stately homes and went hunting every weekend and mistreated the underpaid workers and labour party supporters owned whippets, ate black pudding, went on strike at the drop of a hat and fancied pigeons.

You used to know who to vote for back in the good old days....
If you take your tongue out of your cheek......I'll agree with you.;)
Yes, a few decades ago you would have been right. That's why I got involved in leftish politics. As a 'scholarship' girl with a widowed mother who scrubbed floors to earn a living I became acutely aware of class differences and the unfairness of outcomes in our society. My views were confirmed when I went to University and met others who shared my beliefs - although oddly they were mainly well-off middle-class students;). Because uncles and other family members had been killed or injured in the War I was committed to the pacifist movement and CND.
It was, to me at least, clear-cut in those days...we were the good guys.
As I got older and became involved in 'real' politics it became clear that things weren't so simple. Life is complicated and doesn't put things in neat categories. I found that some of the Tories I worked with were decent people who wanted the same ends as I but preferred different means to those ends. I also discovered that some of my 'brothers and sisters' in the 'movement' were actually self-promoting ideologues who loved humanity in general but had little time for real people.
I also found that you rarely got the chance to do what you saw as the right thing but were obliged by circumstances beyond your control to choose the less evil of the choices you did have.
I now have no faith in any version of politics that promises a better future based on the implementation of some secular religion, be it socialism, neo-conservatism, whatever.
I try to consider each issue objectively whilst keeping in mind basic principles of human decency. I know that my comparatively easy life and the things that compose it is in part earned at the expense of those worst off than I.
But as there is little I can do about it on a global scale and certainly not by putting a cross against a name on a ballot paper, I don't lose much sleep over it.
 

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Actually, you're probably right. What seems to have happened is as the poor become richer and the rich become poorer, the line between the two parties seems to have overlapped somewhat !!! :D


Jo xxx
But that hasn't happened in the UK. The better-off have got more wealthy and because of the huge inequality -the highest in Europe - between rich and poor the poor have actually become poorer.
The gap between the Parties has narrowed because all three have accepted the current economic status quo and so have most of us because we are much better off materially and even our 'poor' have the modern equivalent of bread and circuses in the form of flash cars, hi-tech gadgetry and holidays, albeit of a lesser quality than the better-off..
I actually think it's obscene to talk of 'poverty' in the UK. Real poverty is Somalia, Ethiopia, rural India.....not a council flat and benefits in Brixton.
 

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But that hasn't happened in the UK. The better-off have got more wealthy and because of the huge inequality -the highest in Europe - between rich and poor the poor have actually become poorer.
The gap between the Parties has narrowed because all three have accepted the current economic status quo and so have most of us because we are much better off materially and even our 'poor' have the modern equivalent of bread and circuses in the form of flash cars, hi-tech gadgetry and holidays, albeit of a lesser quality than the better-off..
I actually think it's obscene to talk of 'poverty' in the UK. Real poverty is Somalia, Ethiopia, rural India.....not a council flat and benefits in Brixton.

The poor in the UK dont appear to be poorer than they used to be, say in my grandmothers time (my father had tales of woe from his childhood - only one out of his eight siblings could go to school cos there was only one pair of shoes...etc...) and nothing like the hard lives of those you mention in Somalia etc! I think there are more "middle class" in the UK these days which has bridged the gap and IMO are the people who vote and who the politicians tend to target?

Jo xxx
 

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The poor in the UK dont appear to be poorer than they used to be, say in my grandmothers time (my father had tales of woe from his childhood - only one out of his eight siblings could go to school cos there was only one pair of shoes...etc...) and nothing like the hard lives of those you mention in Somalia etc! I think there are more "middle class" in the UK these days which has bridged the gap and IMO are the people who vote and who the politicians tend to target?

Jo xxx
Well, the latest 'buzz-phrase' in the UK seems to be the 'squeezed middle'. This seems to refer to people with house-hold incomes of around £40k a year.
No way a vast fortune.
I think that these class labels matter less and less which is a good thing.
What worries me is that as a society we seem to be 'dumbing down'.
People I viewed as middle-class when I was at school/university had a certain code of behaviour which they adhered to in public if not always in private.
Ditto 'respectable' working-class families.
Reading about the vulgar antics of some of the Royal family and the behaviour of the nouveau-riche all around the world it's clear that these views are seen as very old-fashioned and outdated.
 

