Archive for the 'Spain' Category

Farewell Martin McGuinness

So farewell then Martin. Your health seems to be letting you down and you’ve finally got tired of the DUP trying to turn Northern Ireland into  Protestant state for a Protestant people all over again. Small blame to you.  I guess your illness means you won’t be running for office again and that your political future, if you have one, will be to play the elder statesman in SF. No formal job but loads of influence, something like the role of Felipe González in the PSOE in Spain.

But maybe you’re for the high jump soon; we don’t know exactly what’s ailing you so it’s impossible to say. It’s been quite a life, you’ve had, no? You stood up for your people when it was extraordinarily difficult and dangerous to do so and were recognized a leader by all who came into contact with you. 22 was quite an age to be flown to London to negotiate with the Brits.

You kept faith with the armed struggle for far too long though and you countenanced horrible sectarian massacres. Unlike some others you did eventually see that it was  all leading nowhere, that it was impossible to impose sufficient costs on the Brits to make them rethink  their support for the Unionists and that the Unionists were not going to have their minds changed by killing any number of off duty UDR corporals. Some can’t get those facts into their heads even today.

There’d have been no durable ceasefire and no GFA without your personal credibility among the nationalist people to back it. And the devolved administration in NI wouldn’t have lasted until now without your pragmatic approach and personal humility, characteristics lacking in another top Republican whose name I won’t mention.

You probably won’t thank me for saying this but you remind me a lot of Arik Sharon: man of war and man peace, responsible for both foul and noble deeds, loved by (most of) your people and despised by those who’d like to see them go back to their previous condition of servitude.

So get well soon, and enjoy whatever time’s left to you.

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Prediction for 2017, Number 2

 This one really should have happened this year but long delays in forming governments in Madrid and Barcelona put it back. The traditional bourgeois nationalists in Barcelona have hitched their wagon to the ultra-left and irredentist CUP. The latter are determined to force a decisive break with Madrid in 2017. The idea is to have a referendum on independence and to start setting up the institutions of an independent state. The government in Madrid has already initiated legal measures to stop this. The CUP is betting on a confrontation with the Spanish state involving the imprisonment of Catalan nationalist politicians who disobey the courts, mass demonstrations to secure their liberty and a good deal of public disorder; in the last analysis to expose what they see as the fundamentally oppressive nature of what see as “Spanish rule” in Catalonia. I would not be completely surprised if all this leads to people getting killed. Recall that leaders of the CUP shamelessly describe themselves as “the Kurds of Spain” and the like. Of course there’s no real chance of the push for independence succeeding, the government in Madrid has all the necessary powers and resources to stop it. But things might well get messy this year.

This Won’t End Well II: Independence Day

  1. After all the procedural and judicial obstacles placed in the way by the non-nationalist parties  have been finally overcome, on Monday the Catalan parliament will vote on a motion, jointly cooked up by the ultra-nationalist ultra-left and the bourgeois nationalists, to start on the road to building a Catalan republic and to no longer recognize the authority of Madrid.
  2. As soon as it passes the Madrid government will appeal to the Constitutional Court to annul the motion. The CC will do this, probably quite quickly.
  3. The nationalists will then say “nuffink to do with us guv, we don’t live in yer Spanish kingdom no more”. The question will then be what course of action they will take beyond that. Will they start trying to set their courts/tax collection services etc. etc. Is the scenario rather similar to Ireland 1919?
  4. The biggest problem the nationalists have is that although there is a clear nationalist majority in the parliament, the ultra-left ultra-nationalists have sworn up hill and down dale that they won’t vote for the head of the bourgeois nationalists Artur Mas to be leader of a new government and the parliamentary arithmetic means that without their support then he can’t get elected. They argue (correctly) that he is a mega-corrupt scion of the Pujol crime family and that the new Catalonia can’t be led by a scrote like him. So, bizarrely, the Catalan proto-state has many of the attributes of an independent state but it hasn’t got a government and the ultra-nationalist ultra-leftists look like the will remain unmoved by entreaties to place national unity in the face of the Spanish oppressor above the need to clear out the Augean stables of corruption. If the Catalan parliament can’t elect a new government leader by Jan. 9 it’s fresh election in March 2016
  5. If I was advising the nationalists I’d say that having gone this far now is the moment to put the pedal to the metal: try to set up some kind of interim steering committee type government and immediately start to defy the authority of Madrid, order the Catalan national police to ignore instructions from Spanish courts,  try to close down the tax administration of the central government in Catalonia, set up Catalan courts with Catalan judges, etc. etc. This would force the central government to invoke Article 155 of the constitution which allows it to take the reins of the autonomous administration if it does stuff against the unity of Spain etc. So the delegate of the central government in Catalonia would be granted powers to give orders to the cops etc. and the other organs of the autonomous state. The question would then be whether the latter would obey such orders or not. There’s also the question of fining and banning from public office Catalan officials who don’t obey orders from Madrid, or even of arresting them if things really get hairy.
  6. By doing this they, the nationalists, would have every chance of tempting the blockheads in power in Madrid into such excesses that would convince many people in Barcelona not keen on nationalism into revising their opinions. (The ultra-nationalist ultra-leftists are practically wetting themselves at the prospect of being made martyrs of by Madrid.) The pressure from the other Spanish parties for a constitutional reform that would allow for the autonomous communities to vote on whether they wanted to stay in Spain would likely become overwhelming. Podemos is for it and the Socialists are too although they can’t quite bring themselves to say so in so many words.
  7. The only problem with the above scenario, if it is a problem, is that it would allow the dunderhead Rajoy to paint himself as the defender of an eternally united Spain and possibly win an overall majority, or at least enough seats to form a government with C’s in the general election on December. And of course such a victory would only ratchet up nationalist sentiment in Catalonia.


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