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What is Literature?

Having started a degree in English, I have been forced to rethink my concept of literature. Prior to completing the recommended reading, which was the first chapter of Terry Eagleton’s literary theory book, an easy way to summarize my view on literature would have been to say that it is all forms of fiction. My lack of imagination when it comes to defining literature might show a […]

Idea-ology: Neo-liberalism, where it started (part 3)

Over the past 40 years, neoliberalism has demolished trade unions and stripped away financial restrictions which has led to more wealth for people with money and a stagnation in wages for the rest of us. President Reagan imposed this in the USA and Thatcher did so in the UK. In later years, neoliberalism repurposed the function of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). These […]

Idea-ology: Doctrine for the Masses (Part 2)

Neo-liberals believe that the free market is the best way to organise society. They claim that the government should be just an administrator, not a supervisor or a player in the market, even to the point that private companies should provide services such as hospitals, schools and prisons. This is a common misconception, or a slight of hand, as under neo-liberal control the state often is used […]

Episode 41: Exhuming Franco with Sebastiaan Faber

The Sobremesa Podcast has slowed down for August like the rest of Spain. But here is some summer listening for you, no matter where you are! Sebastiaan Faber, professor of Hispanic studies at Oberlin College, joins me to discuss his latest book Exhuming Franco What is left of Francisco Franco’s legacy in Spain today? Franco ruled Spain as a military dictator from 1939 until his death in […]

Leyendas de Leganés: Don Juan de Austria, el Jon Snow de Leganés

¿Quién fue Don Juan de Austria? En Leganés hay comunidades, colegios, y una calle que se llama Juan de Austria. Y como Jon Snow de Juegos de Tronos, Juan fue un bastado del Rey y un luchador. Un héroe Cerca de 1545, el Rey Carlos I de España, también Santo Emperador Romano desde Alemania hasta Italia, tuvo un hijo con Barbara Blomberg, una dama alemana. Nació en […]

Que es una ‘Centrist Dad’?

Hay un concepto en el mundo político anglo saxon que es un ‘centrist dad’ (padre centristas). Quiero introducir esto concepto a España porque es una idea fundamental por Twitter, memes y por una broma durante la cena de navidad cuando tu tío hablar sobre ‘que es posible’ en esto mundo. Un padre centralista normalmente es un hombre (pero también puede ser un mujer) de generación de Boomer […]

EPISDOE 40: The Future of Unidas Podemos

Sorry this episode is a bit late but I have covid! Recorded two weeks ago, Nerea Fernández Cordero, Co-coordinadora at IU Exterior (Izquierda Unida), and political journalist Eoghan Gilmartin join me to discuss the coalition party called Unidas Podemos.  We talk about how it came to be and where it goes from here that their founding leader has left politics, and now that they are part of […]

Leyendas de Leganés: Avenida Salvador Allende

En Leganés, hay una calle se llama Salvador Allende después del primer presidente marxista en Chile y América Latina. Allende fue elegido en eleciones democráticas en 1970. Allende quiso mejorar las condiciones para la clase obrera en su país. Mejorar la educación, el sistema de salud y nacionalizar las industrias más grandes en Chile. Pero tiene la oposición del congreso, donde la derecha tiene el control. En […]

Catalan Political Prisoners Get a Pardon With Andrew Dowling

Following last weeks news on the pardon of the 9 Catalan political prisoners, jailed following the referendum in 2017,  I discuss the issue with Andrew Dowling, a lecturer in Catalan and Spanish history.  If you want to hear more about this issue, take a listen to our previous episodes on the matter.

Nazi Germany and Spain with Dr Mercedes Peñalba-Sotorrío

Dr Mercedes Peñalba-Sotorrío, a lecturer and researcher from Manchester Metropolitan University, joins me to discuss the relationship between Nazi Germany and Spain before, during and after WW2. Her research involves looking at how Nazi propaganda inside Spain which influenced the country’s foreign and domestic policy during the time. We also discuss the concept of neutral countries and how the relationship with Germany changed as the war advanced. […]

#4MAYO Madrid Elections: an after-thought

With a 75% participation rate, the PP and Isabel Ayuso take 65 seats in the Madrid Comunidad elections, four short of a majority. She will need an abstention from Vox to become president, and is also likely to negotiate a confidence on supply agreement with them. Ayuso has eaten Cuidudanos alive and kept Vox at bay, whilst also gaining more seats than all the left together. This […]

