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Established in Palma of Majorca in 1962

Sunday-Monday 23-24 November, 2014 Edition #4511

Christmas messages

Our Christmas Special will be appearing on Sunday 7 December so if you want to send family and friends on the island your special Christmas message send it by November 25 to

Editorial: What a year!

By Jason Moore

I am counting the days until 2015 gets underway because it is going to be a fantastic year, according to the Balearic government. Now, we are going to have an economic growth rate of two percent, which is very respectable in these hard times. The government is going to cut taxes meaning that an estimated 60 million euros will be ploughed back into the local economy. And we are going to have a record year for tourism, as well, according to the Balearic government with millions of tourists coming to our shores thanks to the strength of sterling. Also, next year the Conservative Party in Britain has promised to give expatriates the vote for life, ending the 15 year rule discrimination. According to Prime Minister David Cameron the British economy is also on track next year for a record year with levels of growth far higher than those of the other G8 countries. So what a fantastic year we have ahead of us. Oh, sorry I also forget to mention that next year there are also elections in the Balearics and Britain!

Majorca Snaps


Anne Mcgregor sent:beautiful pinewalk in Puerto Pollensa.

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Forget out-UKIPing UKIP – play up the plus side of immigration instead


By Hugh Ash

According to my doctor, there are two types of cholesterol: the goody variety, HDL, which makes us purr like a Rolls-Royce, and naughty LDL, which clogs up the blood vessels of those with a lusty appetite for animal fats.
   Likewise, there are two, principle types of immigration: talented, educated incomers, who help make the host nation richer, and those at the fag-end of the earning scale, who do the low-skilled, heavy-lifting.
   Like it or not, every post-modern economy needs a dollop of each, from degree-burnished graduates to oil the gears of industry, the professions and City, to those who’ll serve minimum-wage hard time in jobs beneath the dignity of work-shy locals, like the 100 Hungarians to be employed by sandwich-maker Greencore in Northampton.
   But how much of each commodity is tolerable is the question driving politicians across the industrialised West to distraction.
   In the USA a debate rages about President Obama’s call to decriminalise ‘wetback’ illegals – ‘wetbacks’ because they crossed the Rio Grande to reach their promised land – while Europe wrestles with porous borders inflicted by the Schengen Agreement.
   Meanwhile, Calais’s mayor chides Britain for having a benefit system so generous that’s it turned the drab Channel port into a magnet for stateless Asians and Africans, looking to hitch an illicit ride to Dover.
   Hardly surprising, then, immigration has become the most emotive of buzzwords and a dark spectre haunting the UK’s 2015 general election.
   Predictably, it once again played into the UK Independence Party’s clutches in Thursday’s Rochester by-election, when Tory defector, Mark Reckless, reclaimed on to his old seat to become the archly anti-EU party’s second MP, after Douglas Carswell held Clacton.
   Whether Nigel Farage’s purple bandwagon gathers further momentum by next 7 May is a matter of intense debate. What’s clear, though, is UKIP’s anti-politics populism strikes a chord with a section of the electorate heartily disaffected with the snotty Westminster elite’s belief it rules by divine right.
   Meanwhile, as Clacton and now Rochester has proven, even rabid Tory Euro sceptics are realising it’s a waste of hustings time trying to outstrip UKIP’s Little Englander agenda.
   And Labour’s latest wheeze, newly unveiled by shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, is one of the feeblest attempts yet at playing to the gallery’s fears about Johnny Foreigner.  
   After months of inertia and Ed Miliband’s ratings plummeting like a thermometer outside an igloo, the party that opened the floodgates to unfettered immigration is now calling for Britain’s border police to be boosted by 1,000 extra personnel.
   This, says Cooper, can be funded by charging a £10 ‘entrance fee’ to incomers. Except – as the Home Office was delighted to enlighten her – thanks to the European Union’s visa-waiver scheme, the moolah raised will hire just 59 immigration cops.
   Similarly inane is Labour’s plan to stop migrants claiming benefits until they’ve been in Britain for two years, not the current ceiling of three months.
   This, of course, would require an EU treaty change, by which time piglets will take off from Heathrow’s tenth runway, alongside the usual procession of Jumbos.  What gets forgotten, overlooked and ignored, however, is that the great immigration debate in Britain is several centuries old and every wave – from Farage’s French Huguenot, lace-making ancestors to Irish navvy canal-builders, Jewish tailors and West Indian NHS recruits – met with vehement hostility before they melted into the fabric of British society.
