Spain’s attacks:
LESS to do with Gibraltar
Español, MORE to do with
Catalunya Español

By David Eade
If you had asked me earlier this year where all our eyes would be now the answer would have been Catalunya. The battle is now on between Madrid and Barcelona both over the legislation to call the referendum but also the campaign to hold it next year, possibly in September.

Had you asked me in August about the Francoist actions by Madrid at our border with Spain I would have said it would all be over by September when the Spanish Government got back to more demanding matters. After all the intensity was ferocious but in all honesty it was nothing we hadn't experienced before.

However I have been caught out on both counts because whilst certainly Rajoy is playing hardball with Mas over the future of Catalunya it is Gibraltar that is causing the headlines. In addition whilst September has come and gone the abusive border and illegal incursions have not ceased but increased.

The question is of course why? The more I think about it the attacks on the Rock may have less to do with Gibraltar Español and more to do with Catalunya Español.

It is quite clear that when this Partido Popular government took office its members found in a locked draw a dusty old copy of General Franco's "How to win friends and influence people": a top read in the period 1936 to 1939. Rajoy and his gang have devoured it and it now forms the central plank of Government policy both towards Gibraltar and Catalunya.

When Rajoy talks wistfully of the strong bonds between Spain and Catalunya he sees the two through Franco's dark glasses. He forgets the mass murders and persecution of the Catalan people carried out to ensure that any seeds of the plant of independence were destroyed. For Franco's policy towards the Catalans, the Basques and indeed Andalucía read Rajoy's.

It was quite a common tactic during the Spanish Civil War for the Nationalist forces to exterminate a community as a warning to a bigger town or city up the road. Could this explain Rajoy's actions against Gibraltar? In the looming battle with Catalunya, in which military intervention should not be ruled out with civil disobedience a real possibility, is Rajoy saying to Mas I am determined to crush Gibraltar, back down or you will be next? Is he attempting to demonstrate the power of the Spanish State against any region, be it small like Gibraltar or large in the case of Catalunya that crosses it?

There is definitely something at play here which goes beyond Rajoy's concerns over tobacco smuggling or a legal reef. Certainly he is portraying himself in Spain as the guardian of the nation but few Spanish people care about Gibraltar: they are more concerned about political corruption, the economy, their homes and their jobs.

I am following the increasingly dirty battle between Madrid and Barcelona, which is now starting to hot up, very closely indeed. On occasions when I feel the lessons or messages should be noted by Gibraltarians I have written about them here. So are Rajoy's actions against us the demonstration of a tough Gibraltar Español - Catalunya Español policy? Or is the conflict at the border being used to disguise the actual break up of the Spanish State? My suspicion is it is both, which means both Gibraltar and Catalunya should seek common cause immediately.