When Project Fear Shoots its Bolt 105

Zero companies have left Catalonia. The BBC, Sky News, France24 and Deutsche Welt have all told me repeatedly today that 1500 companies have left Catalonia. Goodness knows what the Spanish media is like – El Pais, soon to be renamed The Ecstatic Francoist, has put me off looking any further. But despite the media bombardment of fake news, actually no companies have left Catalonia at all. What have left Catalonia are not 1500 companies, but 1500 emails and forms giving a change of Head Office address. The companies and the jobs are still exactly where they were. In Catalonia.

Actually, it was very helpful for the Madrid government to initiate this process, because all those companies will need Spanish offices now their main premises are no longer in Spain but in Catalonia. They can now in addition register their Catalan premises with the Catalan state company register..

We saw Project Fear in spades in Scotland in 2014, but while they threatened that no business would remain in Scotland, they were not stupid enough to claim they had actually already left. Project Fear is a lot less effective when its bluff is called. The Spanish government has managed to call its own bluff, to shoot its bolt prematurely, and it turns out to be not a real threat at all. Now what does that remind me of?

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105 thoughts on “When Project Fear Shoots its Bolt

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  • MJ

    “We saw Project Fear in spades in Scotland in 2014”

    And we saw it in spades cubed in the UK in 2016.

    • Anon7

      Clearly the Scots just didn’t want independence, while Britain (minus Scotland) voted for its own.

      • JOML

        Including Northern Ireland? Don’t think so – I think you forgot about that part of your Empire, Anon7

  • Nigel Stapley

    @West Ender,

    There may be a question now as to whether the Republic of Catalunya would want to be a member of the EU, given the twaddle and pish which has come from Juncker, Tusk, Timmermans and Verhofstadt in the last few weeks. The EU’s betrayal of the values of democracy has soured me on the EU (as it has with our host here), which is a bit disconcerting bearing in mind the sort of company we both might now be considered to be keeping.

    (It was noticeable that whereas in demonstrations in Catalunya prior to last week there a lot of EU flags visible, the demonstrations in the last few days have scarcely featured it at all; a sign of contempt for the EU which is utterly justified, and may well indicate that the people of Catalunya don’t see the EU as the be-all-and-end-all of their international connections.

    There is an alternative for Catalunya, however. Given the nation’s size and its economic good health, EFTA might well be the better option, and one which would be more likely to succeed given that most of the existing members have a stronger commitment to democratic values than most EU states (and certainly more than the EU itself).

    As for the Republic not being recognised, cast your mind back to c.1991. We were told (by the same states/super-states and media organs who are saying it now) that there was no way on Earth that newly-independent Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania or Slovenia – all of which had regained their freedom ‘unlawfully’ and ‘unconstitutionally’ – would ever be recognised by the US, the EU or the ‘international community’ in general. Once one or two states recognise the new entity (de facto if not, for the moment, de jure) then the barriers will start to fall.

    • fred

      “The EU’s betrayal of the values of democracy has soured me on the EU ”

      I know, disgusting, refusing to recognise an illegal referendum only one side voted in and where you could print off your own ballot papers and vote as many times as you wanted too…Fascist bastards.

      • Republicofscotland

        It wasn’t a “onesided” referendum, and no one was allowed to vote twice, even after the fascist Guardia Civil, beat people up in the polling stations and stole the ballot boxes.

        Of course not everyone voted, and who could blame them, they were probably too frightened of being beaten and shotgunned or tear gassed by the fascist Guardia Civil.

      • kailyard rules

        Fred,as said before ,any of your armchair postulations regarding the country of Scotland are null and void .

    • Kempe

      Utterly untrue. The baltic states were recognised in the early 1920s, before the Soviet occupation.

      • Nigel Stapley

        The EU didn’t even exist in the 1920s, so how could they have done? In any case, it’s irrelevant because of the huge discontinuity between the pre-Soviet states and the post-Soviet ones. Besides which, you haven’t countered my point about Slovenia, have you?

