By Craig Murray 
It is sickening that Spanish courts continue to jail, and remove from political life, Catalan politicians who are the victors in democratic elections. That the European political class and media is almost entirely complicit and supportive in this truly vicious repression of the Catalan people, has shocked many of us to our core, and made us realise how thin is the veneer of democracy and how fragile are the rights we believed we held.
If the UK were any kind of a democracy, opposition parties would have held firm against the rush to conflict with Russia, until serious and thorough investigation of the Skripal case had yielded real results. At the very least, you would expect to see a select committee of the House of Commons call the head of Porton Down to give evidence and quiz him about the level of certainty they have of the identity and the Russian manufacture of the substance which poisoned the Skripals.
Instead, we have seen all the establishment parties fall over themselves to appear as belligerent and faux-Churchillian as May and her pipsqueaks, in order to placate the tabloids. This is ludicrous. You cannot out-jingo the Tories, and the rush to increase international tension benefits nobody except the armaments and security industries.
I am obliged to say I was disgusted by Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP leadership and their premature condemnations of Russia. By coincidence I spent much of last week at pro-Indy events and I have to say I found this disgust almost universal.
The odd voice was prepared to offer the usual Nicola excuse of “She is trying not to alienate the Unionists”. But what is the point of not alienating the Unionists by, to all intents and purposes, becoming a Britnat yourself? The continued failure – for years now – of the SNP to argue to the public the case for Independence, the attempt to dodge Indyref2, all of it leaves me to feel that the SNP leadership have got their feet under the table within the UK, as a form of controlled opposition.
The SNP leadership are far happier talking about which powers devolve to Holyrood from Brussels, and which stay at Westminster, than they are talking about Independence. I don’t give a damn about the precise contours of the devolution settlement; I want my country to be free of Westminster entirely, and soon.
We are not yet subject to the extreme state repression afflicting our counterparts in Catalonia, but you can be certain the Tories have noted the template, and that other Western political leaders will support them if they start putting people like me in the pokey for thirty years for sedition. Sadly it has become abundantly clear that there is no danger of the highly paid SNP elected representatives, their SPADs, and party bureaucrats, ever putting themselves in that position.
They would be with those handing down the sentences, as their attitude to Carla Ponsati shows.
Just as MEPs lined up one after another in the European Parliament to defend Francoist thugs batoning grandmothers trying to vote as the “rule of law”, and use the same excuse for lengthy sentences for political prisoners, so there was an echo of this distancing in Nicola Sturgeon’s response to the extradition of Catalan campaigner Carla Ponsati through the Scottish courts, potentially to spend the rest of her life in a Spanish jail just for peacefully campaigning for freedom for her country.
Nicola referred to “the fact our justice system is legally obliged to follow due process in the determination of extradition requests”. She too is hiding behind “the rule of law” and thus turning a blind eye to the Francoist attack on fundamental rights.
Very few voters of the SNP put Nicola Sturgeon into parliament in order to warm her toes at the Robert Adam fireplaces at Bute House, while Catalan leaders are dragged from Scotland to a terrible repression. The SNP leadership have become far too adept at speaking with British Establishment voices and thinking with British Establishment minds.
At some stage they have to accept that achieving Scottish Independence is in itself a revolutionary act, and that it will never be achieved without real constitutional conflict with the UK, the sort of political conflict which has attended the birth of every independent state. If you are afraid to do something “unconstitutional” under the present repressive system, you have no right to pretend to be a part of the Independence movement.
For Sturgeon to hide behind the Edinburgh High Tory Scottish legal establishment and wash her hands, Pontius Pilate like, over the extradition of Clara Ponsati is simply unacceptable.
Saving this brave woman is as noble a cause to launch a constitutional crisis as one might wish for. The Holyrood parliament must pass a Bill forbidding the extradition of Ponsati and the Scottish government must order Police Scotland to enforce it. We need finally to show we are serious about challenging the UK. If Sturgeon declines, then the Scottish people must physically defend Ponsati. And the Independence movement must fundamentally reconsider its leadership and strategy.
1. Clara Ponsati is an ex-minister for education of the Catalonian Government dissolved by Spain’s central government, now facing an European arrest warrant and a long jail term as other members of the Catalonian leadership, accused of sedition.
2. Craig Murray is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 and Rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010.