David Maddox: SNP wins no friends by snubbing the underdogs

Supporters of independence for Catalonia demonstrate last September. Picture: Getty
Supporters of independence for Catalonia demonstrate last September. Picture: Getty
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THERE was a sense of betrayal among some of the guests at the annual dinner held by the Catalan Delegation in London last month.

While the representatives of the Delegation, effectively Catalonia’s embassy in the UK, diplomatically steered clear of the subject, many of the Catalan guests were privately seething over Alex Salmond’s comments made just before, publicly distancing the SNP, himself and Scotland from the Catalan push for independence.

Until that interview there had been a genuine feeling of fraternity. Indeed Xavier Solano i Bello, the former head of the Delegation now does some work for the SNP in Westminster, having previously worked in Holyrood for Nicola Sturgeon.

But Mr Salmond’s insistence that Catalonia is a different case hurt those who had hoped for moral support from another independence movement. The word “treachery” was used about Mr Salmond, and it was rather indignantly noted that maybe Catalonia is, after all, different – with a “stronger case”.

While there is a debate over whether Westminster subsidises Scotland there is no doubt Catalonia subsidises Madrid. And while Scots hold senior positions in the UK government, Catalans are kept out of the Spanish government.

It was suspected that Catalonia had been abandoned by the SNP because of Spain’s threats to delay EU membership for Scotland, fearing agreeing membership might encourage other independence movements.

But the “treachery” to Catalonia is just one example of a surprisingly long list of small and emerging nations snubbed by Mr Salmond and the SNP. While they are desperate to promote Scotland’s right to nationhood and independence the SNP, more often than not internationally, side with the larger nation suppressing a smaller one’s push for autonomy.

There was the recent snub by Mr Salmond of the premier of Quebec, with whom he refused to do a public press conference, but more seriously there has been the way he has ingratiated himself with the undemocratic regime in China . This is, no doubt, because China is an important market for Scottish goods, but it looks bad for the leader of an independence movement to snub the Dalai Lama because of Chinese sensitivities over Tibet.

Even in the UK there seems to be a certain dismissiveness of others’ nationhood. The SNP have a Westminster election pact with Plaid Cymru and yet, in a recent Twitter exchange with this writer, Mr Salmond’s aide, the SNP MSP Joan McAlpine, appeared to suggest that unlike Scotland, Wales is just a part of England. Legally there are arguments for that, at least pre-devolution, but culturally there are not.

The SNP put great store in the international significance in the Declaration of Arbroath of 1320 in laying out the principles for the freedom of a nation, yet their “foreign policy” suggests it only applies to Scotland.