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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  • Andrew Liddell

    I’d be interested to know more about that Ciudadanos connection too. It seems like the chronology doesn’t really line up with how you tell the story, since Podemos are a much newer party than Ciudadanos. But I’d be interested to read more about that, do you have any other source available online?

  • Esteban Umerez

    Sir, you have your facts totally wrong. There was no refusal from the Spanish Government of an offer from Puigdemont for a 20 December election. PSOE pushed Rajoy to accept that election to deactivate the constitutional measures presented before the Senate, and the Spanish Government leaked to the media its willingness to accept such a solution, in a clear and positive message to the Catalonian Government. Then Puigdemont asked for guarantees: he allegedly asked for personal inmunity and the freedom of the two pollitical leaders imprisoned for aiding to rioting. Both things the Executive Branch can not concede in a democratic system, since only judges can do so. So Puigdemont decided to back off from the election offer, and explicitly said that he had done so «because of the lack of guarantees» that the election, the one he himself was about to call, would be a fair election. Sorry for my English, it’s not my first language.

    • Alan O'Brien

      Esteban you start by saying Craig has his “facts totally wrong” and then go onto claim” Puigdemont asked for guarantees: he allegedly asked for personal inmunity and the freedom of the two pollitical leaders imprisoned for aiding to rioting. ”

      Using the term “allegedly” doesn’t exactly lend your opening statement with a lot of credibility. “Allegedly” amounts to getting “facts totally wrong” does it Esteban? Really Esteban? Reeaallyy???

  • nevermind

    Having just returned from a few days away from a computer, I’d like to thank you for this excellent article Craig.
    Now I know that fighting/opposing those who grouped around Adolf von Thadden, during my youth, when many young fervent socialists were trying to stop their legitimate meetings from happening, has failed to stem the harvest of time, the falsehoods told for decades, the cover ups, the silent actions which inevitably became public, all of this has fostered an almost religious cooperation by right wing groups in Europe, they are well respected and have people speaking up for their causes, right in the middle of the EU parliament, the European Conservative Reformists shelter anybody, from Geert Wilders to the Greek ANEL.
    It was a good idea to oppose fascists, their rise will not deter me, its becoming aware to many now that their their masters never disappeared, they went quiet and worked on a modern revival. Some went so far in that they copied the model of modern Yisrael, its Apartheid policies and actions demanded their respect, the AFD adores the policies that are enforcing the day to day running of the west bank and Gaza.
    They are nuts and elected.

    a very unholy Alliance imho.

  • FranzB

    CM – “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. ”

    I’d say a key event was the decision to again use war as an instrument of foreign policy in respect of support for NATO in the action against Serbia in support of Kosovan independence from Serbia. This decision was taken by the Green foreign minister Joschka Fischer in Gerhard Schroeder’s SPD / Green coalition of 1998 – 2002. A bit of an irony that. Schroeder and Fischer did make it clear however in the 2002 election that Germany would not take part in the invasion of Iraq.

  • Twostime

    Now this http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/riot-police-stamp-kick-men-11269518 has a “Redirect Notice” – too much for us to have handled?… and even the Mirror don’t seem to have the original footage I saw and still described in their article headline?… Spent a lot of time trying to find the source video of Spanish federal cop injuring himself stamping on a Catalonian but this seems to have been placed in the memory hole. Any one else got a link?….

  • West Ender

    Perhaps Mr Murray is trying to win his way back into the hearts of the SNP leadership after having been rejected as a SNP candidate a year or so ago. His posts on Catalonia, which are ill-informed, ill-tempered and frenzid, can serve no other objective. However, the SNP leadership is unlikely to be as impressed as some of his more impressionable followers appear to be.

    • JOML

      You appear to be well informed, West Ender. Perhaps you could clarify the ‘informed’ version of events in Catalonia? Who knows, you might impress the political party of your choice….

  • freddy

    France is perplexed by sex

    According to French grammatical rules, the masculine takes precedence over the feminine. So while a group of women is referred to with the feminine, if just one man joins their ranks, the entire group is referred to as masculine. In recent years, activists have been pushing to change that. Increasingly, politicians, civil servants, associations and, notably, members of French President Emmanuel Macron’s administration are getting on board and taking care to address, for example, not just “Les Français” but “Les Françaises et les Français”.

    • freddy

      one day, in the near future, nobody will have a clue, what anybody else is saying, political correctness, will have captured reality.

