Things That Make You Go Hmmm... Like Europe's Propitiating Politicians

Tyler Durden's picture

Sometimes, in cables amongst themselves, politicians tend to forget that "real people" will eventually get to read their words (either that or they realize but just don't give a damn), and they drop the facade and talk in real terms. As Grant Williams explores in the following excellent discussion, the phrase "propitiate public opinion" among Spanish and UK minsters arguing over Gibraltar sums up perfectly the world in which we live. Propitiate - to make (someone) pleased or less angry by giving or saying something desired. Behold, politics.


In a confidential dispatch from Madrid to Geoffrey Howe, the then Foreign Secretary, Ambassador Parsons wrote:

"The King emphasised, as he had done with me before, that that requirement was to take some step over Gibraltar which would keep public opinion quiet for the time being.


"It should be clearly understood in private by both governments that in fact Spain did not really seek an early solution to the sovereignty problem.


"If [Spain] recovered Gibraltar, King Hassan of Morocco would immediately activate his claim to Ceuta and Melilla.


"The two foreign ministers should reach a private understanding between each other, differentiating between their actual aim and the methods used to propitiate public opinion on both sides."

Did you spot it? No?

Well here it is again in slow motion:

"T h e  t w o  f o r e i g n  m i n i s t e r s  s h o u l d  r e a c h  a  p r i v a t e
 u n d e r s t a n d i n g  b e t w e e n  e a c h  o t h e r,  d i f f e r e n t i a t i n g
 b e t w e e n  t h e i r  a c t u a l  a i m  a n d  t h e  m e t h o d s  u s e d  t o
 p r o p i t i a t e  p u b l i c  o p i n i o n  o n  b o t h  s i d e s."

... and here's the super-slo-mo close-up frame (if you have 3D glasses, put them on now):

"... P R O P I T I A T E   P U B L I C   O P I N I O N ..."

Let's go to the dictionary:

pro·pi·ti·ate transitive verb \pr?-pi-sh?-?t\ : to make (someone) pleased or less angry by giving or saying something desired

Behold, politics.

Sometimes, in cables amongst themselves, politicians tend to forget that "real people" will eventually get to read their words (either that or they realize but just don't give a damn), and they drop the facade and talk in real terms.

Sir Richard Parsons' words, translated, are telling:

The two foreign ministers should work out what needs to be said to keep the public happy whilst they simultaneously pursue a completely different agenda — one which they feel best benefits the political ambitions of each side.

Now, I'm not telling many of you something you didn't already know — although there may be a few amongst you who still believe that all elected officials are there for the good of the people — but to see how things look when the mask slips and the monster behind is revealed is important in what I suspect could be a seriously turbulent year politically.

Mark the dates May 22nd to 25th in your diaries, folks.

That is the time frame during which elections to the EU Parliament must be conducted this year, and the potential for the politicians and bureaucrats who creep backwards and forwards to Brussels (on expenses) to receive a major wake-up call increases by the day.

Historically, turnout at EU parliamentary elections has been abysmal fairly poor and has declined consistently to the point where, in 2009, the percentage of eligible voters who turned out to select representatives to the body that would go on making ever more decisions about how they would be allowed to live their lives was just 43%.

The result?

Well, the people of Europe got the parliament they deserved.

Buy perhaps things will change this time?

As Grant Williams writes in this week's Things That Make You Go Hmmm... the EU Parliament looks like this:

By the time May 26th dawns on Europe, this picture could well be completely redrawn, as a group of previously irrelevant political parties look to capitalize on the growing disaffection with the EU project and its common currency, and are prepared to seize as much power as the citizens of Europe will grant them.

The problem is, these parties are nearly all extremist in nature; but whether right- or left-wing, they unite beneath an anti-Europe banner, and that may be enough to sweep them to relevance and give them a strong hand at the negotiating table. 


Full Grant Williams Letter below...


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no more banksters's picture

"Given that there is a rise of the extreme Right in Germany as well as in the other European core countries and countries of the European periphery, like Greece for example, there is a great danger for extreme political perceptions to dominate. The further course of the EU will be determined, to a great extent, by the new political balances between parties in the European Parliament after the oncoming euro elections in May."

AlaricBalth's picture

To paraphrase former Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker:

When it becomes serious, sometimes you have to perambulate the circumference of veracity.

Dewey Cheatum Howe's picture

Or more importantly Beavis from Beavis and Butthead.

"The angle of the dangle is adversely proportional to the heat of the beat."

StychoKiller's picture

Don't forget the square of the hair or the mass of the ass factors... :>D

StychoKiller's picture

Don't forget the square of the hair or the mass of the ass factors... :>D

[edit:] worth repeating.

The Vineyard's picture

Extremism is also raising its head in Asia.  Abe is a real headcase.

