In my last post on this blog (The SNP lifeboat disaster) I had some mild fun at the expense of the SNP’s Pete Wishart MP, albeit MP by only 21 votes. George Kerevan is one of Pete’s ex-MP colleagues who didn’t make the cut at the last general election. This doesn’t seem to have dimmed his enthusiasm for all sorts of things, from announcing an intention to apply for the job of chair of the UK Financial Conduct Authority to supporting the recent illegal Catalan ‘referendum,’ where I clocked him ‘observing’ events recently.
His misguided tweet at the head of this article continues his interest in Catalonia and demonstrates a number of things.
The first, perhaps trivial in itself, is that he thinks there is something called ‘marshal’ law. It is of course ‘martial,’ that is military, law. Perhaps like ‘parly’ for ‘parlt’ (parliament) it’s just a typo although he’s obviously spent some time on the message, sourcing an image of the Polish and, ironically, legitimate Catalan flags (the separatist flag is the one with a blue triangle and white star down the side).
The second issue is that his tweet illustrates perfectly the hazard of drawing historical analogies from a standpoint of ignorance. Kerevan’s statement that martial law was imposed in Poland ‘to crush democracy’ is at best ambiguous, at worst misleading. It could be taken to mean that, like Catalonia, there had been a democratic state to crush. In fact ever since the second world war Poland had been a communist satellite of the Soviet Union. What the military were seeking to crush was the unrest that by 1981 was articulated mainly through the Solidarity trade union and which had many causes, not just a lack of democracy. During the period of martial law from 1981-1983 and for some time afterwards, Solidarity attempted to continue covertly. But its leaders were arrested and there is no way it could be characterised, as per Mr Kerevan, as an ‘underground state.’
The third issue is the conclusion Kerevan draws from his faulty analogy. If the Catalan parliament were suspended, he says, Catalans should also set up an underground state. But unlike Poland in the 1980s Spain is a democracy and any suspension would be done in accordance with the democratic constitution (Article 155 if you must know). That would not be a declaration of martial law. The Spanish government may not have been wise in every aspect of how it has dealt with Catalan separatists recently. But there is no doubt that the fundamental actions it has taken and that it might now take are in accordance with the constitution. To suggest in that context that Catalonia’s politicians should set up an underground state is hugely irresponsible, much more so than supporting the recent illegal referendum. I wonder if Kerevan has thought through the implications of how that might play out. It certainly advocates more illegality and, knowingly or not, could be tantamount to encouraging civil war.
George has featured previously in this blog, for example last year when he articulated a belief that Scotland had a ‘new oil boom’ and then got more than a bit lost in Berlin. That was mere foolishness. To encourage Catalan separatists to set up an underground state is dangerous.