Mark Nayler

What Pedro Sanchez should really be apologising for

Spain has approved a pointless amendment to its constitution, replacing the word ‘handicapped’ with the phrase ‘persons with a disability’. Not only did Socialist prime minister Pedro Sanchez, who never says sorry for genuine oversights, apologise for the delay in making this happen, but he also announced that he regards himself as having thereby paid a ‘moral

Why we need a biography of philosopher Bryan Magee

When I was a philosophy student at King’s College London in my early twenties, I came across a book called Confessions of a Philosopher by Bryan Magee. A history of western philosophy told through the story of the author’s relationship with it, it opens with a three- or four-year old Magee trying to catch himself

The unlikely new kingmakers in Spanish politics

Depending on how you look at the result of yesterday’s general election in Spain, either everyone won or no one won. It had been called five months early by outgoing Socialist prime minister Pedro Sanchez, who hoped to block a resurgent Spanish right after its emphatic victories in regional elections on 28 May. The vote

How to survive summer in Andalusia

Early on in his biography of the novelist Kingsley Amis, Zachary Leader quotes a hilariously misanthropic letter Amis wrote to the poet Philip Larkin, one of his closest friends. Amis, at the time in his early thirties, was complaining about a three-month stint he and his family – including his son Martin, then five years

Real Madrid and Barcelona go to war over their links to Franco

A match-fixing scandal centred on Barcelona FC has spilled over into politics, showing that decades-old divisions die hard in Spain. Triggered by the so-called ‘Negreira Case’, which concerns payments of 6.7 million euros (about £5.9 million) allegedly made by Barca to a company linked to a Spanish refereeing official between 2001-18, Real Madrid and their

The misleading politicisation of Spanish bullfighting

Bullfighting is once again in the spotlight in Spain. This time, it’s the focus of a clash between the country’s Socialist-led government and the Fundación del Toro de Lidia (FTL), a non-profit organisation that defends and promotes the practice.  The row kicked off last year because bullfighting – known as the ‘corrida de toros’, or ‘running of

Has the Indyref ruling complicated Catalonian separatism?

Last week’s Supreme Court ruling on Scottish independence will offer scant encouragement to separatists in Catalonia. The crux of the judgment – that Holyrood’s devolved powers do not stretch as far as being able to hold an independence referendum without consent from Westminster – also highlights the problem for Catalan secessionists, who have yet to

Will Catalonia ever achieve independence from Spain?

Catalonia’s pro-independence government almost imploded last week. A major disagreement between its two governing parties occurred after one half of the coalition – hardline secessionist party Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia) – proposed a no-confidence vote against president Pere Aragones for not pushing the secessionist cause hard enough. Aragones, a member of the more

The Queen’s funeral and the row over Spain’s exiled former king

Juan Carlos, Spain’s exiled former king, will be present at Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in London on Monday – and the Spanish government is furious. Socialist prime minister Pedro Sanchez has reportedly tried to stop the ex-monarch from attending and a spokesperson for Podemos, the coalition’s junior partner, has described him as a ‘criminal on

Europe still hasn’t learned from its lockdown debacles

In his fascinating interview in the current issue of The Spectator, Rishi Sunak revealed the black hole at the centre of the British government’s 2020 lockdown policies. The former Chancellor claims that two crucial things were lacking at the time of the lockdowns – political candour and a ‘grown up conversation’ between Boris Johnson’s government

Catalonia’s leader’s plan to follow the SNP’s playbook

Catalonia’s president Pere Aragones has wanted to win independence from Madrid ever since since joining the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) as a teenager. Despite the obstacles standing in his way, he now seeks inspiration from two votes held in the UK: the Scottish independence referendum and Brexit. Aragones resumed negotiations with Spain’s socialist prime minister Pedro

Spain’s bizarre mask policies

Spain has a reputation for having some of the strictest policies on masks in Europe, with the public even encouraged to wear face-coverings outside. Yet today, Spain’s Health Ministry announced that the number of coronavirus cases has continued to rise, with 9,848 cases counted over the past two days – prompting those who live in

The deserved winners and big losers of Spain’s general election

Spain’s general election yesterday – the third in four years – revealed a deserved winner and a big loser, as well as signalling the start of a lengthy coalition-forming process. The country’s five main political parties performed more or less exactly as the polls had suggested they would. Pedro Sánchez’s centre-left Socialist party (the PSOE)

How Spain’s socialist leader is winning over reluctant voters

Spaniards didn’t ask for their new prime minister, but it seems that they’re starting to like him. The most recent polls reveal that Pedro Sánchez’s Socialists, who now make up Spain’s minority government, are the most popular party in the country. Less than a month ago, the PSOE slumbered in third place, behind the then-ruling

The Catalan secessionists are back

After almost five months without a government, Catalonia finally has a new leader. Quim Torra won a second-round investiture vote this week to take the helm of the region’s separatist government. Unfortunately for Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, Torra’s pledge is the same as his exiled predecessor’s: to pursue an independent Catalonia. The Catalan secessionists

Carles Puigdemont’s arrest flares tensions in Catalonia

Remember the Catalonia issue? Up until a couple of days ago, you would have been forgiven for supposing it had all just magically been cleared up. But on Sunday, former pro-independence Catalan president Carles Puigdemont was detained by German police while on his way back from Finland to Belgium, where he has been in voluntary

Mariano Rajoy must go

Spaniards want a new prime minister. That’s the conclusion to be drawn from the latest opinion poll carried out by Metroscopia for the Spanish daily El Pais, which revealed that 85 per cent of the electorate think someone else should have a go at leading the conservative Popular Party. Long-time supporters of the PP are

The stage is set for the Spanish government’s worst nightmare

It’ll be a tense Christmas in the Spanish’s PM’s household this year. Yesterday, in an election called by Mariano Rajoy last month, Catalan pro-independence parties gained a slim majority in the region’s parliament: Together for Catalonia, the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and the Popular Unity Party (CUP) look set to have jointly won 70

Catalonia braces itself for another independence fight

Two months on, the outcome of the messy sequence of events triggered by Catalonia’s independence referendum remains unclear: neither side has secured its desired result and, in their own ways, both have behaved badly. How did Spain arrive at this bitter impasse, and what will happen next in the Catalonia saga? If the optimism of Mariano Rajoy,