IN Glasgow at around 11am on Monday, the second day of the SNP’s annual National Conference, three of the party’s senior politicians will get to their feet and proclaim they are “standing up for Scotland”. They will do so seemingly oblivious to the fact that the same theme will have will have figured prominently in the conference programme of each of the three main parties of the Union. No matter; this will be their opportunity to claim authentic ownership of a slogan rendered meaningless by its ubiquity.

Judging by the number of those who have sought to draw parallels between events in Spain these last two weeks and the campaign for Scottish independence, there will also be a lot of standing up for Catalonia. It could be an interesting exercise during the conference to count the number of Catalan flags on display.

It’s easy to be cynical about this and to adopt a supercilious attitude to such flag-waving. There are obvious parallels between the struggle for Catalan nationhood and the campaign for Scottish independence. The saltire has featured prominently at each of the mass demonstrations that have taken place in Barcelona over the last five years. During this period connections and bonds both political and emotional between the two movements have deepened and intensified. The campaigns in Scotland and Catalonia are united by a fervent, almost spiritual, belief that these nations possess unique social and cultural characteristics sufficient to justify their independence from a larger polity that has lost the moral right to rule them.

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The problem with all of this though is that once the parallels have been identified they don’t really run much further. Angus Robertson, still the SNP’s most compelling analyst of foreign affairs, put it eloquently when he told me: “The backgrounds to the cause of nationalism in Scotland and Catalonia are significantly different, especially given the Catalans’ recent experience of living under a fascist dictatorship in Spain. In Scotland we are embedded in a national debate about a better future with independence. We are not protesting. So, I am wary of drawing comparisons between the debates in each country when most of the circumstances are very different.”

This view was echoed by Xavier Solano, the former head of the Catalan government’s Westminster office. “You must bear in mind the UK is one of the world’s oldest and most mature democracies. It has respected the national identities of each of its four constituent parts. Spain, on the other hand, has economically punished Catalonia and kept it hidden from the world since 1714.”

If you’re looking for cynicism amidst the current upheaval in Catalonia there are strong traces of it running through either side of the constitutional debate. On the Spanish government’s side it’s difficult to observe any justification for its violent response to Sunday’s referendum on Catalan independence. It had already declared it illegal and in direct contravention of the modern Spanish constitution agreed as recently as 1978 and enthusiastically backed by an overwhelming majority of Catalonians.

Madrid knew a Yes vote would not be recognised by EU countries and be greeted with indifference by the world beyond. None of Spain’s financial institutions would back it. So why did if feel the need to mount such clumsily violent reprisals of a type utterly incongruous to its sense of itself as a modern European democracy? On the Catalan side is there not an obligation to provide its supporters with a roadmap to an ultimate destination beyond merely claiming victory on a 43 per cent turnout and a declaration of independence?

From the perspective of Scotland’s constitutional debate with the UK, the violent scenes in Catalonia ought finally to destroy the most insidious canard deployed by Unionists: that the first Scottish independence referendum was nasty and divisive and that a second one will be even more so. We saw for ourselves last Sunday what genuine state-sponsored malevolence and violent intimidation looks like. Perhaps now Ruth Davidson will stop insulting the intelligence of Scots voters by persisting with her “nasty and divisive referendum” myth.

There are also troubling and problematic anomalies for those Scottish nationalists seeking spiritual gratification from events in Catalonia. The Socialist movement in Catalonia has strongly opposed both the referendum and the Catalan government’s intention to declare independence. They believe the acrimonious constitutional debate is being used as a convenient smokescreen by Madrid to mask increasingly reactionary social policies, spending cuts and inequality. Catalonia’s socialists have always been deeply suspicious of Catalan nationalism. They are of immigrant stock themselves and, having lived through the violent excesses of Franco’s fascism, are unimpressed by nationalist attempts to draw an equivalence between the actions of modern-day Madrid and the old dictator.

There is another reason why it would not be advisable for Scottish nationalists to hitch their wagons to the Catalan situation: to do so risks highlighting the SNP’s incoherent approach to future relations with the EU. The SNP have been desperate to allay Spanish government fears Scottish independence would not give succour to Catalan separatists, presumably because they fear a Spanish veto in the event of an independent Scotland seeking future EU membership. They ought to mind what they say about Catalonia over the next few days. The utter indifference of the EU to last weekend’s violence in Catalonia is a timely reminder why so many Scottish nationalists voted for Brexit and so many others voted for the Remain side through gritted teeth.

In Catalonia you sense more blood will be shed in the days ahead. You also sense though, that in deploying violence against its own citizens, the Spanish state has lost the moral right to govern in Catalonia. It only remains to be seen how much more violence it is prepared to commit to maintain its disfigured authority.