   Even Enoch Powell, UKIP’s spiritual godfather and best remembered for his 1968 anti-immigration ‘rivers of blood’ speech, once played a leading role in wooing Commonwealth citizens to settle in the UK to fill staff shortages in the health and public transport sectors.
   Today, UKIP is banging Powell’s drum and giving a disingenuous, one-dimensional picture of greedy, grasping, benefit-scrounging foreigners – of which there are undoubtedly an untold number – for whom Britain is a land of give and take…the nation gives and they take.
   And this demi-truth is resonating, especially in deprived areas where immigration has had a detrimental impact on housing, schooling and jobs, because successive governments have serially failed for decades to heed the warning signs.
   Only now has their folly been rumbled and the three major parties – that’s if the Lib-Dems still qualify as one – are playing catch-up, though they don’t stand a snowball in Hades’ chance of out-UKIPing UKIP.
   However, obscured by Farage’s scare tactics is a multi-faceted image of immigration, one in which business cries out for talent that can only be sources from abroad and industries, like farming, which needs minimum-wage labour to bring in crops that defy automated harvesting.
   The recent report from University College London (UCL), then, makes uneasy reading for the anti-EU, anti-immigration lobby, because rather than draining Britain’s exchequer, European migrants made a net contribution of £20bn to it between 2000 and 2011.
   If there is a downside, don’t blame the Czech nannies, Spanish nurses or Polish plumbers drawn to the UK because of high unemployment in their own states, but non-EU migrants who, according to UCL, cost Britain £120bn in 1995-2011.
   Even this huge sum, though, should be put into context, because it’s dwarfed by UK nationals, who cost the country £591bn over the same time frame.
   So, at the risk of sounding neo-liberal, I suggest that much of what Farage peddles is selective twaddle as he and his mavericks ride a wave of xenophobia on a balloon of hot air.
   That in no way diminishes the glaring fact that the putrid edifice of the EU – not its peoples – is in drastic need of reform and there should be no further empire-building by an unelected commission and its clique of Europrats, who mainly serve no useful purpose but their own.
   Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to renegotiate Britain’s terms of EU membership and put them to a referendum in 2017 should he be re-elected next spring.
   If Europe’s leaders ignore his rational arguments Britain will quit, UKIP will be cock-a-hoop and parties beyond the EU’s fringe – especially France’s far-Right National Front – will be further embolden to copycat Farage.
   So UKIP’s second by-election win on the spin spells trouble not just for the UK’s political elite, but for all those at the helm of every nation in Europe.
   Brussels take note…and beware.

To read more of Hugh Ash’s comments, follow his award-winning, online blog – Views From The Mallorca Pier – at

Seven Days

Sports tourism and winter flights
Is sports tourism the solution to Majorca’s off-season tourism woes? Frank Leavers in his Confidential column believed it was. Noting that over 2,000 participants are expected to take part in the early-season Majorca International Football Tournament for security personnel in Santa Ponsa in May, Frank stressed the potential benefit of “using sport as a magnet to draw visitors to the island during the spring, winter and autumn months”. Needless to say, however, there remains the issue of winter flights and indeed of their cost, and so on Thursday it was reported that “it is not only the British who are complaining about a shortage and the cost of flights this winter, the Majorcans are furious with airline bosses who have increased the cost of their fares for the Christmas period”. Sylvia Riera, the president of the Balearics travel agents’ association said that “every year we are more isolated because there are fewer flights and we are paying more”. By way of an aside to this, but reflecting the strain on wallets, it was reported on Wednesday that spend this year on the Christmas El Gordo lottery in the Balearics is anticipated to be below that of many parts of Spain.
In a Letter to the Editor on Friday, E. Weldon from Scotland was clear about the problem. “The winter flight fiasco is a pain!” The letter went on to say that there was now little chance of visiting in early December when the Christmas lights are switched on in Palma and to emphasise that Palma “could be sold easily as a weekend shopping getaway”. In the same Friday edition, however, Andrew Ede in his Week in Tourism column, noted that Palma - the city rather than the resort - is “enjoying record levels of off-season hotel occupancy”, representing “a rise in interest in Palma as a weekend-break destination”. In addition, it was reported that national government has launched its “Shopping Tourism Plan 2015” with a promotional budget of just under three million euros.

