Much has been made of Esperanza Aguirre's declarations last week in favour of the ultra right wing Tea Party movement. Leaving to one side the xenophobic and fanatical nature of those who believe that Barack Obama is a foreign islamist/communist terrorist, Aguirre praised the movement as being about lower taxes and "more nation".
Whilst some claimed that these declarations implied that Aguirre wanted to import the movement to Spain, others pointed out that there is really no need. Not only does Spain have a larger lunatic right wing than it really deserves, many of its members also have television and radio licences. To the extent that they are even beginning to fight each other as the market share for ranting loonies in areas like Madrid is now divided between 4-5 contenders who all seek prime shouting time.
The only PP politician whose declarations I have much time for, Manuel Cobo, has of course pointed out that saying you're an economic liberal and acting like one is not necessarily the same thing. It looks like this difference could be emphasised quite sharply as the Gürtel corruption case has now incorporated the investigation into the Fundescam foundation allegedly used by the Madrid PP to disguise much of its expenditure during Aguirre's election campaigns.
The issue is not just one of illegal funding for the party, or even of underlining the very close links between the Madrid PP and the Gürtel companies. The money that went into Fundescam came from companies that have also benefitted from contracts handed out by Aguirre's administration, something that would fit nicely with the clientilism that is really much closer to the heart of the way Espe's government works than any notion of free market liberalism.