Saturday, October 14, 2017

You can't get away from what is going to be.

Resultado de imagen de depressing thought

There is a real temptation to talk about the fact that today was hot enough for me to sunbathe on the terrace of the third floor; or bemoan the narrowness of parking spaces in our local shopping centre; or the fact that imitation Post-It notes do not stick as well as the real thing, or any damn thing other than the one thing that I should be writing about - the situation in Catalonia.

It is too easy to ignore the big bad world when you live in a seaside resort where you can see the horizon.  How many city dwellers actually get to see a real horizon, a natural horizon, rather than the artificiality of the barrier of construction?  And life goes on.  After all, people come here, have a walk, have a meal and then go home to real life.  Real life, for them is elsewhere - not here, by the side of the sea.

Barça are playing Athletico Madrid and are one down.  At the moment that seems more real and more important than all the crucial decisions and actions that are going to inform the development of Catalonia over the next few days.

And it is days.  The day after tomorrow the Catalan government can issue the already signed declaration of independence.  In five days time the Spanish government could declare that section 155 of the constitution has been brought into play and the government of Catalonia is now in the hands of the government of Madrid.

Or they could declare any one of a number of ‘states’ from ‘alarm’ to ‘emergency; or they could declare martial law; or impose curfews; or bring back the Guardia Civil and the Spanish national police onto the streets.  There could be further (one has happened already) roundups of political opponents; there could be jailings; there could be an all-out national disaster.

And, although the EU is still sticking to the idea that the Catalan Crisis is a ‘local’ problem for the Spanish government, anything really bad that happens in Catalonia will impact directly on Spain and then indirectly and directly on Europe and the EU.  The value of the Euro will respond to the situation in Catalonia and that will have a direct affect on the 27 other nations.  Instability is catching, and there is a price to be paid for it.

Political debate in Spain at the moment is only a little step below racism.  We are watching ultra right wing demonstrations with Franco versions of the Spanish flag, with fascist salutes, with hate slogans taking place.  We are hearing political debate reduced to simplistic nationalistic slogans.  We are seeing sides forming.

In my heart and in my head, I know that I prefer to see unity rather than division.  With all its faults I celebrate the reality of the EU as a way of bringing something like community to one of the most powerfully dysfunctional continents in the world.  We tut-tut about the multiple failures of Africa; we shake our heads at the rampant corruption of South America; we throw our hands in the air at the inability of the Middle East to sort itself out; we chide Asia for its misuse of power; we sigh at the ignorant boorishness of the present POTUS and yet, if we look carefully at what our oh-so-civilized continent is doing and not doing we should be ashamed at our inability to subscribe to a coherent system of fair government.

I am reminded of a film in which an American hangdog comic character plays a millionaire (I’ve just remembered his name, Walter Mathieu) who has lost all his money.  His bank manager explains to him that he is poor and there is nothing in the bank.  Mathieu listens patiently and then asks the manager why he has not cashed his check.  It is a variation on the TV sketch about a British soldier lost in the jungle and, after years of hiding, not being able to understand that the war was over.  It is the perennial problem of not being able to see what is in front of one’s eyes.

Mismanagement, corruption, theft and lies have been the stock in trade of politicians throughout the years as Spain has made the transition from dictatorship to democracy.  We are now living in a country where the fundamentals of decent government have been tarnished and subverted.  The fact that after years of unrelentingly appalling revelations about the criminality of PP, the minority right wing governing party, the fact that 30% of the voting population of the country would still vote for them tomorrow is, to put it mildly, depressing.  In spite of literally hundreds of members of the party and their supporters being indicted for criminal behaviour that the country still votes for them and makes them the party with the largest share of seats in parliament is astonishing.  But significant.

If the torrent of accusations, the clarity of the corruption and the arrogance of their defence is still not enough to get their base to turn away from them to a more congenially democratic and law abiding party, what will?  We are looking at a Spain that threatens to be governed in perpetuity by a party that thinks only of itself and nothing for the gullible who vote for them.  For people who look for hope for a better system to the present main political parties of PP, PSOE and Cs, I have to say that they are deluding themselves and ignoring the immediate past history of their political activity.

