Barcelona vs Madrid

The Spirit of Franco never really left the Spanish state. Sometimes it is hard to see from the outside world but in the run-up to the Catalan referendum the Spanish Government are clearly trampling over basic human rights in their efforts to prevent the referendum from even taking place.

Yesterday some 100,000 pro-independence posters were seized by the State after raids in various printing shops. Today they came back for the printing equipment!

In newsrooms armed police came with a warning to editors that they will face prosecution if they publish adverts for the referendum.

The Spanish authorities have ordered that the referendum website be shut down.

A letter from Danish MPs is particularly damning saying that they, as “MPs representing a democratic country, are increasingly puzzled and concerned about this apparent lack of political skills to address what is, essentially, a political challenge.”

The power of persuasion rather than the pressure of the jackboot? Don’t expect Madrid to listen.

Criminal charges are already being drawn up against members of the Catalan Parliament and Government . To understand how repressive Spain is, a nearby equivalent would be Theresa May ensuring that criminal charges be placed against Nicola Sturgeon & the SNP government whilst sending outside police into Scotland to prevent a potential ballot from taking place.

The Catalans however are pressing ahead. More than 700 Mayors including the Mayor of Barcelona have been called in for questioning after ‘collaborating’ with the referendum.

Some of the Mayors gathered outside the Generalitat Palace  with the Catalan President on Saturday as the crowds chanted ‘We will vote’.

The Partido Popular Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is confident that he will crush this democratic exercise, speaking today to the party faithful : “I say this both calmly and firmly: there will be no referendum, it won’t happen.”

The spirit of Franco is alive and well in the Madrid government. Should it not seek compromise however, even at this late stage, it will be the pro-independence camp in Barcelona that will be the ultimate benefactors.

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  • james

    Irish Republicans are now looking to pick a fight with the Spanish government? Is that what we are to understand from this piece by disgraced former Sinn Fein member, Daithi Mackay?

  • notimetoshine

    “The Spirit of Franco never really left the Spanish state”. All this predates Franco. The struggle between Madrid and the regions has been the defining feature of Spanish politics since the Reconquista. This is just the latest (albeit mild) manifestation.

  • Brendan Heading

    It’s fascinating listening to SF supporters saying “Catalan will fight and Catalan will be right”

  • Georgie Best

    Catalonia is a distinct indigenous region, not a colony of a neighbouring country.

  • james

    Indeed. Just as NI is a region of the UK, not a colony of a neighbouring country.

    What’s your point?

  • Georgie Best

    NI has no distinctive characteristics other than those deliberately brought about while under the malign control of a neighbour. This does not describe Catalonia.

  • james

    “NI has no distinctive characteristics other than those deliberately brought about while under the malign control of a neighbour.”

    Hmmm…. which characteristics do you refer to?

  • Georgie Best

    Why do you think NI should be any different from the rest of Ireland?

  • james

    Because it wants to be. And, thank goodness for the GFA, that ends the conversation.

  • Georgie Best

    It also wants to stay in the EU, will this wish also be respected.

  • james

    Oh really? Was there a Northern Ireland referendum on the matter? I don’t remember that.

    Certainly there was a UK vote in which NI was obviously included – I remember because I was on the losing side – but dammit if there was an NI only vote we should have been told! When was that?

  • Dónall

    A little history on Catalan language in this video. Ironically the Catalan independence was initially supported by the British: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=7&v=KXPXFR9LVZM

  • james

    Ironic because…?

  • Dónall

    The Spanish are worried about this referendum as it looks as though the result will be binding. Jean-Claude Juncker has already came out and said that he would ‘respect’ the result

    http://www.politico.eu/article/jean-claude-juncker-catalonia-headscarf-i-would-respect-a-catalan-yes-vote/

    Problem for Spain is that Catalonia and the Basque country are the richest regions in the state. They can’t do without them and presumably when Catalonia leaves other regions such as the Basque country and perhaps even Navarra, Andalusia and Galacia may also want to leave.

  • Dónall

    Was the Ulster will fight and Ulster will be right not a mantra for those seeking to keep Ireland within the Union?

    As far as I know there was not much talk of partition before the War and a home rule parliament for Belfast certainly wasn’t being considered. The up side down logic on display here overrides 10 years of history and suggests that Carson and Craig were campaigning for a separate parliament in Ulster which as far as I know they were not. They were campaigning for Ireland to remain in the Union much like some of the Spanish loyalists today who live in the Catalan region.

  • Dónall

    *Was Ulster will fight and Ulster will be right not a mantra for those seeking to keep Ireland within the Union?’

