Old lies

In the run up to the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence, Spain made clear it would resist an independent Scotland’s application to join the EU for fear of fuelling the Catalonian separatist movement.

Ousted Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy

This statement in The National is just not true. Whatever Mariano Rajoy said as a favour to David Cameron – doubtless with some quid pro quo involved – Madrid’s official position was much more nuanced. There was, indeed, a fear of “fuelling the Catalonian separatist movement”. But to obviate this possibility Spain took the line that Scotland becoming independent was irrelevant to the Catalonian situation due to the constitutional differences.

This position was spelled out as long ago as 2014 by one of Josep Borrell’s predecessors as Foreign Minister.

Spain’s veto seems unlikely. José Manuel García-Margallo, Spain’s foreign minister, declined to state that Spain would veto Scottish accession when invited to do so. Instead, the Spanish Government has taken the line that the cases of Catalonia and Scotland are fundamentally different because the UK’s constitutional setting permits referendums on secession while the current Spanish constitution enshrines the indivisibility of the Spanish state and establishes that national sovereignty belongs to all Spaniards.

Thinking about it for a moment, rather than accepting the British state’s propaganda or falling into line with the metropolitan media’s cosy consensus, one can readily see how actively opposing Scotland’s entry into the EU would fatally contradict this official position. It would be a tacit acknowledgement that there were parallels to be drawn between to two situations. The very thing that Spain was at pains to deny.

The point, of course, is that this “myth” has not just now been “busted”. The reality is that the myth never had any substance. The claim that Spain would veto Scotland’s membership of the EU was, for all practical purposes, a lie. One of countless lies told by Better Together/Project Fear, the British political parties and the British government.

But these lies are not being newly exposed now. Those lies were known to be lies at the time. The article referred to above was published before the 2014 referendum. There were many more such articles. Most, if not all, of the British Nationalist propaganda had been debunked before Scotland voted.

Many of those who voted on Thursday 18 September were making an informed choice. They had taken the trouble to question the British propaganda. They had made the effort to find the facts – or, at least, better information.

Others opted to make arguably the most significant political choice they will ever make on the sole basis of the lies peddled by the British media. Please don’t ask me to respect those people or their choice. After all, they showed scant respect for Scotland or the democratic process.

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What should happen

“Clara [Ponsati] respects the fact her fate now lies in the hands of Scotland’s independent judicial system. That is what should happen in a democracy.” – Aamer Anwar

clara_ponsatiResort to lawful protest in the face of injustice is a defining feature of functioning democracy. Actively protesting injustice is not only a right, but a responsibility. It is gratifying to know that, with the notable exception of Murdo Fraser and his despicable ilk, the people of Scotland are prepared to accept this responsibility and exercise the right to demonstrate their support for Clara Ponsati.

But it is important to recognise and accept that such protest is not an alternative to due process of law but, rather, a supplement to and augmentation of formal procedures. Proud as I am that the people of Scotland are demonstrating their readiness to stand in defence of justice and democracy, I am prouder still of the fact that Clara Ponsati feels able to put her trust in our justice system.

The test of a functioning democracy is its capacity to deal with injustice as a matter of course, rather than by exceptional means. If we cannot be confident that Scotland’s courts will afford Clara Ponsati the justice that is her due, then our democracy is failing us just as surely as Spain’s is failing the people of Catalonia.

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