By Sally Underwood • 16 March 2023 • 10:20
Image Credit: fizkes/Shutterstock
One of the things that struck me most when I moved to Spain seven years ago- even after a career working in Parliament- was how much political decisions, both large and small, affect every single part of our daily lives.
On moving here I was immediately struck, for example, by how easy it was to park for free almost anywhere; just one small policy made by local government over how many free parking spaces there would be in each area.
This small decision of course has far-reaching consequences; the ability for pensioners, the disabled, and busy parents to be able to park close to banks, schools and shops. The ability for small businesses to attract customers.
Of course, not every decision is a win and in time I began to value some of the UK’s own policies more and more for their straightforward, time-saving logic.
The gov.uk website is one genuinely excellent example of this. Whether you want to submit your tax return at three minutes to midnight on deadline day, change a car’s legal ownership, or renew your passport, pretty much most paperwork can be handled with the push of a button.
And while Spain is glorious for many things- its weather, culture and stunning natural beauty included- making bureaucracy simple is not generally known as being one of those things.
Which raises the important point; it’s only by knowing that alternatives exist, that there is another way, that any sort of change is brought about.
Because we see something done one way repeatedly we begin to think of it as normal, yet that doesn’t have to be the case.
Perhaps what Spain’s plentiful free parking and the UK’s simplified red tape really shows then is how much governments seek to gain when they share ideas.
Those fundamental policy changes which make such an impact in everyday life may not be the easiest to push through, but they certainly make a difference.
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Sally Underwood is a former aide to several former cabinet members and now contributes her views on Parliament’s ever-changing shape in her column for the Euro Weekly News.
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