What’s the difference between Catalonia and Scotland?
The weather? Well, yes. The food. Yes, again. The beaches? Hmmm. There are those lovely beaches on Coll…
But the big difference?
The big difference is that Nicola Sturgeon is not in exile in Brussels, and Patrick Harvie is not in the clink with Ross Greer, Robin McAlpine and, say, Lesley Riddoch.
Meanwhile ‘our Nicola Sturgeon’ is in exile in Brussels. ‘Our Nicola’ is Carles Puigdemont, chosen as President of the Generalitat (the Catalan Parliament) after the September 2015 elections, and selected again as the leader of the biggest pro-indy party at the December 2017 election. He and four other elected members of the Generalitat fled the country in early November to escape imprisonment by Spain.
Spain’s militarised Civil Guard have now decided to extend the assault, by charging more than 30 more people with crimes against the state. These new charges – amongst which the militarised police have included charges of ‘violence’ – could see many more elected politicians locked up.
Spain has used a paragraph in its Constitution – para 155 – to take control of the Catalan government and civil service. Just like in Scotland, Catalans thought that they lived in an ‘autonomous’ region, with its own parliament, its own rules and its own civil service. But as Scotland discovered during the court case over Brexit and the Sewel Convention, ‘autonomy’ is an empty word. You can have your autonomy, but only with our say so.
Imagine that Westminster had decided to lock up, or drive into exile, our elected politicians. Imagine that Westminster had taken over the Scottish parliament, closed websites, used armed riot-police to break up queues of people voting in Scottish elections, had trumped-up charges against civil leaders, politicians, police officers. Imagine the affront to democracy that would represent.
That’s the clink of a difference. Scotland is not Catalonia; Nicola is free to speak her mind from her Holyrood office. But as you hear her speak, think about Carles Puigdemont, Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Cuixart, Joaquim Forn, Clara Ponsatí, Antoni Comín, Meritxell Borràs and Meritxell Serret, who are either exiled or jailed for speaking out.