The Spanish language Catalan newspaper El Periodico de Catalunya carried an interesting report on Friday, about a propaganda offensive planned by the Spanish government aiming to ‘overwhelm’ the independence movement with economic data and figures. It’s a tactic which we are familiar with in Scotland, with regular reports from Westminster departments and, ahem, neutral think tanks which tell us that we’ll be poorer than Rwanda and will envy Afghanistan’s human rights record.
According to el Periodico de Catalunya, the idea for the Spanish government’s new offensive is based upon the UK Government’s series of papers on independence. Those are the papers which lead cabinet ministers to come to Scotland utter outlandish threats then run away back to London before anyone has time to mock them. The tactic is not having much success with a Scottish public which has come to regard the regular visits from cabinet ministers as a species of comic interlude, but Rajoy believes that Westminster is doing a far better job of convincing Scots that indy is a bad idea than la Moncloa is at convincing the Catalans. If nothing else that ought to give you some idea of just how poorly Mariano Rajoy is at getting Catalan opinion on his side.
The article in el Periodico de Catalunya says that the Spanish Government is also planning a diplomatic offensive against Catalan independence and plans to send a thick dossier to all Spanish embassies which detail the disadvantages of Catalan independence in an attempt to persuade foreign governments to oppose it. According to el Periodico de Catalunya, the UK Government has already sent British embassies around the world similar dossiers, with instructions to use them to get foreign governments on the side of Westminster against Scottish independence.
And here we get the briefest of glimpses of the backroom machinations that both la Moncloa and Westminster are employing in their desire to defeat the democratic aspirations of Scotland and Catalonia. The two governments are employing similar strategies and tactics, and have had regular secret meetings in order to coordinate their campaigns. According to el Periodico de Catalunya:
Dicho informe se ha elaborado para contrarrestar la campaña internacional que a su vez ha puesto en marcha la Generalitat catalana para airear el proceso, y está basado en documentos similares que David Cameron tiene en su poder para plantar cara al desafío independentista que le ha planteado Escocia, donde la consulta sí está autorizada.
The said report [sent to Spanish embassies] has been drafted in order to counter the international campaign which the Catalan Generalitat has in its turn put into action in order to flag up the process, and is based on documents similar to those which David Cameron has in his possession to face up to the independence challenge placed on him by Scotland, where the vote is already authorised.
The documents in question are the fruit of secret meetings between representatives of Westminster and the Spanish Government. In the week of 12 December 2013, the same week that the Catalan government announced that Catalonia would vote on its future on 9 November 2014, Westminster and la Moncloa held another secret meeting. According to el Periodico de Catalunya:
De hecho y según ha podido saber este diario, la misma semana en que Mas reveló la fecha escogida para la consulta, hubo una reunión discreta (y llamativa) en la Moncloa entre una delegación del Gobierno español y una del británico para intercambiar puntos de vista sobre las situaciones en Catalunya y Escocia y las posibles estrategias a seguir en escenarios de desafíos independentistas, salvando las particularidades de cada caso. Desde la Embajada británica en Madrid se confirma que existen contactos “fluidos y permanentes” entre los gobiernos de Mariano Rajoy y de David Cameron, aunque se prefiere no especificar los contenidos de que se tratan entre ambas administraciones.
In fact and as this newspaper has been able to discover, the same week in which Mas [the Catalan president] revealed the date chosen for the consultation, there was a discreet (and significant) meeting in la Moncloa between a delegation from the Spanish Government and one from the British Government in order to exchange points of view on the situations in Catalonia and Scotland and the possible strategies to pursue in scenarios of independence challenges, excepting the particularities of each case. It was confirmed by the British embassy in Madrid that “fluid and permanent” contacts exist between the governments of Mariano Rajoy and David Cameron, although it prefers not to specify the details of what was dealt with between both administrations.
The existence of a UK diplomatic campaign against Scottish independence was revealed by a speech made by Simon Manley, the newly appointed British ambassador to Madrid, earlier this month. Speaking in the Basque city of Bilbao, Manley told the newspaper Noticias de Gipuzkoa that Scottish independence was “a great risk” and went on to assert that Scotland would have to leave the EU, NATO and the United Nations without any guarantee that we would be allowed to rejoin. He cast doubt on the ability of an independent Scotland to remain safe from terrorism, saying “How can the Scottish Government defend the country from terrorism or other threats?” – presumably because other small countries like Finland, Denmark and Austria are equally incapable of coping.
So much for Scotland being a full partner in the Union. If Scotland is truly a partner in the Union, then British embassies are as much Scotland’s as any other part of the UK’s. This must be the first time in history that a nation has used its own diplomatic service to argue that it shouldn’t be recognised as a nation as it would pose a threat to international security.
So when the likes of William Hague come to Scotland to deliver some dire threats, and cites foreign politicians as support for his position, their apparent agreement is the product of secret meetings between Westminster representatives and sympathetic foreign political parties. They are colluding to present a common argument against independence.
People who have secret meetings then agree a common story are what lawyers and policemen would call unreliable witnesses, who would rightly be suspected of an attempt to pervert the course of justice. There’s no difference between them and Mariano Rajoy or David Cameron.