Catalunya Si? The next political problem in the EU

Whilst the UK has held an official referendum and given people in Scotland the chance to vote for independence, the people of Catalunya have been given no such freedom by the Spanish state. The EU seems to be on the side of Spain, reluctant to see a rupture in one of the larger member states. This approach has helped fuel Catalan nationalism.

The forthcoming elections will allow the people of Catalunya the opportunity to make their views known again. The four main parties in favour of independence have come together as Catalyuna Si. If they can stay together with a common platform for the election, polls suggest they can do very well. The Spanish state will have to face the fact that a large and rich region within Spain is serious about leaving and being independent.

In the past there have been unofficial referendums pointing to strong support for independence, and election results that have boosted the independence cause. None of this has mattered, with the  Spanish state using legal Union means to thwart the popular will. The impact of the Euro and EU economic policy on Spain’s economy is clearly not helping those who want to keep Spain together, as it has depressed overall Spanish employment and income levels and left many in enterprising Calalunya thinking they would be better off outside the Spanish kingdom.

Why is the EU so hostile to democracy? Why can’t the Catalans have a referendum like Scotland? What will the EU and the Spanish government do if the Catalan parties win most of the seats and a majority of the vote in Catalonia?

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  1. Lifelogic
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    Indeed the EU is very good at creating problems and exacerbating tensions. But they are not in any position to ever resolve them. Nation states, partly castrated by the over riding, power grabbing and anti-democratic EU, while being undermined by tensions from some smaller regions is surely a complete disaster about to erupt.

  2. Mark B
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    Some good questions at the end that need answering. But one question that has not been asked, is if the Catalans get the chance to be free of Spain, will they also vot to be free of the EU ? I think not ! And to me that is the main problem with all this nationalism and independence malarky. They, just like the SNP, want to be free to tax and spend themselves and not have to rely on national governments. The EU, in time, will replace these national governments and the people will be far worse off.

    By the way, when will England get top vote on whether we want to be part of the UK or not ? And plese do not say that there is little appetite for it. There was never much for City Mayors’, and Regional Parliaments.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted August 6, 2015 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      Surely it’s the existence of the EU as a perceived alternative to Spain which gives the Catalan separatists greater confidence to break away, even though to a large degree they would merely be exchanging one master for another?

      • DaveM
        Posted August 6, 2015 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

        Exactly. I doubt the Scots would be quite so enthusuiastic about ”independence” if they didn’t have the EU as an alternative underwriter to their overspending.

    • DaveM
      Posted August 6, 2015 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      They say there is little appetite – if they weren’t afraid of the result they would offer a referendum perhaps!!

  3. Ian wragg
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    Why is the EU so hostile to democracy. … silly question. For an organisation modelled on the Soviet Union what do you expect. It is only a matter of time before there is some serious insurrection in the EU and still you boss continues to bow at the Brussels altar. Cracks are appearing and events may very well overtake Daves silly posturing.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 6, 2015 at 8:17 am | Permalink


  4. Hefner
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Is this really the topic of the day? Seventy years after Hiroshima, and with still the majority of politicians putting their faith (what else?) in nuclear deterrence. Shame on you.

    Reply It is one of the topics. The main media are giving plenty of coverage to Hiroshima and I have nothing different to offer on that important matter.

    • Anonymous
      Posted August 6, 2015 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

      Hefner – There hasn’t been a world war since.

      David Cameron would have it (when discussing the IS threat) that the Allies defeated their enemies by showing them that their ideals were better rather than what really happened – that they were still a lethal force and had to be battered into submission so conclusively that they would not try it on again.

      It is worrying that our leaders think that such fanaticism can be reasoned with – or that they can be placated by making us all equally un-free, for racial and religious balance.

    • libertarian
      Posted August 6, 2015 at 7:39 pm | Permalink


      I totally agree 70 years ago we were forced to end fascist imperialism by unleashing a terrifying weapon. Yet here we are STILL fighting against a dictatorial, unelected, imperialist regime.