      • Jo

        Very true. Another day in the future we won’t even be able to refer to someone as he or she! The world has gone mad.

  • Citizen Jimserac

    …to continue the Franco….LEGACY ??? (!!!)

    But…the problem in Europe is NOT the re-emergence of the far right. They’ve been there a long time,
    for better or for worse.

    The problem is the subversion of country after country, the diminution of citizenship and the obliteration
    of established culture by an active “politically correct” cultural revolution encouraged by leaders
    such as Merkel. The return of the far right is a consequence, and a needed one, to the excesses of the
    Islamization, out of control immigration and consequent disenfranchisement of established citizenry many of whose families lost many in defense of their countries.

    So called “Globalisation” is a political retrovirus which infects the host country using its very freedoms and political rights to undermine the established population with encouragement from media and those politicians eager to rule over a large mass of powerless uneducated serfs instead of an intelligent proactive politically aware population.

    In this light, the defense method of the far right drawing attention to these outrages, is not only useful but quite possibly necessitous in saving the host country from destruction or absorbtion into the amorphous mass of the European “Union”.
    Wisely several countries, Poland, Hungary, and others, have declined the invitation to self destruction and cultural obliteration which severs as an example of politicians respecting the will of their people and preserving the future and sovereignty of their countries.

    • JOML

      Citizen Jimserac, you clearly have an issue with non-European people coming to Europe, but do you have objections to Europeans moving to all other corners of the earth?

    • Anon7

      Indeed. The sort of people who say “All concern about immigration is racist” are squarely to blame for the rise of the far-right.

    • Alan O'Brien

      “re-emergence of the far right” Are you familiar with British politics at all? British politics have been moving to the right almost continuously for approaching 40 years. Not too sure just how “far right” is far enough for you Fascist types? The political compass website that monitors this kind of thing is going to have to extend it’s graphs at this rate. https://www.politicalcompass.org/uk2015

  • West Ender

    It is very easy for someone to call himself (or herself) a “human rights activist” but rather more difficult to supply evidence of such activity other than sounding off on a blog. Admittedly though, such a self-description does tend automatically to confer a certain degree of respectability and gravitas on the person making it.

    Similarly, it is easy for people to be misled into believing that a previous career in the diplomatic service confers great legal, constitutional and economic expertise and authority on an individual. In reality, that is very rarely the case and the more diplomatic experience is cited the warier the reader should be.

    • JOML

      It is very easy, as you say, West Ender, but it’s up to the individual to put whatever they read into context. From your post above, you appear to have an axe to grind and dislike Mr Murray. I don’t agree with everything he writes but if I fundamentally disagreed with him, I wouldn’t read his blog. A bit like the BBC, except you’re forced to pay them! ?

  • K Crosby

    All states are fascist but lately many of them have felt less need of pseudish fig leaves. There isn’t a rising tide of fascism, it’s always been here but it suits the respectable fascists to pretend that they’re the decent ones, while they steal everything except a red-hot stove.

  • Duncan Sutherland

    When I first came across Albert Rivera, he was leading Ciudadanos (Ciudadans in Catalan) in the Catalan Parliament, and a thoroughly obnoxious individual he seemed to me to be. For those who are not familiar with this person, he is the somewhat narcissistic chap who was responsible for a memorable 2012 Catalan election campaign video featuring an astonishing display of nudity. Here it is:


    I bet you’ve never seen a campaign video like that before,

    To get back to our muttons, this man seems to care not at all for the section of Catalan society which supports independence. Their wishes and legitimate aspirations are entirely illegitimate so far as he is concerned. They are irrelevant. They simply do not count, as they do not count for Spain, in accordance with whose constitution the Catalans are regarded as merely occupants of a territory which is not theirs (the same typically Castilian attitude applying also to Gibraltarians notably).

    That is the kind of attitude which makes it possible for a Guardia Civil officer to pull a woman by the hair or roughly manhandle an elderly man or woman in order to eject them unceremoniously from a long line of voters waiting patiently in the rain to cast their precious votes for their country. It is also the kind of attitude which led a group of off-duty Spanish police officers to mistreat a couple of Italian waiters in Barcelona the other night and cause a bar fight because they mistook the Italian that was being spoken for Catalan and would not or could not tolerate it. “Barcelona is Spain,” they yelled, as they made their point with their fists, as that nice Mr Rajoy is about to do by deploying the power of the Spanish state in Catalonia on a large scale while the European Union looks the other way.

