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The Showdown Over a Kiss Which May Determine How Free Spain can Remain

Tom Gallagher is Emeritus Professor of Politics at the University of Bradford. His book Europe’s Leadership Famine 1950-2022: Portraits of Defiance and Decay was published on 22 June.  A biography of Portugal’s enduring 20th century leader, Salazar, the Dictator Who Refused to Die,was published by Hurst Publishers in 2020 and his twitter account is @cultfree54


Picture shows Jenni Hermoso with Luis Rubiales after the supposed sexual aggression which is now convulsing Spain.

All for offering an affectionate embrace and kiss to Jenni Hermoso, the captain of Spain’s victorious World Cup women’s football team, minutes after she brought her side to victory, Luís Rubiales, the President of the Spanish Football Federation, has been turned into a virtual non-person. The international footballing body FIFA has demanded that he quit his job. Spanish prosecutors are opening a preliminary investigation to see what law he might have broken. Support for him is fast ebbing away in Spain’s football officialdom, perhaps due to the threats of expulsion and financial penalties now being made by world soccer power-brokers.

The politically ascendant left in Spain, which is absorbed with dethroning patriarchy in every conceivable situation, spies an imminent triumph. It has labelled Rubiales an oppressive force of authority whose very existence at least in his present post, is seen as an outrage on progressive and liberated Spain. Even the main-centre-right Popular Party, whose insipid leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo hopes to be nominated as prime Minister shortly, has fled before the drumbeats of the totalitarian left, offering its own denunciation of a football boss who has suddenly been transformed into a monster.

Ironically, Rubiales is a man of the left but he is being hung out to dry by the lider maximo of Spain Pedro Sánchez. He shows every sign of being one of those well-born cynical adventurers who periodically disrupt the politics of a European country in search of novelty or glory. Critics fear that he will stop at nothing in order to turn Spain into an outpost of Latin American populism. He has opted to ally not just with fringe feminists who wield power that far exceeds their numbers, but also with regional nationalists who wish to secede from Spain. He reckons that these insurgent forces are likelier to provide him with a longer stint in power than the stolid working-class base of his Socialist Workers Party. Besides, many working class supporters have deserted due to being baffled by the niche middle-class priorities of a party whose name suggests that it once stood for completely different values.

During his five years in office, Sánchez has shown himself to be a gambler who is quite prepared to sweep away the rules and conventions that have shaped the democratic transition that got underway in the mid-1970s. He wishes to base a personality-focused brand of left politics around appealing to mobilised minorities even if they wish to break up Spain and ignite a war between the sexes.

The mother of Rubiales, who tweeted her ecstasy at the news that Sanchez had polled well in last month’s election, has now gone on hunger strike in a church in her home town of Motril to complain about her son’s media execution. She is likely to find sympathy for her gesture in this small coastal resort in Andalucia. Like much of Spain beyond its major metropolitan hubs such as Barcelona, the family-orientated and decidedly non-Woke south finds the demands and priorities of zealous middle-class activists jarring and hard to reconcile with the pace of their own lives. If Rubiales thinks he will have a chance of vindication by challenging his detractors in the courts, then it is unlikely that he will lack defenders among Spain’s ‘silent majority’ whose views rarely penetrate an electronic media which caters overwhelmingly for the urban left. It remains to be seen what political repercussions it will have if fresh elections occur soon in order to break the parliamentary impasse that has existed since the inconclusive July 13 general election.

The outcome of the Rubiales affair, tawdry and melodramatic though it is, will be noted far beyond Spain. Unsurprisingly, much of the media, including even the star columnist of the conservative Daily Telegraph in Britain, Alison Pearson, have said that the notorious kiss was not an affectionate gesture but was intimidatory and non-consensual.

If left liberal activists with their allies in the media and in bureaucratic arms of the state turn an exuberant kiss into an unpardonable social crime, then the consequences could be grim across society. If the Woke puritans turn Rubiales into a non-person, it will be a giant leap towards the imposition of a fearful social climate in which public behaviour is rigorously policed and a spontaneous public gesture can quickly result in personal destruction.

I suspect Spain was the wrong battleground for those who wish to turn control of social manners into a totalitarian weapon to display their mailed fist. The large Iberian nation remains a notoriously convivial place where people still obstinately refuse to look over their shoulders for fear of daring to say something that offends any vigilant scold lurking in the background. Anyone venturing forth in a large Spanish city after 9pm when diners are building up for a night of bonhomie and frank conversation will see the futility of trying to beak the spirit of this extrovert society.

The leader of the Communist Party, an imperiously posh lady called Yolanda Diaz has been in the vanguard of the ‘Get Rubiales’ movement. She is using the scandal in order to insist on parity between men and women’s football, long a leftist demand rejected as impractical until now by Spanish football’s governing body. But even this dominatrix must see that her task of forcing the Spanish nation to bend before a North American-imported model for a controlled society, one that is neurotic and deeply miserable, is a mission impossible.

She will no doubt be aware of Lenin’s advice to fellow militants that ‘You probe with bayonets: if you find mush, you push. If you find steel, you withdraw.

I suspect the cultural left will find that much of Spain has steely resolve to continue enjoying its freedoms. Thus, there will be a refusal to acquiesce in the sinister farce that Rubiales was engaged in a terrible assault. His behaviour may have been boorish in some eyes but the passionate embrace of the Spanish football captain Jenni Hermoso was a spontaneous one in the heat of an epic victory, one that was swiftly over. If the footage is re-shown in a court of law before a representative Spanish jury, it may well prove hard to secure any kind of conviction against Rubiales.

It is the attempt to build up a moral panic over a public and fleeting kiss which is by far a more deplorable gesture. Almost everywhere one looks, the contemporary left has no answers for the major economic and social questions of the age. Increasingly, it doesn’t even bother to hide the fact that it has no interest whatsoever in making life better for ordinary folk. Instead, it promotes de-industrialisation through climate communism and imposes taxes on the poor and snatches freedoms away that have long been taken for granted.

It goes on the offensive over the victimhood of favoured minorities and seeks to intimidate and bamboozle people with displays of performative outrage. Its grip on the media and increasingly key parts of the state enable it to mount witch hunts against targets of its disapproval.

The biography of Luis Rubiales may well reveal him to be a contentious figure who has clawed his way up to be President of the Spanish Football Federation from relatively humble beginnings. But he has remembered that Spain is still a free society and being a proud individual keen to preserve his honour, has no intention of wishing to be offered up as a sacrifice by high priests of cultural Marxism.

Activists like Senora Yolanda Diaz who wish to create a path to power by fuelling a social fracture in Spain between men and women on spurious grounds, are the worst kind of feminists. They have vastly over-played their hands and unwittingly exposed the limitations of the destructive form of identity politics which they seek to impose on a still mainly sensible and proud Spain that remains comfortable in its own skin.

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