    • yosarion
      Posted August 7, 2015 at 12:45 am | Permalink

      Hiroshima and Nagasaki were tragic but saved allied lives at the time and later, you can almost guarantee the cold war would have gone hot in the late fifties early sixties if they had not been shit scared of the consequences.

  5. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Democracy is anathema to the EU.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 6, 2015 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      Democracy is actually the enemy of the EU bureaucrats. They would not even exist with any real democracy.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted August 6, 2015 at 11:48 am | Permalink

        Well, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, insofar as any international organisation will need some kind of secretariat, and in principle the existence of such a secretariat is compatible with the participating countries each having an effective democratic form of government.

        For example, the Commonwealth has its own bureaucrats, who are actually celebrating fifty years of their existence:

        and yet so far we don’t see them as much of a threat to our democracy because our politicians have not allowed them to be empowered in the same way as the EU Commission, whose President now thinks he can impose quotas of so-called asylum seekers on each of the EU member states whether or not they like it:

        “European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has indicated he will revisit ideas for a mandatory distribution of asylum seekers among member states, while urging governments not to succumb to “populist” thinking on immigration.”

        I would certainly agree that our accession to the EEC, specifically, represented an historic failure of our national democratic system.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted August 6, 2015 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

          Yes, I meant EU bureaucrats in their destructive, undemocratic and centralised power grabbing form. The commonwealth is very different.

          • Jerry
            Posted August 7, 2015 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

            @LL; But of course any extra-governmental body will be seen as “undemocratic” by those in dispute/opposed to it or, that doesn’t mean it is undemocratic per se! To pick up on Denis Cooper’s comment about the Commonwealth, I seem to recall there’s been past (problematic, if not out-and out-despot) leaders of certain Commonwealth countries who described the organisation as “undemocratic” when their own undemocratic policies were being opposed, didn’t Ian Smith (the then PM of Rhodesia) do so, as indeed Idi Amin did?

        • outsider
          Posted August 6, 2015 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

          Very good points Denis. The EU is undemocratic because, across the Continent, we who have surreptitiously become its citizens have gone along with it being structured that way. An historic bloodless triumph of the elite over the masses.

  6. agricola
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Spain is already more fragmented than may be obvious from the outside. Holidays in Benidorm don’t give much insight into anything Spanish apart from the weather. The provinces have their own governments and in many cases their own languages which are compulsory in school and used extensively as well as Castilliano.. These are Catalan, Valenciano, Gallego and Basque. I think their local popularity arises from the fact that Franco banned them.

    Having very strong provincial government made it hard for the Central Government to put an end to all the corruption that was particularly rife in Andalucía and Valencia. After the Civil War only Franco’s party ruled which engendered corruption. Even after his death (it took time to sort it out ed). Mayors, landowners, property developers enjoyed massive kick backs while leaving property ownership in great doubt in many cases. It has only been through recourse to the European courts that the problem has begun to go away. The Guardia Civile have been very active of late in combatting major corruption, to their credit.

    Spain is the EU in microcosm. For Catalunya read Germany, for the Basque area possibly Holland. The better off areas do not wish to share their wealth with the poorer areas. Spain lacks the cohesion of the UK and the provinces have sufficient power to maintain a sense on independence.It is just one of the reasons that they have no national water grid. They have the water, but parochially lack the will to share it around. We have the same problem in the UK, but seem to prefer vanity projects like the Dome and HS2 to giving everyone drinking water.

    What you see in Spain could be a foretaste of the drive from the EU , BBC, and some elements in government to balkanise the UK. From the EU’s point of view it is divide and conquer. The BBC as a paid mouthpiece of the EU play along with it. What the eventual outcome will be in Catalunya I can only guess at. One can feel a degree of sympathy, but fear for the long term future.

    • agricola
      Posted August 7, 2015 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      Reply to ed

      It is very much still on going.

  7. oldtimer
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    The answer to your questions (in your last paragraph) is clear. The EU is a supra-national organisation set up to suppress nationalism in whatever form it appears.

  8. Lifelogic
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Of topic I see that NHS gagging is continuing apace.

    Also people are waiting up to 5 months just for scan results. Is this incompetence or a deliberate part of their rationing strategy?