    Civil disobedience, however, can be very effective. We shall soon see how effective, as the Catalans are very good at that and even do it with style, as you may have noticed.

    • Montse Raluy

      Too many who are against independence of Catalonia, say PP, C’ s, PSOE … unfotunately do not care about Catalan people, not even about the ones who oppose too to independence. I wish they would because this would legitimate a little more their rigid point of view, like a parent who wants to protect his or her child against dangers they are not even aware too. But they are far from this ” paternalist” ( questionnable as well). They only care about not losing power some, about winning elections the others, keep a rich territory under control, while they cheat, rob and lie with impunity … to each and every Spanish citizen. Elections in December should be in Spain to see how many Spanish people really want to have such a government! El pueblo unido jamás será vencido. We, Catalans, have understood quite well this truth and I hope we will continue doing so in the hard times coming. People from all Europe should know this while the main leaders of EU show the same willingness of fulfulling their only own eager interests.

  • Paul Barbara

    ‘Italy referendums: Lombardy and Veneto ‘back greater autonomy’:

    ‘Two of Italy’s richest northern regions have voted for more autonomy, according to their leaders.
    More than 90% of voters in Lombardy, home to Italy’s financial capital Milan, and the Veneto region around Venice, voted yes in the non-binding referendum, their presidents claimed.
    Both men are members of the Northern League, which has long argued that the north is subsidising the poorer south.
    The regions together account for about 30% of Italy’s national wealth.
    Critics of the polls call them a stunt to bolster the right-wing Northern League before a general election next year, while the central government in Rome says the polls are unnecessary although they are permitted under the Italian constitution.
    They contrast sharply with the crisis in Spain where one of the richest regions, Catalonia, held an referendum on independence on 1 October, despite the country’s constitutional court ruling it illegal. In response, Spain’s government plans to impose direct rule….’

    • freddy

      Josep Lluís Trapero Álvarez
      On 16 October 2017 a Spanish prosecutor asked for Josep Lluís Trapero to be jailed.
      Later that day, a judge would allow Trapero to remain free but withdrew his passport and ordered him to appear in court every two weeks. The court said that this could change if Trapero disobeys the conditions.

      Josep Lluís Trapero Álvarez (Badalona, 1965) is a former Mossos d’Esquadra Major, the highest rank in the Catalan Police.
      He was deposed after the Spanish government invoked Article 155 of the Constitution.

  • Anon7

    Fanatical euro federalist Guy Verhofstadt just tweeted this:

    “A “fake independence” is what I call it and I don’t recognize it.”


  • freddy

    Spain was plunged into crisis Friday as Madrid seized power from independence-seeking Catalonia, the first curtailment of regional autonomy since the brutal dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

    After regional lawmakers voted to declare a Catalan “republic”, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy moved swiftly to dissolve the rebel government and parliament, and called December 21 elections to replace them.

    In an escalating standoff closely watched by secession-wary Europe, Rajoy fired pro-independence leader Carles Puigdemont and all his ministers as well as the director of the regional police, and Catalan envoys to Madrid and Brussels, to halt what he termed an “escalation of disobedience.”

    Well that from The French State Broadcaster, they don’t say anything quickly, they don’t say anything unless it is in political agreement with the French State.

    I do not think many will accept Catalonia as a state.

  • Anon7

    There is only one way to settle this, and that is by way of an official referendum such as the one given to the people of Scotland to decide whether or not they want to be independent.

    • freddy

      An official state bulletin handed control of Catalonia to Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria.

      and so, Catalonian independence dies

      • Urso

        How can Catalan independence die? It was never alive. Catalonia was never more than an autonomous region of Spain. It has never been an independent country, despite the nationalists’ attempts to rewrite history.

  • gyges

    Pedantic point re: “the right of self determination under Article 2 of the UN Charter”

    I think it is Article 1 part 2 which provides, ” To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;”

  • Resident Dissident

    So when do those Catalans who do not support Independence and who boycotted the referendum because THEY thought it was illegal get their say. Oh I forgot they don’t: because nationalism allows you to override little things such as democracy, especially if you can label your opponents as fascists, without even the slightest sense of irony.

  • Peter A Bell

    “These articles never consider that perhaps, if there really is a popular desire for smaller states, it might be good to respect it.” – Craig Murray

    This is an interesting observation. The media “never consider” anything outside the box of the comfortably familiar. One wonders whether they are actually capable of doing so. Or are the media, and the established power for which they speak, prevented by their very nature from ever imagining a world in any significant way different from the one that they have always known? Is if a defining characteristic of established power to imagine that all innovation is done?

