The Catalan Blackout

The Catalan government has announced its intention to hold a referendum on independence on October 1st.  The ballot will be held in defiance of the Spanish government which has decreed it illegal.

This isn’t news.  It’s been known for quite some time that both governments were at odds over the holding of an independence referendum.

A rally by pro-independence Catalans, scheduled to be held on Monday September 11th – Catalonia’s National Day – received coverage on BBC Scotland on the morning of the event.  You can hear the item below.


So far so expected.  However things were about to change.

News reports emerged on social media suggesting the Spanish government was employing highly aggressive methods in a bid to thwart the democratic process.

Catalan TV was asked to stop reporting on material or actions that could lead to the holding of a referendum.

A campaign video aimed at encouraging Catalans to vote in the referendum was judged illegal.

Police raided municipal buildings searching for ballot boxes, voting papers and other material associated with the referendum.  Offices of Spain’s biggest private delivery company Unipost were raided.

That morning, Wednesday September 13th, a short item appeared on Good Morning Scotland in the form of a 23 second long news bulletin.


Later on that day the situation escalated further when Madrid ordered 712 Catalan Mayors to submit to questioning or face arrest.

A referendum website owned by the Catalan government was seized by Madrid.  Spanish postal staff were ordered not to handle referendum material.

In an unprecedented move, the Spanish government seized control of the Catalan government’s finances, withdrawing the power for it to pay its civil servants and other public sector personnel.  Spanish Prime Minister Mario Rajoy has threatened to cut power to polling stations.

As the situation escalated further BBC Scotland’s interest waned.  More coverage was given to an off the cuff remark by an SNP MSP regarding the island status of Skye than was given to a democratic crisis in a nation state previously deemed significant in terms of Scotland’s own independence debate.

So bad was the situation that the Danish government condemned the behaviour of Madrid.  EU President Jean-Claude Juncker made a significant intervention, declaring the EU would respect a Catalonian Yes vote.  But still BBC Scotland refused to budge.

This was the corporation that couldn’t wait to headline comments from the Spanish Prime Minister during our own indyref.  Indeed even after Brexit, BBC Scotland didn’t just report comments from the Spanish government, they led Reporting Scotland with them.

But there was nothing from Pacific Quay, which went about its daily business of car crashes, murders and football … and an attack on our own second referendum by Vince Cable.  How ironic.

There’s no doubt that BBC Scotland has shown a quite shocking lack of interest in the events taking place in Catalonia.  The parallels with Scotland are obvious.  Both have devolved government’s who back independence.  Both parliaments have a majority of parliamentarians who back independence.  Both parliaments have voted to hold a referendum.  Both have had their democratic mandates ignored by the ‘parent’ state government.

The Catalan government has adopted a different path to that of the SNP administration.  The pro-independence Catalan administration is set to defy Madrid, and something has got to give.  If Madrid continues its present course then we could see conflict on the streets of Catalonia.  If the referendum goes ahead we could see a unilateral declaration of independence from the Catalan government.

The situation is both fascinating and frightening.  I for one dearly hope that common sense breaks out in Madrid and the Catalans allowed to vote.  After all, what would Madrid gain if it prevents a democratic referendum through force?

Widespread international coverage would apply pressure on Madrid.  Every news bulletin widens exposure.  Every report opens more eyes.  And that helps the Catalans.  Indeed the Spanish government has already conceded it is losing the news battle after it emerged it asked its diplomats to get in touch with foreign media outlets in a bid at softening coverage of its actions.

It can’t though control social media which is why Scotland’s independence community has rallied behind their Catalan cousins.  Twitter stepped in where BBC Scotland wouldn’t.  The social media platform has kept Scotland’s online community up to date on the situation.  SNP MPs and MSPs as well as former MPs have posted messages of support on the social media platform.

On Saturday the Scottish government issued its own carefully worded statement.  It said simply that the people of Catalonia should be allowed to decide their own future.  The statement should have jolted BBC Scotland into providing serious coverage of the situation.  Below is what was broadcast.

Seventeen seconds with no mention whatsoever of the reason for the statement or the powder-keg situation that was developing.

On Wednesday September 20th, Twenty four SNP MSPs wrote to the Council of Europe President Donald Tusk asking him to intervene.  The letter coincided with news that Spanish police had raided Catalan government buildings in Barcelona and arrested 14 senior officials.  Tensions are high.

That same day BBC Scotland finally caved in to social media pressure and covered the situation.  Below is the item that was broadcast on Radio Scotland just before 5pm on Wednesday.


It’s a pretty decent summary, although the English journalist living in Barcelona can’t help himself as he uses pejorative terms to describe independence supporters.

So why did BBC Scotland turn a blind eye to the events as they unfolded for almost a week?  Why was a story so clearly relevant to the situation in Scotland and with obvious parallels ignored?

I ran my own poll on twitter and asked respondents to choose one of three options.  The result is shown below.