    Is it still Cameron’s soundbite priority in the letters NHS? How can it possible take 5 months to interpret an urgent and vital scan result for cancer or something?

    I also hear that people are often being misled into believing they do not need operations when really they do need them (for rationing/waiting list management reasons one assumes). Operations they could often have paid for themselves had they been told the truth.

    Are the government ever going to sort out competent health care in England or are they just going to continue to pretend that the NHS is the envy of the World?

    • stred
      Posted August 7, 2015 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      LL. Thanks for this one. The medical unions and mafia really are scary. I remember looking up the BMA response, after they had been caught out on the ‘ghost patients’ scam. The spokeman was a clinician and (he worried me ed).

  9. Kenneth
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    I think this is a matter for Spain and is none of our business.

    • Hefner
      Posted August 6, 2015 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      Kenneth, I agree, but this certainly is a nicely populist way to stir the pot and try to maintain the pressure till December 2017. Still 511 days at stirring for JR. Keep on churning.

      • Kenneth
        Posted August 7, 2015 at 8:42 am | Permalink

        I also think it’s none of the eu’s business.

        No stirring. Mr Redwood is fighting for democracy (or populism as some call it)

    • John C.
      Posted August 6, 2015 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      No man is an island. And the E.U.’s attitude to national freedoms IS of concern and interest to us. We are to have a referendum which will essentially be about sovereignty.

  10. formula57
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Whilst indeed ” polls suggest they can do very well”, consider though the sad alternative that Catalans favouring independence could be nothing more than wee, timorous beasties, able to be stopped in their tracks by simply being asked what currency they are intending to use?

    Faced with victory by Catalunya Si, the EU would doubtless procrastinate hoping for locals to devise a solution, meanwhile gaining for itself the facility to pay lip service to the democratic will.

  11. Iain Gill
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    We don’t have democracy. For instance the people of the North East voting so clearly against regional government that similar referendum in the rest of the country were abandoned. Regardless of that we have Mr Osbourne imposing the very same thing with his “Northern Powerhouse” (nice snappy spin title) etc on the country.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 6, 2015 at 1:55 pm | Permalink


  12. agricola
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    In response to you last paragraph:-

    1.Democracy is anathema to the EU.

    2. Because Spain ( Madrid ) are fearful of the result.

    3. Pretend it never happened, ignore it, and exacerbate the problem thereby increasing Catalonia’s desire to leave.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 6, 2015 at 6:19 pm | Permalink


  13. Bert Young
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    How Spain handles the problem it has with Catalunya is its own business ; the only decision the EU has is whether , if independence is achieved , it allows Catalunyna to remain in the EU and retain the Euro .

    Catalunya is an integral and important part of the economy of Spain and should be retained together ; the consequences of a break up would be severe and would impact against the whole of the EU – far more so than the problem Greece has caused .

    Spain alone has to handle the problem and outsiders should keep out of it (Obama please take note !).

  14. Peter Stroud
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Why is the EU so hostile to democracy? Perhaps because it is composed of a collection of countries with a wide range
    of opinions on the meaning of the word. The UK is perhaps fortunate to have enjoyed centuries of a very imperfect, but effective brand of democracy. Countries such as Germany, Spain and some of the Eastern European countries have, only relatively recently become democratic, in any sense of the word. And the EU is such a cumbersome organisation that old, less free systems, have yet to be completely shaken off.

    • Peter van Leeuwen
      Posted August 6, 2015 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      @Peter Stroud: comparing German democracy to UK democracy is a bit like comparing a brand new mercedes to older forms of transport (which I leave for you to chose, I don’t want to be too mean). There is no doubt in my mind that current German democracy easily beats British democracy.

    • John C.
      Posted August 6, 2015 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      I think you make an interesting and vital point.
      We often forget how much of Europe has been subjected to forms of dictatorship of one kind or another over the last century, especially the last 80 years. East Germany, for example, had 12 years of the Nazi regime followed by 45 years of very repressive communism.
      The attitudes to authority this engenders are difficult to shake off, and are foreign to the British character, with its robust criticism of government. One gets the impression that the Europeans over the Channel shake their heads in irritated disbelief that we just can’t do what we’re told.

