Sunday, December 02, 2007

Let them have it

Much as the British moan about the state of public transport, you'd be lucky to get 20 people to stage a march to protest their dire state.

Last night we had between 200,000 (the police) and 700,000 (the organisers) on the streets of Barcelona, using four weeks of suburban rail chaos (the result of construction of the final stretch of the AVE high-speed rail link into the city centre) as the springboard for a pretty impressive demonstration of the strength of nationalist feeling here.

This may be a new phase in the Catalan campaign for greater autonomy from Madrid and/or full independence. No more of the 'we are a people, we are a nation ...' homespun philosophy that has a limited appeal but 'Madrid's buggered it up, we couldn't be any worse'.

Indeed they would probably be a lot better. There's the money and the smarts here, so why not? Nationhood based on competence rather than a cultural ideology. This was no factional left wing demo but one that brought together some 150 organisations from across the political spectrum.

Things may move fast. There is a national general election in 2008 so expect plenty of devloutionary bones to be chucked Catalonia's way - promises which may or may not be followed up if the Socialists get elected. Three years later we get Joan Laporta, president of Barca and nationalist in chief, running for office as President of the region. At that point things get really interesting.

PS Note to Catalans. Please, please stop looking to Edinburgh and drooling over the Scottish National Party's minority government as a template for independence there and here. The Scottish Parliament was a bastardised gerrymandered talking shop designed to quell nationalism and keep the Labour party in power in perpetuity.

It went horribly wrong at the last election, but hell will freeze other before a government in London would ever allows any quasi independent powers to go to Scotland.

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