Catalonia – “Propaganda thrives in a crisis.”

Guardian columnist Natalie Nougayrède is hoping for a Pedro Almodóvar inspired ending to the wild, dark comedy that characterises the current impasse between Catalonia and the rest of Spain.  From the Guardian article However, the 1 October referendum was hardly a model of sound, democratic expression. Only a minority of Catalans took part (turnout was 43%), and its organisation ran counter to Catalonia’s own legislation. The two laws that led to it were voted through without the two-thirds majority the Catalan charter (the Estatut) requires for … Read more

Brexit will strengthen the Union

Brexit will strengthen the Union, not weaken it. The vast majority of Scottish & Ulster trade is far and away with the rest of the UK. Scottish trade with the EU is down 20% in the last year with the USA being Scotland’s single biggest export country. The Republic of Ireland accounts for only just over 4% of Northern Ireland sales (which is more than Northern Ireland sales to the rest of the EU put together) A report from Barclays … Read more

Gordon Brown’s tough to trump “have-your-cake-and-eat-it formula” for Scotland

For my money I think Gavin Falconer underestimates the sheer pragmatic force of John Bew’s latest argument in favour of the union. One of my late uncles by marriage was one of the few people I’ve ever known who had been an enthusiastic member of the AOH (by contrast I know lots of Orangemen). I once asked him why the AOH had fallen on hard times. He answered quick as a flash, the 1947 Welfare Act. Up until then, he … Read more

Hope, delusion, memory and trauma in the Scottish referendum of 2014: Prof Murray Pittock (QUB, Wed 12th)

Cultural historian Prof Murray Pittock (University of Glasgow) is delivering a lecture entitled The British people? Hope, delusion, memory and trauma in the Scottish referendum of 2014 in QUB’s Canada Room (Lanyon Building) on Wednesday afternoon (12 Feb) at 4pm. His presentation will be followed by the launch of his updated book The Road to Independence? Scotland in the Balance (whose foreword has been penned by First Minister Alex Salmond). Murray Pittock’s book concludes: A loosely federated or virtually confederal … Read more

“The department of justice said discussions about the precise source of funding for the HET are continuing…”

The issue of funding the ongoing work of the Historical Enquiries Team, as well as its perceived independence, may be about to become a matter of political disagreement…  As the BBC NI home affairs correspondent, Vincent Kearney, reports Hundreds of families have co-operated with the team on the basis that it was acting independently. Many families of people killed during the Troubles, including relatives of some RUC officers, did not want former police officers from Northern Ireland involved in the review … Read more

Spanish troops mass on Catalunya’s borders…

Well,perhaps not quite, although as El Economista reports: (The) Spanish Military Association (SMA) has warned Monday that those who cooperate or allow “fracture” of Spain should “respond with all the utmost rigor” in the courts in the field of military courts by the “serious charge high treason. (Google translate gives the gist) Meanwhile in the real world Artur knows what he’s doing methinks. The FT (subscription needed but it’s free to subscribe) chronicles the events of the last few weeks. … Read more

“it is in the public interest to know the type of information that the Ministers were taking into account”

Here’s a little referendum related snippet from Scotland.  The Scottish government is reportedly “surprised” at a recent ruling by the country’s Freedom of Information Commissioner. In response to a request by Labour MEP Catherine Stihler on 30 May last year, the Scottish government had refused to confirm or deny whether it had received legal advice on the status of an independent Scotland within the EU.  They had cited section 18(1) of the FOI Act.  As the Information Commissioner’s press statement notes  This allows … Read more

Is the Governor of the Central Bank “representative” or “independent”?