    Posted August 6, 2015 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    When nationalist and self-determination movements within countries reach extreme defining moments such as in Ireland; Czechoslovakia, Republic of South Africa, Zimbabwe we find that those who consider themselves true-blue patriots differ greatly from previously.

    I think it is true to say that in Ireland the members of the IRA and the Loyalists were not peopled by former members of the greater British Commonwealth nor say Lithuanian and Romanian migrants, even second generation.

    In the Second World War the Czech and Slovak Resistance groups albeit split in future alliance to Russia and The West were not composed of ethnic German, Hungarian or Ukrainian citizens who had lived for generations in Czechoslovakia.

    Of course, the ANC in South Africa, though having celebrity “leading” members from various ethnic groups; when push came to shove the Zulus were not included, the Indian community never engaged in armed attacks nor the Chinese. In fact it was predominantly Mr Mandela’s Shona tribe which created the honeyed freedom and personal security which all there now enjoy so exquisitely.

    The point:.. the people now in Catalonia are 15% foreign born due to EU policy. Many come from within EU countries but also Chinese and Latin Americans who perhaps see it as a stepping stone to more wealthy places in the EU. Naturally the foreigners, which have much lower average ages than Catalonians, and naturally wishing to start a new life, wish also to start a new family. And they do and have done. Place this real statistic along with the fact that Catalonia has also been subject to internal immigration from the rest of the Spain because of its industrial complexion,- migrants who may or may not be a generation-back Spaniards. So, in an extreme case, that is possible armed conflict to gain independence…just who and how many in Catalonia would have strong enough feelings, for Country to fight?
    Has the EU already killed Catalonia?Are we with this present Independence vote seeing a manifestation of a ghost?

  16. JoolsB
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Kettle calling the pot black springs to mind John. You could easily say the same about England. When is the UK Government, a Tory one at that, there by the grace of England nowhere else, going to acknowledge the democratic deficit which still exists here in England, never mind Catalunya. When are the English going to be given a referendum on whether they want to be independent from this so called union which favours everyone else but them?

    Reply No party offered that at the last election and there were few requests for it during that election. I did make the case for justice for England and will continue to do so.

  17. Denis Cooper
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Actually I wish people would stop criticising the EU for being undemocratic, all it does is encourage them to develop false pan-EU democratic structures in order to supplant the imperfect but nonetheless more democratic national systems and over-ride the national sovereignty of the member states.

    Legally the EU is still no more than an international organisation established by treaty between its sovereign member states, and such treaties are and should remain a matter for diplomacy not for democracy. If people in the member states really want to abandon their national sovereignty and democracy then so be it, they should agree to merge their countries; otherwise the affairs of the EU should be conducted through diplomacy not democracy, with vetoes not votes.

    On the face of it Cameron understands this, for example when he objected to the EU Parliament imposing its candidate for the post of President of the EU Commission; however his error was to claim that this was a power grab by the EU Parliament on the basis of a treaty change agreed by the Labour government, when in reality it was his Tory predecessor Major who agreed that the EU Parliament would become involved in, and have a veto over, appointments to the Commission.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted August 8, 2015 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      Party politics, blame the Lisbon Treaty and Labour when in fact it started with the Maastricht Treaty and the Tories. Before that treaty came into force the EU Parliament had had no involvement at all with appointments to the Commission, but he agreed to grant them the power of veto over the nominations made by the heads of state and government.

  18. Peter Van Leeuwen
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Why conveniently switch Spain by the EU, unless one is promoting an anti-EU agenda?
    These referendums are no EU business and neither are these elections.
    Spain doesn’t equal EU, nor does EU equal Spain. The question should be: why is this blog so hostile to the EU? A more balanced view would be very welcome.

    Reply The EU is deeply involved in these regional nationalist issues. I am against the EU whenever it operates in an undemocratic way, or exacerbates political tensions, as well as wishing to see the restoration of UK democracy here.

