Misdirection and Catalonia 257

The Spanish Government’s refusal yesterday of the offer of a 20 December election in Catalonia vividly highlights that the thing they are most scared of is any kind of free and fair vote. They wish to take over all the Catalan institutions and media, and institute a judicial ban on pro-Independence campaigning, before they allow any election – that is why they prefer a six month delay. All of which yet again highlights the outrageous lie the western corporate and state media have been repeating and repeating for weeks, that only a minority in Catalonia support independence. At the last Catalan parliamentary election the explicitly pro-Independence parties gained 48% and explicitly anti-independence parties gained 39%, while the most recent recent poll, by GESOP, indicates that would not change in a new election.

Madrid prefers its elections rigged. Albert Rivera, leader of Rajoy’s coalition partners Ciudadanos, admitted it explicitly, saying that elections in Catalonia must only be held when the government can guarantee the result.

This is no surprise as Ciudadanos and Mr Rivera have only the most tenuous link to democracy. It is well known to everyone in senior diplomatic and intelligence circles of the major Western powers, that Ciudadanos originated as a highly successful astroturf operation, funded and organised by the German overseas security service, the BND. The rise of Podemos threatened the collapse of the Euro project, and Germany realised the loss of credibility of the established Spanish political parties would not enable them to counter Podemos. It was therefore decided to produce a “grassroots anti-establishment” movement, which in fact would help impose the harsh economic austerity on Spain the German interest in the Euro demanded.

When I served as Ambassador in Uzbekistan, Germany was undergoing profound foreign policy changes which finally set aside the extremely passive overseas stance Germany had adopted after World War II. This was absolutely a conscious process by the German Government. The airbase they opened at Termez in Uzbekistan, to operate into Afghanistan, was the first overseas military base Germany had opened anywhere since 1945, which they constantly told me. Side by side went a much more aggressive approach by the BND. Piggybacking on the Termez airbase, the BND created the “Islamic Jihad Union” as their first post World War II false flag operation, to provide political cover for their alliance with the Uzbek dictatorship. That precedent, re-establishing the BND role in active overseas operations, was followed by the creation of Ciudadanos, which is arguably one of the most successful intelligence operations of all time. So when you see Rivera calling for the election result in Catalonia to be “guaranteed”, that is Merkel speaking.

Franco died peacefully, still in power. 1975 is not that long ago. I was born in 1958, and by 1975 had already campaigned actively in two parliamentary elections and organised a couple of demonstrations against the American nuclear base at Mildenhall. There are plenty of prominent Spanish politicians older than me, so some of them must have a proud record of anti-dictator resistance pre-1975, right? Err, not so much.

There has never been any reckoning with the crimes of the dictator or the vast section of Spanish establishment that collaborated willingly with him. There is an unwillingness in the West to recognise the explicit Francoist DNA in Rajoy’s political party, which was founded by seven Franco ministers avowedly to continue the Franco legacy, and which Rajoy joined not long after Franco’s death, when to do so was an unabashed declaration of Francoist belief. Strangely enough, the best exposition of the current situation was given by Jake Wallis Simons on Sky News three days ago when he related what he himself had witnessed of the non-marginal prevalence of fascism in the Spanish nationalist demonstrations, and talked of the fascist salutes addressed to the Guardia Civil in their support, which the Guardia received as a compliment.

In their desire to prop up Spain and deny Catalonian rights, every single “liberal” western media outlet of note – the Guardian, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Economist, etc etc – has run an article on how Catalonian independence must be stopped or it will lead to a sweeping tide of secessionism for regions across Europe. These articles never consider that perhaps, if there really is a popular desire for smaller states, it might be good to respect it. They also vastly exaggerate the likelihood of some fringe movements making ground, and fail to distinguish between regions – which do not have the right of self determination under Article 2 of the UN Charter – and peoples, which do have that right.

But they are all an exercise in misdirection. Smaller states are not a great danger to anyone. The crushing of democracy in Catalonia, the fascist salutes on the streets and the unabashed return of Francoist doctrine, is the real danger. And it is a danger all across Europe. The far right is entering government in Austria. The AFD are returning Nazi doctrine to the German parliament. Anti-Semitic slogans are infecting Italian football support. In both Poland and Hungary, Eastern Europe’s own brand of nasty right wing authoritarianism is in power.