        On the actual subject of your post, Craig, didn’t I read somewhere that that inbred dolt Felipe Borbón actually called the CEO of Volkswagen personally to ask him to move his company’s offices out of Catalunya to Spain?

  • Paul Seligman

    I have been listening to BBC 4, BBC World and watching France 24. My understanding from these sources was exactly that these companies had moved their headquarters registration, not that they had (as yet) moved jobs or physical buildings. Sorry, Craig.

    • Old Mark

      France 24 are now quoting a talking head from Global Counsel (Lord Mandelson’s ‘think tank’) ramping up the fear factor about business relocations out of Catalonia

  • Semper facetious

    “If Catalonia does succeed in seceding…”
    If they do succeed in seceding, and we accede to such a successful secession, then we may find it is succeeded by succession of similarly successful secessions. There must be a cessation of suchlike secessions, since accession to a procession of such successful secessions would certainly suck.

  • Article2625UnitedNations

    The documentary produced by MEDIAPRO is the result of nine months of investigation and analysis revealing the dirty works at the heart of the Interior Ministry for the first time.
    The project, directed by Jaume Roures and written by Jaume Grau, is a priceless piece of documentary film-making thanks to first-hand accounts from four policemen who talk before the cameras for the very first time: Marcelino Martín Blas, the former head of Internal Affairs in the Police, Jaime Barrado, police commissioner, the Civil Guard sergeant José Oreja and a high-level civil servant in the Interior Ministry who wishes to remain anonymous.

  • Loony

    Good to read that the companies leaving Catalonia are only leaving via e-mail.

    That would be so radically different from all of the European Merchant fleets who simply departed to Panama and Liberia by way of telex (they mostly left prior to e-mail). Just look at how pay and conditions have improved for merchant seamen and think of the increased tax take available to European states whose ship registrations have all sailed to Panama. But not to worry the physical location of the ships remain the same.

  • Mochyn69

    Appalling lack of balance in the way Sky News is covering Catalunya today.

    The whole tenor of their reporting is framed against the independence movement and they are aggressively pushing the apparent lie that more than 50% of the people in Catalunya are opposed to independence, without producing a shred of evidence to support this.

    What chance some mature and intelligent discussion, instead of pro-Spanish unionist propaganda??


    • N_

      Oh well fuck me, Sky News shows an “appalling lack of balance”.
      Well I think I’ll write a stinking letter to the Times, er, I mean an appalled comment to Craig Murray’s blog. Then I’ll feel better.

      • keaton

        That criticism carries real weight, given how much more productively you’re spending your own time.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    It is not so much that there is any “illegality” in the seeking of independence ( for international law does recognise that right). The EU position is more one of political expediency than one congruent with international law. It is more that there is a struggle to preserve the status quo ( as its name suggests) seeking maintenance of the existing state of affairs, in resistance to proposed change – and the change that is sought towards independence comes inevitably with a struggle – as is presently unfolding – Spain/Catalonia.

      • lysias

        Cruising for a bruising? The worse he is treated, the more popular he will become. If he dies, he becomes a martyr.

      • clockworkorange

        please respect the president krls and know the history. sounds like you don’t remember Lluís Companys.. who was killed. this is not about independence. this is about fascist europe and the matrix. free yourself first and then you’ll see

  • Ian

    The person worth listening to in this debacle is the left wing mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, a voice of reason amidst the hysteria. She is caustic about both sides and their determination to confront each other in their pig-headed, cloth-eared macho way. She has the support of many in Spain and Catalonia. More’s the pity she is not heading the Catalans.


    • reel guid

      Great. She’s caustic about fascists. She’s caustic about democrats. Both lots should really grow up. And be mature and reasonable like Ada.

      • reel guid

        If only she’d been around in 1940 she could have got between Hitler and Churchill and told them both to stop being silly little boys with toys. Ada the princess of peace.