Spain desperately needs a radical rethink about the way that it governs itself.  Not one of the parties mentioned in the last paragraph seem to me to offer the slightest shred of evidence that they are up to the job of rewriting the constitution and producing a society that is more equal and lawful.

Catalonia is not without its own problems.  Corruption cases have to be sorted out.  The past president with his 3% and his mafia like family all have to be dealt with.  Everyone knew about the 3% and those who condoned this abuse must be rooted out of the political life of the country.  But, perhaps, with independence Catalonia might have a chance to achieve a more equal society.  Linked with the poisonous corruption of mainstream Spanish political life, it has no chance.

Perhaps Catalans are prepared for the financial, social and political problems that will be their if they call for an independence that is going to be resisted with all means possible by the central government.  Perhaps they are prepared to fight for their ‘freedom’ in spite of the economic and social cost involved.

The next seven days could be decisive in the way the country or region goes forwards or slumps.

Keep watching.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Sad thoughts from abroad!

Resultado de imagen de orwell farewell to catalonia

What can we expect in the next week or so in Catalonia?

A week, they say, is a long time in politics - indeed it is!  But what can you say about a country (Spain) where politics seems like a long dead art?  About a president (Rajoy) who seems to have no understanding about the political duties of his office?  About a division of powers of the three legs of constitutional democracy that have been blended together by the governing political party so that realistic separation does not exist?

Well, say what you like - but the reality of the responses is going to dictate the lives and livelihoods of a whole generation of people living in the country of Catalonia.

A declaration of independ
Resultado de imagen de udi signed catalonia
ence has been signed by the requisite Catalan politicians in the parliament, but its declaration has been delayed for a month to allow negotiations to proceed with the Spanish government.  A delay which was asked for by the EU as a sign of good will towards the Spanish government so that they were not forced into precipitate action.

And the response of the Spanish government?  A complete refusal to countenance any form of negotiation that might involve a realistic consideration of another and binding referendum about the independence of Catalonia.  Government leaders in Madrid have gone out of their way to say that all offers of outside mediation will be rejected because this is a Spanish internal problem.  No discussions will take place about the break up of Spain.  No!  No!  No!

The Catalan government has been given until Monday to clarify if it has actually declared UDI and, if they have not come back to heel by Thursday, then Section 155 of the Constitution will be invoked which takes away power from the Catalan parliament and allows Madrid to take over the running of the region.

The Socialist (!) party of Spain has said that if UDI is declared then they will support the right wing minority government led (!) by Rajoy in their actions against Catalonia.  The vacuous leader of the Socialist (!) party has suggested that there could be negotiations about changing the constitution and the relationship of the autonomous regions to start in six months time - as long as the Catalan government return to what the corrupt band of chancers who make up PP and PSOE call ‘the rule of law’.

For this to work, you would have to believe that the political group (PP) that engineered the rejection of a new relationship between Catalonia and the Central Spanish government and which was passed by both houses of parliament in Madrid and Barcelona, would suddenly change its mind and become reasonable.  PP was directly responsible for the rejection of something that could have assuaged Catalan resentment.  Nothing in the behaviour of PP over the last seven years since the rejection of an agreed settlement in 2010 suggests that they can be trusted in the slightest to negotiate with anything approaching honesty.

The action and inaction of PSOE and Cs have been equally disgraceful, and I treat anything they say with contempt.

So we have something of an impasse.  Neither side believes the other.  No common ground is clear.  No mediation is in the offing.  Disaster beckons.

The tensions in the Catalan parliament are clear.  There are those representatives who want an immediate declaration of UDI.  They say that the response of the Spanish government shows that they cannot be trusted.  They are going to get nothing by offering delay for negotiation because the Spanish government has clearly stated that they are not interested.

Indeed the Spanish government has noted the cracks in the Catalan government and they may well have thought that all they have to do is wait and the cracks will become open division.  Which they will exploit.