    • Graham
      Posted August 6, 2015 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      Perhaps an explanation of your ‘involvement’ with the EU and capacity with it would also assist greatly in making sure comments also help this balanced approach.

      I’ve requested this many times and have taken your failure to respond as acceptance that you are an active functionary of the EU.

      Please put me straight!!

    • Ian wragg
      Posted August 6, 2015 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      PvL lots of people in the UK are hostile to the EU and it’s endless interference. I remember a blog of yours in about February this year saying you were going offline until after the election in the UK as your employer wouldn’t approve. Next you are telling us you are retired.
      I believe you work for the EU propaganda department.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted August 6, 2015 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

        @Ian wragg, @Graham: All the nonsense about not-approving employers and working for an EU propaganda unit etc. keeps coming in spite of my explanations (since long a retired, interested Dutchman with a large British family, never held an EU job or was paid for this, etc. etc. )
        You might look up the term “ad hominem”, as you seem to prefer attacking the person rather than the opinions provided. If you feel happy doing that just continue. I may have to ignore you.

        • F.Cunctator
          Posted August 7, 2015 at 8:59 am | Permalink

          Dear van Delusion,
          Are you suggesting that a man’s opinions are not part of what he is?
          Are his actions not part of what he is?
          Are his beliefs not central to his behaviour and character?

    • Peter van Leeuwen
      Posted August 6, 2015 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply: That some nationalists with a leaning towards separation have joined a group in parliament (European Free Alliance) is their democratic right. Apart from that I see no EU involvement promoting such nationalism. Restoring democracy in the UK will take a long time judging by the extremely slow reform of the H.o.L (started a hundred years ago?)

    • Martyn G
      Posted August 6, 2015 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

      Why are some so against the EU? Well, a bit off topic, perhaps, but many of us feel that Brussels imposes its will with contempt for the opinions and frequently disregard for the well-being of the people of Europe.
      It ignores the results of referendum says that voters must vote again until they get the right answer.
      It circumnavigated the French and Dutch NO votes on the proposed EU Constitution by re-inventing it as a “Treaty”.
      It has has twice contrived the removal of democratically elected Prime Ministers in Greece and Italy and replaced them with compliant EU apparatchiks.
      And now it seems, the former Greek Finance Minister Varoufakis is facing the threat of prosecution for treason for daring to contemplate a Greek exit from the Eurozone.
      Does that seem like democracy to you, Peter? And how would you feel, as do I and probably many others on this blog, if the name of your country was simply removed from the map of the EU? That has happened to England, thanks to our supine politicians but would you like that to happen to your country? I hope not, because that is the way that the EU is driving, right now, in real time on the basis of ‘divide and conquer’.

    • outsider
      Posted August 6, 2015 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

      Dear Peter Van L, To elaborate on Mr Redwood’s point, promoting regional differences within EU states is rather typical of how it operates.
      It starts with a worthy idea, in this case to counter actual or perceived suppression of historic cultures and languages of member states’ regions. Then it contorts this into a mechanism for enhancing “federal” central power at the expense of members states by creating a separate relationship with these regions.
      Whether intentionally or not, this inevitably encourages ugly nationalism and separatism . Partitioning the bigger member states suits the Commission’s book because it creates more small states that depend on EU institutions to perform functions that are uneconomic for small members states, such as foreign representation.
      For historic reasons, this mischief making is not relevant to the Netherlands. Had things gone differently in the 80 years war or in 1830, however, your country would be in the same vulnerable position as Spain or Italy.
      Sometimes it is good for countries to break up, such as Slovaks ending their short-libved yoking with the Czechs. But EU meddling in these areas is damaging and unwelcome.
      To take a relatively harmless example, the EU has unilaterally started a special relationship with the historic English region of Cornwall. As a result, Cornwall has now been granted special national status. Its Celtic language, which was dead, is being revived. Cornwall is small and relatively poor, but who knows where it will end?

  19. Richard Hobbs
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    As a Bible student I just want to thank you Mercia for having the courage to write this. I, for one, appreciate what you are saying and feel that you are on the right lines.