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The poor in the UK dont appear to be poorer than they used to be, say in my grandmothers time (my father had tales of woe from his childhood - Jo xxx
That's because all poverty is relative. People are only poor if someone is richer than they.
So...if I were a millionaire and you a billionaire...I would be poor compared to you.
Economists and sociologists use terms such as 'absolute poverty' and 'relative poverty' to clarify the issue but politicians of the left tend to ignore such distinctions.
 

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Well, the latest 'buzz-phrase' in the UK seems to be the 'squeezed middle'. This seems to refer to people with house-hold incomes of around £40k a year.
No way a vast fortune.
I think that these class labels matter less and less which is a good thing.
What worries me is that as a society we seem to be 'dumbing down'.
People I viewed as middle-class when I was at school/university had a certain code of behaviour which they adhered to in public if not always in private.
Ditto 'respectable' working-class families.
Reading about the vulgar antics of some of the Royal family and the behaviour of the nouveau-riche all around the world it's clear that these views are seen as very old-fashioned and outdated.

.....Which brings on the point that I find irritating/interesting/confusing. Is "middle class" a money issue or a behaviour issue!!!!!!! I think of myself as "middle class" (for want of a better description??) it has nothing to do with the money that I may or may not have or how wealthy my family may or may not be. It has to do with my values, my up bringing and the way I live and behave!

Jo xxx
 

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.....Which brings on the point that I find irritating/interesting/confusing. Is "middle class" a money issue or a behaviour issue!!!!!!! I think of myself as "middle class" (for want of a better description??) it has nothing to do with the money that I may or may not have or how wealthy my family may or may not be. It has to do with my values, my up bringing and the way I live and behave!

Jo xxx
When I was a Councillor I had colleagues (Tories or Independents) who were 'titled'....Lady Something-or-other or Major So-and-So. Some of them lived in quite posh houses but were quite hard up! I remember observing one titled guy, a friend of Royalty, who had frayed cuffs on his Tattersall shirt.
They were to my mind middle-class because of their 'culture'...the clothes they wore (tweedy and conservative), the cars they drove (solid but not flashy), their accents and their pastimes and amusements.
My political beliefs then had little in common with theirs but we did share common values. I think that's where we're both coming from.
My childhood was shaped by injunctions not to give the family a 'showing-up'.
Keeping family matters private, not owing money, being clean and sober, paying lip service to religion, being seen and not heard when young, respecting your elders and betters...not unnaturally, for a while I rebelled against all that.
But the older I get the more I regret the loss of many of these values, hypocritical as they might seem...after all, isn't hypocrisy the glue that holds society together?;)
 

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It seems to me that the parties, in a desperate bid to attract EVERYONE, have sold themselves and just agree with everyone and everything. They've become an amalgam!! That coupled with the fact that from what I can see, behind the scenes, they're all pretty much run by big businesses, and dressed up by PR companies! It makes a mockery of "democracy". Its simply who can say the right things, in the right way and look the prettiest while saying it!

There!! Thats my naive view on politics

Jo xxx
I think you've pretty much hit the nail on the head. Getting votes has becomes their main preoccupation, and nobody dares say anything controversial in case they upset potential voters. They must get elected at all costs and by promising everything to everyone, end up saying nothing.

They have taken politics out of politics, if that makes sense.

At least when Labour Chancellor Denis Healey said in 1974 "We will squeeze property speculators till their pips squeak", you knew what you were voting for (or against)!
 

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.....Which brings on the point that I find irritating/interesting/confusing. Is "middle class" a money issue or a behaviour issue!!!!!!! I think of myself as "middle class" (for want of a better description??) it has nothing to do with the money that I may or may not have or how wealthy my family may or may not be. It has to do with my values, my up bringing and the way I live and behave!

Jo xxx
It's a made-up expression and can mean anything you want it to.

When the concept of social classes was first defined, after the Industrial Revolution, the working-class were those who had to work for a living (because they had no other way to survive), and the ruling class those who didn't (basically the landed gentry) who lived off the income from their property.

Then over the years it all got mixed up, working class people started owning property, dukes and earls had to get "proper jobs" ... the term 'middle class' came into use to describe those people in the middle; first economically, and later by their values and behaviour. It is pretty meaningless these days.

So call yourself what you like.
 
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