Letters to the Canary: disbelief at Kuenssberg’s ‘State of Chaos’, flooding, and Catalonia

Letters to the Canary
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This week’s letters

This week we have people’s thoughts on flooding in Libya and the UK, Laura Kuenssberg’s State of Chaos, and Catalonia. 

UK flooding: a real and present danger?

The flooding in Libya is really frightening and awful – but maybe we should be a little worried as well.

Whilst writing my third book ‘Britain Betrayed’ about the shortcomings of this present government I came across a report from the Environment Agency which revealed a serious lack of maintenance and the reluctance to start repair work on many dams as ordered by engineers. Two reservoirs have been waiting for repair work for eight years, eighteen have been waiting for at least five years and ninety-three have been waiting for two years. It all seems to be about keeping costs low rather than securing good service: the on-going mantra of this government.

I believe this is really dangerous.

Sue Wood, @beneathbluster, via email

Read on...

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Kuenssberg’s State of Chaos: Tory-on-Tory warfare

I watched the first episode of State of Chaos with both annoyance and disbelief. This is a rather remarkable catalogue of titbits and anecdotes, all from ex-colleagues and Tory bystanders – all of whom seemed to be taking no responsibility, playing the ‘blame game,’ and telling of their innocence. ‘It was all Dominic Cummings fault’: Matt Hancock, also a rule breaker – and let’s not forget his appalling management of care homes; Jacob Rees-Mogg with his usual audacious and arrogant approach – so innocent of any responsibility for the Tory mess!

BBC balance was not to be seen. Tories interviewed to give views on Tories. The only token Labour figure interviewed in the opening episode is Hilary Benn. No critics of the government interviewed. No one from the left – not even a mention of, dare I say, Jeremy Corbyn – who was the Leader of the Opposition at the time! No mention of the mismanagement, misappropriation of public funds, and chaos that has led to decline in living standards for ordinary people.

I don’t write letters. I am not a journalist – I’m a mere member of ‘Joe public’ who lived through the chaos: the EU referendum, Covid, political turmoil, and the subsequent erosion of public services and life standards. This has all hastened since 2016, but it’s been eroding for many years though subsequent governments. It has just rapidly speeded up since 2008-2016.

Not sure I can stomach watching further episodes. Tories will be patting themselves on the back next, that ‘they’ got rid of Johnson and Brexit is really not that bad!

Jackie Heslin, via email

New successes for the independence movement in Catalonia

11 September is the National Day of Catalonia and every year a demonstration is held to commemorate that in 1714 Catalonia lost, by blood and fire, its freedom and became a territory without rights conquered by Castile. After 2010, already with a certain degree of democracy, the annual mobilization became a great demand for the independence of Catalonia, because we realized that, within Spain, there would never be a way to live as the Catalan society wishes.

Right now, Catalan independence is a European political movement that brings people to the streets to protest. In Barcelona this year 800,000 people have been demanding our freedom as a nation.

At the same time, the interim president of Spain – Pedro Sánchez (to be invested president of the country) –  needs the votes of Junts, the party of the 130th President of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, who had to go into exile in Belgium because Spain has been persecuting him since the 2017 self-determination referendum was held. But Puigdemont has not held out in exile to, now that his persecutor needs him, agree to invest him.

Instead, on 5 September, he gave a conference in Brussels with journalists from 64 countries, where he raised the need for a historic agreement to democratically resolve the conflict between Catalonia and Spain. He stated that there are no conditions for negotiation but that, if Sanchez wants to be invested, he must provide some minimum prerequisites to start negotiating: recognise the legitimacy of the Catalan independence movement, stop persecuting this peaceful movement as if it were a terrorist threat, approve an amnesty for all the reprisals (approximately 1,500), and allow an international mediator to monitor the negotiations.

Paradoxically, Sánchez could also be interested in an amnesty for the Catalan victims of repression and for the aggressor police officers, because he could publicly justify it as a way to end the repression exercised by the Spanish state and put an end to the conflict. Of course, the conflict will not end with the end of the repression, but it would be necessary to address the root of the conflict: that the Catalan people have the right to exercise self-determination…

In reality, Spain’s hidden motivation for this amnesty would be to clear the file of the Spanish justice system before the sentence of the European Court of Justice, which is expected to be devastating for Spain.

For this reason, in the demonstration nobody demanded amnesty nor any investiture pact of Sánchez, but the unanimous cry was for independence. And this is Puigdemont’s demand: four preconditions are needed, but the negotiation must be about self-determination.

Sánchez completely resists entering this debate with the excuse that the constitution does not allow it (which is false). He asks to be invested, but does not want to give in on anything that is central to Spanish nationalism. So, if Sánchez does not stand as a true statesman who knows how to lead Spain to a negotiation in which the use of violent force is renounced and only the force of democracy is counted, I think we are heading towards the sixth elections in eight years (normally it would have been two) and a destabilisation of Spain as we have not seen so far.

Jordi Oriola Folch, Barcelona, via email

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