    The complacently well-placed disparage dreamers as all dreams are considered unworthy other than those that have already been proved worthy by being realised. In a downward spiral of despairing realism, the smallest of dreams become the worthiest and the pettiest of personal gains become the pinnacle of human achievement. What we have is the best that we can hope for because to hope for more is to put at risk what we have.

    The daily victory which sustains established power is the defeat of dreams. So long as enough of us remain sufficiently convinced that to dream is only and irrationally to deny reality, then established power remains secure. So long as we are kept from the realisation that the dream is the crucial precursor to change, then we cannot see meaningful change as a realistic possibility. The day we lose our fear to dream is the day that the citadels of established power begin to tremble.

    So long as we swim in a media sea of ‘never consider’, we are no threat.

    But suppose we stop to consider the possibility that other arrangements are possible. Suppose, for example, we consider the proposition that ‘separatism’ may not be nearly so unthinkable if we think of it simply as separation into parts which sit comfortably as the constituent parts of a whole which is more coherent and cohesive for its constituent parts sitting more comfortably within it. Suppose we consider it, not as breaking, but as reconstituting. Why should this be anathema to the EU? Why should this be anathema to anyone, other than those who have a vested interest in maintaining a generalised belief that all possible innovation is done?

    In the context of Scotland’s constitutional debate, a Unionist is someone who has never questioned the Union, while a British Nationalist is someone who insists that the Union should never be questioned. In the wider European context, might it be that developments in Catalonia prompt more people to question the status quo? Might it even be that these developments, in conjunction with the irrepressible urging of Scotland’s Yes Movement and its counterparts elsewhere, weaken that obdurate resistance to questioning present constitutional arrangements?

    Let’s reject the stultifying culture of ‘never consider’. Let’s instead consider the possibility that now is the time for the EU to abandon attitudes to secessionist movements which hark back to a dark age of European imperialism and adopt the enlightened principles set out in the UN Charter.

    If the EU and the governments of European nations regard the current situation only as crisis and respond with defensive aggression, then it is difficult to see anything other than a protracted tragedy ensuing. But if they see it as an opportunity to embrace change and move immediately and with a sense of urgency to establish procedures by which that change might be managed, then the prospect opens up of a more stable, sustainable, prosperous and peaceful Europe.

    • reel guid

      Top notch comment Peter.

      I like your distinction between a Scottish Unionist and a Scottish British Nationalist. Trying to persuade the latter is a waste of time. The Unionists must be encouraged to question their assumptions.

  • Sharp Ears

    Sky News
    ‘Spain plunges deeper into crisis as Mariano Rajoy invokes emergency measures after Catalonia’s parliament votes to break away.’

    Revelling in it and hoping for chaos?

  • reel guid

    If the USA federal government has set itself implacably against people making declarations of UDI to free themselves from tyranny does that mean they are admitting that the underlying ethos of the USA is ‘don’t do as I do, do as I say’?

  • E Mont

    Well, I guess your theory just went down the drain.
    Evil Rajoy called for regional elections on Dec 21st.
    We’ll see who is afraid of voting now. Voting with full guarrantees.

      • Resident Dissident

        I would hope that the Spanish Government is not that daft as I am sure that the nationalists would more than welcome some martyrs for their cause.

      • clockworkorange

        absolutely Craig but catalans don’t want elections and Cup party has scheduled a paella for that day.. and I’m really sad that users like Fred/Freddy are waiting to watch it when catalans are acting without violence and the unionists celebrating it with fascist salutes. I swear Israel could buy the catalan project… or Efta

  • Clydebuilt

    I’ve thought for some time that Brexit is all about the long term paving the way to WAR by our betters.

  • Eduard

    Excellent article with a spot-on conclusion. I have one remark though: Ciudadanos emerged quite a few years before Podemos. In fact, it was founded almost 10 years before. Which means that something is lacking in the story. Some clarification needed please!!

    • freddy

      María Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría Antón
      Before entering politics, she was a state lawyer, a member of an elite legal corps serving the state apparatus,
      and is more than qualified to use the letter of the law against the separatists.
      Untainted by the corruption scandals which have gripped Mr Rajoy’s centre-right Popular Party (PP), her credentials are impeccable in the eyes of the government.

      This is the person who now runs Catalonia, will she hound Carles into hiding?

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