If UDI is declared then Spain will invoke Article 155.  Rule from Madrid.  This will infuriate the majority of the population of Catalonia.  There will be Civil Unrest.  Perhaps Rajoy doesn’t care.  He gains little electoral positivity from the poor showing of his corrupt party in Catalonia.  He can afford to ignore any loss of votes for his party because his status will increase elsewhere in Spain as some voters see a long delayed retribution for what they call the arrogance of Catalans and their open display of rejection of the law.

What else can this Titan of political inactivity do?  He could rule from Madrid.  As civil unrest increases and perhaps there are a few deaths he could then send in the army to, what was it the Russians used to say to justify their invasions of rebellious satellite countries? Oh yes, “We sent the army in at the request of the legitimate authorities in [insert name of country] to preserve law, order, liberty and democracy!”

They could then outlaw all the political parties that voted for UDI and signed the declaration.  They could fine, imprison and ban from political life those leaders who ‘misled’ the population.  They could then force elections in Catalonia allowing only the political parties that they deemed ‘legal’ to take part.

I am not Catalan, but from my observations of the people in this country, I do not think for a moment that they would stand by and allow this to happen.

An unsettled country would see institutions and businesses, including the sluttish banks of course, flee to Spain to be ‘safer’.  The financial situation of Catalonia would suffer, whether or not UDI was declared.  People would suffer.

But remember that Madrid is in the middle of the country.  It might be the capital of Spain, but there is no real geographical reason why the capital of Spain is where it is.  It is historical.  And Madrid has artificially bolstered the reputation and importance of the capital at the expense of other more attractive cities.  Like Brasilia, you have a ‘constructed’ capital city.  Barcelona however is on the sea, it has a port, it also has a major airport, and it is also on the main land route out of Spain through Catalonia and into France, part of the vastly important Mediterranean Corridor.  Spain will never want to lose that route, as it would cost it billions that it can't afford to construct another way through the Pyrenees.

Let me give you an example of how Madrid has engineered things.  When my postal vote for Brexit was lost, my replacement ballot was so late in getting to me that I had to go to the post office and get a special delivery of my “NO” vote against the lunacy of Brexit.  It cost a lot.  I was told by the post office people in Castelldefels that my letter would first go to Barcelona, and then it would be flown to Madrid and then be flown on to London and then to Cardiff.  Why?  Barcelona has a major international airport with direct flights to London and the UK.  But no, in order to bloat the services for Madrid and to make it appear more important than it actually is, all the mail was diverted on an extra, irrelevant leg of a pointless journey.  That story is not just about an important letter, but it is also about an attitude in Spain and Madrid.

Try as I might, I can only see disaster on the horizon.  An inflexible minority right-wing government has too much to lose by being ‘reasonable’, so I suspect that they will play true to form and think only of themselves and their party.  They have no concern for Catalonia and they will delight in using an iron fist in an armoured glove to crush what they see as a real threat to their comfortable corruption.

If Catalonia declares UDI then they will have to be in it for the long run, accept economic impoverishment and oppression and discover that it might be time to re-read some of the books that George Orwell wrote.  Those books have been considered as a literature of history, but they may now come to be considered as a guide to current affairs.

What a sad time it is that might be true!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Watching choices being fudged

I am starting to type this before Puigdemont, the Catalan President, has made his eagerly awaited (or feared) speech to parliament about the results of the referendum.  As I look at the television I see the man himself walking past a bank of flashing camera, or perhaps it wasn’t him, but that confusion matches the sense of chaos which is ‘situation normal’ for us over the past few months.

What good can come of today?  Well, if nothing else we should be a little clearer about the future of the relationship between Catalonia and Spain.

As far as I can understand the situation today, we are in a no-win position as far as Catalonia is concerned. 
Think about it. 

Resultado de imagen de puigdemont
If Puigdemont does declare UDI, he will have made a statement, but its reality and practicality will be questionable.  Spain and the central government have vowed to stop independence by any and all legal means possible.  No country has said that it will recognize the new Republic of Catalonia.  The EU has refused to play any part in the crisis other than saying that this is an internal problem for Spain.  45 mouthed some sort of support for Bromo and a united Spain when he grovelled his way to the White House – coincidentally a visit to the other side of the Atlantic when his own country was going through a fair amount of chaos, but let it pass!  The EU has said that if UDI is declared then the new Republic will be outside the EU and will have to reapply for membership.  Some of the big banks have said that they will move their registered offices from Catalonia to elsewhere in Spain because of the ‘uncertainty’.  There have been large demonstrations in Spain and in Barcelona by those who are opposed to independence and who want to stay with Spain.  The country is deeply divided.

