The columnist: Spanish dictator General Franco was a secret newspaper writer

The far-right dictator wrote about Britain using the pen name ‘Macaulay’

Graham Keeley
In Madrid
Monday 01 November 2021 18:49
<p>Secret writer: Spain’s General Franco</p>

Secret writer: Spain’s General Franco

Leer en Español

Newspaper columnists tend to be high-profile.

But one writer who wanted to keep quiet about his very secret identity, it turns out, was the Spanish dictator General Francisco Franco.

New research has shown that the man who ruled Spain from 1939 to 1975 wrote articles under a pseudonym in a state-run newspaper, Arriba, and was even not averse to giving Britain some advice on how to run the country, albeit under a false identity.

Franco used three pseudonyms to write about current affairs in the newspaper.

He used the name Hispanicus when he wrote about national affairs, and, most bizarrely perhaps, Jakin Boor when he wanted to voice his opinion about the Freemasons, a group to which he was opposed. And if he wrote about international affairs he used the pen name Macaulay, believed to be a reference to Thomas Macaulay, a 19th-century Whig politician.

In 1947, he aimed his attention at the economic difficulties of post-Second World War Britain. Despite the opposition of the Labour Party to the Franco regime, the Spanish dictator said he did not lay all of the blame for Britain’s plight at the door of the left-wing government, headed by Clement Attlee.

Franco wrote: “Pretending to attribute to Labour all the errors [and] misfortunes of the British nation constitutes for us an injustice and a regrettable error, nor will conservative formulas serve any purpose, nor is it the capitalist order which can save Great Britain in the hour of its misfortune.”

After the Allied victory in 1945, Britain’s economy was in disarray, with key industries like transport and coal desperately short of equipment and in poor repair. The country had nothing to export, and no way to pay for imports or even food.

The lend-lease scheme with the US, upon which Britain depended for its necessities and arms, ended in 1945, and London had to negotiate a new $3.75bn loan from Washington.

In international terms, Britain was bankrupt, and rationing lasted into the 1950s.

Enrique de Aguinaga, a former journalist, has unearthed copies of the 1947 Franco articles which show the copy before and after the censor cut out key paragraphs relating to Britain.

The article referring to Britain appeared on 26 August 1947, according to Mr de Aguinaga. Ironically, a censor cut out the paragraphs about Labour, possibly because of the party’s opposition to the Franco regime in Spain.

“Because the British left was against Franco, the censor, a civil servant who was ignorant of who Macaulay was, wrote over the paragraphs (about Labour) in red,” he told newspaper La Vanguardia.

The same censor also highlighted in red a paragraph in which Franco denied that the Spanish press was censored.

During the dictatorship, Franco imposed censorship on everything from the books of George Orwell and Ernest Hemingway to song lyrics and even James Bond films.

Even after his death, this censorship lives on in some of these works as their Spanish versions have not been restored to their original versions, according to 2016 research undertaken by Jordi Cornella, a lecturer in Hispanic studies at Glasgow University.

Many of Bond’s sexually explicit exploits are missing from Spanish versions of the books on the shelves in bookshops today, while references to lesbians in a Hemingway novel were changed to say that the women were “good friends”.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in