Letters to the Canary: are politicians evil or stupid, Nature, and Catalonia

Letters to the Canary
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The Canary is excited to share the latest edition of our letters page. This is where we publish people’s responses to the news and politics, or anything else they want to get off their chest. We’ve now opened the letters page up so anyone can submit a contribution. As always, if you’d like to subscribe to the Canary – starting from just £1 a month – to support truly radical and independent media, then you can do that here:

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This week’s letters

This week we have people’s thoughts on whether politicians are evil or stupid (or both), the People’s Plan For Nature, and the latest on the situation in Catalonia. 

Evil or stupid: both great dating options

Was it Henry Ford who said ‘You can have any politician you like as long as it’s corrupt’? Maybe, not. He probably said something boring about cars, but you get the gist. Our political parties range from the right wing to… um… nope, that’s it. Our MPs have all the diversity of blancmange. And their policies target just one dyspeptic salesman from Kent and his Jack Russell called ‘Bernard’.

As an angry young man, I thought most politicians were evil, which was a ridiculously naïve thing to say. I soon realised that most were mainly stupid. Now I’m reaching peak middle-aged cynicism, I believe corruption is their worst vice. Evil and stupid only get you so far. It’s lobbying cash that propels you to greatness.

The Overton Window now overlooks a charming zombie apocalypse, somewhere near Slough. Needless to say, I’m busily building an Anderson Shelter and stockpiling baked beans. Still, if representative democracy is your thing then yes – the bad news is all our politicians are corrupt. The good news is there are plenty of them.

Written by @Wrenfoe (Host of newsBiscuit.com and one-time parliamentary candidate), via email

Read on...

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The People’s Plan for Nature

The People’s Plan For Nature was launched in 2022 by the RSPB, WWF and National Trust via a call for ideas from the public, followed by a citizen’s assembly (see peoplesplanfornature.org). It advocates “stopping crimes against Nature” via a purpose-built government agency to oversee commonplace crimes – like fly-tipping – with future-proofed, non-political laws that apply to everyone. Crimes against Nature should be regarded as seriously as crimes against humanity.

Nature needs a seat in the boardroom: businesses must put nature first and take responsibility otherwise. Nature must be considered in every business decision, like health and safety at work. Biodiversity is declining and nature needs to be protected and renewed to prevent more extinctions. Assembly members want all businesses to have a director for Nature on their boards. “Impact on Nature” assessments should be built into tendering and procurement processes.

Water companies make large profits and release sewage into rivers. Our sewage systems date from the Victorian era and can’t cope with increased demand: sewage is released into rivers to prevent back-up into people’s homes at times of heavy rainfall but illegally otherwise. Profits should update the systems, not enrich shareholders.

The PPFN calls for “significant ecological health improvements to river catchments based on long-term, legally binding targets, with repercussions for any targets not met”. Microplastics in the seas have entered the food chain and are ingested by us: microplastic filters on washing machines should be mandatory.

Dietary changes would impact Nature and affect agriculture. Poor diets and obesity are often based on generational poverty and highly processed foods. There are more cattle in the world than people. More than 77% of farmland is used to graze animals or produce crops to feed them. Diets need to include more vegetables and less meat to cope with feeding world populations: that would also improve health.

Food businesses must put the environmental impact of their products on labels to enable better informed choices. The microbiome in our soils is vital for food production, and regenerative farming is needed to reduce use of pesticides and fertilisers that are impoverishing our soils.

Carol Broom, via email

Spanish elections: no government can be formed without Puigdemont’s support

State elections were held in Spain on 23 July. President Sánchez of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) hoped to beat his rival the People’s Party (PP) by stoking the fear that, if they did not vote for him, a right-wing government could be formed with the extreme right (PP plus VOX), which is what all the polls predicted.

In the end, although the PP won with 136 seats with the 33 of VOX and the two of two right-wing regional parties, they have 171 seats and fall short of the 176 (half plus one of the total of 350) that they would need to be able to invest their president hopeful Alberto Núñez Feijóo. Nor does the left-wing bloc add up to enough seats for Sánchez to be invested: 122 for the PSOE plus the seats of five other parties that already supported the PSOE in the last legislature (one pro-independence party, the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC)) make up only 172 seats, falling short of the 176.

Therefore, although in Catalonia there has been a high abstention of pro-independence supporters disappointed with the pro-independence parties, the results of these parties are decisive. The Catalan pro-independence party Together for Catalunya (JUNTS, of the Catalan President in exile, Carles Puigdemont), with 7 seats, is indispensable for Sánchez if he wants to be invested. But JUNTS’s condition for the investiture of any president is that the Spanish state recognises Catalonia’s right to self-determination.

The truth is that the Catalan independence movement is not very motivated to invest Sanchez, as it has received violations of rights by his government at the same level as the previous government of Rajoy’s PP:

  • Reprisals.
  • Illegal spying with Pegasus software.
  • Infiltration of spies in peaceful social movements.
  • Police set-ups to accuse this movement of being violent.
  • Inclusion of Catalan independence on Europol terrorist lists.
  • State operations to prevent pro-independence parties from gaining institutional power.
  • Attacks on the Catalan language.
  • Mockery of Puigdemont and non-recognition that he is a political exile and threats that he will be arrested.
  • Demonstrations that Catalonia is better off simply because there are not so many demonstrations in the streets, but without having addressed their desire to be able to decide their political status.

Furthermore, the day after the elections, when it was clear that Sánchez needed Puigdemont to be able to form a government, the public prosecutor’s office (which depends on the government) asked to reactivate the Euro-order to try to arrest Puigdemont in Belgium. And on the same day, JUNTS MEP Ponsatí was arrested to make her testify in court in Barcelona, thus violating her parliamentary immunity.

For his part, Sánchez has been quick to declare that he will never grant a referendum on self-determination, nor an amnesty for the 4,400 repressed Catalans. But if Sánchez refuses to allow a referendum, JUNTS will vote against it and the elections will have to be repeated. This would be the sixth election since 2015, whereas if Spanish politics were not so convulsive only two elections would have been held in this period. This shows that the unresolved conflict with Catalonia and the undemocratic way it is being managed is dragging the Spanish state into an increasingly disturbing instability for the EU.

In new elections, the vote would be concentrated in the two big parties and would beat the PP, but the two blocs would probably tie again. Catalan pro-independence supporters, motivated by the usefulness of their vote, would vote massively for JUNTS to push even harder for a referendum or, if the candidates refuse, again block the governability of the state.

In the end, it is possible that in order to overcome the blockade, the PSOE could invest Feijóo. It would show that they are more Spanish nationalists than democrats. The PP is a party founded by Francoists, very far to the right, so it has no problem making a pact with the extreme right. It may cause astonishment in Europe that the PSOE prefers a far-right government rather than allow a referendum in Catalonia.

A final note: The PP plus VOX in Spain (excluding Catalonia and the Basque Country) have 55% of the seats. On the other hand, in Catalonia, they only have 17%. This clearly shows that Spanish and Catalan society would like to carry out antagonistic social projects, and it would be more democratic if each could develop its own path.

Jordi Oriola Folch, Barcelona, via email

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