Now the parliamentarians are entering the chamber and taking their seats, and the first faces to be shown on the benches are not friendly to the idea of independence.

Resultado de imagen de rajoy
The President of Spain has thousands of Spanish national police still stationed in Catalonia after the debacle of the referendum and he refuses to withdraw them until the situation has become normalized, i.e. Puigdemont stops talking about independence and a future binding referendum.  He has also not ruled out using Section 155 (ruling directly from Madrid) to deal with the situation in Catalonia.

Puigdemont is now in place and we are waiting for the president of the parliament to take her seat and start the session.

In a worst-case scenario: Puigdemont declares UDI; Rajoy brings Section 155 into operation; massive civil disobedience spills out on the streets of Barcelona and all the big cities.  Violence will allow Rajoy to send in troops.  Disaster.

A better case scenario: there have been talks between the two presidents and some sort of dialogue has been established.  No declaration of UDI is made, but Puigdemont is able to give real incentives for people to accept a delay and a later referendum.  There is still civil unrest as people thing that they have been cheated and the result of the referendum denied.

The session has started.  Fingers crossed.

First item is about violence against women and now the president is talking about the referendum.  The Guardian tells me that the delay was because the CUP party (the most enthusiastic about independence) were unhappy about his statement – which suggests that he is not going to declare UDI.  The Guardian also says that there have been talks between the governments, that might be something to be positive about.

He is walking a very fine tightrope.  As he speaks the television screen is showing crowds listening to him outside parliament.  They are expecting something real.  He better not disappoint them.
Well he’s said it.  He has a mandate for independence and forming an Independent Republic of Catalonia, but he is also demanding that the Spanish government accepts some form of mediation.  And he has agreed to delay the formal announcement of UDI to allow negotiations.

Now it’s the turn of a member of the party that I always refer to as a party of sluts, the Cs, who to gain a taste of power have not found it difficult to align themselves with the conservatives (PP) and at another time with the left (PSOE).  Alliances that reflect no credit on any of the parties.

Other leaders of political sections in the parliament are still talking, but international reaction is coming in and political response.
One writer has stated that Rajoy can still invoke Section 155 of the Constitution, because Puigdemont has not withdrawn the threat of UDI and indeed is stating that he has a mandate to call for UDI from the result of the referendum.

Resultado de imagen de CUP Catalonia
A rather more real threat points towards the reason for the delay in Puigdemont making his speech – the position of CUP.  If these passionate independentistas are unhappy about the delay, then they could break their alliance with Puigdemont’s party and that would take his majority away.

My view, for what it is worth, is based on watching Spanish politicians at work - and especially the politicians of the ruling party PP. 

Resultado de imagen de pp corruption spain
As I have said before elsewhere, PP as a party does not seem to be bound to the normal parliamentary and ethical considerations that I have noted through the years with British politics.  In Spain politicians do not seem to resign when the evidence against them for their wrongdoings is shocking.  They dig in and wait for it to pass.  No matter how blatant, how damning the evidence is against them, they rely on the fact that they are the ruling party and they have their grubby mitts on the levers of power. 
So, although Puigdemont’s delay is a worthwhile political offer to avert possible chaos, I very much doubt that Rajoy will sense anything much more than a suggestion of possible victory for him.  He has put his ‘reputation’ on the line and since that and his party are a damn sight more important to him than any abstract concept of ‘the people’ he could well just tough it out.

Everything is still to play for.  And could, and probably will be spread out against the next few weeks.   

And we all know what and who benefits from uncertainty.

Monday, October 09, 2017

There's no place like home?

Resultado de imagen de safety cartoon

A late night, slightly drunken telephone conversation in the early hours of the morning, offered me a safe haven in Cardiff if the situation in Catalonia descended into chaos as a result of from the referendum for independence.  While much appreciated, I felt the offer was unnecessary and made me think about early warfare.

