A short story from Catalonia

In September 2012, while Scotland and England were preparing  to sign the Edinburgh Agreement, the Catalan independence movement forced the Catalan Government to take radical steps towards independence.

Yes, it’s like comparing apples and pears when looking at Scottish and Catalan independence, and of course there are many, many differences.

However, the purpose of this short piece, is not to compare one with the other, but to tell the story of how the Catalan movement took the decisive step in 2012 to push for independence.

They organised, they pressurised, they coalesced: they moved.  They did not sit and watch their elected leaders do nothing.

There can be no more pertinent story for the YES movement in Scotland to hear.

Catalonia and Scotland’s independence movements were re born in 2012

In June 2012, Catalan independentistas, welcomed the first ever poll that gave Catalan independence a lead, all be it a small one, with 51.5% responding, that they were in favour of Catalan independence.

The mood of the country seemed to have switched and after the massive and unprecedented La Diada celebrations on the 11th September, the demand became tangible.

A poll, simply numbers on a pie chart. It is numbers on the street that really matter. Evidence backed up, in colour.

Over 1.5 million people marched in Barcelona to demand that the Catalan President Artur Mas listen to the movement.

The messages were clear: head to Madrid and demand concessions for Catalonia or lose office. Independence is bigger than you and your party.

The last seven incredibly rocky years for the Catalan independence movement started that 11th of September.

One month later Scotland and England would sign The Edinburgh Agreement.

This was no simple coincidence: both movements paid close attention to the machinations that were taking place in the UK and Spain that year and the Catalans demanded what had been offered to Scotland.

And so it has continued. Over those seven years, Scotland and Catalonia, have looked at each others journeys. During the ebbs and flows it is easy to reflect on specific moments and wonder……

Would the Edinburgh agreement ever have been signed if David Cameron had woken up one Summer morning, to find a poll putting YES ahead?

Would Catalonia be independent, if Spain had allowed a similar referendum in 2014?

But back to 2012

That year the Catalan independence movement faced off against a conservative leader of a political party immersed in the establishment.

Of course many will see the similarity with Scotland in 2019. How does the YES movement persuade a conservative leader of a political party immersed in the establishment to make a radical move?

To many independence supporters in Scotland a radical move (or any move) in the next two years by Nicola Sturgeon seems impossible.

The SNP’s “waiting game” appears to be an unshakable political position.

So what have we to learn from Catalonia?

A movement moves, it doesn’t wait

Such was the display of strength by the Catalan independence movement, that on the day after the La Diada, the Catalan President, for the first time, came out in favour of independence. It was a seismic shift in Spanish politics.

Until that decisive event run by the ANC and Òmnium, Artur Mas has let Catalan independence gather dust on the Spanish political shelf.

It was an amazing slight of foot for a politician.

Almost overnight he changed his mind, or more precisely, he had his mind changed by 1.5 million people.

President Mas, from respected establishment politician, to radical, Artur, man of the people, ready to head to Madrid and demand concessions for Catalonia.

A conservative and a Conservative political beast, plotting a radical course towards independence. It shock all of Spain.

It took this radical, brave and daring transformation of a political leader to supercharge the demand for Catalan independence. But the spark came from the two professional, civil, non political, organisations that supported independence.

Oh, to have only one of those organisations in Scotland!

What does this Catalan story tells us?

Well, maybe it is that anything can happen. Maybe it’s that one poll can make all the difference. Maybe it is that one march or demonstration can matter.

However, I believe there is one definitive and definite lesson for Scottish independence:

A movement has to move, and it can not continue to be led by a conservative leader of a conservative political party.

The YES movement should not wait for politicians.

The YES movement should not be led by politicians.

The YES movement is bigger than any politician or any political party.

A movement has to move, and it is time to move.

 

 

 

England will eat itself. And Scotland isn’t on the menu.

If you see Scottish independence through the double prism of English nationalism and disaster capitalism, Scottish independence seems tantalisingly close.  

The combination of English nationalism and disaster capitalism does not bode well for rUK, and no Scot should look at this sorry state and take any pleasure.

The xenophobic undercurrent of English nationalism has the potential to tear England apart, while ripping it from the international community.

The power of the disaster capitalists has the potential to damage the fabric of society even more than the right wing nature of populist Englishness.

So how can Scottish nationalists find solace in this awful situation for the rump of the UK?

English nationalism is no longer empire revivalist

The Tories would rather face Scottish independence than lose Brexit.  The poll taken in June, in reality, surprised no one (besides Ruth Davidson).

