Bereft by the news from Catalunya. I may lose friends for saying this but I think the unilateral declaration of independence is truly regrettable.
When all is said and done, the separatist movement simply doesn’t have a legitimate majority or legal authority for this course of action and pushing the confrontation to such extremes, whilst utterly lacking any kind of plan or practical design for creating a nation state, is recklessness in the extreme. People are overcome with the passion of ‘libertat’ but seem void of understanding as to exactly what this means in practice. Wave the flags, bang the drums – as always the romance of the idea is more appealing than the hard detailed reality of governance.
The parallels with Brexit are striking. The conservative leadership in Madrid is reaping the bitter reward of its tone deaf approach to the Catalan question. But, just like the Leave campaign in the UK, the separatist movement has almost no answer to the myriad of complex questions their actions have unleashed, actions which threaten the stablity not just of Spain, but the rest of Europe. I heard a pro-independence politician on BBC Newsnight say that “a majority of people now support independence” and wonder if this is how the conflict is being presented outside of Spain. Such assertions ignore the inconvenient truth that only a minority of the Catalan electorate voted in the (unauthorised) referendum on the 1st October. So even though an overwhelming majority voted ‘Si’, in reality, those who oppose separation largely stayed at home to delegitimise the plebiscite – as Carlos Puigdemont and his cohorts well know.
There is absolutely no doubt that some kind of meaningful discussion about the Spanish constitution, and Catalunya’s place within it, has to take place, one that all sides agree to respect. But current events are simply entrenching Madrid and Catalunya on opposite sides of a very deep and bitter divide, which makes outright violence a serious possibility and further diminishes the likelihood of a negotiated, pragmatic and realistic settlement. The politicians, on all sides, have let down the public of all shades of opinion This is not the way to govern. It’s not the way to achieve anything.