In history going back, say, to the Middle Ages, battles could take place and, unless you were in the immediate vicinity, you probably wouldn’t know about them.  If you were living in another part of the country, you might never find out about them.  Royal houses might rise and fall and, unless you were near the centre of activity or could read, it would always be something going on beyond your imagination - and have nothing to do with the quotidian duties of your daily life.

Resultado de imagen de pictures of violence in catalonia
Today with television, radio and social media there is a (grainy) immediacy to important events as everyone with a functioning telephone uses it to take pictures or film of what they can see.  The Spanish national police brutality during the referendum in Catalonia on the first of October was captured in a horrific gallery of professional and amateur images that flashed around the world.  A friend of mine held an umbrella over a television company’s camera to capture the full violence of the Spanish police trying to stop voting in her local school - one of the focal points of trouble in Barcelona and the site of many injuries to citizens trying to vote.  No sooner had we seen one image of unprovoked barbarity than another succeeded it.  But, and this is my point, the violence was ‘over there’ in Barcelona, not ‘here’ in Castelldefels.

The scenes at our polling station (in fact my medical centre) were cheerfully chaotic.  Yes there were police there, but they did nothing to impede the vote.  Yes, when Toni came to vote there was a delay as the polling staff retrieved the hidden ballot boxes that had been put in a place of safety because of the threat of a police raid, but he was able to vote and had his photograph taken to prove that he had done so.  Yet 19 kilometres away from us Spanish police were swinging batons, dragging people by the hair, breaking fingers, firing rubber bullets and bloodying faces.

The next day there were demonstrations throughout Catalonia to protest against the police brutality.  Our demonstration was in front of the city hall.  It was well mannered and polite: kids were playing and people were sitting in the cafes drinking coffee.  It’s a week from the day of the referendum.  It’s sunny and Saturday.  The paseo next to the beach is filled with promenading visitors.  I can hear the sound of the sea as I type and not the rumble of encroaching tanks!  Life goes on.

And even if the representative of the Spanish government’s ‘apology’ for the brutality was on the we’re-sorry-anyone-was-hurt-but-you-Catalan-people-are-to blame level, it does at least admit that the publicity was the most disastrous own goal since the last corruption scandal of this scandal-prone minority government.

Having seen how badly Spain has been presented throughout Europe, surely the reasoning goes, they will do virtually anything to stop a repeat of what they did.

The key word in that last paragraph is ‘reasoning’ and the key part of that word is ‘reason’.  Unfortunately that is not something that seems to guide PP in their approach to anything, least of all Catalonia.

Even if politicians in Spain seem incapable of finding a solution to what could be a fatal problem in the modern history of this country, there have been no shortages of advice from commentators from around the world.

As a dyed-in-the-wool Guardian reader I have to admit that I have taken most of my information from that newspaper, together with a judicious seasoning from the BBC and my final position is I suppose based on a hopeful fudge.

Resultado de imagen de rajoy idiot
Although I think that the present situation is largely the fault of PP and President Rajoy, that is in the past and recriminations (no matter how necessary for one’s state of mind) do nothing to help the present position.  Both sides in recent days have conceded something by toning down their rhetoric and, although a realistic settlement seems as far away as ever, there are signs that both sides are looking for some sort of compromise.  I hope.

Let’s face it, even though the fact that the referendum took place in spite of the paranoid opposition of the government is something to be admired, the real facts of the situation are that only 42% of the electorate voted and, even though 90% of the votes case were for independence, that means that something like 36% voted for it.  Realistically, how can a country where only just over a third of the electorate voted for independence expect to be taken seriously?

But you also have to consider that in a country where the whole might of the government (with police brutality to the forefront) was unable to stop an ‘illegal’ referendum, the fact that over a third of the electorate voted to become independent suggests that there is something seriously wrong with the way that government is being implemented at the moment!

The unity of Spain is a concept that is worthwhile and positive, but that cannot be used as something to nullify any discussion about why such a sizeable and vocal minority of a constituent autonomous region is so deeply dissatisfied.