An independent Catalonia, or Scotland, or Wallonia, does not threaten Europe. The lack of respect for liberal democratic values threatens Europe. That threat is an extremely real one. It is epitomised by the fact that even extreme police violence against the Catalans and the suspension of their democracy draws nothing but approbation from European political establishments and the EU. These are dangerous times indeed.

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257 thoughts on “Misdirection and Catalonia

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  • reel guid

    Didn’t know about Ciudadanos and the German connection. Very interesting. Might also partly explain the EU Commission’s lack of interest in upholding democratic principles in a member state.

  • fred

    “In both Poland and Hungary, Eastern Europe’s own brand of nasty right wing authoritarianism is in power.”

    Next they will be passing laws telling takeaways what size of portions they can serve.

  • Neil T

    Well Craig, I’m sitting in a bar in a Catalan village and everyone is really excited. The Generalitat parliament session has been suspended, as obviously more talks have started. On the telly you can see huge crowds in the streets and people are burning through their data plans whatsapping each other. If you want to watch you should be able to pick up tv3 on the Internet.

    • reel guid

      Wallonia has vast iron and coal reserves. Many firms in the science and technology sector are based there. Good universities. Tourism. Fine towns and cities for people to visit including Namur, Dinant, Tournai, Spa and Rochefort.

      They’re not dependent on Flanders.

      • Henri Kerkdijk-Otten

        As a nothern neighbour to Belgium i can say; yew, Wallonia does depend on Flanders. Just drive around on their roads for 30 minutes and you know what i am talking about.

    • Alex Westlake

      If Flanders went for independence then Wallonia would become independent by default

      • Old Mark

        There isn’t much of an appetite for an independent Wallonia given its rust belt economic status, to which Henri alludes. If the problem of dividing up the Belgian national debt can be overcome federation with France wouldn’t be opposed by many Walloons.

  • giyane

    Dear Craig
    In all this excellent and informative writing I can still see the carrot of Scotland’s independence bobbing on a stick in front your eyes. If the EU centred on Germany has such dangerous political machinery internalised into itself and externally projected onto Kiev, Poland, Hungary and the weapon-making Bulgaria, then surely it must be a very good thing for the UK to brexit fast.

    The reality is probably that all politicians are motivated towards power and control, especially Islamic ones who don’t have to pretend to have to ask the opinion of the people, or be challenged by the imams. it’s their job to exert as much control as they think they can get away with, and in the case of Syria it backfired.
    why is it better to have a neo-liberal Catalonia to add to a neo-liberal France. Nobody has interfered for so long and with such violence as the UK neo-liberals in the last 30 years. The carrot of independence will lead the donkey of Catalonia into the crevasse. It will be a few seconds of free-fall, followed by a the long arm of NATO demanding help with its neo-colonial wars.

  • Vronsky

    And knowing all this, you were until rather recently a supporter of the EU?
    Expliquez, s’il vous plait.

    • Tony_0pmoc


      I think people who change their mind after a near lifetime belief, on the basis of new extremely clear evidence, should be congratulated, not criticised. In my view its a sign of great intelligence. However, Craig has still got some way to go. I think he is wrong criticising some Eastern European countries for wanting to take control of their own borders. If Craig had personally experienced the kind of ethnic cleansing, via rapid mass displacement and cutural change, that has affected peoples in numerous parts of the world, including much of Oldham, then he might change his views in this regard too.

      Whilst immigrants had always been welcome in Oldham, and there were no problems initially, as they integrated well, they now form a near 100% of the population in many parts of the town. Overall they are very close to forming a majority in the town,if they have not done so already. Most of the problems have been vastly under-reported.
      from wiki:
      “Cultural divisions along ethnic backgrounds are strong within the town, with poor cross-community integration and cohesion along Asian and white backgrounds” “in the town of Oldham, which had a 2011 population of 96,555, 55.4% of the population were White British”
      The immigrant birthrate is such, that the indigenous of Oldham,are now almost certainly in the minority.

      Craig may think that’s O.K.. The Palestinians didn’t.

      Oldham is no different to many ofther towns and cities across much of the UK.


