In the previous post I came over all furren, partly in order to put the shiters up the likes of Magrit Curran and other unionistas who seem to have an aversion to foreigners. There are lots of folk in Catalunya, Galiza, and Spanish speaking Spain who take an active interest in the debate in Scotland, but they get very little in the way of direct comment from supporters of Scotland’s Yes campaign. I’m going to try and post in Spanish at least once a week, so if you don’t speak Spanish, dinnae panic, normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.
Unfortunately I’m not always able to update this blog every day. When you’re a full-time carer, you often have other priorities that have to come first. And sometimes you’re just too knackered. This has been a trying week.
But back to ranting.
Although the Spanish language media carries almost as much about Scotland as the UK media, in other words not a great deal, it’s generally directly lifted from reports in the UK press so is the usual biased rubbish plus an extra layer of errors and misunderstandings and things that get lost in translation.
According to one recent report in La Vanguardia newspaper (now corrected after below the line commentators pointed out the error), Blair Jenkins is head of the SNP. Who knew? Possibly someone’s been taking Better Together’s claim that Yes Scotland is a branch of the SNP a bit too literally. That’s what happens when you rely on the Daily Telegraph and the BBC for your information. Mind you, if you’re a Partido Popular supporter or a reporter for Franco’s favourite newspaper the ABC, the Spanish translation of Yes Scotland is usually along the lines of los malvados rupturistas del SNP. (That’s ‘the evil SNP rupturists’, if like Magrit Curran you can’t do foreign.)
The UK and Scottish media’s coverage of Spain is equally poor. Actually no, that’s a lie. It’s a lot worse. If it was an X Factor contestant it would be one of the ones who didn’t get as far as Boot Camp, because their granny is still alive and actually quite perky. Instead we get a parade of screeching self-regarding airheads who only got through because their grannies died a slow horrible death after declaring independence.
However you would imagine that in a normal universe the fact that Catalunya is also currently home to an active campaign for independence within Europe might have some relevance to Scotland’s debate, even more so because there is a very real possibility that the Catalans may go to the polls just days before we do. However the sparse reports in the Scottish media about Catalunya consist entirely of misreported claims from Spanish unionistas about los malvados rupturistas catalanes. We get the negativity, but nothing that might encourage solidarity between Catalunya and Scotland, or heaven forfend, anything which might enable us to imagine we might both be successful independent states with friends in the world.
Since Scots have on the whole nae idea who any of the people involved in Catalunya’s debate are, nor whether their comments have any validity or trustworthiness, the Unionist media can publish pretty much what it likes. And that’s what it does. This is what allows Unionistas to blythely assert that “Spain would veto Scottish acccession to the EU”, a claim widely repeated by No supporters. Thing is though, it’s not true.
Recently the Scotsman published a claim from “a senior European commissioner” who said that Catalonia would have to exit the EU and reapply for membership. The Scotsman claimed that this would also hold for Scotland. Yet nowhere did the article mention that the “senior European commissioner” is a Spanish Unionist politician who was speaking in a personal capacity.
It pissed me off so much I wrote an article about it for Newsnet Scotland.
The Scotsman also published a claim from Spanish MEP Alejo Vidal-Quadras who asserted that Scotland would be evicted from Europe and strict border controls would have to be enforced at Berwick and Gretna. It was solemnly reported that el señor Vidal-Quadras was of the opinion that Spain and France would both veto Scottish membership of the EU. The paper made no attempt to put his claims into any sort of context.
So here’s some context. The Partido Popular MEP Alejo Vidal-Quadras Roca is from an old and wealthy family of the Barcelona aristocracy and is castellaniores castellanis ipsis (more Castilian than the Castilians themselves) but even more he’s a figure of amusement than a man to be taken seriously. He’s a Spanish version of that parody Tory MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg. If you can imagine a politician somewhat to the right of Michael Forsyth, who is way posher than Tam Dalyell, and has the insight of Wullie Rennie combined with the articulacy of Johann Lamont, you wouldn’t be far wrong. He gets, and deserves, about as much respect as Nigel Farage in an Embra pub. Except in the pages of the Scotsman, whose reporting staff apparently believe that the Spanish word payaso (clown) means ‘respected elder statesman’.
Vidal-Quadras – who people refer to by the Catalan form of his name, Aleix, because it annoys him – is widely regarded in Catalonia, and in most of the rest of Spain, as a blustering and potentially dangerous fool. This is a man who called on the Spanish government to send in the army to crush Catalan aspirations to independence and who compared the language policy of the Catalan government – which essentially boils down to immersion schools in the Catalan language for pupils in the public school system – to South African Apartheid.
Even his own party is embarrassed by him. After his call for Madrid to send in the Guardia Civil to crush the Catalan hernia-ists, the leader of the Catalan PP issued a statement making it clear he did not speak for the party.
In the Scotsman article, Vidal-Quadras told us that France “would surely” veto Scottish membership, like he’s speaking for the French as well now. The French government, to my knowledge, have made no comments at all about the possible independence of Scotland. Not being noted for its willingness to spare the Westminster government any possible embarrassment that’s going round, it’s hard to see why Paris would object to an independent Scotland, but that doesn’t stop Vidal-Quadras and the Scotsman from trying to invent some.
It was also asserted by the lovely Aleix that since Spain refuses to recognise Kosovo’s independence from Serbia, naturally it’s not going to recognise Scotland either.
But that’s nonsense, and Sr Vidal Quadras knew it was nonsense even as he was uttering it. He knows that the reason Spain refuses to recognise Kosovo is because Kosovo made a unilateral declaration of independence which was not recognised by Serbia. Serbia claims that Kosovan independence is contrary to the Serbian constitution. This is the exact same reason that Spain gives for refusing to allow Catalonia to hold an independence referendum.
But as is very well known, even in Spain, Scotland does have a constitutional right to an independence referendum. Our referendum is legal, and is recognised as such by the Westminster Parliament which, as part of the Edinburgh Agreement, passed enabling legislation which recognised the authority of the Scottish Parliament to hold it. Westminster also pledged itself to respect the outcome of the referendum, which naturally means that it would recognise an independent Scotland which resulted from a Yes vote. There will be no unilateral Scottish declaration of independence.
The people at the Scotsman newspaper know this too. They also know that the Spanish government, which isn’t exactly enthused about the prospect of a Catalan indy referendum, carefully distinguishes between Scotland and Catalunya, and constantly stresses that there can be no comparisons between the two. They don’t want Scots and Catalans talking together either, and for similar reasons to our own Unionistas.
And the Scottish media should also know that people like the Spanish foreign minister, who unlike Aleix Vidal-Quadras actually does have power and influence, has said on more than one occasion that Spain would have no objections to a Scotland which becomes independent legally, democratically, and in accordance with what passes for a UK constitution.
No EU state has said that it would veto Scottish membership of the EU. Because no EU state has any intention of vetoing it. Quite the contrary, several EU member states have made it clear that they would welcome Scottish membership. But lies by omission, half-truths, and outright porkies are what passes for normal service in Scotland’s mainstream media.
There’s only one way forward for Scotland and for Catalunya. Visca Escotalunya!