Today’s post is an English-language explanation/version of my previous one. As that was tailored for my Catalan readers, this will be slightly different – with more background information but less specific details. Here goes...
I’m assuming we’re all up to date on the Catalan independence drive? Check here if not. OK? On 9 November 2014, Catalonia held a “vote” in its independence. The Spanish government banned them from holding an official binding referendum, so the Catalans decided to hold a non-binding simple public consultation – which the Spanish government also decided was anti-constitutional! Over 2 million people voted, the Catalan president then had legal action started against him, and we’re still at the same point – the one where it’s blindingly obvious that Catalans want to decide their own future in some kind of vote and they won’t give up till they do so!
Hence, the Catalan President has promised to call Catalan parliamentary elections for 27 September 2015 in the hope that these results will be a de facto referendum, giving the pro-independence parties a clear democratic mandate to go ahead with an independence declaration independently (excuse the pun) of what the Spanish government says.
Between the Scottish referendum being announced and finally carried out in Scotland, though, the Scottish people enjoyed an 18-month peaceful period of campaigning where everyone was able to hear, and question, all the arguments in favour and against independence. This is not the case here. So much energy and time has been invested in just getting to where we are – being able to have a vote – or defending and justifying this right - that it seems to many of us that the actual Yes/No campaign has hardly started. Of course, those of us with a keen interest follow every snippet of news, every article, every public meeting, speech, tweet, that we see and have plenty of information – but there is a huge segment of the population who don’t. How are we going to inform these people about what this vote means – within the 60 days left – and answer their doubts?
I don’t think the usual televised debates or local meetings held by pro/anti “experts” will be seen by many people other than those who already know what they want to vote. My proposal is to get out the old soapbox. The well-known people involved in the indy campaign, whether they be politicians, members of the pro-indy non-partisan bodies, celebrities and other experts, must hit the streets – and now. Imagine three of them, one each from a different party or group showing they are all in this together, standing on a soapbox outside the local market making a brief (2 minute) speech and, above all, answering people’s questions. They may get insulted, but they will also get a chance to allay the fears of the typical “What about the pensions?” potential voter. Get a bus (or more), move the indy folk around from town to town – three towns a day, three soapbox meetings per town in different public squares, and so on. This would really get the message across to those who at current are undecided or apprehensive about the consequences of the September election.