  • Ian Rate

    I pray for you James.
    I’m an Athiest.

  • hgreen

    Not sure what your point is unless you think countries should only be formed on a geographic basis.

  • sparrow

    ‘Because it wants to be`
    Tyrone, armagh and Fermanagh would exclude themselves from that, I suspect. Why aren’t those counties permitted to secede from the northern state? If it’s OK for unionists to break away from the established political unit, why not nationalists in these 3 counties?

  • hgreen

    And as a supporter of the GFA you agree that at a future point a referendum could be held that results in NI leaving the UK. Just like Catalonia is having a referendum to decide its future.

  • Ciaran74

    Isn’t it interesting how Daithí paid Britain a mild compliment on how it processed the Scottish Independence Referendum?

  • Old Mortality

    ‘Why aren’t those counties permitted to secede from the northern state?’
    Have they asked to secede? Have they been invited to annex themselves to another state, or are they contemplating independence?

  • Old Mortality

    Does it? Did a majority of eligible voters express a wish to remain in the EU? Like the national result it should be ignored as being inconclusive.

  • Gaz

    Hey Mr McKay
    Could close my eyes and think you were making a case for Ulster in 1912
    The irony of it all-admiring Barcelona standing apart from rest of Spain and Belfast from the rest of Ireland

  • Gaz

    Reminds me of Ireland 1912 being replayed in Spain 2017

  • Brendan Heading

    That’s exactly my point. Republicans, in the context of Ireland, specifically disclaim that notion.

  • hgreen

    I don’t see any inconsistency at all.

  • Nordie Northsider

    I don’t have the reference material to hand, but on the eve of partition some Nationalist-controlled councils voted allegiance to Dáil Éireann. If they didn’t put up a more prolonged campaign, that was probably down to mistaken optimism about the fairness of the Boundary Commission. But we all know how that one worked out…

  • Roger

    Catalonia isn’t in the EU. It’s not one of the EU28. If it secedes it could apply to join…There is no question of Catalonia “stating” in the EU.

  • Roger

    SF hypocrisy…

  • I Can Confirm This

    The spirit of Franco and a well known other lives on in Madrid!

    Celebrating Hitler and denying the Holocaust in Madrid makes our Union flag protests in Belfast seem edifying.

  • Toye native

    How do you know these 3 counities would vote to leave the northern state, even a large number of so called nationalist’s in Co. Fermanagh would vote to remain part of the UK

  • sparrow

    You question my ability to forecast how 3 counties might vote, then proceed to forecast how nationalists in Fermanagh would vote on the same issue. There’s consistency.

  • Reader

    sparrow: Why aren’t those counties permitted to secede from the northern state?
    1) Because they haven’t asked.
    2) Because no political party has ever advocated re-partition (for that is the term you are talking about)
    2b) And that’s because the nationalist parties fear they would never ever get the last three counties without counting votes from the first three.
    3) What’s so magical about counties that you would make the decision on the basis of county boundaries?

  • sparrow

    So you’re in favour of allowing these counties to decide their own constitutional future, whatever that might be?

  • sparrow

    1. If they asked, would you be in favour of allowing them to decide their own future?
    2. Unionists would be terrified by the idea, nationalists reject the notion that the national territory (Ireland) can be partitioned or salami sliced in any way that dilutes national sovereignty.
    2a. Nope, see answer to 2.
    3. Is it any more magical, or any less logical, than the current border which was drawn on the basis of a sectarian headcount, which cuts through farms, villages, families, etc etc.

  • Dónall

    Terrible bile indeed. Who are these people?

  • I Can Confirm This

    Franco’s children?

  • Reader

    1) How would they ask? I would accept the outcome of a referendum that was conducted on a pre-agreed basis, though not one conducted cynically.
    2) I have no idea now what is your own position. Are you for slicing or against it? Right now I’m against it, because it is the sort of idea that could re-start the troubles. But I don’t have a sentimental attachment to specific boundaries.
    3) Your proposal is also a sectarian headcount, and also cuts through farms, villages, families.

  • Dónall

    Is it true that the ruling party in the Spanish state at the moment are the same party to which Franco belonged?

  • Reader

    Nordie Northsider: But we all know how that one worked out…
    The Dail rejected a leaked draft of a re-partition that gave a net transfer of land and people to the Free State. Rejected it partly because they thought they might be able to get the whole lot before very long, and partly because they weren’t so keen on having Crossmaglen.

  • Reader

    Dónall : Ironically the Catalan independence was initially supported by the British
    No surprise there, as the British don’t normally set themselves against partition. What was the Irish position on partitioning Spain? And what is it now?