Up-market Majorca
The Sant Francesc Hotel Singular in Palma, we learned, is one of two new hotels to be added to the exclusive portfolio of the web agency club, Small Luxury Hotels of the World. But might a growing trend to push Palma and indeed Majorca further up-market be a double-edged sword? Jason Moore in his Thursday Viewpoint flagged up the potential danger and of Majorca pricing itself out of the market for many visiting tourists. “Up-market is all very well, but we need the visitor numbers as well. Price in tourism is king, and we should be careful.” There was also something of a warning for Majorca in Friday’s front-page headline which read “Dubai takes Majorca crown”. Dubai has overtaken Palma as the leading destination for passengers travelling from Manchester Airport, “for many years the gateway to Majorca package holidays”. Palma had not just been been overtaken, the number of passengers from Manchester had declined by 16,000.

A new airline for Majorca?
Still on flights, Tom Leeming, whose letter to The Bulletin on 8 November regarding the lack of adequate flights had received many complimentary comments on our Facebook page, yesterday set out a proposal for the “formation of an airline based at Palma airport for the purpose of providing direct flights to the UK or other European destinations”. Tom referred to a feasibility study that had been conducted a couple of years ago and considered the complexities of establishing a new airline, not least the raising of capital. But he suggested that “with a consortium of government, hoteliers, private individuals and whoever else is likely to benefit from (an) increase in winter tourism” the raising of capital might be achieved.

Michelin star for Simply Fosh
Away from flights and tourism (though not perhaps not entirely), President Bauzá spoke of his pride in the awarding of new Michelin stars to Majorcan restaurants. One of these restaurants was Simply Fosh in Palma, run by top British chef Marc Fosh, who is also of course a regular contributor to The Bulletin (you will find his column elsewhere in today’s edition).
The president’s pride was thus shared by us at the paper and by Marc also, who praised his team at Simply Fosh for its hard work and dedication. And on food and drink, Andrew Valente reminisced about the times fifty years ago when “ordering a red wine in Majorca was easy”, “you simply asked for a Franja Roja”. Andrew went on to explain that Franja Roja is now available under several other names but that the main one is from José L. Ferrer, “the man who put Majorcan wines on the map when he founded the winery in 1931”.

Opposition to oil prospecting
The possibility of prospecting for oil off the shores of the Balearics has not gone away and, as a tourism industry source was quoted on Thursday, “the last thing a visiting tourist wants to see is an oil rig on the horizon in our beautiful blue seas”. President Bauzá, who has been drawn into conflict with national government on the matter, made it clear once more where he stood: “We are not going to be silenced. We do not want oil and gas exploration in our waters”.

Expat voting rights
And finally, the vexed issue of voting rights for UK expatriates resurfaced during the week. Geoffrey Clinton Brown, Conservative MP for the Cotswolds and a visitor to Deya in the summer, was reported as saying that he is seeking an abolition of the 15-year rule which prevents UK citizens from voting in general elections if they have lived abroad for more than 15 years and indeed is also seeking to allow expats who are disenfranchised in this way to be able to vote in the 2015 election.

Balearic economy on course to grow by two percent

Balearic leader Jose Ramon Bauza, centre.

