David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, with his low-key, down-to-earth visit to Granada, has shaken up both Spanish politics and provincial tourism.
Whether you are a Tory or European conservative or not, it is difficult to even be cynical about his presence here, which coincided with the Royal visit of the Prince of Wales.
The sight of David Cameron in his jeans, sneakers and T-shirt, strolling around Granada, together with his wife left the Spanish gobsmacked – how could this be the conservative head of government?
Los Granadinos were immediately reminded of the ‘vacational visit of the US First Lady, Michelle Obama to the city, which caused parts of it to be shut down and monuments commandeered – Alhambra amongst them. But here was the Prime Minister of Great Britain walking into a chemist, just like anybody else, in search of something for his wife’s headache – something that most political bigwigs would have had a minion to perform as it would be beneath their status.
The Camerons arrived on a low-cost flight, with not a whiff of a VIP lounge in sight, and stayed in a 3-star hotel. It was a lesson in humility to the Spanish political class, who couldn’t possibly travel by anything less than first class, surrounded by a swarm of advisors.
It would be naïve to suppose or claim that they were not being watched over by the security services; both Spanish and British, but there was no motorcade, no eviction of mere mortals from places that the political demi-gods might deign to visit – this was a young couple, relaxing, going for walks along hiker routes, eating in humble eating houses and refusing any attempts for grateful establishment owners to invite them to their meals. And it was simple fare: papas a lo pobre and croquets, amongst other humble but tasty dishes.
As for provincial tourism, the twin visit of the Prince of Wales to the old estate of the Duke of Wellington in Illora, and the Prime Minister’s laid-back visit of Granada city had many Britons and citizens of other countries looking up Granada, wondering what would attract two big names to visit the province. It put the province of Granada more firmly than ever on the tourist map.
Anyway, what could have been Mr Cameron’s only regret? When they went to the local chemist in Güejar Sierra in search of something for Samantha’s hay fever, the Prime Minister made himself understood, more than adequately, with hand gestures… Coalition partner and Liberal Party leader, Nick Clegg would have rattled off some impeccable Spanish… the clever git – can’t see this coalition lasting long, then.