#4M Madrid Elections 2021 with Caroline Gray and Eoghan Gilmartin

With the communidad elections less than a week away Caroline Gray and Eoghan Gilmartin both join me to discuss the political earthquake that led to the elections and why this election is about more than just the capital. Eoghan Gilmartin is a political journalist covering Spanish politics. He is a regular contributor to Jacobin Magazine and has written from many other publications such as Novara Media and […]

European Super League with Tommy Hay

This week, the European Super League launched but it hasn’t gone smoothly. In the UK all 6 big teams were forced to pull out by their fans, the media and even Boris Johnson. Here in Spain the reaction has been very different. Tommy Hay joins me to discuss the issues behind this league and the Spanish reaction to it. Tommy Hay is a football commentator here in […]

The Treatment of Sexual Minorities in the Late-Francoist Period with Sonia Cuesta Maniar

Sonia Cuesta Maniar joins me to discuss the treatment of sexual minorities by the Spanish state during the late period of the Francoist dictatorship. Sonia Cuesta Maniar is a doctoral research student at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on the relationship between Francoist repressive practices and accelerating socio-political change in the 1960s and 1970s Spain. More broadly, she is interested in the history […]

Gender Violence with Dr Deborah Madden

Feminism is huge movement in Spain, but why? Gender violence is a polemical topic in Spain. Dr Deborah Madden joins me to discuss how, in recent years, there have been several high-profile cases of rape that have brought about needed reforms to the Spanish law. This, along with a number of femicides in the country, has brought gender violence into the public domain. We also discuss how […]

Spanish Feminism with Elia Romera Figueroa

In recent years feminism has boomed in countries such as Argentina and Mexico. Likewise, in Europe the movement has been most active in the south, mainly in Italy and Spain. Since 2018, when the first massively followed International Women Strike took place, the movement hasn´t stop growing, and its effects are beginning to be felt. What are some of today’s discussions in Spanish feminism? and where was […]

Spanish Start Ups with Joe Haslam

The Spanish government recently announced 11 billion euros for small, medium sized companies in the hard-hit tourism sector. Will it be enough? And what is the direction for the Spanish economy? In the longer term, Spain has seen the need to reform its economy as the current model, heavily reliant on tourism, is unreliable. Many in the country also want self employment red tape cut and costs […]

Basque Nationalism: The Origins of Basque Nationalism and Anti-colonialist Rhetoric with Maria Reyes Baztán

Nationalism has made a comeback in the 21st century and Spain is not exempt. Often people mistake Spain for a large country, when in fact it is a large block of several regional identities. Famously, the Catalan independence movement has highlighted this fact and also caused a rise in the national Spanish identity. However this is not a new phenomenon. Spain’s regional identities have challenged Spanish nationalists […]

Catalan Politics 101 with Andrew Dowling

On Sunday the 14th February 2021, Catalonia will go to the polls, this time to elect a regional government. This is the second regional election since the October 2017 independence referendum. The first in December 2017 was called by then Spanish President Mariano Rajoy, in that election the biggest party Cuidudanos won the most seats but could not form an administration. A regional government was formed by […]

The Rise of Vox and Spanish Nationalism

Here is the second part of my interview with Vicente Rubio-Pueyo. Here we talk the rise in very visible raising of Spanish nationalism and how this also went alongside the rise of far right party Vox. To read Vicente’s report check out the link below:

Spanish municipalism with Vicente Rubio-Pueyo

Vicente Rubio-Pueyo is a Spanish academic based in New York and member of Minim, a municipalism observatory. https://minim-municipalism.org/ He sat down with me to discuss modern day Spanish municipalism and the effect it has had on politics and the cities it governed. For further details on how the municipalism started in Spain, listen to my interview on 15M The second part of my interview, about the rise […]

Territorial Politics in Spain with Caroline Gray

When you first move to Spain you soon realise there are more than two national parties. Since the financial crash in 2008, regional politics have become a big matter (once again) in Spanish politics. The current coalition government has made them a key part of their program. How did this come about? For one thing, it is not new. In this episode of the Sobremesa podcast I […]

15-M, Ten Years On: In conversation with Cristina Flesher Fominaya on her recent book Democracy Reloaded: Inside Spain’s Political Laboratory from 15-M to Podemos

Events in America last week only remind us that democracy is fragile. Whilst the 90’s and the early 2000’s might seem like the ‘norm’, it was actually a bit of a red herring. We should try to remember that democracy has always been fragile and prone to crisis and threat. To use the worn-out Winston Churchill quote, “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all […]

