We have to stand beside the Catalans if they declare independence

Last week I argued that the Scottish Government couldn’t follow the lead of the Catalonian Government and call an independence referendum in defiance of Westminster.  At least not as things stand.

My reasoning was simple.  Scotland has a pro-Union broadcast and print media.  This media machine would immediately swing right behind Westminster.

Nicola Sturgeon would be attacked relentlessly by the same outlets that acted as conduits for Project Fear during the first Indyref.  The referendum would be delegitimised by the fourth estate.

It wouldn’t be a risk worth taking to call a second referendum without obtaining a Section 30 order from the UK Government.  Sometimes though risks have to be taken.  Principle requires it.


The Catalan Government will officially announce the result of its independence referendum in a few days.  That result will confirm an overwhelming vote in favour of independence from Spain.  Following this, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont will declare Catalonia independent.

Madrid will of course ignore the declaration.  The Spanish Government has already deemed the referendum illegal.  In a speech on Tuesday, King Felipe VI backed the actions of the Spanish Government and implicitly threatened to invoke Article 155 which would suspend the Catalan Parliament.  Catalonia would in effect become a colony of Spain, its citizens indefinite prisoners of a constitution written in 1978 that denies them free democratic expression.

If and when the declaration of independence is made by Catalonia, I would hope to see a message of support from our own First Minister.  That message needs to recognise the right of the Catalan people to choose their own destiny, even if that involves a unilateral declaration of independence.

Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish Government cannot formally recognise Catalonia as an independent state.  Scotland is not yet a state in its own right.  Any message of support will thus be couched in carefully worded language.  But any statement needs to make clear that Scotland’s Government recognises the result of the referendum and that the Catalan President is now obliged to declare independence.

Why obliged?  Because the Catalan Parliament has mandated President Carles Puigdemont to make such a declaration.  Under the referendum legislation passed by the Catalan Parliament, the Catalan Government has 48 hours after the result is finalised to declare independence from Spain.  If Puigdemont does nothing, he is effectively accepting the referendum was not legitimate.  His people were beaten for nothing.

The pro-Union Scottish media will of course seek to attack the Scottish Government should any statement appear to endorse the Catalan declaration of independence.  The BBC is already pushing the line that the referendum was not legitimate because of a poor turnout.

Two things to say about the BBC reporting.  Firstly, turnout for the referendum was not 42%, it was nearer 57% according to initial estimates.  The reason for the drop was that Spanish police seized ballots.  They stole around a quarter of the votes.  To achieve 57% in the face of such police brutality and while some polling stations were sealed off, is incredible.

Secondly, a 68% majority on a turnout of 42% was deemed acceptable when the UK Government held the ‘Alternative Vote’ referendum in 2011.  If it’s OK when people are being encouraged to vote then it’s OK when people are being beaten in an attempt at preventing them from voting.

The indications are that official figures will show Catalans voted by over 90% for independence.  It’s likely that this result would have been replicated had the stolen votes been counted as well.  Extrapolating these results and it’s clear that even with a turnout approaching 80%, the pro-independence vote would win.

Many Unionists in Scotland have been critical of the Scottish Government’s pronouncements on the Catalan referendum.  Some have actually sided with the Spanish.  To them the rule of law takes precedence over the right to vote.  I’d argue that this is a debate the Scottish Government should be happy to bring out into the open.

By standing with the Catalans the Scottish Government will be standing with democracy and standing against fascism.  By backing President Puigdemont’s right to declare independence the Scottish Government will be recognising the mandate of another devolved parliament.

If Scotland’s Unionists want to stand alongside Madrid then let them do so openly.  Let them defend the violence.  Let’s hear then back a government that refuses to let people vote.  Let them attack Scotland’s devolved government just as the Spanish Government suspends Catalonia’s Parliament.  I think their actions might backfire.

Let’s be on the right side of history.

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5 thoughts on “We have to stand beside the Catalans if they declare independence

  1. Lorna Campbell (LC)

    I think, Peter A. Bell, that we, in Scotland, could not, at the moment, rely on a turnout for YES large enough to even contemplate a second indyref. We are not Catalunya. We are not even Quebec. What was achieved in indyref1 was nothing short of miraculous in the circumstances, but too many Scots are still suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, and we cannot rely on their being willing to stick their necks out. We need to lay the ground well before we call indyref2, but call it we should at some point before Brexit.

  2. m biyd

    Peter, I said it elsewhere yesterday as you note today. The BBC was pushing the line that only 2M voted from a population of 7.2M. No mention was made of the fact that the electorate in Catalonia is 5.6M and 800k votes were confiscated or indeed that people were either prevented from voting or were too intimidated to vote.

    Passing along the Kingsway in Dundee sunday past I noticed someone has put up a saltire on one of the carriageway bridges with the lettering UDI emblazoned. That is the way for Scotland to go. The Scottish Government pays the police so can call the tune and deal with the Unionist media accordingly.

  3. David MacGille-Mhuire

    This analysis is by Mr Ponsonby and not Mr Bell: Both cracking at what they do (just a wee heads up).

  4. Robert Graham

    Scottish unionists who support the actions of the Spanish government , All of their actions

    Maybe want to think this one through , While they are happy and content to have the assistance of 99.99% of the media including the National Broadcaster cheering on their every move , and stoutly defending this Union .

    What if what if the rolls were suddenly reversed , their beloved Union was trashed every single day 24/7 relentless propaganda and even downright lies to reinforce the propaganda.

    I imagine they might be a little miffed , who to turn too ? the media ? covered , the bbc covered , newspapers covered . everything blocked , while they accept this situation is fine for half of scotland but would feel upset if it was happening to them , WAKEN UP IT’S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW , and could easily happen to them .

    How would they feel after being attacked by faceless out of control Paramilitary psychopaths by having the cheek in wanting to vote , who is going to assist them , come to their aid , Learn from recent history it dosnt take much to run with the mob , just the acceptance oh well its our side , things get a bit heated , and the badges we stitched on their clothes are just so we know who they are , Strike a Chord ? what other regime started this way this mob rule. all because people stayed quiet because it wasnt happening to them .

  5. Geacher

    “The referendum would be delegitimised by the fourth estate.” No, it would delegitimised because it would be contrary to the law and the constitution of the UK, and it would be an act of folly which would alienate many of the more intelligent of independent movement. Sod all to do with the fourth estate.
    “The Spanish Government has already deemed the referendum illegal.” No, the Spanish law and constitution deems the referendum illegal.
    “The BBC is already pushing the line that the referendum was not legitimate because of a poor turnout.” No it was not legitimate for the reasons I have outlined above.
    You are correct when you say that the Spanish authorities confiscated many of the ballot boxes so not all the votes were counted, but you neglect to mention that the Catalonian people who intended to vote were urged to download and print off ballot papers, and due to the lack of voting controls, there is clear evidence voters multi voting.
    The problem you have is that any positive reaction about the work you do with regards to the bias and propaganda shown by our MSM is diluted by the way that you use the exact same devious and underhand tactics in your own writing. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

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