Huck's picture

There are a lot of people that are not ultra right but simply don t like where this whole European thing is going. They might not like the immigration thing, having gypsys from Romania standing at stations begging, they might not like helping Greece with its debts so it can create more debts on their labour and taxes, they might see the high unemployment in Europe and say this is the cause of all this regulation being made in Brussels, a lot of it makes no sence to any one and it is too left wing to be acceptable to the normal man. They might not like Brussles being the center now with its faceless mass of beaurocrates that are far from their own country. They might not like the leadership. many people still don t understand how Burrassa came to represent them. No one voted for him, not one voted for Mr Rumpy the belguim guy who most people don t even know who he is or how he got there or what he does or even his name no one really knows. You might not like the taxes going ever higher and the crises never coming to an end. We have been in crisis now since 2008 thats 6 years and it has everything to do with Europe.

And yet we are on the most part not ultra right, but just liberals, or center oriented, But there are only the right wing parties that want to leave europe. So we have to go with them unfortunately.

Dewey Cheatum Howe's picture

Another thing that makes you go hmmm. Looks like English banking institutions are have a suiciding epidemic going on.


Two high-profile and high-up American bankers in London have killed themselves in separate incidents that took place within a couple days of each other.

Gabriel Magee, 39, a senior manager at JP Morgan, jumped 500 feet to his death Tuesday from the top of the bank’s European headquarters, the Daily Mail reported. Responders found his body on the roof that encircles the outside of the ninth floor.

On Sunday, another American bank executive, William Broeksmit, 58, was discovered dead in his South Kensington home. Police ruled the death a suicide by hanging.

Mr. Broeksmit had retired a year ago from his senior-level position with the Deutsche Bank, the Mail reported.


I wonder if both these guys worked on the Comex.

NoDebt's picture

"Two high-profile and high-up American bankers in London have killed themselves in separate incidents that took place within a couple days of each other."

And THAT'S what tells me something wicked this way comes (finally).  Not politicians lying to propitiate public opinion.  That's just an average Tuesday for them.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Let me know when NuttyNYahoo does swan dives from Rothschild Plaza 1, holding hands with Bandar Bush.

wisehiney's picture

I used to propitate with the hotties every chance I got back in the day. I still do with my old lady.

GooseShtepping Moron's picture

I don't really see what's wrong with "propitiating public opinion" while at the same time pursuing policies you firmly believe to be in the nation's best interest. It would only be wrong if you were exploiting or betraying your citizenry, or telling outright lies, neither of which seems to have been the case in the Gibraltar incident. The folk have a right to expect that the ruler is serving their interests; they do not have a right to know everything about his actions at all times. They have the right not to be lied to, but they do not always have the right to all the truth.

Other than that, every ruler has a domestic policy dance to do and a foreign policy war to wage. Let us not forget that it is successful foreign policy which is prerequisite for peace and prosperity on the domestic front.

disabledvet's picture

what might be the "problem" is the whole "wiki leaks" thing. where people are reading the actual diplomatic cables themselves.

in other words "the sheeple" might be shocked to actually "see" the casual-ness with which national "interests" are actually played out.

i can't state this as an actual fact since i've never actually seen any cables that truly show what the "interests" are "manifested."

i have found it odd that so few number of people (3? 4?) can be so "important" in the sense of whatever they purportedly "saw" or "heard" (even if recorded, stored, digitized, sythesized, zipped, unzipped, observed, analyzed, communicated, etc...etc.)

so i have a simple default setting of "look at the numbers" in the form of "markets" and "cash flows." if "knowledge" is of such great "nefarious" value it should be to such an extent that it will cause markets themselves to cease to function (the pricing function will cease to exist.)

since clearly this has failed to happen i simply don't understand the "dire predicament" these few individuals represent to "humanity."

in other words it should be "actualized" somewhere...100,000 dollar barrels of oil, fifty million "dollar" ounces of gold, etc etc.

i just don't see it...even with trillion dollar deficits interestingly.

notadouche's picture

Sounds a little like the Neville Chamberlain way of governing.

Right the hoodwinking, manipulating and or mind fucking  the ignorant citizen on a certain matter all the while pursuing and entirely different outcome is the appropriate way to run a govenrment because we are all too stupid to know what is in our  best interest.  Damned you don't think much of yourself do you?  You want to be blind to the realities of the world while your "betters" solve the worlds problems.  The problems they created by the way using the same subversive manipulating methods that you don't see anything wrong with.

You don't want the truth because you can't handle the truth.   Well I prefer to be represented honestly or I would rather represent myself in all matters  because I don't like being blindsided by our "leaders" that profess the mantra "when things get this bad we must lie to the public in order to avoid a panic".  

If you don't have the balls nor the moral authority to lead a people then get the fuck out of the way and give way to the next and the next until we get a real government in place.  

Ghordius's picture

and how do you want to solve the main cause of this problem? in your words, the "ignorant citizen"?

Byte Me's picture

@GSMoron - you name yourself so well..

smacker's picture

You seem to have completely missed that in the Gibralter situation cited, the political slimeballs on both sides are saying one thing to their respective electorates for the sole purpose of deceiving them, whilst actually agreeing to do "something" entirely different. In this case that "something" was actually to do nothing whatsoever to solve a very long standing dispute between the two countries. Much better for both parties to come clean and spell it out to their electorates instead of lying.

