YOU HAVE to feel sorry for the Spanish. Since casting off decades of Franco's dictatorship in 1975, they have democratised, modernised, and generally worked extremely hard to create what looked until recently an enviable country. But what to many in Scotland looked highly desirable - the decentralised political system and especially the tax autonomy enjoyed by the Basque country - now looks a severe handicap to Spanish attempts to right its struggling economy.
Over the weekend, the European Central Bank's decision to buy the bonds of the Spanish and Italian governments brought those countries back from the brink of having to default on their debts. It remains to be seen whether the move is enough to prevent the need to extend the bail-out loans given to Greece, Ireland, and Portugal to Spain and Italy. But for the moment a breathing space has been bought.