My last ten years in Spain have been dominated by politics both local and national. In 2007 I was elected as a Councillor with the CDP in Parcent.  (Democratic coalition of Parcent). We gained control of the Town Hall just before the crisis, when the building boom in Spain was at its height. This had an impact in the building plans for the village which I have written about on this blog (Sierra de Carrascal) but speculative building projects were going ahead all over Spain. People were being encouraged to buy hugely overpriced properties on the promise it was an unfailing investment, lent money they could ill afford, put savings into unsecured share schemes that went bust with the banks. The Town Halls and Regional Governments were spending income they didn’t have, encouraging the building boom and profiting from it (both legally and illicitly) and building up massive levels of unsustainable debt. In 2007 we could see this happening, immediately acted to reduce our Town Hall spending and huge inherited debt and in a short time managed to balance our municipal budget. However most carried on spending, ignoring all warnings and behaved as if the party would never end.
When the crash did hit Spain and the banks were proved to be not just badly run but guilty of fraud, ordinary families took the hit of overpriced loans and unsustainable mortgages. People lost their homes, their jobs, public services were cut to survival levels, unemployment soared and with it poverty and suffering.
The behaviour of the banks was condoned and encouraged by politicians, both local and national. Politicians sat on the boards of many of the failed banks and were involved in their Town Halls and Regions in the granting of building licences for the speculative property boom the banks were funding. The belief that the political system was corrupt has been widespread over this time but only recently have the suspicions of the last 10 years started to arrive in court, some cases taking 9 years of legal instruction. The brave campaigning by honest politicians such as Monica Oltra and Mireia Molla in the Communidad Valenciana exposed corrupt politicians and various whistle blowers have allowed magistrates to investigate corruption throughout the country.  The infamous 3%, the bribes and criminal behaviour funded parties and paid for election campaigns but also ended up enriching numerous politicians who continually and publicly swore their honesty, blaming the accusations on opposition parties.
The effects of such corruption on the country have been multiple and hugely damaging. The economic crisis and subsequent policies of extreme austerity impacting millions of workers and plunging millions of more into unemployment would not have been so harsh if the corrupt spending had been controlled since 2007. The revelations that their politicians have been so greedy, duplicitous and uncaring of the consequences has led to an ongoing crisis in confidence in the political class which is dangerous for our democracy. The legacy of half-built housing estates, inefficient waste management schemes, environmental damage and substandard municipal buildings will take generations to recover from. What we will never recover is the lost years, the policies inflicted on the nation after electoral victories won using illegal finance and on a basis of lies.
Now facing the consequences of Brexit, a referendum in which I had no vote, after a campaign whose promises are daily being exposed as lies or fantasy wishes, with the added revelations of ‘dark’ money used to fund Leave campaigns and hidden propaganda via social media, I am reminded of the recent political history in Spain. It is hard or impossible to undo the damage done by elections/referendum won in less than transparent democratic circumstances. Despite this we must keep pursuing the guilty, both via the legal option if criminal offences have been committed and combating lies, manipulation and propaganda half truths via our free press, campaigning and transparent use of social media.



We knew, the people in the street.

We all saw the new cars, the rush to buy,

questioned how neighbours could afford

flashy weddings and communions as

if the village was suddenly as rich as the elite

posing on glossy pages at the hairdressers.


But those were the innocents, tempted to spend,

lured by kind bankers to take out loans,

caught up in the frenzy of avarice,

it all seemed so normal when everywhere you looked,

everyone you knew was doing the same,

ignoring the payback noose, tightening.


The guilty are those who played corruption as a game.

The banks, no excuses, there can be honest profit.

The truly unforgivable, our elected representatives

wooing with lies, stealing our votes, wasting our taxes,

pocketing their percentage, laughing at the fools,

those stamped on whilst blinded by tribal blinkers.


And still we knew, just had no proof.

Knew they bought votes with jobs for the boys,

knew each shoddy new building had cream on top,

knew their delusions of Formula one grandeur

would come at a price from our pockets into theirs.

And still they won, hey ho, better the corrupt you know.



Slowly, too slowly for meaningful justice,

the proof emerges, like bubbles of sulphur

hidden deep in muddied, putrid depths.

The guilty squirm in court, desperately doing deals.

We who knew and shouted to the winds are vindicated,

the fooled embarrassed, the complicit disgraced.


But it is not enough, will never be enough

for the iceberg few to spend some time in jail.

No going back to undo elections won by fraud and lies,

no fixing the misery arising from their victories,

no rewilding the landscapes eaten by their greed,

only honesty will regain the honour of a nation shamed.


© 2018 Jacqueline Claire Knight.  All rights reserved. 


Popular posts from this blog


ANAM CARA, in praise of friendship








The Path through the Woods