  • Tony_0pmoc


    Very interesting background and analysis, particularly of the changes, in Germany since WWII. In effect, what you are describing is a serious lurch across all of Europe towards authoritarian dictatorship, from a postwar Europe, which at least from my British perspective exhibited most of the signs of social democracy, where there was a fair balance between capital and labour. There were opportunities, and a general improvement in the quality of life for all. Even the environment improved dramatically.

    Over the last 30 years, that process has gone into reverse, and one of the main reasons for that change is a desire by the creators of The EU, to move to a centralised dictatorship, where democracy is just an illusion.

    Putting a political label on the centralised dictatorship can be misleasing, but Fascist ” a form of radical authoritarian nationalism, characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and control of industry and commerce ” is probably closer than anything, except the nationalism part.

    The EU is attempting to destroy, different nations and cultures, and make everyone in all countries the slaves of the elites, under their complete control forever, with no chance of escape.

    What we are seeing now, with Brexit, and other movements across Europe is some resistance to that dictatorship. I think it is wrong to label this as a movement to the right, as it is a movement towards freedom, and away from the current Fascist Dictatorship, now blatantly exhibited by The EU. They think the Nation State is now the whole of Europe. They have nearly managed to achieve, what Hitler tried to do, whilst everyone has been asleep or playing on their mobile phones.


  • fred

    “But they are all an exercise in misdirection. Smaller states are not a great danger to anyone. ”

    But a larger state which remained united after the other states have fragmented could be a great danger.

    Analysis of the spread of misinformation surrounding the far right, Nationalist and seperatist movements on social media is interesting.


    • Henri Kerkdijk-Otten

      Jeremy, very interesting article and food for thought.
      I do not want to get rid of the idea of European countries or nations working together. However, something has to change.

  • Sue Packer

    At last, someone discussing the morality of a situation instead of supporting vested self interest. I couldn’t be more appalled at the stance taken by Spain, which absolutely has shown itself to be a dictatorship with a belief that it “owns” its people and territory, all the western leaders who would not behave in this way in their countries but have come out in support of Rajoy, the media for singularly failing to inform the public of any of the history behind this situation including the fact that Rajoy directed the constitutional court to legalise an effective reduction in Cataluyna’s power and status as soon as he was elected, and the EU for being so selective about which countries they are prepared to meddle and which not, again driven by self interest. I was staunchly anti-Brexit before this because war in Europe is the biggest nightmare immaginable in an already unstable world. Now I believe that the EU could not solve any real crisis with which it is presented because it is not capable of putting morality before self interest. Today’s leaders once again need to wake up and support their citizens, not each other.

    • Henri Kerkdijk-Otten

      Exactly my thoughts.
      I was a firm believer in the EU. That is until now.
      I fear i am going to vote anti-EU next time.
      I am deeply appalled by the reaction of EU politicians re the Catalonia crisis…

  • fred

    “mocracy.lack of respect for liberal democratic values threatens Europe.”

    One has to wonder if someone who called for the results of both the Scottish independence referendum and the EU referendum to be ignored is the right person to be lecturing people about democracy.

  • Robin

    Invaluable insights into frightening times. Keep speaking out! The Catalan people deserve the best.

  • freddy

    Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has asked the Senate to sanction plans to oust Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and his executive in a bid to stop their struggle for the region’s independence.

    Rajoy has urged the upper house to “proceed to the dismissal of the president of the Catalan government, his vice-president and all regional ministers,” according to AFP.

    Rajoy added that the activation of constitutional powers to seize control of Catalonia was not aimed at taking Catalans’ liberties away, but was intended to protect them. The Senate will vote on measures to depose Catalonia’s government by the end of the week. Its regional parliament is also expected to hold a special session on Friday, when a formal declaration of independence may be made.

    Russia Today

      • lysias

        When Sinn Fein won the 1918 parliamentary election in Ireland, their winning slogan was, “Vote for the man in jail.”

        • Tony_0pmoc

          lysias, Brilliant, if you haven’t already, spend a long weekend in Dublin, and you will find out what the people who live in Dublin are all about. Personally, I thought they were lovely…

          And visit the jail.

          I always liked the Irish, but I never realised they were “That” nice till I went to Ireland.

          I am English.


        • Geordie Bordie

          Voting for men in jails was continued up to the last conflict in NI.

          Bobby Sands MP

          It’s a weird history when you look at it, that period from the late 19th century, post-famine period, through the US exile, to a return of revolutionary politics in early 20th century Ireland.