Keir Starmer: Labour Aristocracy

Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer: “I don’t think there is a case for re-joining the EU…that is not realistic” Originally tweeted by BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) on January 10, 2021. On Sunday 10th January, Keir Starmer turned his back on a large group of people that voted for him in the leadership elections. Remain-backing Labour members all over the country will be upset by the news that Labour […]

Shove your ‘Hot Take’

Is anybody else tired? I certainly am. Following the threat to democracy, the ‘coup’, the backlash of populism (and any other over inflated name you want to give it) in the United States on Wednesday, all I have seen online so far are personal hot takes. These have mainly been poor interpretations of what was clearly a bunch of losers, to steal an insult from Trump, being […]

Brexit Special: One Remainer, One Leaver. Both Live in Spain

In this one-off special episode, I discuss brexit with two Brits that live in Spain. One voted leave and the other voted remain. Here is why. Richard Thompson lives in Sant Joan in Mallorca. He is a business owner and local town councillor with Assemblea per Sant Joan. We talk about voting remain and the stereotypes of Brits in Spain. Timothy Appleton has lived in Madrid for […]

Cultural Marxism, Covid-19 and a Broken Ideology

On the 17th December, Liz Truss, the Secretary of State for International Trade, who is also minister for Women and Equality, gave a speech announcing the government’s new approach toward equality. As part of this announcement, the Secretary claimed that recent governments had concentrated on ‘empty gestures’ such as anti-racism and gender equality whilst ignoring class and regional inequalities. She says that this fresh approach will be […]

After The Fall: An Interview with Tobias Buck

Here I got to interview author and former Financial Times Spain correspondent Tobias Buck. After The Fall: Crisis, Recovery and the Making of a New Spain is Tobias’ book documenting the country’s political, societal and economic response to the 2008 financial crisis and the territorial crisis that followed. You can get a copy here and in all good bookshops. We also talk about corruption, austerity, Rajoy, Podemos […]

The History of Anarchism in Spain with Danny and Jim from the ABC Podcast

In this two-part episode, I spoke with Danny and Jim from the Anarchist Book Club Podcast. We go all the way from the meaning of anarchism and its founding in Spain to its current state today. I learnt loads talking with both the guys. Please make sure you take a listen to their podcast, The Anarchist Book Club, and if you want to know more you can […]

Spain’s new budget with EOGHAN GILMARTIN and TOMMY GREENE

“Spain’s Left Is Winning the Battle for Welfare — But Not the War on Neoliberalism” This is the name of Eoghan and Tommy’s new article available at jacobin.com. Here we discuss their take on Spain’s first budget since Rajoy. We discuss where Podemos is making gains and where the PSOE and EU are too. I hope you find this interesting take on the budget helpful. Please head […]

A New Image of Spain?: a Podcast Crossover with Paul Burge from When in Spain

CROSSOVER TIME!! The Sobremesa Podcast has teamed up with the When in Spain podcast. Paul Burge has been running his podcast for the last 2 years and covers a whole range of things related to Spain. From pueblos to Hemmingway, it is all in there. Here I interviewed Paul about tourism and the image of Spain, both from the outside and the image of the country that […]

Left Populism in Spain and the USA with Jorge Tamames

In this episode of the Sobremesa podcast, I chat with journalist and political researcher Jorge Tamames about the history and current state of populism in the USA and Spain. Jorge’s book ‘For The People: Left Populism in Spain and the US’ concentrates on left wing populism in both countries. Here he explains the conditions that led to the rise in Podemos and Bernie Sanders, and their differences. […]

The History of the Housing Crisis and the birth of the PAH movement with Sophie Gonick

This week the Sobremesa Podcast talks with Sophie Gonick from New York University about her up and coming book: Dispossession and Dissent. We talk about how she documented the birth of the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH) (Platform for People Affected by Mortgages), and she also explains the housing crisis that went with it. We later talk about housing policy and why council houses in […]

Doctor, Doctor give me some news… 19/10/2020

In this episode of the Sobremesa Podcast, I talk to an old friend about an ongoing problem. Doctors in Spain are threatening to strike from the 28th of October over a new law passed by the government. This law is to help increase the number of staff. So, what is the problem? Find out here Please like and subscribe to the Sobremesa Podcast for the latest in […]

The Dina Case with Tommy Greene

This week saw the end of the political jousting between the central government and the Madrid regional government. This reached a climax on Friday with Madrid being under a state of alarm. Further court developments this week threaten to eat away at the coalition government’s sense of legitimacy. This forms part of a larger ongoing investigation that has seen the presentation of the deputy PM go from […]