      • Ian

        At least she’s not cynical, like yourself. And has some earned status through her record and position. She talks a lot more sense than the would-be firebrands and hotheads who imagine that plunging things into chaos is desirable because they are zealots. And no, it is not as simple as democrats v fascists, much as you would like it to be.

        • reel guid

          That’s right. My God. There are people in Catalonia who want independence and some of them aren’t good ardent socialists. Some of them are even anarchists! Shock horror. They musn’t be allowed to succeed. Let’s give the fascists some slack to screw the Catalans. Then they’ll be ripe for socialism. And play their part in the millennial triumph of international socialism and peace.

          Over to you fascists. Suspend that democracy! The useful idiots. Hee hee.

          • JOML

            I know, reel guid, imagine wanting self-determination! The Washington Post apparently listed ‘separatist’ Scotland, Venezuela and the Russians as the only people behind Catalonia – I provided a link (via RobG’s site) but it was deleted by the mods. I suppose these people who oppose Catalonia are also against divorce…

          • reel guid

            JOML. The Washington Post’s pieces on Catalonia have been garbage. They’ve been working hard to give the impression that there are not many people in Catalonia who really want independence.

          • fred

            “I know, reel guid, imagine wanting self-determination!”

            Imagine already having self determination and being stupid enough to throw it away for home rule from Madrid.

          • JOML

            Imagine being stupid enough to think Catalonia already had self determination – what on earth does Fred think why the current situation has come about? If Catalonia already had self determination, then they wouldn’t have to vote for it.

          • fred

            The vote was for separation not self determination.

            Nationalists keep pretending the two are the same, they aren’t, otherwise no one would have self determination.

  • freddy

    PIGS is an acronym used in economics and finance.
    The PIGS acronym originally refers, often derogatorily,
    to the economies of the Southern European countries of Portugal, Italy, Greece, and SPAIN.
    During the European debt crisis, the term was also increasingly used to refer to the economies of Portugal, Ireland, Greece, and Spain, four EU member states that were unable to refinance their government debt or
    to bail out over-indebted banks on their own during the crisis.
    The term originated in the 1990s with the increased integration of the EU economies, and it was often used in reference to the growing debt and economic vulnerability of the Southern European EU countries. It was again popularised during the European sovereign-debt crisis of the late 2000s and expanded in use during this period. In the 1990s, Ireland was not included in this term; the country was still in the midst of its “CELTIC TIGER” period, with debt significantly below the Eurozone average and a government surplus as late as 2006. However, taking on the guarantee of banks’ debt, the government budget deficit rose to 32% of GDP in 2010, which was the world’s largest. Ireland then became associated with the term, replacing Italy or changing the acronym to PIIGS,
    with Italy also indicated as the second “I”.

    • freddy

      So the people on here who think it is perfectly spiffing for Catalonia to declare UDI

      how will you justify the defaulting of SPAIN,
      by default, the defaulting of CATALONIA?

    • N_

      “PIGS” and “PIIGS” are ALWAYS derogatory. They’re the shittiest bankers’ propaganda term since “credit crunch” and “subprime”.

  • reel guid

    BBC tv report. Separatists. Separatists. But everything calm. People going about their business. Law and order. People just waiting to see. Vox pop in Catalonia. Just one guy. Wants elections. Nothing about what he’ll vote for. Unity demo in Madrid. Not that well attended but gloss over that. Speak to two in vox pop. Catalan woman but Madrid resident. Wants unity. Old guy wants unity. Lots and lots of Spanish flags. Back to Barcelona. Ordinary people going about their business, just waiting to see. Not obsessed with politics like the hardcore separatists. All just a row about politics in foreign country. Nothing else to see here. Move along now.

    • N_

      Tell everyone you know to make sure they’ve got less than £85K in Santander accounts.

      It could be interesting at Heathrow if Spain goes bust. The airport is Spanish-owned.

      • fred

        I don’t know anyone with more than £85.

