I’M in Spain this week, visiting the village where I lived for 15 years with my late partner Andy. We moved back to Scotland when he was diagnosed with vascular dementia, and this is the first time I’ve returned here since he passed away some 18 months after we came back to Glasgow. It’s been a bittersweet week, with lots of old memories and reminiscing with old friends. But one thing is clear now, Spain isn’t home any more, Scotland is.

This particular part of Spain is deep in the south-east of the country in what was once a heartland of the Partido Popular of Mariano Rajoy. Political attitudes locally have changed markedly since I lived here.

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My Spanish friends who did support the PP have lost what little confidence they once had in the party. After decades of PP administration, the local council in the nearest town is no longer dominated by PP politicians on the make, it’s now controlled by a coalition of the anti-austerity and anti-corruption Podemos party and the Greens. Local services are not any better than they used to be, my Spanish friends remark, but at least now the mayor isn’t driving about in an expensive car that a property developer supposedly gave him as a gift. That at least is progress.

In Scotland, we complain about corruption in politics, particularly in certain local authorities, but in Scotland our corruption is amateur in comparison to what goes on in Spain. What has most definitely changed here is the willingness of the public to tolerate it. It was all very well turning a blind eye to the massive corruption of the political parties when the economy was going well, but since La Crisis – as Spaniards call the economic recession which has assailed the country for the past decade – they are no longer disposed to put up with it.

There’s a deep-rooted disgust here with politicians of all stripes, which explains the rise of parties such as Podemos and Ciudadanos which have campaigned on anti-corruption platforms. Although as my friends point out with a jaundiced eye, those new parties are not immune to corruption of their own.

This area is a Spanish speaking part of the bilingual Valencian Community, which is predominantly Catalan speaking. Some Catalan nationalists regard the Valencian Community as being part of the larger Paissos Catalans or Catalan Countries. However, there is little support here for the Catalan independence movement. The population is overwhelmingly happy to remain a part of Spain and the Valencian independentista movement makes a negligible impact in local polls. Even those who do speak the local variety of Catalan, known officially as Valencia, are quite insistent that it’s a different language from Catalan.

People here are quick to point out that many of the Catalan independence parties are every bit as mired in corruption as the main Spanish parties. When I ask them about Catalonia, the most common response is for them to tell me that they are sick of hearing about it. Some just want the Catalan independence movement to shut up and go away – the more realistic recognise it’s a political problem which can’t be solved in the courts or by criminalising pro-independence Catalan politicians. The only way to solve the problem is for there to be a referendum, although few expect that the new minority government of Pedro Sánchez will be any more disposed to allow one than Rajoy was, even in the unlikely event that he could get the measure through the Spanish parliament.

What is striking however, here in la España profunda, the deep Spain of the countryside and the pueblos, the villages, is that for all their lack of sympathy with Catalonia, there is a very sincere sympathy with Scotland’s drive for independence. In Scotland, the solidarity the independence movement has with Catalonia makes us search for equivalences and similarities, but here in Castilian-speaking Spain people are quite insistent that Scotland’s desire for independence is an entirely different proposition from Catalonia’s.

Time after time, I hear people tell me the two have nothing to do with each other. People who oppose Catalan independence vehemently and viscerally do not have the slightest problem with an independent Scotland. In fact, many would welcome it.

They are aware Scotland voted to remain in the EU in the referendum of 2016, and they perceive Scotland’s independence movement as an attempt for Scotland to remain connected to Europe and to oppose what they regard as the locura, the madness, of Brexit.

When I put it to them that many opponents of Scottish independence claim that Spain might veto an independent Scotland’s membership of the EU in order to discourage the Catalans, they looked at me in amazement. Not one single person, no matter how fierce their opposition to Catalan independence, had even considered that Spain might be reluctant to recognise an independent Scotland for fear of encouraging the Catalans. The two topics are, for the vast majority of ordinary Spanish people, entirely unrelated.

Spaniards who oppose Catalan independence recognise the nationhood of Scotland even as they deny the nationhood of Catalonia. The reason, they told me, is because for most of its existence Scotland was an independent state. Scotland joined the United Kingdom willingly and through a vote in the Scottish Parliament. But most importantly the reason the two cases are unrelated in the Spanish mind is because Scotland has a constitutional right to a referendum.

There is no legal or constitutional bar to Scotland deciding its own future. That means that when Scottish independence does come about the great majority of Spanish people will welcome it with open arms, regardless of their feelings about Catalonia. That’s unfortunate for Catalonia, but it’s good news for Scotland.