BY PATRICK WIGHTMAN
It appears that the words of the French leader Charles de Gaulle ring true today in Catalonia: “Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; Nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.”
On the question of Catalan independence, the British press has tried its best to sell the public a “love story”: a democratic people, who have carried out a valid referendum, in which the vast majority have voted for independence; a referendum involving peaceful people who wished only to exercise their democratic right but were hindered in doing so by the police of a baton‐wielding oppressive regime based in the distant Madrid, resulting in the abhorrent figure of 900 injured.
However, the British people would be right to ask some questions that their press is either not bothered to ask or not wanting to ask:
- Did the organisers of the referendum assign an independent body to audit and verify the results?
- Were all the participants of the referendum really peaceful? Could it not be the case that some people provoked the police? Were the injured police hit with flowers?
- What’s the truth in 300 members of anti‐systemic movements from outside Spain being involved?
- Where are the 900 injured people? Which hospital? Which wards?
- What happens if you live in Catalonia and you don’t want independence? Do the pro‐independence people respect you? How easy is it to hold on to your job?
- How’s life for your children in school?
- Is it really fair that an autonomous government ignores the constitution that defends the democratic rights of the 40 million people who live in the other 16 autonomous regions? Shouldn’t they also have a say?
- Are the pro‐independence politicians extraordinary? Are they made of the right stuff to lead an independent Catalonia to a wonderful future of prosperity and sunlit uplands? What’s their past record? How have they done up until now?
- How will business react to the change? Will it have a positive impact on the hundreds of thousands of unemployed in the region? Will foreign countries jump at the chance to trade with their new friend?
I’m British, 34 years old, and I live in Madrid with my Spanish wife and baby boy. Last Sunday I travelled to Barcelona for the demonstration in favour of the unity of Spain. I travelled in a convoy of 12 coaches leaving Madrid at 1:30 in the morning and arriving at 10:00. Coaches filled with young students, working men and women, unemployed, old pensioners; a few were going to shout their hate for the pro-independence people; the many were going to proclaim their love for Spain and their love for the Catalans; their love for their police forces; their love for authentic democracy.
The British press would do well to ask more questions. It might just be the case that they find a real love story staring them hard in the face.
Patrick Wightman works in Investor Relations in Madrid.