Catalonia is not Scotland

Although from time to time they opt for the Kosovan or Canadian models, it seems clear that the great pretext for Artur Mas’s plan in the coming months will be Scotland. The misty land of William Wallace, as well as remaining outside of the Roman Britannia from which it was separated by Hadrian’s Wall, was an independent kingdom until 1707; independent and hostile towards England, a kingdom which tried to conquer it militarily on several occasions. In 1603, Jacob VI of Scotland inherited the English throne, wearing the two crowns simultaneously. Yet the two states did not become one until 1706, when the two parliaments agreed to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain by means of the Treaty of Union. The following year, both parliaments ratified the treaty in the Acts of Union. 


Catalonia, meanwhile, formed part of the Roman Hispania (whose capital was in fact in Tarragona) and of the Visigoth kingdom (whose capital was in Barcelona before transferring to Toledo). The kingdom of Catalonia never existed, no hostile Spanish kingdom ever tried to conquer it militarily and no parliament of a Catalan kingdom or of a Spanish kingdom ever agreed a treaty to unite by mutual agreement. On the contrary, like other Christians, the Catalans participated in the reconquest and unification of Spain through the marriage of the royals of Castile and Aragon. There was never a Catalan state that took the decision to unite with the Spanish state and which could now revoke that decision. And, however much the separatists lie about it, Catalonia was not conquered by Spain in 1714, but rather the last advocates for Archduke Carlos to take the Spanish throne were defeated in that year at their last stronghold in Barcelona. 


Therefore, the Scottish and Catalan cases bear not even the slightest resemblance to one another, neither historically or legally. Why, then, do so many people insist on comparing them? Because their aim is to ensure validation of a fraudulent claim: that Catalonia has the same historical and legal right as Scotland to unilaterally decide its secession. As for the legal arguments, it is easy to understand that British legislation cannot and should not be transposed to an entirely different case. What the unwritten British Constitution establishes and what the British parliament and government have agreed in light of the Acts of Union passed centuries ago is a matter for the British parliament and government and will be developed according to British legislation, but in no way should it be exportable to any other part of the world. It should certainly not be adopted in Spain, where article 1.2 of the Constitution establishes that national sovereignty resides in the Spanish people, without any possible territorial fragmentation. 


Besides, the Catalan separatists’ fondness for the Scottish model is arbitrary. Since they enjoy dreaming of the Middle Ages, why don’t they advocate the seven kingdoms – which actually existed, not like the non-existent kingdom of Catalonia – into which England was divided for half a millennium as a model? Perhaps because if it occurred to the inhabitants of the current regions in Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Sussex and Wessex to proclaim themselves “politically and legally sovereign subjects, for reasons of democratic legitimacy”, sixty million Britons would die laughing. Why not cross the Channel and choose the French as a model? Perhaps because the guffaws would be even louder in the République Une et Indivisible if the councillors of the departments of Haut-Rhin, Southern Corsica or Western Pyrenees came up with a similar idea. Or why not adopt the example of a federal state, so strongly advocated recently by some, and sign up to the same right to secession as that enjoyed by the states of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Schleswig-Holstein? Or even better, that enjoyed by Virginia, Georgia and Tennessee. Artur Mas is sure to be able to count on the support of Lincoln’s descendants. 


The Scottish example is also used for other claims unrelated to legal aspects, but not without propagandistic weight. The fact that Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England send separate teams to international football championships is used as an argument by our separatists to demand their own teams with the aim, not of promoting sport, but of using them as mobile embassies and evidence of the existence of their purported nations before the world. Moreover, in the autumn of the highly symbolic year 2014, which Catalan separatists present fraudulently as the third centenary of the Spanish conquest, the referendum long sought by Alex Salmond’s party will be held. This date was not chosen by chance: during this year, the seventh centenary of the battle of Bannockburn, in which the Scots led by Robert the Bruce retained their independence by conquering Edward II’s English army, coincides with the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, in which English and Scottish teams will come face to face. And supporters of independence aim to make the most of both events to arouse the patriotic fervour of their compatriots. 


However, the reason for the existence of these four separate teams has nothing to do with any right to self-determination, as our separatists would like to think, but rather with the fact that football was invented by the British. The English football association was founded in 1863, the Scottish in 1873, the Welsh in 1876 and the Irish in 1880. The first encounter between Scottish and English teams took place in 1872. When FIFA was created in 1904, the four teams had been playing each other for more than three decades, and this long tradition meant that they were granted the exceptional privilege to continue playing separately, something which has not occurred in any other country in the world. On the other hand, the choice of the football teams by our separatists is, once again, self-serving and arbitrary. Why don’t they choose the British Olympic team as a model, in which the English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish compete together? 


As for political representation abroad, to take a more serious issue, haven’t they ever realised that there are no English, Scottish and Welsh embassies, but only Great British ones? 


The answer is easy: without continual misrepresentation, Catalan nationalism would have no grounds, no pretexts, no explanations, no justifications, no reasons, and no arguments. 


El Diario Montañés, 2nd April 2013 

Artículo original en español