Sunday, 22 October 2017

Imagine if the Catalan situation was happening in Scotland

One of the easiest ways to get an idea of how extreme the situation in Catalonia is, just imagine if the same scenario had been playing out in Scotland.

If this was happening in Scotland

Imagine that Nicola Sturgeon had used her democratic mandate from the Scottish parliament to unilaterally call another independence referendum, and that Theresa May's responses were to launch a sustained campaign of cyber attacks against the Scottish government and pro-independence websites.

Let's say that the cyber-attacks were an inconvenience, but the referendum went ahead anyway, so on the day of the referendum Theresa May sent thousands of police from English forces into Scotland to steal ballot boxes, drag women out of polling stations by their hair, beat up Scottish pensioners, and brutally attack crowds of non-violent Scottish civilians, all recorded by onlookers and broadcast to the world via social media.

Let's say that Theresa May refused to condemn, or even acknowledge the violence.

Then let's say that the Queen makes a speech in which she also refuses to condemn the violence, and blames the Scottish government, and the Scottish people for what is happening, and in front of a portrait of Henry VIII (who sent Edward Seymour to pillage and slaughter in Scotland).

Now let's say that a loud-mouthed member of Theresa May's cabinet decided to issue a veiled death threat against Nicola Sturgeon, but Theresa May and the Tories refuse to reprimand, let alone sack the blabber-mouthed gibbon who made the threats.

Now let's say that the ruling establishment in London decide to arrest the heads of civic Scottish independence groups (Common Weal, Radical Independence Campaign) and imprisoned them without trial.

Let's say that in response to calls for dialogue from Nicola Sturgeon, Theresa May's next move is to continue refusing to talk, and to actually collude with Jeremy Corbyn in order to shut down the Scottish parliament, take over control of the Scottish police force, and impose direct Westminster rule on Scottish broadcast media.

Do you think this sequence of events would crush Scotland into submission to London rule, or do you think it would probably have completely the opposite effect?

Similarities and differences

Of course it's not possible to draw exact parallels, but the similarities are uncanny. Both Theresa May and Mariano Rajoy are hard-right Prime Ministers with too few MPs to form a majority government. Both are far too weak to sack ministers who speak out of line (Boris Johnson and Pablo Cascado who issued the veiled death threat against the Catalan President spring to mind). Additionally both the Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon have established clear democratic mandates from their own parliaments to hold referendums on independence.

There are a few obvious differences too though. Although Scotland has obviously suffered tragic levels of economic neglect at the hands of the Westminster establishment, and been used as a testing ground for vile Tory policies like Poll Tax and the Bedroom Tax, they haven't suffered anything like the scale of repression that Catalans have. It's important to remember that within living memory Catalonia was ruled from Madrid by the fascist Franco dictatorship who banned the Catalan language, executed the Catalan President (Lluís Companys), and tried to eradicate the Catalan cultural identity.

Another major difference is that although I believe in the abolition of the British monarchy, I'm reasonably confident that the British royal family would not be anything like as foolish and unstatesmanlike as king Felipe. Although their inclination would obviously be to side with the Westminster establishment, there's no way they would make such an obviously biased political intervention. Even if Theresa May pleaded with the Queen to do it, she would be unlikely to agree to dramatically escalate the situation by spewing British nationaist rhetoric, condemning Scotland and the Scottish people, and actually doing it in front of a portrait of one of her ancestors who attacked and repressed the people of Scotland.

And one other obvious difference is that although Jeremy Corbyn opposes Scottish independence, there's absolutely no way he'd imitate the mistake of the Spanish socialist leader Pedro Sánchez by colluding with Theresa May to shut down the Scottish parliament, seize control of the Scottish police, and impose Westminster rule on Scottish broadcasters. Love him or hate him, Corbyn has stuck by his principles for decades, so anything other than calls for dialogue and deescalation would be a massive betrayal of the hundreds of thousands of people who have flocked to the Labour Party to support his leadership.


Although it's obviously impossible to draw an exact parallel between what is happening in Catalonia, and what could be imposed on Scotland if Nicola Sturgeon were to push on with another independence referendum, there are many similarities.

Just imagine for a moment that the Westminster political class responded in a similar manner to the way the Spanish nationalists in Madrid have (cyber war, violent repression of non-violent Scots by English police, taking of political prisoners, Tory government ministers issuing death threats, abolition of the Scottish parliament, and politically motivated take overs of the Scottish police and broadcast media).

Do you think the Scottish people would take this lying down and meekly submit to continued London rule? Or do you think this kind of violent and profoundly anti-democratic display of British nationalism would have precisely the opposite effect and fuel the campaign for Scottish independence?

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