Thursday, October 4, 2012

BBC's Newsnight, wrong on Catalonia

Yesterday Newsnight offered a 10 minutes report by Paul Mason on the increasing demands for independence in Catalonia. Unfortunately, the report was one-sided and did not reflect the usual standards of the programme. I doubt that if Jeremy Paxman had been doing a similar report about a part of Great Britain, he would have been so one-sided. The only interviewed politician was Oriol Pujol, secretary general of the ruling party Convergence and Union. Newsnight failed to note that Mr. Pujol is himself under investigation for corruption allegations (as other members of his party), and it failed to interview any other representative of a political party or coalition. It would have been easy to find one who spoke better in English than Mr. Pujol, the son of a former Catalan president who has seen how two of his regional Finance Ministers spent time in prison for corruption allegations. Catalonia is a plural and complex society, where more than half of the population speak Spanish as first language and have links with the rest of Spain. Many Catalans do not favour independence but federalism, and that was never mentioned in the report.


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  2. My name is Marc, I'm Catalan and I am 22 years old. First of all, I'd like to mention that Oriol Pujol's English is pretty good for the Spanish standards, do not try to pretend that here every single politician speaks good and fluent English. Have you ever heard any representatives of PSOE or PP, the two largest political parties in Spain, speaking in English? I doubt so. I think it's quite awful you had to draw upon that in an attempt to discredit him. Also, I'd like to remind you that the matter of the report was not the corruption or the Palau de la Música issue but the growing willingness of secession amongst Catalan people. I think you have got a point when you say that Catalonia is a plural and complex society, but please, you and others should not keep on making the mistake of believing that independentism is still exclusively linked to language. People are not stupid. And being a Spanish-speaker Catalan citizen doesn't make you stupid, does it? We are ALL Catalans, and whether we speak Catalan or Spanish, all of us live in the same place, we have the same public health system, go to the same hospitals and our children go to the same schools. People are getting fed up with the current situation, for patriotic, cultural, political or economical reasons, or all of them at the same time. In addition, the denial of the Spanish central government to negotiate makes federalism not possible and ensures a potential increase in the independentism amongst the population.

    1. I wasn't able to watch Newsnight, and thus maybe I shouldn't be commenting here, but I want to say that I disagree with MarcMartin's implicit view that since we are all catalans there is a broad positioning in favour of independence. We are all catalans, but we speak different languages, and we have differing views on the best political organisation for Catalonia, and for Spain. The idea that a 'people' choose in the same way as an individual is very much liked by nationalistic thought, but I don't buy it.
      And, by the way, we don't all go to the same schools: this may explain why some politicians speak better English than others.

  3. Mr Martin, I would like to know if you watched Newsnight last Thursday. I watch it almost every day and I felt very disappointed. BBC usually makes in-depth analysis about complex issues. In this particular case, it didn’t . I’ve lived in Catalonia for several years and I think the current controversy is not just complex. It’s very interesting, too. It’s not easy to explain what is happening in Catalonia. You will agree with me that Mr. Oriol Pujol is not the guy for the job.
    In my opinion, it would have been better to present a diversity of points of view by qualified people. If they didn’t have enough time, the choice was certainly not the best one.
    There are Spanish politicians that speak English well, as well as Catalan politicians: Javier Solana, Joaquin Almunia, Esperanza Aguirre, Rodrigo Rato, Miguel Angel Moratinos, Catalan President Mr Mas himself. Oriol Pujol didn’t seem to be one of them really. It is a pity that Newsnight chose a person who is not only unqualified but also is under investigation for his connection with a corruption case.