Back in Lockdown: Interviews with Sara Soto and Simon Hunter

Madrid has been placed in (partial) lockdown once again. In this episode I explore how this come about in two very different interviews. Firstly, I speak with Sara Soto, Secretary of the Young Socialists of Vallecas. Here we talk about the response to lockdown on the 18th September and the effects it has had over the past two weeks. We also discuss some of the inequalities that […]

Pandemic Politics: an Interview with Eoghan Gilmartin

This week Eoghan Gilmartin joins me. As a political journalist based in Madrid, he has been covering the stories as they have unfolded. Here we talk about the more immediate stories of the day, such as the management of the virus in Madrid and the future for Spanish politics. Later, we then explore how this situation has come about, and how the quick politicisation of the pandemic […]

The New Democratic Memory Law: a Discussion with Tom Wardle

In 2007, the Spanish government passed the historical memory law to address issues from the country’s past. Since then the law has been starved of funding and criticised as not going far enough regarding victims’ rights.

The new coalition government has put forward a new law named the Democratic Memory. This law will look at exhumations of mass graves, education, prosecutions, the removal of honors and medals that go against democracy and the Valley of the Fallen.
Tom Wardle joined me to discuss the proposals.

Diada, The National Day of Catalonia: an Interview with Alícia Hernàndez Grande

In this special edition of Sobremesa, I interview researcher and Phd candidate Alícia Hernàndez Grande.

Here she explains the history behind the independence movement, and Diada, the national day of Catalonia. She also shares her observations from the 2017 referendum and where the Catalan identity comes from.

The National Spanish Identity: an Interview with Professor Sandie Holguin

In this episode I interview cultural and intellectual historian Professor Sandie Holguin, where we talk about the historical construction of the national Spanish identity. She is also the author of Flamenco Nation: The Construction of the Spanish National Identity. You can get a copy of the book here or on Amazon. At the beginning of the episode I will give you an update on the national situation […]

Spain’s Memory Wars: an Interview with Tom Wardle

This week’s episode falls on the anniversary of Federico Garcia Lorca’s murder by the fascist forces during the Spanish Civil war. I took this opportunity to change the podcasts format this week to interview Tom Wardle, a researcher and historian who is currently completing his PhD on historical memory activism here in Spain. Take a listen to my interview with him as we cover the past, present […]

Where is Juan Carlos?

Where is Juan Carlos? This is the question on everybody’s lips. In this episode I talk to Spanish Historian Tom Wardle about Juan Carlos the first and his role in the Spanish Transition. I also look at some previous referendums that have been held in Spain, and what the current state of affairs might mean for the country in the future. Be sure to check out an […]

Covid, the King and I

No Confidence motions, jealous partners and a naughty King.

Welcome to Sobremesa!

Covid Comeback

Cases are up but so is testing, and each region is doing its own thing with track and trace, some better than others. Taking a look at the whole picture is worth it to get an idea of where the country stands, but treating it as one big problem is probably not the answer. What do you think the government will do next?

The EU Flashes the Cash

In this episode I look at how the historic deal came to be and how it might affect the politics in Spain. I also talk about the junior doctors strike and Fernando Simon going surfing? #Sobremesa

Who is Fernando Simón?

This week, I put out a tweet asking if would people be interested in this sort podcast? And someone said yes, but just don’t make another podcast. So, what I’d like people to do is tweet on the hashtag #SOBREMESA and then I will read out the tweets next week. I think someone that hasn’t really been reported much in the English-speaking press, and has become quite […]

When the Posh came to Protest

The latest spectacles to replace an everlasting stream chat shows on Spanish television are protests. These protests are taking place in one of Europe’s richest neighbourhoods. The Salamanca district in the centre of Madrid. Throughout the week various numbers of Spaniards have taken to the neighbourhood’s streets during the allotted exercise time, but they have not respected social distancing measures. The Ralph Lauren clad, golf stick wielding […]

Coronavirus: A Test For Europe

The European Union will not survive coronavirus unless it evolves. To do that it must break its own rules

Pedro Releases The Pressure

Has the government been saved from its citizens’ anger by letting them out for walk? Will the Popular Party save the coalition government or damn the country to chaos? As someone with a dog I have been out every other day in the last 7 weeks. So I never had the overly euphoric experience of going outside the same as others. For me, walking my dog gave […]

