Updated: Saturday, 4th July 2020 @ 11:37am

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy criticised for Catalonia claim in BBC interview

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy criticised for Catalonia claim in BBC interview

| By Isabel Baldwin

Labour leadership contender Lisa Nandy is under fire for suggesting Scotland has lessons to learn from Catalonia and Quebec during an Andrew Neil interview.

Catalonia’s independence referendum in 2017 sparked protests across the region after police violence was used against voters, ballot boxes were seized by the authorities and political leaders and activists were jailed or forced into exile.

In October, the sentencing of nine pro-independence leaders to between 9 and 13 years by the Spanish Supreme Court for their role in the referendum reignited the clashes between independence protestors and the authorities.

Other leaders who fled abroad following the referendum remain in exile, including Carla Ponsati who is taking refuge in Scotland.

During the interview, Nandy told Neil: "I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying that rather than turn inwards and argue about resources, we should look outwards to other countries and other parts of the world where they’ve had to deal with divisive nationalism and seek to discover the lessons from when in those brief moments in history in places like Catalonia and Quebec we have managed to go and beat narrow, divisive nationalism with a social justice agenda."

When Neil suggested that Scottish independence was not a type of hard-right nationalism but rather one that “goes hand in hand with social justice”, Nandy denied the claim.

"I think it suits the Scottish nationalists actually to keep this argument going about independence because while the entire conversation in Scotland is focused on the constitution, nobody is paying attention to their record which is frankly appalling,” she said.

Nandy’s comments follow the announcement of her plans to set up an international commission to beat diverse nationalism.

The MP, who has received 31 nominations for the Labour leadership position, has been heavily criticised for her comments.

Carles Suarez, coordinator of the Catalan National Assembly in London, said: “We are highly disappointed with Lisa Nandy’s comments.

“Opposing a Scottish referendum and justifying Spain’s violence against the Catalan referendum she sounded more like Boris Johnson than a true socialist.

“We thank Jeremy Corbyn’s condemnation of Spanish police violence on the 1st October Catalan referendum, and we ask Nandy and all labour leadership contestants to act as genuine socialists and be in favour of the self-determination right of both Scotland and Catalonia.”

Valentina Servera Clavell, a Catalan journalist, tweeted: “Dear @lisanandy I would like you to apologise for these comments.

"Do you have a clue of what we the Catalan people have suffered for centuries? The police brutality is the top of the iceberg.

"Both Catalonia and Scotland will be independent and no intimidation will stop it!”

Iain Macwhirter, political commentator for The Herald, also tweeted: “Lisa Nandy on @afneil:"We should look outwards to other countries where they've had to deal with divisive nationalism...in places like like Catalonia".

“So broken heads, riot police and locking up elected politicians.

“Someone tell me I misheard, please.”