Perhaps it is too late for the German model to be used for Spain to reform Catalonia as a republic of federal state, but it does seem to me to be the best way forward.

But before that, there will have to be meaningful discussions and negotiations where everything is on the table and nothing (including another binding referendum) is excluded.

Next week could see the proclamation of UDI.  If that happens then Rajoy has not ruled out the imposition of rule from Madrid.  I shudder to think of the extent of civil disobedience if that is his chosen option.  The police, whose reputation was wiped out on October 1st, are still here as a shadow army for possible occupation.  And there are of course, the armed forces themselves.  Rajoy has said that he has ruled out nothing to support his adamant assertion that UDI will not take place.

Reality is about to get a little sharper.  By Tuesday we should know what route our politicians have taken.

Keep watching Catalonia.

Friday, October 06, 2017

How ill do you have to be before you can look at what is happening and Catalonia and accept it?


I am not good at being ill.

Resultado de imagen de cartoon illness
There are certain people who seem only to thrive when they are not well.  Rude heath for them would be exactly that, vulgar and unnatural.  As a teacher you know that the one way to get a class to talk is to ask if anyone has suffered any gory injury.  Even reticent kids will tumble over themselves to relate gruesome tales of hacked flesh, broken limbs and unsightly diseases.  Detail piles on detail as each bloody fragment is lovingly recalled.  Ask those same kids to explain in as vivid language any of their positive achievements and all you will get is a smirkingly smug enumeration of the unlikely level of Candy Crush that has been gained though abuse of opposable thumbs.

One of my great aunts made, as far as I can work out, an entire life out of having a ‘delicate heart’ and therefore had to be cossetted and due attention to her frailty had to be given to preserve her life.  Her very, very, very long life.  I think she outlived all of her sisters who had rather more sturdy hearts!  But they hadn’t worked at ill health in the single-minded way that she had.

Anyway, some accept illness, some fight illness and some have illness gifted upon them.  My compact with god was that I would be a blood donor as long as I was kept out of hospital and never had to use any of my own liquid contributions, or indeed those of anyone else.  As a sub-section of this divine agreement there was an acceptance that one-day’s incapacitating illness a year would be acceptable as long as the medicine to get better was a few hours bed rest.

Generally speaking this agreement has worked well.  I do have a couple of chronic conditions, but those don’t really count as they tend to go on and do their thing as a sort of subtle counterbalance to glowing health and are dealt with my daily pill taking, in the same way that my eyesight is ameliorated by the wearing of contact lenses.  So a day’s illness every other year or so; taking to one’s bed; getting better has been the general run of health in my life.

Now that I Am Of An Age I get a yearly flu jab and that then tends to limit my seasonal discomfort to a few sniffles and an occasional little cough.

It does not account for the generosity of partners, whose cough, runny nose, sore throat and irritating headache over the left ear is a gift that I have been trying to get rid of for the past week.

Resultado de imagen de cartoon illnessI got better (as I do) and even had an extended telephone conversation with Dianne with neither a sniff nor a liquid cough as a sure sign that the mucus had dried out when, uniquely in my experience, I had a relapse during the night and woke up much worse that I had been!  Unprecedented.  Since then I have had to cancel my Spanish lesson and start wandering around with a toilet roll to mop up what seems to be the effluent from some sort of factory in my nose.   

Resultado de imagen de cartoon illness

I have abused the reality that you can get massive (1g) painkillers over the counter in this country and then had only patchy pain free results. 

I have slept in!

That last admission is shocking and a clear indication that Something Is Wrong.

Having said all that, I do think that I am now getting better.  But it has been a salutary reminder of the fact that next United Nations Day I will of an age where virtually all the movers and shakers of the past had long gone to their graves.  With the signal exception of the painter Titian who, it is said, and who am I to disagree, did not complete his finest work until he was in his eighties.  I have no intention of searching my mind to unearth (perhaps the wrong word) more octogenarians (though Shirley Bassey and The Pope spring to mind, but let it go, let it go) to encourage me to consider that there are decades of useful life ahead of me - I am much more concerned that the life that is left is not filled with snot and snorts.