Book Review: Fully Automated Luxury Communism

By Aaron Bastani Published by Verso, 2019 The truth is I had been waiting for this book for a long time, as an avid viewer of Novara media this made me, not only intrigued but also sceptical about this book. As anyone that follows Novara media may well know, the pundits are a bit of a mixed bag on political analysis which is a good thing. However, […]

Back to work Spain (well for very (very)few)

As some Spaniards returned to work today, (a select few) construction workers, along with factory, communication and sanitary workers, many will be questioning why yesterday they weren’t allowed to walk outside alone, but today they can sit on public transport. Although, they may also be wondering where they can get the masks from… The police have been handing out masks at select metro stations across Madrid in the […]

How Communists Helped Establish Democracy in Spain

At 10:30 pm on the 24th January 1977 eight lawyers were working late at the offices of Comisiones Obreras (CCOO), one of Spain’s trade unions which was set up by the Spanish Communist Party (PCE). At the time, Spain was in the middle of a temperamental transition from Franco’s dictatorship to democracy. Many people were tense due to the possible collision between right- and left-wing groups. They feared it would bring […]

Public Health: Who are the workforce behind the management of Spain’s coronavirus crisis?- The Local

Origial post on the 6th April 2020 https://www.thelocal.es/20200406/public-health-who-are-the-workforce-behind-the-management-of-spains-coronavirus-crisis Photo: AFP As Covid-19 continues to make its way around the globe everyone on social media seems to have suddenly become a public health specialist. Admirable as this maybe, there are people who are experts in this field. Public health doctors are trained doctors that specialise in the investigation of health and disease conditions in human populations. By Alan McGuire and […]

The History of Spain and Covid-19: Rinse and Repeat

If not having a functioning government in 2019 wasn’t enough drama for the Spanish population, then the introduction of Covid-19 would make up for it. Spanish society has revolved around political crisis since the turn of the 20th century. Being a late bloomer when it comes to industrialisation and the growing of a middle class, Spain has made up for lost time. It has been marked with public […]

Who is looking after the Nurses?

300 nurses have died by suicide in the past seven years. This is an average of 43 nurses a year.
Who is looking after the Nurses?

Night in an Airport

24 hours no sleep and too much time in airports.

Orwell in Barcelona

George Orwell went to Barcelona in December 1936 to fight fascism.
If you read Homage to Catalonia you may see the Ramblas very different.

Spain’s less than picturesque white coast: European slavery lives here

When you say Costa del Sol you think of drunk Brits, and the more romantic of us may think of olive farms and flamenco. Well, this is only partly true. What about hundreds of Green houses? And Africans? Recently, I became aware of Norvara Media, a growing underground news channel that has a website, YouTube channel and bi weekly podcasts. They have been going for some time […]

Franco café and a fallen angel

Just driving home What could be more Spanish than driving back from Granada; stopping in a no frills services station for a ‘Menu del Dia’ and then seeing one of the legendary black bull signs on the side of the motorway. Well, this was how my Sunday was going until my wife made a suggestion. We go to Casa Pepe, Ciudad Real. She told me that it […]

Pub series: The Great British living room.

Last in the pub series What can I say about British pubs? Well, they are home! From your generic Wetherspoons with its 1970s carpet and flowery plates, to your local that has been in the family for generations, British pubs are irreplaceable. Many pubs have similar features, from the warmth of the sofas to the wooden floor of the back function room, most pubs have characteristics just […]

Pub series: My new found affection for no-frills Spanish bar

Photo from Madrid No-frills   As you may well know, there are many bars in Spain: one for every occasion and with several different names. Cafeteria, restaurante, cervecería and all the bars in between. Yet the best –and more authentic ones – have similar characteristics, though not all of them are visible. When I was living in England with my Spanish wife, she couldn’t understand, at first, […]

Pub series: The Similar Curiosities of an Irish pub

I’ve decided to take a small break from moaning about the Conservative party or writing of trying to survive as an Englishman in Madrid. So, I’ve decided to embark upon a series of something I consider myself to be a connoisseur and expert on. Drinking establishments. Far away from the Spanish jammon franchises and American fast food restaurants stands the cornerstone of every town in Spain, with […]

Why joining the Labour Party is like going to the pub.

So you arrive to a new town, where you are meant to meet a new group of people. It took you a while to find this group. You um and ah about it, but you join the group and this is your first meeting. Finally get to the destination, which was hard to find, you enter the bar and then you have to find the table. You […]

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