        If Santander goes bust will our overdrafts be safe?

        • N_

          From the borrower’s point of view an overdraft is a liability, so I don’t understand what it means for it to be “safe”. To answer what I think you are asking: if Santander goes bust, then

          a) if you owe them money, you will still owe it; there is no chance that it will be written off, and the collection policy of whoever buys it may be different in some ways from Santander’s (for example, it could be bought by payday company Yodel);

          b) you will still be able to find someone else who will lend you money.

        • freddy

          I think Santander also owns Heathrow.
          If Santander goes tits up
          does Heathrow also go tits up?

          • N_

            @Freddy – The Spanish company that leads the group that owns Heathrow is Ferrovial, not Santander. If Spain goes bust, or Ferrovial goes bust, then yes, there will be big problems at Heathrow. After hours – or perhaps weeks (who knows?) – there will probably be a “rescue”. Large fortunes will be made by some.

            References here should include Iceland and Cyprus.

            It’s interesting that the British media are NOT, at the moment, saying how corrupt Spain is. The standard way of buying a house in Spain (including in Catalonia) is to meet at a lawyer’s office to sign away the “on the books” price, and then Mr Clean the Lawyer goes out of the room while the buyer passes the seller a bag of banknotes for the rest of the “informally” agreed price. Everybody in Spain knows this.

            The media prefer to talk about a Catalan currency. You would have to be crazy to think that a real new currency, with local monetary control, could be set up for Catalonia. Why? For the simple reason that nobody would buy it! What could happen is a massive loan from a Mr Big, chopped up into small bits which could then have “100 Catalan pesetas” printed on them.

            While some are jumping up and down talking about the valiant fight of the Catalan people against “foreign” Spanish “fascism” (sic), others are a) stirring up trouble so that they will profit maximally from its development – probably very fast – along predicted pathways which are not yet clear, and of course b) shitting themselves. What the filthy rich in every country in the world care about most is money. Getting state contracts to grab it, getting hold of people’s debt, and conning people out of it, especially those who are already in trouble, are the main ways of making it nowadays as conditions go down the plughole,

        • freddy

          Between 2007 and 2010,
          Santander was ranked as worst bank for customer service in the J. D. Power UK Retail Banking Satisfaction Study.

          • N_

            Another thing about Santander is that you only have to look at its livery to realise that much of its business is “subprime”. The same can be said of Metro Bank. The marketing is similar to that of Tesco’s “Everyday Value” foodstuffs.

  • N_

    But despite the media bombardment of fake news, actually no companies have left Catalonia at all. What have left Catalonia are not 1500 companies, but 1500 emails and forms giving a change of Head Office address. The companies and the jobs are still exactly where they were. In Catalonia.

    Actually, it was very helpful for the Madrid government to initiate this process, because all those companies will need Spanish offices now their main premises are no longer in Spain but in Catalonia. They can now in addition register their Catalan premises with the Catalan state company register.

    You’re losing it, Craig.

    You’re not going to like this, but the above paragraphs sound Trumpoid (“fake news”) with a bit of “you’ll have had your tea” crap sarcasm thrown in – two instances of “actually”, a “no longer in Spain”, and a nasty last sentence.

    They’re already in the Spanish state company register, and now they’ve made sure they’ve moved their registered head offices out of Catalonia into somewhere else in Spain. Sure, that ain’t the physical moving of anything, but a company isn’t a physical object. Whether the companies “stay” in a place or “move out” of a place is a matter of paperwork. And those who run these 1500 companies are bailing out. Don’t fucking kid yourself, mate. Don’t take your ideas for reality. And the BBC has been fanatically pro-Catalan independence. There’s something seriously wrong with the way you’re looking at the news if you don’t recognise that.

    • JOML

      N_ “the BBC has been fanatically pro-Catalan independence” – fanatically? I told you a million times…. don’t exaggerate! Never mind fanatically, the BBC I’ve been watching hasn’t. Have you been watching ‘strictly’?

