“Eurozone crosses Rubicon as Portugal’s anti-euro Left banned from power” screamed Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in The Daily Telegraph on Friday last week. The Telegraph even followed up with a piece about why Portugal’s situation was a threat to everyone else. Everyone from Daniel Hannan to Owen Jones jumped on it, and even some sensible folks like Jamie Bartlett and Glyn Moody tweeted about the Evans-Pritchard piece.
The only problem was it wasn’t actually the Eurozone or the EU behaving badly at all. They’d not said anything. Ok, Portuguese President Aníbal Cavaco Silva’s words were unwise, but as Chris Hanretty pointed out in an excellent rebuttal, he was asking the largest political party to try to form a government, and that’s his call as the President.
I’m no specialist in the workings of Portuguese politics, but I know and trust some folks online who are – people like Rui Tavares and Filipe S Henriques, and neither of them vote right. So what did they say?
What they said also seems to actually be happening – it looks like Pedro Passos Coelho, the nominated Prime Minister, will not be able to put together a government that will pass a confidence vote, and hence the left will try instead. Which is exactly as it should work. This might not be a recipe for strong and effective government (as João Da Costa also points out) , but it for sure is not a coup.
So that would stop all the fuss you’d think?
No, of course not! Why let facts get in the way when you’re having fun berating the EU? Just this morning Douglas Carswell weighs in with this:
Douglas, have you not paid any attention to any of the analysis of what has happened since The Telegraph published on Friday?
Meanwhile this from Hannan on the weekend is also priceless:
Perhaps Daniel, there is not actually a coup going on and that’s why the BBC is not reporting it?
Then to cap it all Portuguese newspaper Público publishes a piece taking the mick out of British EU sceptics for falling for the whole thing, and others on Twitter have a field day:
(that latter picture is from the Lisbon Marathon as far as I am aware)
Meanwhile, Evans-Pritchard, never normally one to hold back on Twitter, has been silent since the day his piece was published. Maybe he, unlike Hannan and Carswell, realises he now cannot defend the indefensible?
Anyway folks, welcome to Britain’s post-fact politics! Why let what’s actually happening determine your view when you can use prejudice and confirmation bias instead?
[UPDATE 27.10.2015, 1745]
So Farage has gone and topped the lot of them, calling the Portuguese President’s decision (that he explains wrongly anyway) the latest example of “the modern day implementation of the Brezhnev Doctrine”. EUSSR! Yaaaaah!
Anyone who lived through the Scottish independence referendum will recognise the strategy. Repeat a lie – the bigger the better – often enough and it becomes an accepted truth. The onus then is turned on the people telling the truth to disprove the lie.
Let me thank you, mr.Worth, for trying to set the record straight. Yes, some people are making a meal out of this , just watch the speech Farge gave in the Euro-Parliament, intencionally ignoring that the Euro-Socialists, including Martin Schulz himself, came out in support of “their guy”, António Costa, as the Euro-Populists, gathered in Madrid, also rooted for “their guy”. You quoted AEP from the Telegraph, let me point out that a couple of days later, in the same Telegraph, Johnston was doing a scare-piece over the refugee crisis, and casually stated that “a minority Syriza-style Gov has taken power” ! So, one day, there is a right wing coup, the next day, beware the Bolsheviks are coming. This just might be a very good time for the British public to question the motivation , and even the competence of their press. All they had to do was pick up the phone, and a host of english-speaking Portuguese pundits would be delighted to answer any questions they could have. Full disclosure, i work for the Congresso Democrático das Alternativas, a non-partisan , left-leaning organisation, but my words do not bind them in any way.
The reaction of the UK Press, UK talking heads and UK Politicos to the situation in Portugal is symptomatic of the problem British Society has within itself about Europe and/or the Rest of the World. It can be summarised in the lyrics of that old Flanders & Swann song, “The English” – http://bit.ly/1Gv4hUP
The latent xenophobia, latent but omnipresent for centuries, has since the late ’80’s become increasingly shrill and omnipresent particularly with the rise of 24 rolling news and the internet. Doubtless, it does reflect the thoughts of many on “the sceptred isle” who, irrespective of their political persuasion, are “little Englanders” at heart. “Johnny Foreigner can’t do it as well as we can!” This is oft-evidenced by the comments and behaviour of the UK masses who decamp to the Costas, the Algarve and the Canaries for their summer fix of sun, booze and s…!!! Compounding this are those who depart the UK to live in “British colonial-type” ghettoes in these same countries. Often living there for decades, they make no effort to learn the language or get to know the culture and society in which they choose to live. They then proceed to compare their new abode with “home”, lamenting that while the “people are nice, we don’t do this or that at home”!
It is interesting that during the current “interregnum”, life in Portugal has continued and, in fact, is quieter with a caretaker government in place. Only those relatively few, who are animated by politics, have been exercised by current events. The (written) 1976 Constitution and the Constitution Court will eventually prevail. Meantime, for the general public, last week-end’s Benfica vs Sporting match was of more import. Certain twitter and reddit feeds on the Portuguese “Interwebs” have enjoyed a chuckle at the “storm” brewed up by the UK “Tabloid” and “not so Tabloid” media.
It is interesting that, in recent monitoring of the press media in Spain, Romania, Portugal and France, it is very clear that there is extensive ongoing interest on political, social and economic issues in the UK. A few week’s ago, Le Figaro had three pages of articles and comment about the Tory conference in Manchester in its print edition. Would that the UK media and press could shy away from populism and “tabloid shock and awe” and get down to real unbiased accurate reporting of facts and matters pertaining to its closest neighbours. It would be nice to see the “English” becoming more realistic and appreciative of their neighbours, although, in reality, we are more likely to see Chinese-manufactured pink airborne porcines over the “White Cliffs” before that happens.