Like a lot of others I have followed developments in Catalunya with some alarm.
Lets be clear I support Catalan independence .
I dont think that our media has covered the situation well. They were slow to react and have presented us with a very binary black and white portrait.
The story we are told is Catalans v Spanish. It isnt that simple. There are Catalans who do not support independence but who do want to have a referendum to decide the issue. There are some in Catalunya who support the Madrid government.
There is no doubt most of the rest of Spain is against Catalan independence but there have been demonstrations in some
parts of Spain in support of Catalan iñdependence or in support of their right to have a referendum . There were some 35,000 on a march in Bilbao. There was even a protest in Madrid.https://elpais.com/elpais/2017/09/21/inenglish/1505987736_215850.html
So we can see this is not a simple case of Catalans v Spanish.
What has happened is that the Generalitat has passed two laws. One was a referendum act and the other a temporary transitional constitution for independent Catalonia. The Generalitat also said they would declare independence 48 hours after any yes vote. This left the Madrid government under pressure to react. These acts are not allowed under the Spanish constitution which Catalans agreed to in 1978 shortly after the end of Francos dictatorship. Some Spaniards are demonstrating against Rajoy s government for 2 broad reasons
1 They think that the Spanish constitution,created in the aftermath of a dictatorship needs to be altered to support peoples right to self determination.
2 Some Spaniards are concerned that Mr Rajoys party was founded by the rump of Francos supporters is too authoritarian
What has not been made clear is that the Spanish Constitutional Court has suspended the two laws passed by the Generalitat, it has not at the time of writing ruled that the acts are in breach of the Spanish Constitution. Jose Marti is a proffessor of law in Barcelona
Yet Madrid has already acted to effectively take direct control over Catalunya. They have taken control of the Generalitat finances , officials have been arrested, newspaper offices have been inspected etc. As Marti said in his blog many people see this action as heavy handed and anti democratic.
Marti also said in his blog that the Mossos d’Esquadra (Catalan police) have as an institution largely decided to follow Spanish law. Yet Madrid has decided to send in the much more military style Guardia Civil. The Guardia Civil have had only a tiny presence in Catalunya since 1978 due to their strong connections with Franco.
So it seems clear that Madrid will prevent the referendum taking place even if that means arresting people for organising or facilitating the referendum in any way.
There is a need for mediation and I hope that either the E.U. or the U.N. will step forward.
So what does all this mean for us in Scotland ?
It is really important that our status as a nation within a union of states rather than a region within a unitary state as is the case with Catalunya.The Edinburgh agreement was a great example of democracy and we should aim for that again but we should not assume that such an agreement will be possible in the future. The current UK government is very different from Camerons government in 2012. We know that many Yessers are watching events in Catalonia, so you can be sure that the Unionist side will be watching too. They will be alarmed if there should be any kind of intervention by the E.U. or U.N. on what they will see as a purely internal matter for Spain as this would possibly set a precedent for an indyref without agreement from the UK government.
Some of those Catalans against indy but in favour of greater autonomy put forward the same position that we have heard from Scots who feel both Scottish and British.
Two hopeful signs from Catalunya
1 The demonstrations have been overwhelmingly peaceful.
2 When there was a potential flashpoint the commander of the mossos d esquadra (catalan police) ordered his men to escort guardia civil officers through the crowd of protestors preventing a possible confrontation