      • Ba'al Zevul

        Going by R4, I’d say the BBC’s rather bemused by the subject. It’s slanted against the heavy-handed (read strong and would-be stable) Madrid actions, but I don’t think it’s championing Catalonia. Compared to its treatment of Corbyn, it’s being stunningly neutral, in fact. HMG may not have told it what to think yet… and issues like the EU’s opinion and the continued detachment of Gibraltar are currently best delicately avoided. We’re in a hole already.

        • N_

          Well you’re wrong then – and so obviously wrong I am not going to waste time explaining how..

          • Mochyn69

            BBC slightly sympathetic and a little more balanced, Sky vehemently against and overtly biased towards the unionists, especially Jane Secker.

            Now why would that be I wonder?

            Care to read the tea leaves, N_ ?

    • FranzB

      I thought Tom Burridge’s report for BBC Radio 4 The World this Weekend last Sunday was impressive . He reported on 200 people in Barcelona demonstrating outside a Guardia Civil barracks in support of the Guardia Civil. Doubtless due to pressure on time he was unable to report on the 450,000 demonstrators in Barcelona who were in favour of Catalans deciding their own future.

  • Sm Sung

    Well of course they haven’t physically left – at least not yet – they’ve transferred their tax base/HQ.

    • Hugh

      They have moved their Spanish registered tax office into Spain. They have to if they are a competent business. Business does not care about country, they care about customers and above all else profit. If they have an existing profitable business they are not going to walk away.

      The question really is how many behind the scenes are working to create separate accounts for when they need to pay Catalonian taxes? This question applies to every business with trade in Catalonia and Old Spain, not just the 1500.

      • Sm Sung

        Just like in Quebec in the 90’s, they will eventually just move the jobs out as well if necessary.

  • DY

    So why are corporations posting press releases like this on their websites? So far mostly registered offices but operations will follow as it’s not practical to operate outside the Euro zone…which is the default position for Catalonia if it is outside of Spain. Separatists seem to need their own news sources that deny the facts to justify their own prejudices

  • Zeb

    Malcolm ‘http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/investigations/jack-straw-and-sir-malcolm-rifkind-did-offer-cash-for-access/’ Rifkind on the news this morning stating that 62% of Catalonia either abstained or voted against independence. Statistics, Damned statistics and crooked buggers for hire

  • freddy

    Extreme-Far-Left supporters of Puigdemont have threatened “mass civil disobedience” if Rajoy carries out the power grab,
    but have yet to announce any plans?

    Number of businesses getting out of Catalonia is rising.
    The Spanish government has the support of the United States and allies in a secession-wary European Union still reeling from Britain’s decision to leave its fold.

    Many fear the economic impact as the standoff drags on,
    with some 1,700 companies having moved their legal headquarters out of Catalonia so far.

  • freddy

    Activists have offered to form human chains around buildings to protect officials, some of whom are expected to face arrest and
    jail sentences for their role in both the October referendum and the declaration of independence that followed.

    Some of the region’s 200,000 civil servants have said they will not accept orders from Madrid, and one Catalan union
    has also called a 10-day strike starting tomorrow in support of the new republic.

    So, shaping up for confrontation, on Monday.

  • freddy

    Hundreds of thousands are attending a rally for Spanish unity in Barcelona
    after Catalonia was stripped of its autonomy for declaring independence.
    Many of those protesting in the region’s largest city chanted that sacked Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont should be jailed.
    Mr Puigdemont was dismissed as Spain’s central government took control of Catalan institutions.
    On Sunday, a minister in Belgium said he could get political asylum there.

    so where is Carles?

    • N_

      Out of interest, would it be lawful under EU treaties for an EU member to recognise Catalonia as sovereign when the Spanish courts say it is not?

      The Daily Express may say that Finland is “preparing” to recognise Catalonia, but the Daily Express isn’t a newspaper.

      • freddy

        If any EU member country, breaks ranks and attempts to recognise Catalonian UDI
        you can kiss the EU goodbye.

