The Catalan nationalists surely chose this October deliberately for their attempt, now faltering, at UDI. It is the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, and the separatist vanguard is the hard-left party, the CUP. Even more vivid in their minds will be Barcelona’s own ‘October Revolution’ of 1934. The then Catalan Nationalist leader, Luis Companys, announced that ‘The monarchical and Fascist powers which have been for some time attempting to betray the Republic have attained their object’ (by the entry of the Catholic party CEDA into the Spanish government). He accordingly proclaimed ‘the Catalan State of the federal Republic of Spain’ and called for a provisional government of all Spain in Barcelona. This revolt failed. The associated miners’ strike in Asturias had the opposite of the desired effect. It gave General Franco his bloody chance to build the reputation which eventually enabled him to position himself as the saviour of Spain. The civil war came closer.
So the illegal referendum in Catalonia last week was a long-meditated revenge by the left and an attempted coup d’état. It affected the rights not only of all Catalans, but of all Spaniards. Once they realised what was happening, almost all Spaniards (even on the left), and a narrower majority of Catalans, rejected it. That is why King Felipe was right to broadcast to the nation. The restored monarchy in Spain is there to defend the democratic, constitutional order which prevents civil war recurring. That is why Felipe’s father, Juan Carlos, publicly intervened to crush the ludicrous army coup in the Cortes in 1981. Now this Catalan coup, shrouded in a cloak of democracy, has overreached. This October, we have been living through ten days that (nearly) fooled the world.
This is an extract from Charles Moore’s Spectator Notes, which appears in this week’s magazine