Letters to the Canary: offering hope away from party politics, Catalonia, and the tragedy of Starmer

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This week’s letters

This week we have people’s thoughts on better ways of doing democracy, Catalonia, and Keir Starmer. 

A response to a Canary article on Tories’ fake local newspapers

Please offer some hope of new, better ways of doing democracy. Citizens Assemblies allow a representative cross section of society access to experts from NGOs, the civil service, scientists, and technicians – getting rid of the usual media-based rubbish to arrive a grown-up, evidence-based consensus; notice how democracy is increasingly looking like division, rather than consensus.

As the article from Steve Topple shows, all three parties are dysfunctional, tribal – and the Green Party is obsessed with identity politics, rather than system failure.

Of course, assemblies too have a risk of corruption – a few people who need to take the money. Ultimately, if that were to happen it would be down to inequality, regarding the central position of a token – money – amongst all the other things to value in our society and lives (sustainability, community, biodiversity, wellbeing, and care).

Regarding political identity politics, I no longer jump towards, or away, from anything just because it’s got a red label, or a green one, or a yellow one, or a blue one. Identity labels are diversion away from systemic thinking, which is what the public good needs.

Read on...

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Anonymous, via email

Will Catalan be the EU’s 25 official language?

In the Spanish elections on 23 July, neither of the two parties alternating in power reached the minimum and, whoever wants to govern, will need the votes of Junts, the Catalan pro-independence party of Carles Puigdemont who went into exile in Belgium to escape an illegal trial in the Spanish state for having organised Catalonia’s 2017 referendum on self-determination.

After years of discrediting him, interim president Pedro Sánchez is now negotiating with Puigdemont. For the time being, in order for the PSOE to gain control of the Spanish congressional table, Puigdemont demanded that Sánchez initiate procedures to make Catalan official in EU institutions (along with Basque and Galician) and so that it could also be used in congress.

Until now, when a member of parliament tried to speak Catalan in congress, they were forced to express themselves in Spanish under threat of reprisals. How is it possible that they would ban the language of the Catalans? Language is not only communication, but above all identity. This made us feel that “our” state does not respect our identity.

In Europe, in many countries, only one language per state is conceived. Other “regional” languages are known, but they are not taken into account, as if their speakers were second-class citizens. In Spain, 26 million people live in territories that have Castilian (the language of Castile) as their own language, but 14 million live in territories that have Catalan as their own language (with about 8 million regular speakers), three million Galician (two million speakers) and three million Basque (900,000 speakers).

Catalan is not a secondary language that has coexisted with Spanish in the same territory. Catalan is the indigenous language of a part of the Iberian Peninsula (the cultural nation called Països Catalans) which was part of the Crown of Aragon and which was confederated, on an equal footing, with the Crown of Castile in 1474. But in 1714 it was subjugated by force and all its rights abolished, so that from then on, we consider Catalonia to be a colony of Spain. From this annexation by force comes the historical meaning of the movement for the independence of Catalonia.

It has also been Spain that has prevented Catalan from becoming official in EU institutions, because it wants to subordinate us to Spanish. Catalan (which is used in Spain, France, Italy, and Andorra – where it is the state language) is the ninth most spoken language in the EU, but it has no official status. By contrast, languages with fewer speakers are official: Bulgarian, Danish, Slovak, Finnish, Lithuanian, Latvian, Slovenian, Estonian, Maltese, and Irish Gaelic.

We Catalans are very clear that this request to the EU only responds to the interest of pro-independence votes, so Puigdemont demands, in order to continue negotiating, a fait accompli at the EU Council meeting on 19 September, which will take place with the Spanish presidency. To date, all the proposed languages have been accepted, and the Spanish government is not expected to put obstacles in the way, as it has done so far, because it would force Junts to vote against and force new elections.

These would be the sixth elections in eight years – a period in which, theoretically, only two elections were due. This is already a sign of the political and economic instability affecting the Spanish state for not wanting to confront the conflict with Catalonia in a democratic way with a referendum on self-determination.

Jordi Oriola Folch, Barcelona, via email

Starmer: the tragedy we brought on ourselves?

Who elected this clueless rich businessman’s puppet and allowed Jeremy Corbyn to be slandered out of the leadership by the toxic M. Hodge, T. Watson, K. Starmer, H. Harman, R. Reeves, Momentum, W. Streeting, et al – all the mentioned and many many more, traitors to the Labour Party’s values?

We did.

The mass voting population of Britain allowed this disaster for working peoples’ lives, including the thick middle classes who claim to be socialists but vote Tory. The puppet for the rich is now running, and has already ruined, our Labour Party – in fact, we do not now exist. It was the Union’s and the grassroots who put this joaby in charge. No one else is to blame. We brought this tragedy on ourselves, and Britain.

God forgive us.

Patrick Mcqueenie, via email

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