At least the UK government publicly stated that it had no intentions whatsoever to hand over Gibralter to the Spanish. Not least because we've got far too much spy kit installed down there.

Ghordius's picture

since this dispute is as old as the Treaty of Utrecht... it's now exactly 300 years old, and large swathes of Spaniards still want Gibraltar back. And large swathes of Britons still adore every Telegraph article about a Gibraltar crisis. It's practically a tradition

roadhazard's picture

Dish TV is doing that to me now.

WTFUD's picture

Moron, Fuck You!

mvsjcl's picture

Ghordius in 5...4...3...

smacker's picture

Interesting stuff. This gives me the opportunity of explaining how British Govenment actually runs.

I have long known that - in our world of fake democratic governments stuffed full of know-nothing idiot politicians - the role of our elected politicians is not to implement and manage "their" policies required by "their" electorates but to simply perform the role of a public "talking head" to explain policies which are created, written and articulated by unelected civil servants in the huge agencies of The State, eg: Immigration, Met Police, Inland Revenue, Foreign Office, Home Office, Security Services (GCHQ. MI5, MI6) etc etc. These are the real powers behind the throne.

This of course includes our foreign ambassadors and the like. In the UK it is the case that virtually no elected minister actually runs his Ministry. Any elected minister who walks into a ministry with his own policy agenda to implement will soon discover who owns/runs the government machine. If he attempts to steamroll his own policies through then his past pecadillos will soon be exposed (leaked) to the MSM and he will find himself the subject of a public scandal, forcing a necessary resignation and the appointment of someone who will tow the line.

It goes almost without saying that these powers behind the throne are nameless and faceless. They are sometimes recognisable by the titles given to them, Sir (by far the most popular), MBE, OBE etc etc.

Ghordius's picture

regarding the first item: the agreement between Spain and the UK on Gibraltar


of course Spain has no interest in advancing that claim seriously

yet there are lots of people in both Spain, Britain and Gibraltar for which this thing is very important

the three governments tried to reach an understanding - shared sovereignty in Gibraltar, for which there is a splendid example further north, in Andorra (which has two heads of State, the French and the Spanish). this question was posed as a referendum, in 2002, Gibraltar_sovereignty_referendum,_2002. The answer was a resounding no.

Certain Spanish media were in a frenzy about that. Yet on the other side, you'll find British media constantly making idiotic articles about Gibraltar, for example this one on the Telegraph

So three governments have a semi-secret, semi-public understanding that they'll leave their most rabid citizen wave their flags. and do nothing. Again, so what? What does the author want? war? A repeat of the battles for the Spanish Succession? A new treaty of Utrecht?

either childish or completely wrongly informed. if this is supposed to be a charge against those three governments, then it's a pure fail

Ghordius's picture

regarding the second item: the election of the next EU parliament

first, let me state that I'm only a lukewarm supporter of the EU parliament in this form, i.e. directly elected. imho the EU parliament should never be above the parliaments of the members of the (proto-) confederation called European Union

and so I support the current principle of keeping the EU parliament as defanged as possible, i.e. as a confirming or rejecting body for Council proposals. If you don't even know what the Council is, then perhaps you'll never understand EU politics... until you check, inform yourself, and find out that with the exception of France and Romania, all european governments are an expression of the will of the directly elected national parliaments, and form the Council

I'd vastly prefer to have the national parliaments sending recallable delegations to the EU parliament. but there are too many people who would not understand, and our european federalists who push for the european "superstate" would go apeshit on such a proposal. they would prefer to have a setup similar to the US, and they are often against their own national political setups

second, more interest and so more people going to vote for the EU parliament is a good thing

third, in the eventuality that strongly anti-EU parties like the UKIP get lots of seats... so? would that be bad? would that be in any form a problem? for whom? the big lobbists? lol

yet how likely is that? you have to understand that EU sentiment in the UK is unique, compared to the other peers. Sadly, Britons are the least informed people in Europe in all things about the EU. That's a fact. An incredible number of Britons still think that "someone wants to impose the EUR on them", or don't know how the EU is set up, or believe the utter bullshit that certain medias like the Telegraph write on the EU. Britain is still the main source of the fabled Euro-Myths, for example. To be frank, many continentals like me would seriously cheer if the UK would have that referendum and leave the EU club. But... that's in the hands of the elected British Parliament, not the EU parliament where the UKIP delegation does not even want to vote on any matter

fourth: the author has a very weak understanding of the EU, well shown in the fact that he conflates the EU with the eurozone. two different clubs, the first of nations, the second of national banks. And you know who pushed for the complete separation of the two clubs? You'll never guess, it's the champion of EU enlargement to the East. The UK government (appointed by a majority in the British parliament, which is elected by the British People)

LaurentDeLyon's picture

As french , I can tell you that Grant Williams nailed it (once again)

Cheers !