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What Can Cornwall Learn From Catalonia?
Returning from Catalunya Rod Toms asks, what can Cornwall learn from the nationalist movement there?

I have just come back from Catalunya, part holiday, part fact finding, and would like to add to the excellent comments of Edward Curry.

There are indeed lessons to be learned from the Catalan experience.
 
The news update is that although Mariano Rajoy (Spanish Prime Minister) has agreed to hold a referendum "sometime in the next four years" the left of centre opposition parties are saying "don't hold your breath". Rajoy is leader of the ruling CIU party (Convergence and Union) which is right of Centre and has 62 seats out of the 135 total seats in the Catalan National Assembly, remarkably similar to the situation here. The main left of centre groups, PP the Peoples Party (18 seats) and the PSC Socialist Party of Catalunya (28) are moving forward to secure Independence on the back of strong vote in favour taken on Independence day, as one of my friends put it
"our very own 9/11" because the vote was taken on September the 11th.
 
Anya Rodrigues of the PP said in a TV interview while I was there " We are going to watch the CIU every step of the way to look for signs that the referendum will happen. If there are no signs after a year, we will call on our friends in Europe for help".  Mr Castro of the PSC was less bullish saying that "It was a move in the right direction"
 
One day I was sitting outside a street cafe enjoying a Jarro (Pint of beer in a handle glass!) when I noticed some graffiti on the wall opposite which had been badly painted out so you could still read it. It said "Roses (the name of the town) es Espanya" I said to the waitress "Roses no es Espanya, Roses es Catalunya" to which she replied with a shrug "Espanya... Catalunya..." as much as to say who cares? The reason for this is that Catalunya relies heavily on Tourism (just like Kernow) and at this time of the year most of the tourists are Spanish. There are also a lot of French and Germans as Roses is only about ten miles from the French border, so the Catalans want to be seen as part of Europe. Indeed one of the threats from The Spanish Government is that they would throw an independent Catalunya out of the EU.
 
So, what are the lessons? Firstly that the central Government, either Spanish or English, will try to hold on to power in the regions at all costs. They will offer to listen and receive petitions, but in general they do nothing about it. In the meantime, the central Government controls the growth and economy of the area seeking independence, putting in more tourism to reap more income at the expense of the rural economy and environment. In the tourist areas of Catalunya the local language is rarely heard, only Spanish, despite 80% of the population speaking Catalan.
 
The main thing to guard against is divide and rule. Since the Spanish Civil War, as reported by George Orwell in Homage to Catalonia, the Catalans have split into numerous factions. There are currently about thirty different political parties in Catalonia, although only a few of them have seats in the Parliament. Quite a few of these groups have their own version of the Catalan flag, which makes life difficult for outsiders, and allows groups to claim areas of territory for themselves by putting up marker flags on balconies. Therefore keep MK as the single voice for Cornish devolution and don't let the St. Piran's Flag be debased.
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Published on 24th October 2012.

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