  • I Can Confirm This

    Not sure I came at this from different angle re freedom of speech and holocaust denial than Spanish politics. But it’s clear there’s a culture of right wing sympathy in Madrid, historically and relatively recently. You would expect the people in this video to support a strong centralised Spanish state wouldn’t you?

  • sparrow

    I’m not in favour of repartition. I put it forward to highlight the inconsistency of most – not all – unionists, who think it was / is okay to partition Ireland, but who throw their hands up in outrage if someone suggests partitioning NI. The nationalist position is at least consistent: Ireland is one country and should not be divided.

  • Dónall

    Well this happened a long time ago beginning of 18th century. See the video (its only short). The Irish had their own problems at that time. The current situation in Catalonia has more in common with the Scottish Independence movement than the situation in Ireland. An extremely lucrative autonomous area with its own unique language, culture, history and sense of national identity wishes to secede in a large part due to the right-wing nature of the state and historical grievances it has with it. The Scottish independence movement seem to be largely behind them. I would dare say the Irish government are keeping quiet on this one as they did during the Scottish independence referendum.

  • Dónall

    I would suppose not. However, I’m not sure of the relevance of Freedom of Speech and Holocaust denial to this discussion on Catalan independence. What prompted you to post this video if you don’t mind me asking? And how did you find it?

  • I Can Confirm This

    The relevance to this post I think is right wing sympathy in Madrid, I mean there would need to be a degree of sympathy to pull that sort of celebration/commemoration off there. (How I came across it was researching holocaust denial, the arguments put forward, whether it was plausible. I was doing that in the context of D Irving vs Deborah Lipstadt libel trial, which cuts across freedom of speech, holocaust denial and the history of Auschwitz.)

    I didn’t pay this video too much attention at the time, as I thought initially I am not surprised that there was a commemoration like this in Madrid, given the history of Franco there and that neo-nazi supporters would linger on linked to Franco and fascism.

    But going closer in on the video, after me quickly researching the names in the video, the guy speaking is ironically from Barcelona, he was the President of CEDADE, a neo-nazi group. But the branch was formed in Madrid, he was giving a speech to the branch and supporters it would seem?

    Point is Madrid has right wing tendencies linked to its past and these would be supportive of a strong centralised Spain, proving that the legacy of Franco lingers on.

  • Dónall

    Phew, given the recent rise in the extreme right you had me worried for a second. Yeah I totally understand where you are coming from.

  • runnymede

    It was the south that created this border by seceding. We’d be quite happy for that to be reversed.

  • I Can Confirm This

    I am in favour of allowing a diversity of opinion, not just intellectual but political. I wouldn’t shut down the arguments put forward by the extreme right as to do so rules out that there is any validity in what is said. What if they do have some points to be made, an analysis of sorts, a take on the world that needs addressed or a point to be made however crude?

  • Dónall

    Sorry I don’t tolerate extreme right-wing views in any form and I don’t think those who hold them have anything positive to offer our diverse world.

  • I Can Confirm This

    Trouble is extreme right wing views aren’t really that extreme in some cases, what they can be are valid political views. These days, anything not leftist / mainstream, is too easily painted as extreme by the political establishment, which has no regard for diversity of opinion. So I disagree. I may or may not agree with the views but I tolerate a diversity of opinion and freedom of speech. Even holocaust denial, which I don’t agree with by the way as there is a convergence of evidence out there proving it happened and took place – and the deniers can be refuted, as they have been before. In D Irving’s case – at court. However if you are denied a platform to debate this, then it becomes impossible to refute or to take these people on. That is why it is best to tolerate political ideas however much you don’t like them as you need to take them on. Or in some cases, accept them as valid.

    The truth does not fear investigation.

  • Mister_Joe

    I’m not a great fan of nation states. The problem is “Where do you draw the lines?”. If a province of a country can vote to leave, then using a similar argument, can a district or city in that province then vote to secede. and maybe go back to the original state. I have no answer to such a thorny question. Does anyone?

  • james

    Sure, if the conditions are met. I don’t see it happening any time soon – since at present even a majority of nominal ‘nationalists’ seem to prefer to remain in the UK, mind you.

  • james

    Well, I’m a Fermanagh man myself and I certainly wouldn’t want to break away from the UK.

    Either way it’s irrelevant – individual counties, towns, villages or townlands don’t have that right. And a good thing for Republicans that they don’t – else people from Donegal or some such might band together and demand a referendum to apply to rejoin the UK.

  • james

    No idea what that means.

