Posts Tagged ‘independence referendum’

Letter from Barcelona: Labour’s Spanish lessons

03/10/2017, 10:13:45 PM

by Rob Marchant

In between the petty spats of the Tory conference this week or the surreal cult of Labour’s gathering last week, there was a potentially seismic political event for Europe (and Britain) a thousand miles away: Sunday’s referendum for Catalan independence. It is big news: while a major general election campaign was happening in the EU’s most populous country, this little region’s impending vote was stealing the headlines for much of it.

It seems suddenly shocking but, for those of us familiar with Spanish and Catalan politics, it is essentially an event that has been at least a decade in the making, but which has approached Spain’s now largely stable democracy like a relentless iceberg, and which the national government’s general cack-handedness has made it seemingly powerless to stop.

This time, around 90% of the votes have been cast for “Sí”, although the vote is technically illegal and many anti-independence voters have naturally boycotted it. Reasons are many: there is first raw, emotional nationalism; then more rational, economic unfairness (Catalonia is a net contributor to taxes and “subsidises” poorer regions; some may even have voted yes in the (mistaken) belief that Spain’s foreign policy had somehow helped precipitate recent ISIS attacks in Barcelona and an independent Catalonia would instead be safe.

So the result, illegal or otherwise, is hugely important for Catalonia, Spain and Europe. But how did they get here?

For about a quarter-century following the “Transición” (the transition to democracy after Franco’s death), the Catalans had a nationalist party running their regional government, the CiU (Convergéncia i Unión).


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A Labour/SNP deal would be a disaster for Britain and Miliband

26/02/2015, 01:30:18 PM

by Samuel Dale

It’s May 13th 2015 and Ed Miliband is walking down Downing Street after being asked to form a government by the Queen.

It’s been an unpredictable and gruelling week of horse trading and backroom deals.

Labour and the Tories tied on 285 seats each and Miliband has done a deal with Alex Salmond to seize power.

His pact with the SNP – which won an incredible 45 seats – has put him into Number 10 but he is the weakest prime minister in decades, maybe ever.

As he makes his first speech outside that famous door, Sterling starts to plummet.

The FTSE 100 has already fallen almost 10% in the first part of the week as the likelihood of Miliband in power became clear. It tanks further as he talks.

The creme of Britain’s financial services industry are implementing their plans to leave London.

Hedge funds quickly plan moves to Jersey, big asset managers to the US while big banks look to Asia and New York.

Energy firms instantly scrap investment plans as the price freeze becomes reality while pension funds put their UK infrastructure investments on hold.

The SNP-Labour deal has promised to “end austerity” and increase spending in cash terms every year this parliament. Investors are spooked.

The International Monetary Fund has already warned that the UK must stick to its deficit programme and Angela Merkel has subtley warned London not to turn itself into Paris, or even Athens.


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