I don’t sympathise with Catalan nationalists at all, and don’t buy all the ‘perfidious Spain’ nonsense. And it’s not Easter 1916. But on the day of the unofficial referendum I thought the heavy handedness (or rather the probably provoked filmed heavy handedness) of the national police would turn people over to the secessionists. Jailing democratically elected political leaders, forcing others into (self-imposed) exile for entirely peaceful political actions is not the way for a confident democratic State to behave. The extreme prison sentences of 14 October imposed on peaceful political leaders are making the same mistake that the British authorities made in Ireland in 1916 – short of killing people – overreacting and alienating the majority who did not sympathise with a minority of extremists or romantic (if violent) nationalists, instead relying on ridicule and horror to undermine the ‘radical’ cause. Though there was an actual war on and armed rebellion at that time, so the British failure to realise they were making a serious tactical error with public opinion was understandable. How the Spanish Supreme Court can think such sentences are justified for peaceful, political illegal acts, is flabbergasting.
Spanish nationalists are as bad as Catalan ones – many nationalists in Catalonia / Catalunya seem motivated only by financial self interest; and taking peace, democracy and quality of life for granted. Spanish nationalists promote intolerance and stifling conformity of thought, ferment nasty petty rivalries and stir hatred with hypocrisy. Their blinkered hatred of Gibraltarians’ self-determination reduces Spanish and Gibraltarian stability and economic prosperity when Spain and Britain, local and regional Spanish authorities and Gibraltar could all work together for the benefit of the whole region. Catalonians stirring secession should look at how disastrous for each statelet the break up of larger units in the last thirty years has been, the pain and suffering – personally, economically and culturally – that has occurred. This is no reason in principle for people not to have self-determination, but it is high high time to stop and be careful what you wish for, and to stop and think you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. A mistake that a majority of voting British public have made in destroying a key basis of our country’s cultural, economic, security and environmental progress over the last forty years, because they – many of the public – have believed lies, blamed others for their misfortunes, and taken a good life for granted.
Spain and Britain, Catalonia, London and Madrid, Barcelona, Gibraltar, we’re all better when we work cooperatively together in a fair and non-exploitative way. Easier said than done perhaps but remember as people we all get on. Politicians and youth who stir difference and divides should remember that. And judges are sometimes advised to use commonsense and judicial discretion rather than following the letter of an unjust law.