Have you watched my message of solidarity yet? This post is designed to expand on the point I was making, so please do watch that first then come back and read this post.
Happy St George’s Day!
It’s is traditional on this day to celebrate all things English and show national pride (unless you are a member of the Labour party, where apparently some members view national pride as being something to be sneered at) and I shall be raising a (non-alcoholic) glass to England and St George shortly before this evening’s full meeting of Medway Council.
However, today I am taking a different approach in commemorating the feast day of St George of Lydda, by briefly examining the would-be country also celebrating la Diada de Sant Jordi: Catalunya. (In the interests of transparency, I should note here that my partner is from Catalunya).
Many people who support the campaign for Britain’s exit from the European Union may be unaware that there exists within the same political construct a nationality more hungry for, and vocally supportive of, independence. Not from the EU, but from Spain. However, despite the wishes of the people of Catalunya, they are being denied the fulfillment of their desire.
In November, while all eyes here were on Rochester and Strood, the people of Catalunya were voting in a referendum which the Spanish Constitutional Court had ruled unconstitutional. It was restyled as the “citizens participation process on the political future of Catalunya” and proceeded undeterred. Two questions were asked: firstly, should Catalunya be a country; secondly (if they voted yes to the first), should that country be independent. Just over 80% voted yes to both questions, and under 5% voted no to the first. It should be noted that critics of the vote claim that the poll was unrepresentative: because it was not a legal referendum, only the most hardcore supporters of either side would have voted (a turnout figure was never published). Even so, it still represents a clear statement of intent.
Those of us who believe in democracy believe in the will of the people being sovereign. The people guide their elected representatives, the elected representatives stand up for the people. In many supposedly democratic countries around the world, the opposite seems to be more common, which is a shameful reflection on democracy itself in the 21st century.
No government can continue to ignore the will of the people ad infinitum. In Scotland, the population were given the right to have their say on independence – and, whatever side of the argument you stand on, it should be seen as the benchmark for self-determination across the world.
In Catalunya, the strength of patriotism is more profound than in Scotland’s fight for independence from the UK, or the UK’s fight for independence from the EU. In June 2013, 90,000 Catalans packed Camp Nou, the home of FC Barcelona, for the Concert per Llibertat, the Concert for Freedom. The video below shows the national anthem, Els Segadors, and speaks volumes about national pride and desire for independence:
Catalunya has three official languages: Catalan, Spanish and Occitan. It has its own parliament (the Generalitat de Catalunya) and police force (the Mossos d’Esquadra). It has its own culture and history. In June, they are hosting the Catalan Weekend, where people from around the world are invited to experience Catalunya and see for themselves exactly what it can offer as an independent country – and I would strongly urge each and every single one of you consider attending.
It is the democratic right of the people of Catalunya to decide on their own future, their own direction, and anybody who believes in democracy should believe in their cause and support their fight for self-determination and independence.