  20. Dissenter
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure the EU is too fussed about the idea of Catalonia leaving Spain in and of itself. The EU has been happy to make regions more important at the expense of nation-states, for in doing so they turn nations into regions of the new European nation-state.

    It’s that this is happening as a direct result of EU policies in one of the largest and most important members of the European Project, and is thus a threat to the Eurozone and the continuing of closer political union, that is the chief concern of Brussels.

  21. Jerry
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    This is a most mixed up comment from a long standing UK politician. Whilst I will not suggest that there are no facts in your piece you do seem to be trying to spin those facts to show that the EU is to blame for what the National government in Madrid have done (or not, as the case maybe (not allowing an official iCatalan referendum). It is not the EU who is being “so hostile to democracy”, and indeed Catalunya is in the main very pro the EU, Catalunya and Catalan nationalism has a lot to thank the EU for…

    Reply The main block to a vote in Catalonia is the Spanish state, but the EU is on the side of the Spanish state, which is of interest. The EU after all spent its early years trying to increase regional sentiment.

    • Jerry
      Posted August 6, 2015 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

      @JR reply; The problem is attaining both independence and remaining a member country of the EU, Spain (Madrid) would never accept it, so unless the EU changes their rules that require unanimous approval for accession countries… Which is why Spain (Madrid) suggested at the time of the iScotland referendum that an independent Scotland could not assume their [continued] EU membership as doing otherwise would have encouraged the Catalan nationalists.

  22. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    What sort of independence do the Catalonians want. Do they want their own separate currency or to use the Euro? Do they want to share Spain’s monarchy? Do they want fiscal autonomy? Do they want their own education system, especially regarding the teaching of history? Do they want their own defence forces? Do they want their own police?

    They differ from Scotland in that the UK is not in the Euro zone, whereas Spain is. My guess is that, apart from this, they want devo-max like Scotland but without the Barnett formula – lucky Spain.

    • Jerry
      Posted August 7, 2015 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      Lindsay McDougall; “What sort of independence do the Catalonians want.”

      They want independence from Madrid, it really is that simple! As for the EU, under the “extra-governmental” rule from Brussels that many/most in the UK find so distasteful Catalunya has gone from a region of all but socail and economic repression (by Madrid) to a region of boom – anyone who has knowledge of the region beyond the package tour areas over the last 60 odd years will understand this. When I first knew the area Catalans still lived in fear of Madrid, Franco, never mind his henchmen, who were not unknown to still frog-march ‘decanters’ out of bars or off the beaches (no doubt to be shown the error of their ways…) should they dare to talk the truth to tourists.

  23. Ross
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    I look forward to Mr Redwood beginning to refer to Baile Átha Cliath instead of Dublin, Москва instead of Moscow, Roma instead of Rome, München instead of Munich, etc.

    I am more than happy to speak other languages in other countries, but we have perfectly good names for these places in English, and Mr Redwood is one of the last people I would have expected to take on this politically-correct affectation.

    Posted August 6, 2015 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    It is a cultural convenience and expedience to personify countries and organizations: the Motherland, the Fatherland, Uncle Sam, Mother Russia, John Bull. The European Union by contrast does not appear to have any Mum, Dad, Christian name or gender. It is a Thing.
    It facilitates movements of people without a care in the world or a care for their humanity, transporting them to pastures new irrespective of who figures they own the land, the water, the cattle and the hunting rights. Only a fool or a devil or a Thing would do that. And so with Catalonia it is being influenced in itself, via Spain, but ultimately by the EU Thing careless of eventualities.
    It is time to get personal about the EU; for, Catalonia and the United Kingdom are gentle souls.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted August 7, 2015 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      I sometimes dip into NDTV and I’m always amused when many of the Indians still refer to Bombay rather than Mumbai, etc.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted August 7, 2015 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

        I’m told that if you hop into a taxi in Vietnam and ask for Saigon, you have more chance of getting to your destination than if you ask for Ho Chi Minh City.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted August 7, 2015 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      Unfortunately, this idea that nations are obsolete, that the world is just one great labour market, is present not just in the EU but elsewhere. The American Left thinks in the same way.

