Saturday, January 19, 2008

Taking Good Care Of Their Own

This is the post that almost got buried by all the fuss surrounding the exclusion of Alberto Ruiz Gallardón from the Partido Popular (PP) election lists. The PP had planned for this week to see the triumphant presentation of their star signing for the elections, Manuel Pizarro. The former president of the electricity company Endesa has been drafted into the campaign as the economy has become an issue and the PP leadership realised that with Rodrigo Rato deciding to take more interest in his own personal economy they needed someone who at least understands the meaning of the word.

Pizarro was a key player in the prolonged, and very tedious, takeover saga that has surrounded Endesa in the last few years. It was he who led the rejection of a bid from Gas Natural, with the active support of a PP leadership determined not to see the company fall into the hands of the “foreigners” from Cataluña! When the foreigners from the German company E.ON came along suddenly the attitude to a buyout changed. The company spent millions on the campaign to the benefit of shareholders including a certain Manuel Pizarro who had the immense good fortune of purchasing a significant batch of shares shortly before the takeover moves became public.

Of course, we don’t want any of that leftist nonsense about how these millions could have been better spent on propping up some of the company’s crumbling supply infrastructure. Next thing we know they’ll be claiming that electricity supply is a public service. In any case, should Pizarro ever form part of a PP government we can be sure that appropriate price adjustments will be approved so that the company can recover this money from its customers. It’s probably unlikely he will be found pumping the flesh on the streets of Barcelona during the campaign, given the disdain he showed for those who dared to complain about the lack of electricity in the city last summer. The PP has abandoned the idea of trying to win over voters in Cataluña anyway.

The whole Pizarro story highlights the PP’s attitude to the economy. Pizarro is a good friend of Jose Maria Aznar and it was Aznar’s administration that enthusiastically pursued the version of crony capitalism that Pizarro has done so well from. In short the policy consists of mouthing platitudes about the invisible hand of the free market whilst ensuring that all the previously publicly owned companies are run by your mates.

So this is the man the PP presents to us as being a model to follow. Already he has started giving advice, and the mileuristas and those dedicating 60% of their income to their mortgage are already looking for their opportunity to spend less and save more….when they win the lottery or become president of Endesa. Don Manuel is showing all the signs of being one of those people for whom the Spanish word “prepotente” was invented as he dispenses wisdom to people whose lives he knows nothing about. Even further into orbit was Esperanza Aguirre who described him as the candidate of the workers and the young, presumably on the grounds that he is neither? The PP seems convinced he is a major asset, I suspect he could turn into something of a loose cannon unless there is someone who has the nerve to tell him to shut up occasionally. Should make the campaign livelier.


Colin said...

Graeme, I get the impression she's not on your Xmas card list but she must be on somebody's . . .
"Last February 4, Esperanza Aguirre was appointed Dame of the British Order. She is the first Spanish women to have received this title."

So, what did she do right? As opposed to extreme right.

Colin said...

Ah, I've discovered why you don't like her . . ."Aguirre, acompañada por el consejero de Educación, Luis Peral, presentó la web junto con el ministro de Educación Primaria y Secundaria del Reino Unido, Stephen Twigg, en el colegio British Council de Madrid, donde la presidenta estudió cinco años. "Aquí aprendí cosas que tuvieron luego una enorme importancia en mi vida posterior", dijo, como "los principios y los valores de la enseñanza británica, el espíritu deportivo, el sentido de la honradez y la verdad, el trabajo y la dedicación, y la sinceridad que me han acompañado toda mi vida".

She's just too British!

Graeme said...

You've found me out Colin, it's true that I'm not a big fan of Espe. I'm not sure about the theory of her being too British though. The quote included in your second comment would be breathtaking if it wasn't for the fact that those of us in Madrid are accustomed to there being a certain gap between Espe's words and reality. Even so, just taking the Gallardón case as a single example, her claim to believe in the values of fair play and honesty is enough to provoke hysterical laughter.