          If you look at it closely you’ll see that diversity in Irish political thought was whittled down through the Easter Rebellion, the War of Independence and then the Civil War.

          The combination of these is Ireland’s equivalent to what WWI in its slaughter did to European diversity in political thought.

          And Dev was last man standing.

          Went on to be poster boy for the League of Nations (early UN).

          “The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk.”

  • Dave

    Scottish “independence in Europe” was a tactic for some and an ideal for others, but how many now favour independence outside of the EU, as opposed to “independence in UK”? The same question applies to Catalonia as presumably Catalonian “independence in Europe” is no longer an option. The irony is an independent Catalonia would leave them less independent than they are now, because the resulting upheavals will reduce rather than enhance Catalonia. The obvious element being immigration! Catalonia needs Spanish support to stop immigration from outside Spain and needs a solvent Spain to stop migration from within Spain.

  • Republicofscotland

    According to media reports the Catalan parliament has just openly declared independence.

    How will Madrid react I wonder?

  • reel guid

    Mariano Rajoy gets a standing ovation in the Spanish Senate. Lots of smirking beaming faces. Everyone in an expensive suit. They won’t look so happy if a lot of the people of Europe stop buying Spanish products.

    O/T Labour Chair Ian Lavery MP in another controversy. The Lib Dems are saying he hasn’t declared his considerable interests in greyhound racing in the Members Register of Interests. One of his greyhounds, Blue Artisan (going for the working class Tory vote?), won £6 000 for a single race in 2010.

    One more sign of Westminster going to the dogs.

    • Republicofscotland

      “One more sign of Westminster going to the dogs.”

      reel guid.

      A opportunity for the wannabe economist KH to sell some of his doggy biscuits, I’d have thought. ?

      • reel guid


        Kevin’s probably on the phone to him as we speak. Write a piece for These Islands website and in return Lavery can get a big discount on some canine grub.

  • Republicofscotland

    The vote.

    135 MPs
    2 Blank.

    The Republic of Catalan is born.

    Latest Rajoy retorted by saying the “rule of law” will now be applied to the Catalan region.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Just the expected. personalized account of the alleged innocence of European independence movements, with a bit of Germanohobia and lack of concern about ISIS thrown in.

    What if Italy, the Sami, the Scots, the Basques, Hungary, et al, join the Catalans? Sounds like the gaol of the Mediterranean Dialogue before it became so popular in the name of democracy, and against a more powerful Brussels.

    Don’t forget that Germanwings plane brought down by Barcelona and the NATO to muddy the waters

    Good to gett out of here before the curtain comes crashing down..

    • Tony_0pmoc

      Trowbridge H. Ford,

      I know you are getting close to 90…and you know what they say – once CIA – always CIA. Have they been paying your pension all this time, or even better – are you still on the payroll??? You are still alive, and your brain obviously is not completely dead, but to me, it seems you are still rewriting their bollocks. Is it as an editor or creator…??

      Good luck to you – for one thing you make laugh, and sometimes you write the truth. Just try and improve on the consistency.

      Do you do Halloween in Sweden? If I was you – just go as you are. I am in England.

      I never worked for them. I’m not that stupid.

      Intelligence Services?? – FFS


  • Republicofscotland

    Now the hard fight begins for the Catalan people to keep what they voted for.

    Rajoy has called a meeting at 6pm tonight, meanwhile according to media reports the Spanish senate is about to vote to strip the Catalan parliament of its powers.

    Pugidemont to possibly be arrested for rebellion, if he’s spotted by the “police” on the streets .

  • J.M.Betriu

    Thank you Craig.
    From my homeland Catalonia, right now an independent republic, and with tears blinding my eyes, thank you so much.

    • Republicofscotland

      Good luck.

      Establish your first foreign embassy in Scotland, long live Catalonia. ?

      • freddy

        They can not have an embassy in Scotland, for two reasons
        Catalonia is not a country.
        Scotland is not a country.

        • freddy

          Peter, do you really think the government of the United Kingdom
          would let Catalonia open an embassy in Scotland.

          It will not be allowed to happen

        • reel guid


          At the very least Catalonia can open an unofficial embassy in Scotland. There would be nothing Westminster could do to remove it.

        • Peter Beswick

          The wishes and feelings of the UK don’t matter.