Resultado de imagen de big bang theory
The illness that has laid me low is the sort that precludes intellectual activity, so I have been watching marathon sessions of continuous episodes of The Big Bang Theory - and I still can’t sing along with the opening ditty!  I have very much enjoyed the experience, but as I get better, I find the need for more of that particular drug lessening.  It is always a good thing to find a self-weaning comedy programme!

From time to time as the programmes came and went I did manage to drag my consciousness from its mucus filled nasally blocked dungeon to make some interestingly perceptive apercus about what I was watching - but alas, those pithy observations are now in the same place as the recipients of my nasal discharge.

Resultado de imagen de westworld
As I have convinced myself that I am getting better, I have advanced to watching Westworld, the major delight of which is watching the acting and more particularly listening to the enunciation of Anthony Hopkins.  He is one of those British character actors who can make the most banal piece of dialogue sound profound.  His vocal mannerisms may be, uh, mannered, but by god they make you listen.  An unexpected pause, a slight slur, and in-drawn breath, a half look and an impeccable sense of timing - continuous pleasure.

As opposed to the political situation in Catalonia and Spain.

We have had a sort of apology for the brutality of the Spanish police by the senior representative of the Spanish Government in Catalonia.  Not from the central government you understand, where our clueless President still refuses to concede the need for dialogue and compromise.

The latest piece in the browbeating of Catalonia is the action of a couple of very big banks that have threatened to move their headquarters outside Catalonia so that they are still in the EU if the government declares UDI.

And that last paragraph gives the wrong impression.  As far as I can tell, the banks are threatening to move their registered offices out of Catalonia.  Not quite the same thing - as any two-bit shady organization hoping for a bigger return on their capital will tell you.  We can hardly look to the banks as paragons of ethical steadfastness: they go with the money and wherever their financial lawyers say they can get the best deal.  So this form of financial blackmailing is hardly new and it would be interesting to see the real outcome of moving a registered office rather than an entire organization with all its real estate.

The propaganda war is hotting up in Spain and the ‘interpretations’ of reality that we are presented with on television would gladden the heart of a nit-picking pedant like Saint Augustine.  Jesting Pilate would have a field day with the varieties of truthfulness on daily display.

The Socialist party of Catalonia is opposed to independence and they asked their followers to take no part in the referendum.  They have now asked a judicial court to block the proposed sitting of the Catalan parliament on Monday where the results of the referendum were going to be put to the representatives and where a possible UDI could be declared.

I do have some sympathy with those political parties like PP, PSOE and Cs (and their Catalan counterparts) who opposed the referendum and played no part in it.  This is a perfectly good position to take.  But.  And the big ‘but’ here is that when the referendum looked as though it was actually going to happen, everyone should have piled in and either forced the minority right-wing PP government to come to some sort of settlement with the possibility of a fully legal referendum at a future date in Catalonia, or voted ‘no’ in the referendum.  As it is now, we had over two million people defy the central government and, in spite of appalling police brutality and obstruction cast their votes.

The other parties have been wrong footed.  The vote could never have taken place if the political parties had done some politics.  But they didn’t.  And they suddenly have to deal with a disastrous/farcical situation where they fulminate about the grotesque obscenity of people casting a democratic vote.

OK, you can debate ‘legality’ and ‘illegality’ and ‘democracy’ and ‘liberty’ and ‘freedom’ and all those other high sounding words - but the reality of the situation is that a vote has been held, votes have been counted and a president is poised to declare UDI from Spain.  The posturing of the opposing political parties seems woefully inadequate and the ‘solutions’ that the government of Spain has suggested are ultimata rather than bargaining positions.

Does the Spanish government really want to send the ‘police’ in again?  Augmented by troops?  Do they really want to invoke article 155 of the Constitution and take over the government of Catalonia?  Do they really want to stick to their inflexible standpoint of absolutely no negotiation about a binding referendum some time in the future?

From the outside it must seem, especially about the disastrous pictures of police brutality, that something must give.  Some reason must prevail.  To which I say, live in Spain for a few years and see exactly how this minority PP government acts and reacts and then you will consider that anything is possible.

God help Catalonia!