The leader of the Balearic government,  Jose Ramon Bauza, said that his administration´s  austerity drive had worked and that the local economy would grow by two percent next year.
“We believe that we are one of the most reformist regional government in the country. We have reformed the local economy, cut costs and now we are enjoying the benefits,” Bauza told a meeting of business  leaders in Palma yesterday.
“Our levels of economic growth have not come about as a result of good fortune, but because of hard work and sacrifice,” he said.
“Our economy is on course to grow by one percent this year, rising to two percent in 2015.”
But he said that there was still plenty of work to do ahead. “We must continue our fight to reduce costs and keep our economic recovery on track,” he added.
“We are at a decisive point for our economic future at the moment. We are planning tax cuts for next year which will put an additional 60 million euros in the pockets of local residents.” The Balearic President went on to say that they were working closely with local companies to ensure that the economic revival continued.

Calls for ban on term time holidays to be scrapped

The ban on term-time holidays from school should be scrapped so head teachers can take a “common-sense approach”, say council leaders.
Since September last year, local authorities in Britain have been obliged to fine parents who take children out of school for unauthorised absences.
But the Local Government Association says the new rules do not recognise the complexities of family life and also the cost of family holidays to top destinations such as Majorca. A Department for Education spokeswoman said heads still had flexibility.
Until last September, heads could grant up to 10 days’ leave a year for family holidays in “special circumstances”.
But now head teachers can grant absence outside school holidays only in “exceptional circumstances”.

The week that was

By Andrew Ede

Of extraordinary people - part one

Majorcan and Spanish names can be extraordinarily long, though one would have thought it doubtful that any Spaniard would have been able to match or beat Majorca’s great non-Majorcan Archduke, the Austrian Louis Salvador Maria Joseph John Baptist Dominic Rainer Ferdinand Charles Zenobius Anthony. So great was the Archduke that they named him twelve times. But Zenobius? Where did that come from? An episode of “Doctor Who”? But the Spaniards don’t dabble in long names for nothing, and no one, simply no one can compare with María del Rosario Cayetana Paloma Alfonsa Victoria Eugenia Fernanda Teresa Francisca de Paula Lourdes Antonia Josefa Fausta Rita Castor Dorotea Santa Esperanza Fitz-James Stuart, Silva, Falcó y Gurtubay. Try putting that lot on the back of a football shirt.
It would seem that the now ex-Duchess of Alba didn’t have some distant cousinly relationship with the Archduke’s Habsburg-Lorraine mob, which would have made them about the only dynasty with which she didn’t have some form of relationship. Here was someone who acquired titles like other people collect stamps or beer mats. Duchess of Berwick? Don’t mind if I do, she might have uttered. But a side-effect of having to support so many names and titles was the strain it placed on her physically. She had been wearing her own death mask of botox and several layers of fast-drying cement for many a year.
When they made the Duchess, they broke the mould, only for her to remould herself later in life. Sadly though, the mould is now truly broken. They just won’t make royals as extraordinarily bats as she was.

Of extraordinary people - part two

Some people are born into extraordinariness and others have it thrust it upon them. Among the latter we now have to include the “team” at the Balearics Education Ministry, a team so extraordinary that it has undergone Fergie-style reforms over its comparatively short life and has managed to leak political goals with a defence as porous as one made up of a handful of Duchesses of Alba.
Team manager, Sir Alex José Ramón Ferguson Bauzá (short name), informed us last week that throughout the current legislature his “team” at the ministry has been extraordinary, which is quite a feat as Bauzá rotation has meant that the team crossing the green white line of teacher protests has undergone constant substitutions, transfers and relegations. Or it would be quite a feat if it weren’t for the fact that the team has been extraordinarily useless.
As though having to justify another 7-0 drubbing at the post-match press conference, Bauzá adopted the Wenger defence. He hadn’t seen anything. Certainly nothing to suggest that there had been any problem with applying TIL trilingual teaching. Yep, he really said this on IB3 the other evening. There has been “no problem” with its application. And with this absence of problem made clear, he was able to confirm that he will indeed be seeking an extension to his contract in May. “An eight-year project term is needed to consolidate all the work that has been started”, such as consolidating the chaos of TIL or the divisions inflicted on a party, electorate and society, all of whom were under the impression they had appointed someone quite different in 2011. Come spring, and the fans may disappoint José Ramón and thwart his ambitions for eight years of extraordinariness.

