While Britain’s press are dwelling on the fact new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn failed to sing the national anthem during a recent ceremony to commemorate the Battle of Britain, Spain’s press have picked up on a reference Corbyn made to former Spanish dictator General Franco.
“Corbyn compares Cameron to Franco in his first speech,” said the headline in Spain's Expansión newspaper.
Corbyn became the leader of the UK's Labour party on Saturday. Photo: AFP
Speaking at the Trades Union Congress in Brighton on September 15th, Corbyn launched a stinging attack on British Prime Minister David Cameron and his Conservative party for their anti-union tactics which he argued that even members of his own party had compared to strategies used under Spain's fascist regime.
“We have to oppose it and recognise what they are doing. The burdens they are placing, as one Tory MP admitted, is actually the strategy used by General Franco in Spain. They seem to still think that it's right just to attack trade unions because they exist. I'm proud to be a trade unionist…” he said during the speech.
Corbyn was attacking the threat to free speech posed by the British government’s controversial Trade Union Bill, which has been criticized for its aim to introduce higher voting thresholds for industrial action, as well as measures that could ban strikers from using social media
The new Labour leader has argued that free speech is under threat because the bill puts limits on what trade union members can say on social media during an industrial dispute.
Corbyn has already hit the headlines in Spain, winning comparisons with Pablo Iglesias, leader of left-wing, anti-austerity party, Podemos.
Corbyn's victory as leader of the Labour party is great news, it's a step forward towards a change in Europe for the benefit of the people.
— Pablo Iglesias (@Pablo_Iglesias_) September 12, 2015
Iglesias was quick to congratulate Corbyn on winning the Labour leadership contest, writing an article in Spanish newspaper El País with the headline: “Why is everyone talking about the British Pablo Iglesias?”
Conservative MP David Davis originally compared parts of the Trade Union Bill to tactics used by Franco in an interview with Sky News on September 13th.
He described parts of the bill – such as making individual people on picket lines register with the police – as “OTT”, saying “What is this? It isn’t Franco’s Britain, this is Queen Elizabeth II’s Britain”.
Franco – who seized power in Spain following the Civil War in 1939 – outlawed all but one trade union in the country, driving the others underground, and banned strikers outright.
The British Trade Union Bill votes voted through by MPs during its second reading in the British parliament on September 14th despite fierce opposition from Corbyn.
David Cameron recently visited Madrid, where he held talks with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy over the deepening refugee crisis in Europe.