Wednesday, 11 April 2012

A Retreat From Spain

One of the more extreme notions peddled in this blog in the past has been the idea that if things went badly in Spain there could be a good many migrant Brit’s coming back to dear old Blighty to enjoy all the opportunities of life here.

Marylebone, Mablethorpe, Margate and Morecambe are very decent places and perhaps once good places to retire to, but with the best will in the world they are not quite Malaga or others blessed with sun and the rest in Spain.

Hamish McRae touched on this in today’s “Independent” in passing but seemed to be concerned about how we would bail out the Brit’s in Spain if the cash machines stopped working.  He then went on to say that a stronger pound would make our holidays cheaper.

John Redwood, also today, discussed Spain’s problems pointing out that it is the private sector there which is taking the worst hit. This has an effect on consumer spending and other activity that is holding back any recovery.  It is not looking good in the long term.

The property market in Spain has bombed.  There has not been the flush of cheap money maintained to prop the prices up as there has been in the UK.  The result is that any Brit’s trying to sell are in trouble.  If they do, they will be in worse trouble coming back to the UK without the necessary to buy into our inflated market.

Many Brit’s in Spain may be in the bad situation of having had their incomes squeezed so badly that they cannot afford either to stay there or to come back to the UK without substantial UK benefits support when they get here.

Quite how many might come back is not known.  Perhaps a figure might be thought of as an expert government estimate.  Then for practical purposes you would need to either double or treble it.  It depends on how bad it becomes in Spain.

How then does a local authority allocate housing to these migrants?  Elderly couples without dependants would be in a weak position against migrants coming in with families or other dependents.  So where would they go? 

There is an interesting potential political difficulty here.  At present the homeless in London are mostly people in the middling and younger ages.  Having hordes of grannies littering the pavements and begging for alms could put off the tourists. 

Even the London Political Media might notice if they blocked the way into favoured restaurants.  If the government managed to pack off many of these returned souls to the provinces the situation would not be much better. 

Of course, they might be billeted in all those second and holiday homes in the country or by the seaside but it is difficult to see our Parliament choosing that option to deal with the emergency, should it arise.  The reasons for that are all too clear.

It is a long while since we have seen major population movements of this kind in the developed parts of Europe.  Even the “folk memory” of the shifts of the 1940’s has been forgotten with all the strains that occurred across Europe and even in parts of the UK.

The picture above is of The Retreat to Corunna that occurred in late 1808 and into January 1809.  The Battle of Corunna is in Wikipedia and other net sources.  My direct ancestor, same name as myself, was there with the 43rd Regiment of Foot.

Despite their courage and the brave fight at Corunna it was a sorry looking lot that later disembarked in England, many unfit for further service and all of the rest having to be re-equipped and restored to health.

But that was only a few thousand, if we have another major retreat it could be many hundreds of thousands.

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