Partit dels Socialistes 23.0% (+9.2)
Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya* 21.3% (-0.1)
Junts per Catalunya* 20.0% (-1.7)
Vox 7.7% (n/a)
En Comú Podem 6.9% (-0.6)
Candidatura d'Unitat Popular - Guanyem Catalunya* 6.7% (+2.2)
Ciutadans 5.6% (-19.8)
Partit Popular 3.9% (-0.4)
Partit Demòcrata Europeu Català* 2.7% (n/a)
London media outlets that are clueless about proportional representation are describing this as a "win for the socialists", but of course it's anything but. The pro-independence parties in combination have stormed to an overall majority of the popular vote for the first time, and no government can be formed without the consent of at least one of them. It's particularly gratifying to see the total collapse of the allegedly "liberal" Ciutadans / Ciudadanos party (actually a grotesque right-wing Spanish nationalist outfit) so beloved of Guy Verhofstadt.
What are the lessons for Scotland? Most obviously, this is a heavy blow for the ultra-cautious worldview espoused by the likes of Pete Wishart, who would have us believe that our hopes for independence are like a fragile piece of precious china, which will smash into a thousand pieces if we're not sufficiently scared of our own shadow, leaving us with nothing but regrets. The two international examples that are always trotted out are Quebec, where holding a second referendum "too soon" after the first one (ie. fifteen years later!) supposedly killed all hopes of independence, and Catalonia, where the unilateral declaration of independence was supposedly a catastrophic strategic error that left the sovereignty movement in tatters. The Quebec example was always bogus, for reasons I've explained many times. The Parti Québécois in fact remained in power for eight full years after the second referendum defeat in 1995, and was re-elected with a thumping overall majority in 1998. The real strategic error in retrospect was not doing anything with that power when they had it.
And now the Catalan example doesn't work either. Sometimes in politics it takes a while for the fog to clear, but we can now see that the effect of UDI, and the violent, repressive response of the Spanish state, has been to rally support for the independence movement in unprecedentedly high numbers. That shouldn't have happened if you believed the likes of Pete Wishart, but it has. So not such a strategic mistake after all - although admittedly many brave individuals have had to give up their liberty to get to this point.
Remember also that when we talk about Plan B in Scotland, we're categorically not talking about UDI or anything even vaguely close to the Catalan experience - in fact even the McEleny/MacNeil plan, which is the most radical option, is extraordinarily tame compared to the tactics used in Catalonia. Anything we might do here would be immaculately legal and constitutional, and yet so many senior SNP figures seem absolutely terrified of it. There's no longer any plausible excuse for that.
The other lesson from the Catalan election is the psychological importance of getting an outright majority of the popular vote - something we actually fell short of on both ballots in 2016. Of course the first priority must be to secure a majority of seats, and if we do that we can certainly say that we've won fair and square under the rules and that our mandate must be respected. But there'll be a propaganda battle about what the mandate means, and the more watertight we can make it, the better off we'll be.
* * *
When last week's ComRes poll for the Scotsman purportedly showed support for GRA reform by a margin of 37% to 26%, I was somewhat sceptical, because other polling over the last couple of years has shown the complete opposite - ie. overwhelming opposition. I concluded that this must be one of those issues where the answers that respondents give are very much affected by the way the question is asked. But I don't think I could have anticipated just how slanted the Scotsman's question would turn out to be. I once took Stuart Campbell to task for an astoundingly convoluted, leading poll question that made it very difficult for respondents to do anything but say they were opposed to self-ID - well, the Scotsman's question is practically the reverse mirror image of that...
"The Scottish Parliament is currently considering changes to gender recognition laws in Scotland. Under the proposed changes, the way trans people apply for a gender recognition certificate, the mechanism by which they can change their legal gender on their birth certificates, would be streamlined to make the process less expensive and bureaucratic, and less intrusive to trans people than the current process. However some opposition to the changes focus largely on the potential impact of allowing people to self-identify their gender in single-sex spaces such as changing rooms, and women-only shortlists. To what extent do you support or oppose changes to the gender recognition laws in Scotland?"
Frankly, I don't think the results of a question like that can or should be taken particularly seriously. The wording is clearly designed to minimise the significance of the reforms, and to make them sound like a logical tidying up of existing regulations - something that no reasonable person could possibly object to. In fact, with a question like that, it's a miracle that the result was as close as it was.
By the same token, the question that supposedly showed that a plurality of SNP voters support Joanna Cherry's sacking is somewhat tarnished by wording that goes out of its way to speculate that she may have been sacked "because of general disloyalty to the SNP". If you actively put that idea in SNP voters' heads, how else would you expect them to react?