Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Tip Top Diplo Cat: Catalonian independence

"Diplo Cat, the most separational Diplo Cat, whose independentist close friends get to goad on D.C., providing it's without Hispanicity. Diplo Cat, the independentist leader of the gang, he's the boss, he's the dip, he has the presidentship, he's the most tip top Diplo Cat!"

Diplo Cat, who bears a striking resemblance to Artur Mas, the president of Catalonia, has gathered the members of his gang to discuss their most audacious scheme yet. Independence. Benny the Ball is to be placed in charge of fundraising - from local government administrations across Catalonia. Choo-Choo, when not falling for a passing supermodel or having allegations made about him as to Swiss bank accounts, is to co-ordinate efforts in Catalonia's 30-plus commercial missions and five political delegations across the world. Brain is to be the mastermind behind the network of amateur volunteers who will take the Catalonian message of independence to a wider world. The scheme seems a good one, but Diplo Cat knows that Officer Dibble, who may on the face of it appear to be ineffectual and to have a face not dissimilar to the prime minister of Spain, is on his case. Will Diplo Cat and his gang get their way, or will, as usual, Benny's naïveté, Choo-Choo's insatiable appetite for a life of luxury and Brain's outright stupidity see them all return to the alleys of Barcelona to lick their wounds and contemplate how they might otherwise tackle Catalonia's enormous fiscal deficit?

"Top Cat" was my favourite cartoon. Much as I always of course wanted T.C. to get one over on Officer Dibble, I couldn't help but feel a bit sorry for the hapless cop. There is a part of me which feels sorry for my Diplo Cat real-life Dibble. Mariano Rajoy carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. If there is a more miserable-looking national leader anywhere, I would be surprised. There he is, trying and failing to get to terms with Spain's economy, and what else is he faced with? Catalonia's Top Cat and his drive towards independence. Diplocat is the name that has been given to the network which the Catalonians have devised to get the point across about the vision for independence that T.C. (Artur Mas) and his fellows have.

The Diplocat effort draws, you won't be surprised, on new media. As an example of its reach, it has 713 people who like its CatalansUK Facebook page. There is also a website dedicated to the Diplocat effort in the UK. Conveniently, it is in English. (A note to those in Mallorca who reject trilingual education: when it comes to communicating with the great wide world, it does help to use a language spoken by rather more than the nine million or so Catalan speakers.) The stat for this number of speakers is just one thing you will find in a clearly set-out explanation as to why Catalonia wants to hold a referendum which might lead to it becoming an independent state. It is, naturally enough, somewhat biased, but you probably won't find a better explanation.

Diplocat is a quite extraordinary phenomenon. It is extraordinary that Catalonia has, and therefore funds, quite so many missions and delegations across the world as it is. For a region of Spain, it has been organising itself as a quasi-separate entity for some time. The use of the internet to carry the message of independence certainly gives this message far greater potency than might otherwise have been the case, but will Diplocat succeed in being anything other than a scheme destined to fail from the outset, one that would see my Diplo Cat and his friends sent scurrying for cover and rethinking their strategy?

Mas made a miscalculation when he mistook a million more people protesting on the streets of Barcelona as the green light for an election which was a sort of pre-referendum referendum. He came unstuck and lost some parliamentary ground. The drive towards independence, in its current guise, came as a result of a failure to renegotiate the fiscal pact between Catalonia and Madrid. As ever, things come down to money. And for the Catalonian electorate, they came down to the economy and jobs. They didn't necessarily come down to Mas's wish for independence.

Nevertheless, the CatalansUK document ends by referring to polls which suggest that there would be a vote in favour of independence. Maybe this would be borne out by a referendum. Or maybe it wouldn't be. One way or the other, we are going to find out in the not too distant future whether Mas will remain the most tip top Diplo Cat.


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