Opaque transparency

The lamentably under-named María Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría Antón, the number two to Rajoy and the one who wears the trousers in his cabinet, was in Palma last week. José Ramón, whose stock with the PP politburo has lowered since the heady days when he was eyeing up a nice gig for himself in Madrid, was able to remind HQ of the great efforts he has made in obeying orders. His government ranks number two in terms of complying measures to rid regional administrations of pesky government agencies and personnel.
 The Balearics can boast 92.7% compliance, whatever this is supposed to mean. And had there been anyone who had wished to seek clarity, there was none on offer.
Side by side they sat at their press conference, indulging themselves in mutual congratulation and not a single question was permitted. It was a joint lecture rather than a press conference.
In addition to their cutting away of enough deadwood to keep the biomass furnaces burning an alternative energy source for years to come, J.R. and S.S. were able to mutually congratulate themselves on how very much more transparent they have been making their respective governments. So transparent that ... er, er, could we ask a question? No you can’t.

Appealing at Christmas

One of the great advantages of Christmas in Majorca compared to the UK is that we don’t have to put up with Noel Edmonds (at least I assume he still lurks somewhere on telly wearing his new Christmas jumper). Another massive advantage is that we can ignore bloody Band Aid.
When Saint Bob, now almost as old as the Duchess and seemingly having the same hairstylist as her, is next shambling along the streets of old Deya, where the filthy rich rub shoulders with the slightly less than filthy rich, he might wonder if parts of Majorca know Christmas time at all on account of the very many who can no more aspire to filthy richness than they can to a reasonable and civilised standard of living. The report from the Foundation for Studies in Applied Economics which was published last week painted a sorry picture of the massive inequality that exists in Majorca and of municipalities where this inequality is greatest and average incomes edge uncomfortably low enough to be almost on a par with the lowest in the whole of Spain. Son Servera, we learned, has the lowest average - less than 15,000 euros per capita per annum and one of the highest levels of inequality (1% of the population has 15% of the town’s wealth).
And there won’t be snow in Majorca this Christmas time, because there very rarely is. But say a prayer, pray for the other ones, at Christmas time it’s hard, but when you’re having fun. Please give to the Majorcan children’s toy appeals.

Has the Mayor of Palma had his revenge over his foes after being snubbed?

Mateo Isern.

Politics is a dirty business especially on the Palma City Council where a major political storm has blown up over the rubbish collection service.
The judiciary are now investigating alleged irregularities in the contract for the rubbish collection service in Palma awarded 15 years ago. Nothing new, perhaps you would say after all the recent political scandals, but on this occasion the outgoing Mayor of Palma, Mateo Isern, is being accused of orchestrating the judicial inquiry as an act of revenge after he was not named as the official candidate for Mayor of Palma for the centre-right Partido Popular at the next local elections in May. Revenge is a dish best served cold and the person who was Vice President of the Palma Rubbish Collection Service (EMAYA) 15 years was Jose Maria Rodriguez, who has been accused by some of snubbing Isern in favour of another candidate for the post of candidate for Mayor. The intrigue is quite baffling but the gloves are certainly off within the ruling Partido Popular in Palma. Rodriguez is now the General Secretary of the Partido Popular in Palma and is said to be no fan of Isern, eventhough he is still considered to be a popular candidate. Rodriguez has been accused of plotting the downfall of Isern, who announced that he was retiring from politics, last month after he was not named as candidate. But now political commentators are saying that Isern has had his revenge.
Rodriguez has called an urgent meeting of the Palma branch of the Partido Popular to discuss Isern´s alleged disloyalty. This meeting will take place on Wednesday. And the whole affair could go even further because there have been calls for the President of the Balearic government and leader of the Partido Popular,  Jose Ramon Bauza, to get involved. It all comes at a time when the Partido Popular are behind in the polls and there is speculation that they could be ousted from office both in Palma and in the Balearic government in the next local elections. This scandal is not helping matters, either. Isern has denied any wrongdoing and Rodriguez has said there were no irregularities.

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