My granny used to tell me – “It’s not what you say, it’s the way that you say it.” To this she might have added: “And make sure that the microphone is turned off.”
Hence a very red face this weekend for the Partido Popular leader, Mariano Rajoy. He was due to attend the “12 de octobre” military parade in Madrid as part of the nation’s celebrations of its armed forces on Sunday.
However on the day before, whilst attending a PP event in La Coruña, he told an aide “Mañana tengo el coñazo desfile” not knowing that the microphones were on.
Politely translated it means “tomorrow I have to go to a damn parade” which he indeed did. His words were taken as an insult to Spain’s military, not a happy position for a right wing politician to find himself in.
You can only imagine his embarrassment as he stood alongside the Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and King Juan Carlos, who no doubt enjoyed the spectacle all the more.
It was even more unfortunate for “Papa Smurf” Rajoy as the year before in the run up to Spain’s general election he had tried to wrap himself in the nation’s colours. Then he had called on his fellow countrymen to celebrate this national fiesta by “showing with pride” the Spanish flag.
Not that Rajoy is alone as both his predecessor José María Aznar and current premier Zapatero have been caught out by live microphones.
However pride of place must go to José Bono who in January 2004, when president of Castilla-La Mancha, called “gilipollas’ to the then British prime minister, Tony Blair. Unfortunately Bono’s aside was captured on live television. Given Blair’s popularity at the time I am not sure whether to be called a “cock sucker” was an insult or a compliment.
But I know what my granny would have said!