The ‘controversy’ arising over the Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland Patrick Honohan’s endorsement of a Yes vote, is possibly the least important aspect of his speech to the IEA. Padraig Mac Lochlainn believes Honohan should not have publicly said Yes because: “…public servants, which Governor Honahan is, are paid by the taxpayer and therefore representative and accountable to all taxpayers.” The Minister of Finance demurs: “Patrick Honohan is independent as governor of the Central Bank and is quite … Read more

The power of politics to change constitutional terms of reference …

Brian Taylor, the BBC’s political editor in Scotland: It is simply remarkable to note the extent to which the Scotland Bill, building upon the work of the Calman Commission, has been overtaken in political debate. One does not need to subscribe entirely to the view that the bill and the status quo “now seem lost in the mists of time” (author, Sir Peter Housden, permanent secretary, Scottish Government.) However, the Calman package – which involved such detailed discussion and prolonged … Read more

Scotland – Ascherson still not decided on independence…

Always liked the bloke – but at 79 years old I thought he might have made his mind up….. From the New York Times. Even larger questions would loom. Would there still be a place called “Britain”? Would Scottish independence finally force the English to rediscover their own national voice, instead of hiding their problems under the cloak of “Britishness”? Would a reduced “England” still rate a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council? It may not happen. The … Read more

DevoMax may be more disruptive to English regions than Independence…

Great piece by Mark Hennessy who digs into a part of England where they probably have a more nuanced understanding of the Scots instinct for greater autonomy than any other. …the northeast of England worries about the powers that the Scots already have, let alone the possibility that they might get powers over corporation tax rates. Last September, it emerged that online retailer Amazon chose Edinburgh rather than Newcastle for a new operation after Scottish Enterprise offered training grants the … Read more

Where would a No vote for the ‘Fiscal Compact’ leave Ireland?

Apparently, according to economist Jim Power in today’s Irish Examiner, in a very odd place indeed: It is intended that 12 out of the 17 eurozone member states would be sufficient to ratify the treaty. It appears this will be achieved easily enough. Consequently, unlike the case with the Lisbon Treaty, if Ireland were to reject it in a referendum, that would not be sufficient to prevent it from becoming enshrined in EU law. The big question then is where … Read more

“Not so much the rise of a new Scottish sentiment, but the gradual decay of what it meant to be British in Scotland”

Thanks to Peter for this acute report on the strange disappearance of British identity in Scotland from Alan Little for last night’s Newsnight… Here’s the real kicker, in almost the last line: “Independence no longer means separation in any meaningful sense, and that’s the game changer.” See also Gerry Hassan‘s take on it… Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest … Read more

The extraordinarily small gene pool for NI Civil Service reviews

Here’s an interesting snippet. It’s an Assembly Question from Patsy McGlone to Tom Elliott regarding “the independent board of inquiry that was convened to consider the disciplinary charges” against Paul Priestly. It’s interesting for a number of reasons: To ask the First Minister and deputy First Minister, in relation to the independent board of inquiry that was convened to consider the disciplinary charges against a senior civil servant, to detail (i) the terms of reference; (ii) the members on the … Read more

Adam ain’t lost it….at least you left “us” Canada…

Once again Thanks to Syniadau. – I’m becoming a bit of a conduit…. That’s a great video of Adam Price giving the Harvard graduate oration. It’s only 7 minutes odd long – well worth a watch. DewiWelsh Nationalist. Rugby Fan. Know a bit about History and Railways…

Good Times for Alex and his Nationalist Army

Support for an independent Scotland is at its lowest for years. But Alex Salmond is riding high in the polls. The Scottish National Party which he leads stands an excellent chance of winning more seats than its lacklustre Labour opponent in the fourth election for the Scottish parliament being held on 5 May. This means that it will be entitled to form the next government, in all probability continuing to rule alone as it has done since 2007. A blizzard … Read more

Queries in Catalunya

Today’s the day. 700,000 Catalans are eligible to vote in referenda organised by local municipalities on independence. The Scotsman reports that 161 villages and towns are to follow the lead of Arenys De Munt in September where 96% of the 40% turnout voted for independence. Girona voting today – Barcelona in the New Year. Syniadau has been following closely. He’s running a live results blog tonight. To the sentimental amongst you he referred to the story of an Englishman in … Read more