CLARA Ponsati thanked Scots and Nicola Sturgeon yesterday at the start of her battle against a politically motivated extradition order by Spain, saying: “Scotland has been a true friend to Catalonia in her darkest hours.” In fact it’s us who should be thanking Clara. She’s given self-doubting Scots a kick up the collective backside and reminded us why democracy is worth fighting for. The redoubtable sixty-something academic, calmly facing the prospect of 30 years in jail in Spain for her beliefs, has let Scots rediscover a number of important things about ourselves and our near instinctive support for fairness and the underdog.

It’s a real feature of Scottish society – and it matters.

READ MORE: Scotland sends Spain a message ... You can't have our Clara!

Uniquely in the UK it seems, Scotland gets the underlying situation facing the plucky former education minister. Under the European Arrest Warrant produced yesterday in Edinburgh, this peaceful academic stands accused of rebellion – effectively involvment in a violent uprising – and misappropriating public funds. It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic. It was the Spanish police who beat up independence supporters last October, fired rubber bullets indiscriminately and injured hundreds of peaceful citizens.

We know. We saw them. Even the far from radical BBC’s Reality Check says “journalists witnessed police shoving people, grabbing them by the hair and throwing them down stairs. Photo-journalists saw police firing rubber bullets. The Spanish Government accepts there was some violence – and has apologised for it”.

READ MORE: Puigdemont reaffirmed as Catalonia’s president in symbolic gesture

But despite overwhelming evidence of its own violent deeds, the Spanish state thinks it can pin the blame instead on Catalan politicians like Clara simply by asserting: “She done it.” And as for the misappropriation of funds, what else were the Catalan parliament meant to do but work towards independence, after the people voted a majority of independence-supporting members into the Catalan parliament? Catalan politicians were elected with a mandate to work towards independence, even though the absence of a binding Edinburgh-style agreement with Madrid made such a straight-forward outcome highly unlikely.

Yes supporting Scots have had no trouble calling Madrid’s court action for what it is, a political witch-hunt. As former Holyrood Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick put it yesterday, Clara Ponsati has no chance of a fair trial in Spain because there is no separation between the judiciary and government there. Indeed that lack of separation is the very reason so many Catalans are pursuing independence after a lifetime campaigning for devolution.

READ MORE: Why Clara Ponsati may have no case to answer in Scotland

Until 2010, a succession of Catalan governments followed the letter of the law and the Spanish constitution to get greater devolution, which would also recognise the nation of Catalonia. The reforms, which took years to negotiate, were endorsed by the Spanish parliament, the Catalan parliament and a regional referendum. But after all that, key proposals were thrown out by the constitutional court. And who appointed its members? The Spanish government.

It was this betrayal of the democratic process that led so many Catalans to seek full independence instead. And don’t tell me that doesn’t ring a bell in Scotland.

Doubtless that’s why a crowd-funder to finance Ponsati’s legal costs broke the initial £40k barrier within two hours yesterday and is now just short of a new extended £200k target.

That’s not just warm words – it’s real solidarity.

READ MORE: Scotland sends Spain a message ... You can't have our Clara!

By contrast, the leaders of supposedly liberal UK parties have said and done precisely nothing – helping broadcasters to justify treating the whole affair as a little local, legal difficulty. Much less important than the current scandal in Australian cricket.

Of course there has been some condemnation from Labour – not from Jeremy Corbyn or Richard Leonard but from Catherine Stihler, Labour MEP and former rector of St Andrews University. She pointed out yesterday that the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) was created to deal with significant risks to the public -- like allowing the extradition of a 2005 London bombing suspect from Italy. “What it was not intended for was use by a member state to target political opponents. This should not be an issue that is linked to support or opposition to Scottish independence. This is matter of natural justice that should unite everyone in Scotland, the UK and across Europe.”

Of course she’s right. Everyone in Britain and Europe should be up in arms about Spain’s persecution of its subjects abroad. But everyone isn’t – are they?

I wonder how many Labour supporters actually took time off to stand outside the court in Edinburgh yesterday? How many Labour MPs backed the crowd-funding appeal for legal costs? And how many Labour front-benchers will actually say a dickie bird about Prof Ponsati’s plight in weeks ahead?

Of course, Scottish Conservative reaction has been sneering and heartless. Former Conservative deputy leader Murdo Fraser MSP tweeted: “Time to book our holiday. Will be Spain – as usual. Wonderful people. Always feel right at home there.” To which Labour MSP Graham Simpson responded: “Agreed. Us too.”

Hee hee.

These comments were made the same day police violence flared again in Barcelona during protests against the detention of fugitive former leader Carles Puigdemont in Germany.

Spanish police dressed in riot gear whacked demonstrators with batons as they advanced on the office of the Spanish government’s representative in Catalonia. Watch the videos. Protesters hold their hands up to show they are not interfering as police truncheons go down. It’s a sickening sight if you have the slightest capacity for empathy.

If such persecution of peaceful demonstrators was attempted by Vladimir Putin, the EU would have invoked its own rules about the protection of human rights and bellicose Britain would be standing on the brink of World War Three. As it is, nothing has happened – except these jeering taunts on social media.

Mike Russell tweeted: “I feel a terrible sadness that two elected Members of the Scottish Parliament should be capable of such disfiguring tribalism given the human cost involved but also a deep shame that they should do so thinking it was all a joke.”

He’s right. A determination to make all “separatists” wrong has provoked a tasteless outbreak of callousness and inertia over the plight of the Catalans amongst opponents of Scottish independence. Surely any democrat can acknowledge that the law has limitations. It was broken by anti-apartheid campaigners in South Africa. It was broken by suffragettes to give women the vote. Indeed, their acts of civil disobedience and arson were cheerfully celebrated by the great and good in Britain earlier this year. No democratic cause worth it’s salt has fitted into the existing legal framework because law – like history -- is written by the victors. The “crimes” of which Clara Ponsati stands accused are not crimes in Scots law. It is no crime in our society to organise activities that question the constitutional settlement. Even in establishment-controlled Britain, sedition and rebellion are part of the past. That’s how far Spain lags behind the democratic curve.

And yet there is next to nothing on British media about Clara Ponsati’s case. Even though her story is growing arms and legs and even though it contains a moderate difference of opinion between our previous and present First Ministers about the wisdom of political intervention. Nada. The Catalan struggle has fast become a textbook example of the way kneejerk support for the status quo is bending decent, progressive unionists out of shape. Britain doesn’t care about human rights. It just doesn’t. So it’s our job to keep demonstrating that Scotland does and will never turn a blind eye to the bullying of minority populations -- even if our own passage to EU membership as an independent country becomes more difficult as a result.