As Brexit has unfolded, it has become clear that nothing is more important than England taking its rightful international and sovereign place and acting as an independent nation.

The “unionist” part that currently sits beside the “conservative” bit, in Ruth’s party, seems to be fading as quickly as the summer.

So what led to the jettisoning of half of the Tory party moniker? Brexit.

Brexit

There were many forces behind the EU referendum result in 2016, but it seems that one of those forces, English nationalism, has come to the fore.

Brexit, for many, means a no deal, or what we were calling a “hard Brexit” only a few months ago. That deal will be hard for most, but for those disaster capitalists it will provide a feeding frenzy.

It means the UK (as it stands at the moment, led by England) acting unilaterally in many areas where once they sat with European partners.

It is England first.

And it puts the interests of Scotland and Northern Ireland in a distance last place.

So how does this impact Scottish independence?

Well, the simple fact is that if you won’t be missed, no one will bother too much about you leaving.

The idea that Westminster will close Holyrood and starve Scotland of democratic representation doesn’t fit into the narrative of English exceptionalism.

The Westminster elite know that Scottish independence is coming. They can slow it down, but they simply don’t have the power or the public support to stop it. English nationalism simply won’t allow the idea that England needs Scotland.

England clearly doesn’t need the EU and to most English nationalists, England does not need Scotland.

There is a new narrative in town: unions don’t work. They chain the beast that is England and it is better to break all unions. Bye, bye Scotland. England doesn’t need you.

This blind belief has come home to roost over the summer.

There just isn’t the political will in England for a “campaign war chest” to keep Scotland in the union. 

MORE money for the Jocks? Are you having a giraffe?

With a metropolitan narrative of Scotland as a subsidy junky (you do this by looking solely at what is spent, rather than the difference between income and expenditure) there is clearly little appetite to put more effort into a cause, that only leads to MORE money leaving England.

Despite the temptation for many Scottish nationalists to spend time correcting this subsidy junky narrative, the truth doesn’t play into our hands.

English nationalists need to know (ignorant of the facts) that England doesn’t need the other nations in the UK, and that should be just fine for us.

Scotland, the sooner rid, the better.

This belief in the unconditional power of England, is what sits behind English nationalism, and in the short term, it will see its way to lessening the fight to stop Scotland leaving the UK.

English nationalism won’t allow a space where it has to admit that England needs Scotland.

We will have to wait a couple of years for Scottish independence because the break up of the UK will be the second course for the disaster capitalists.

Westminster can only deny Scotland an exit until the disaster capitalists have fed on the carcass of the UK brought to slaughter, by the folly of Brexit.

Then and only then, will Westminster concede the inevitable.

There is no disaster, only change

According to English and British nationalists, Scotland leaving the “precious union” will not bring any financial disaster for rUK, but of course it will bring about change. It will be the disaster capitalists running the UK government who will have to react to that change.

With Scottish independence, England will have rid itself of the spongers from the North, in much the same way as England has jettisoned the EU gravy train in the east. When Northern Ireland rejoins the Republic, the spongers in the west will disappear too.

England will be ready to flourish again.

So how will it do that? Simple, give the neo-liberals a free run.

The first phase in the great UK mega sale, is Brexit. The second phase is the break up of the UK. And no UK government is going to pull that menu away from under the noses of the disaster capitalists.

Post Brexit

By 2021 the UK government led by disaster capitalists one and all (what role for arch neo-liberal Liam Fox?) will be ready to listen to Scotland’s demands, legal arguments, opinion polls, or even possibly a referendum result.

And listen they will because the prizes available after the breakup of the UK are just too large.

The chance to open up the defence industry? Too good to miss. Just imagine the bounty for private firms as they fight over the contract to move nuclear weapons, store them and build a base?

How can those disaster capitalists pass up the chance to re-evaluate the infrastructure of rUK, when its biggest neighbour becomes independent?

Imagine the size of the government fracking contracts to replace the flow of oil and gas from the north?

rUK loses a lot when Scotland leaves.

However, the break up of the UK keeps 90% of it under control of the juiced up neo-liberals. And that is more than enough to feast on.

Scottish independence is in the interests of disaster capitalists and it plays into the narrative of English nationalism.

MPs who display these two traits will be in a position of power in the coming refreshed UK government, and those Ministers will not stand in the way of Scotland’s independence.

The next few years will be tough but Scottish independence is coming, not because the UK Government doesn’t want it, but because it does.