Pieces Of Cake

At the tail end of February I spoke in public at a political rally for the first time ever, despite belonging to that majority of citizens who wouldn't trust a politician any further than they could throw him or her. At the event in question, which took place at the Auditori in Barcelona, I had to present Oriol Junqueras, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya's independent nominee for the European elections. In my defence, I could allege that Oriol is as smart as they come, honest as the day is long and talks only of things he knows about, qualities which would make him virtually unique among Euro MPs. What really decided me, though, was his insistence that my presentation be purely personal and apolitical. I duly steeled myself to face an audience I supposed to be similar to those I had addressed before - in libraries, secondary schools, bookshops and prisons - who expect to be galvanised into pricking up their ears by all the energy the speaker can muster. I hadn't realised that at a party rally, the crowd is already wide awake and 100% on your side: even my two-word opening greeting – 'bon vespre' - got clapped to bits. Talking to a politically motivated audience was so like falling off a log, I finally understood why politicians – spurred on by such sectarian goodwill – never failed to push for the maximum amount of easy applause by the tried-and-tested, equally easy ploy of slagging off rival parties. Thus generating those endless strings of tit-for-tat sound bites quoted daily in the dailies. Which guarantee the absence of any important issues whatsoever in party politics. Thus encouraging more and more people to ignore the ballot box. Which is why political parties are increasingly using non-card-carrying outsiders – like Oriol Junqueras – to restore their near-dead credibility. And why, presumably, these same outsiders prefer to be presented by other outsiders who (as in my case) are so credibly beyond the pale, they can't even vote.

Matthew Tree, Catalonia Today, Abril, 2009

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