  25. Anonymous
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    Mercia – The nuclear jeanie is out of the bottle. Those who give them up first lose.

    Our only hope is that those who come to acquire them also acquire the intelligence not to use them. Or those without intelligence who come to acquire them remain very limited in their ability to deploy.

    The greatest threat to civilisation is, in fact, religious fanaticism and naivety.

    • Anonymous
      Posted August 6, 2015 at 6:20 pm | Permalink


    • libertarian
      Posted August 7, 2015 at 8:06 pm | Permalink


      There are currently just over 1,500 completely seperate all powerful Gods worshipped by humans. What makes you think yours is the right one and all the rest are wrong?

  26. libertarian
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 7:53 pm | Permalink


    Brilliant, gave me a right laugh that did, very funny.

    The Official United Nations report into the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl put the total number of fatalities caused by the accident at


    Thats FIFTY FOUR.

    Chernobyl is a Ukrainian word for mugwort, a common name for an herbaceous plant.

    The total population of the region before the accident was 14,000

    Now that the ground is contaminated the population of the region is 300

    Your numbers are pure moonshine, etc ed

    • stred
      Posted August 7, 2015 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      Thanks too Rev Mercia. It’s good to know there are some still out there and plenty in Belarus too. The incident at Chernoblyl was caused by lack of containment and it did not go off like a nuke with a big bright bang. The dirty stuff was blown into the air and distributed by the winds, just as a big fire will do.

      The interesting biblical description of the great star falling from the sky sounds remarkably like the large meteor which fell in Russia recently and an even larger one which flattened a large area of Siberia early last century. Full marks to the prophets for writing up the report.

      All other nuclear plant has built in containment before and since then automatic withdrawl of fuel is also used. So don’t worry the congregation, they can have non carbon electricity without fearing the end of everything.

    • libertarian
      Posted August 7, 2015 at 7:51 pm | Permalink


      The rates of different diseases spread over a large area of Eastern Europe have no scientifically proven connection to air born radiation from the Chernobyl accident.

      How can 3.5 million people be repatriated from an area that only contained 14,000 ??????

    • libertarian
      Posted August 7, 2015 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

      Here is the conclusion from the Belarus Medical Institute long term study into increased birth defects in the population at large.

      You will see that birth defects have increased in non affected areas as well as affected areas

      “However, dependence on contamination with radioactive Cs can not be excluded for the 1% increase over the control (51-50) recorded in 54 regions and for 33% increase (83-50) in 17 regions.
      Such increase can be explained by at least 4 factors. a) Higher birth frequency of malformed children after the Chernobyl accident is considered to be not a true increase of anomalies in embryos, but only an artifact, the result of more complete registration, in other words, it is the result of closer interest in
      «disaster areas»,
      b) teratogenic effects of embryo exposure to
      radioactivity from the Chernobyl Nuclear Station, c) the result of gamete mutations in either parent due
      to additional exposure on gonads, or
      d) the result of a complex of negative factors
      including the Chernobyl disaster (radiation plus chemical pollutants, poor nutrition, alcoholism). Artifactual origin of increasing number of CM
      under the long-term National Monitoring, as it is in Belarus, is virtually excluded, firstly, by counting of only unambiguously diagnosed CM, secondly, by constant control of registration completeness by the researchers from Belarus Institute for Hereditary Diseases, thirdly, by practically equal frequencies before the Accident in various regions and, finally, by the correlation between the increase of CM frequency and the level of contamination.
      Teratogenic effect is excluded, since the doses received by intrauterine fetus for a teratogenic terminational (or crucial) period were below threshold. No woman who gave birth to a malformed child, has received over 55 mSv for the period starting from the accident till the end of the 1st trimester. The 1st trimester includes the terminal period of neural tube defects, the most characteristic congenital malformation for radiation teratogenesis. No significant increase of nervous system CM has been found in newborns and abortuses recorded in the National Monitoring”

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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