        • N_

          Yes indeed. I agree. That is probably part of why Catalan events have been directed this way. But would it be legal under EU treaties for an EU member state to recognise the Catalan UDI? My guess is that members are under a treaty obligation to recognise each others’ borders de facto and de jure, but I’m not 100% about that.

  • N_

    Article from American Banker, 27 Oct 2017:

    Santander Consumer dives back into subprime auto as others flee“.

    The article is about lending to buy cars in the US but the US consumer banking arm of Santander is part of the same concern as the Santander high street bank in Britain.

    Here is the translation: the jackals who are already in position to profit when Santander collapses are increasing the amount of poor people’s debt they will get their hands on when it does.

    That, friends, is what the filthy rich care about. Notions such as nationalism, globalism, independence, union, etc., are utilised when profitable and not when not. The FT can’t report the reality straight, of course. So they report things like the dip in Santander’s paper profits ostensibly resulting from the integration of Banco Popular.

    And remember – the Financial Services Compensation Scheme guarantee of the first £85K isn’t watertight. No insurance policy is, even when state-backed.

    Personally I can’t see Spain or Santander staying solvent until December’s triple witching day (Friday 15th). The reason why the derivatives markets (and interbank derivatives trading reflected in those markets) are important in this context is because that is where a lot of the so-called “speculation” will occur. It isn’t really speculation. Think more of a pack of hyenas.

  • freddy

    Today is likely to be the day that Carles Pugidmont,
    either turns the tables on Rayjoy
    or turns the tables on himself.

  • Jiusito

    Craig, may I ask you a serious question? You say that the UN Charter gives the inalienable right of self-determination to peoples but not to regions. Does that mean that in principle the Welsh could vote for independence (as a distinct people) but not the population of Wales, which includes a lot of English people? Does international law run aground there, or is there some neat distinction? I am genuinely curious to know – I’m not trying to pick holes.

    • Mochyn69

      Defining “peoples”

      There is not yet a recognized legal definition of “peoples” in international law.[34] Vita Gudeleviciute of Vytautas Magnus University Law School, reviewing international law and UN resolutions, finds in cases of non-self-governing peoples (colonized and/or indigenous) and foreign military occupation “a people” is the entire population of the occupied territorial unit, no matter their other differences. In cases where people lack representation by a state’s government, the unrepresented become a separate people. Present international law does not recognize ethnic and other minorities as separate peoples, with the notable exception of cases in which such groups are systematically disenfranchised by the government of the state they live in.[27] Other definitions offered are “peoples” being self-evident (from ethnicity, language, history, etc.), or defined by “ties of mutual affection or sentiment”, i.e. “loyalty”, or by mutual obligations among peoples.[35] Or the definition may be simply that a people is a group of individuals who unanimously choose a separate state. If the “people” are unanimous in their desire for self-determination, it strengthens their claim. For example, the populations of federal units of the Yugoslav federation were considered a people in the breakup of Yugoslavia, although some of those units had very diverse populations.[33] Libertarians who argue for self-determination distinguish between the voluntary nation (the land, the culture, the terrain, the people) and the state, the coercive apparatus, which they have a right to choose or self-determine.[17]

      Abulof suggests that self-determination entails the “moral double helix” of duality (personal right to align with a people, and the people’s right to determine their politics) and mutuality (the right is as much the other’s as the self’s). Thus, self-determination grants individuals the right to form “a people,” which then has the right to establish an independent state, as long as they grant the same to all other individuals and peoples.[36]

      Criteria for the definition of “people having the right of self-determination” was proposed during 2010 Kosovo case decision of the International Court of Justice: 1. traditions and culture 2. ethnicity 3. historical ties and heritage 4. language 5. religion 6. sense of identity or kinship 7. the will to constitute a people 8. common suffering.[37]

      From Wikipedia


      I know, I know, Wikipedia, but it’s a good place to start.

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