          We have a token army, navy and air force that is the laughing stock of the world.

          We have no influence in the US, Russia, or China

          We are soon to be outside the EU

          Why would Catalonia want an embassy in the shit hole end of the world?

        • Peter Beswick


          Mi5 could blow it up and leave a gym membership pass at the scene that indicated the Fenians did it

          • Geordie Bordie

            They’re not Embassies to London, are they.


            They’re simply Embassies in London.

            To the Court of St James.

            No less.

        • kailyard rules

          Freeddy, you say “Scotland is not a country”. With a preposterous remark like that any future credibility of your armchair postulations regarding Scotland are null and void. Glasgow, a large city in the country of Scotland,is proud of those who went from Calton to Catalonia to fight Franco’s fascism. Viva Catalonia.

      • fred

        I can find out, it wasn’t a secret ballot, none of them were afraid to stand behind their votes.

        • Republicofscotland

          Fred, don’t you recognise sarcasm, when you see it. It was a riposte to your earlier comment, @14.51pm.

          I couldn’t give a monkeys what their names are.

          • fred

            A lot of people in Catalonia do give a monkey’s and would like to know how their MP voted on the issue but they won’t. The Catalonia ballot was secret, the MPs didn’t put their names to their votes.

          • JOML

            RoS, Madrid will want to know what the names are, so that they know who to arrest. Fred is just full of shit, if he can’t appreciate why the ballot wasn’t open.

          • fred

            So they aren’t man enough to stand up an be counted because they’re scared of being arrested. They just don’t make revolutionaries like they used to.

      • freddy

        Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has urged calm,
        stating that the RULE of LAW will be restored in Catalonia. “I ask for calm from all Spaniards.
        The rule of law will restore legality in Catalonia,”
        Carles will be locked up for a long time.

        • Republicofscotland

          Civil disobedience in Catalonia, will lead to a entrenched position, eventually the newly born nation will become just one big headache for Rajoy, and Madrid will withdraw.

          • Henri Kerkdijk-Otten

            If the Catalans manage to hold on, yes, that is the most likely scenario.
            Remember Ghandi: he won against overwhelming odds.
            The Russians found their Waterloo in Afghanistan (and now Syria).
            The Americans found their Waterloo in Vietnam.
            If the people hold on, they will win.

          • Paul Barbara

            @ Henri Kerkdijk-Otten October 27, 2017 at 16:08
            I don’t know why you think Russia has ‘met it’s Waterloo’ in Syria; they’ve managed to stop the worst of the West’s intentions for Syria and the depredations of the West’s (and it’s cronies in the region) proxy ‘Islamic Headchoppers’.

  • Carnyx

    Ciudadanos are a carbon copy of a similar astroturf operation in Greece which started as Syriza were rising. A new party called ‘To Potami’ (The River) was suddenly formed and promoted by the media, they positioned themselves as “radical centre” or “centre left” and pro-European and hoped to catch voters who were deserting hopelessly corrupt PASOK for Syriza. Potami were being bankrolled by the Bobolas family who own Ellaktor, the largest contractor to the Greek state, it was obviously the kleptocracy attempting to stay in power behind new faces.

    When I heard about Ciudadanos in Spain it was like catching the Wizard of Oz behind his curtain, although I didn’t know of any BND connection.

    Although in the end Syriza were brought to heel.

    • Old Mark

      Agreed, minus the peculiar reference to the possibility of Walloon independence ahead of a Flemish breakaway

  • Sharp Ears

    Never forgetting a predecessor of Rajoy’s. José María Aznar, who willingly joined the Spanish people in the killing. burning and shredding of Iraqi people when he met with Bush and Blair in the Canaries and signed on the dotted line.

    Where is he now? Why! With Murdoch’s News Corp. of course.

    Rot in hell José – and Mariano too.

    • freddy

      The E.U. may be crapping themselves but I doubt it, they have full confidence in Spain bringing Carles to heel.
      The E.U. can’t afford any more cock ups, this year.

      • Henri Kerkdijk-Otten

        The EU will stand by, just like they did with the Balkans. They simply watched the unslaught from a distance.
        Same with Syria.
        Spain is on its own. And if the Catalans manage to hold on, Spain will lose. They have certainly lost the goodwill of the Catalan people.

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