Ninety four percent of respondents believe BBC Scotland failed to report the Catalan crisis because it is institutionally corrupt.  It’s only social media of course and many of those who took part in and shared the poll will have been sympathetic to independence and Catalonia.  That said, the sheer scale of the result should be cause for concern at BBC Scotland.

The station got it wrong.  It should have been providing regular updates for Scottish licence payers and had discussions with people on the ground.  Employing a virtual news blackout was the wrong option.

“The issue that is at stake today isn’t the independence — or not — of Catalonia,” Raül Romeva, Catalonia’s foreign affairs chief, told a group of foreign correspondents in Madrid on Wednesday, “but democracy in Spain and the European Union.”


“There is no alternative, absolutely no alternative,” he said. “There are only two projects now on the table: a democratic project or repression.”

If the Spanish government succeeds in preventing a democratic vote from taking place then who’s to say Scotland won’t be next?  This story needs reporting … now!


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10 thoughts on “The Catalan Blackout

  1. Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh

    In the final 17 second video clip above (16/09/17), the newsreader’s pronunciation of the word “Catalonia” is intriguing. It is enunciated in an “astonished” tone of voice. This signal is reinforced by raised eyebrows. Was an effort being made to subliminally predispose viewers into finding the Scottish Government’s statement ridiculous?

    1. Clydebuilt

      Aye, and around 8.15am also. . . . Would they have done so if GAP hadn’t posted this article.

      Good effort GAP

      1. Jockanese Wind Talker

        Potentially @Clydebuilt it is due to this article but given that the BBC in Scotland have ignored previous items by GAP and Prof John Robertson highlighting their hypocrisy.

        I suspect the arrest of 15 Catalan Government Officials or “Separatist Officials” as the BBC in Scotland are describing them could not be blacked out.

        Let us see if the BBC change their modus operandi as a result of


  2. bringiton

    Personally speaking,the BBC are no longer relevant to me,I never watch their “news” or current affairs programs.
    As far as Madrid are concerned,should they succeed,they will have given every quasi democratic government in Europe and beyond a blue print for suppressing democratic processes they dissaprove of.
    Control of the police and other state enforcement agencies is vital,without which,nothing else can happen for them.
    In Scotland,our courts and parliament have been made subordinate to London institutions by Phony Blair and friends but,for now,they do not control our police force,despite the efforts of unionist politicians.
    Their main method of control is through state owned media and supportive press Barons.
    Should people become immune to the propaganda from London however,then they will have to find other means to control us and Spain is now showing the way.
    No surprises that the British state broadcaster doesn’t want Scots to know what is happening in Catalunya,especially with the one nation (indivisible) propaganda message coming from the present UK regime.

  3. Alasdair Macdonald

    It looks to me as if, what used to be called ‘a revolutionary situation’ is developing in Catalunya. A large and determined section of the Catalan population is being opposed by an increasingly intransigent Spanish state which is deploying aggressive policing. Are the Spanish armed forces ‘exercising’ nearby?

    Spain does not have a great history of democracy and Madrid is responding as the Caudilla did and as Spanish Monarchs as far back as Isabella and Ferdinand have done. “History repeats itself”, but the context in which it happens changes. With IT the scenes of repression will circle the globe in seconds. In the Basque areas, in Galicia, in the Asturias the people have become accustomed to exercising powers in their own interests. The EU was established to maintain peace in Europe especially between Germany and France, and has been pretty successful in maintaining peace for more than 60 years. Will there be confrontation and bloodshed or will the much-maligned diplomatic channels produce a ‘compromise’?

    It seems clear to me that BBC Scotland is under instruction to play down the Catalan case and to resume the ‘Project Fear’ approach. However, in the context of Brexit, 2017 is not 2014. The Westminster state is at loggerheads with itself about which faction of the Conservative Party will win control. This is how all empires in history have fallen. Remember that in the phrase, ‘the barbarians are at the gates of Rome’, these barbarians are Catalans, Basques, Gallego, Scots? Irish? Sards? etc…

  4. Robert Graham

    Before my attention was drawn to what the bbc in scotland do and have done , I would have probably regarded Pacific Heights output as just a news outlet , no manipulation or distortion just news .

    My have my eyes been opened , this government controlled propaganda outfit and what it does particularly in scotland , i doubt if other parts of the bbc operate the way the scottish branch operate with the sole purpose of protection of the british state and therefore the Union .
    They use the same methods to discount any criticism of them in the same way the US government has neutered any discussion on UFO incidents , they label every attempt to highlight anything as the delusions of nutters and cranks .

    This is how the bbc in scotland get away with their own particular brand of mis reporting its simply beyond belief ,preposterous ,the work of rabid independence supporters . Job Done .

  5. Kangaroo

    There is nothing on the news here either. The only item from Barcelona was the story of the Australian 7yr old boy who was killed in the terror attack two weeks back and that his classmates remembered him with a costume party at school.

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