  • james

    I’m from Fermanagh and I know a fair few nominally ‘nationalist’ folks who prefer to stay in the UK. I even know a couple of fellows who prefer a UI in the UK.

    It isn’t a Catholic v Protestant issue any more, and never should have been. SF are yet to cotton on to that obvious fact.

  • james

    Shold that right also extend to the northern counties of Ireland? What if Donegal or Sligo fancied applying to rejoin the UK?

  • james

    Indeed – and if they did apply to re-join I’m fairly sure Spain might be demanding it be vetoed….

  • Ciaran74

    Except Catalonia was formed from the Catalan counties in 988…..

  • sparrow

    Why don’t they have the right? If they don’t, then why were the 6 north eastern counties allowed to do precisely that?

  • Smithborough

    The Politico story needs to be treated with caution. Listen to the Junker interview referenced here:

    https://twitter.com/EU_Commission/status/908343828410748929/video/1

    It is far more ambiguous than the story suggests. Junker says that the Commission will respect the decisions of the Spanish Consitutional Court and the Spanish Parliament, then he goes on to say:

    “Mais il est évident que si un oui a l’indépendance de la Catalogne voyait le jour – a voir – nous respecterons ce choix.”

    “It is evident that if a yes to Catalan independence sees the light of day… we will respect that choice”

    The choice referred to seems to be at the Spanish Parliament and Constittional Court, not the referendum.

  • WindsorRocker

    Counties are also a “colonial” creation if that’s how you tend to see things.

  • WindsorRocker

    On that theme to parody a line often used….

    “One man’s nation is another man’s region”

  • WindsorRocker

    Might be worth noting that when the Catalan separatists of all hues ran in their last parliamentary election with this vote pledged they only got 48% of the FPVs. I’d say that’s why Madrid feels emboldened to slap this down.

    It would be a bit like a minority SNP govt unilaterally calling a referendum.

  • WindsorRocker

    No. When the political ancestors of all current Spanish parties that have governed stood in the Cortes at the point of Lt Colonel Tejero’s gun in February 1981, it’s unfair to describe them as Franco’s offshoots.

  • WindsorRocker

    The Spanish conflict is a mix of regionalism and centralism that stretches across the right/left spectrum. It was said of Juan Negrin, communist leader in 1937 that he was as much a centralist as Franco but he was in alliance with Basque and Catalan regionalists.

  • Slater

    Is Catalonia a nation or just a passing gripe?
    Partition is appropriate if it is a distinct nation.

  • Abucs

    Reminds me of Hitler’s fascist Socialists who confiscated copies of the 1937 papal encyclical from church premises which strongly criticised their National Socialist ideology. The Nazis then arrested the owners of 12 printing businesses who printed the documents and nationalised their enterprises.

    Of course the Nazis then went on to eradicate all Catholic education and propose the virtual banning of the Bible.

    Apparently the state must be protected and all rivals thwarted.

    On the other hand if you limit the power of the state, you avoid most of these potentially violent conflicts.

  • Ciarán

    Incorrect: On 7 December 1922, the Parliament of Northern Ireland requested secession from the Free State.

  • murdockp

    I assume two independent states recognised bty the UN means Barca leaving LaLiga and a new professional Catalonia league started.

    All Madrid has to say it this is the way it is going to be and the referendum fails.

  • james

    Do you tolerate extreme left-wing views?

  • file

    Just a weird question given the comments below: is this thread about Spain?

  • james

    Yes and no 🙂

    As ever, the Republican brotherhood are sniffing around to see if there’s anything to be exploited for their own ends..

  • Dónall

    Ní hea, is faoin Chatalóin atá sé a fhile

  • file

    Agus an caidreamh atá aici leis an Spáinn? Mar sin, cén bhaint atá ag an chaint seo uilig thíos maidir le hÉireann leis an cheist?

  • file

    Dála an scéil, tá cuid den Chatalóin sa Fhrainc, ach déantar dearmad air sin sa chac seo uilig fá neamhspleáchas don Chatalóin.

  • Dónall

    Ní shílim féin gur cac atá ann. Ach is ea agus is mar chuid den Chatalóin atá na hoileán meánmara Mallorca, Ibiza agus Manorca chomh maith ach ní shílim go mbeidh siadsan curtha san áireamh insan reifreann??

  • Dónall

    Níl baint dá laghad le hÉireann thuaidh ná theas leis an scéal. Is áiféiseach an comparáid dar liomsa.

  • Reader

    Ian Rate: I pray for you James. I’m an Athiest.
    That’s the difference, I suppose – Athiests pray, Atheists don’t.