GIVEN just how chaotic and worrying every day is in UK politics, we can all be forgiven for occasionally losing track of what is happening in the international political sphere (Trump, North Korea, Europe etc).

However, the world should be paying very close attention to the scandalous actions of the Spanish government in regard to Catalonia, which The National has been commendable in reporting.

As most of you will know, the democratically elected Parliament of Catalonia in June called for a referendum on independence, and earlier this month approved plans to hold that referendum on October 1. Since then, the Spanish government has been pulling every trick it can conceive of to try to put a stop to the vote.

READ MORE: Spain sends in three ships to crackdown on Catalan referendum

Various legal actions have been used, including taking the mayors of Catalonia’s municipalities to court, culminating in the shocking scenes we have seen over the past few days, when we have seen Catalan Government officials arrested, ballot boxes and election materials seized, government buildings raided, threats to cut off power to polling stations and more.

The actions of the Spanish government aren’t just immoral and shocking, arguably they are also illegal.

In a letter to the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, my MSP colleague Christina McKelvie (as well as many other signatories) noted that what we have seen recently is in direct conflict with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

This is a UN agreement that recognises that all people have a right to self-determination. Spain is a signatory of that treaty, and ratified it in April 1977.

Another cross-party letter signed by many MPs and peers at Westminster called on the Spanish government to let the referendum go ahead without any further hindrance.

Last year, my friend and I got chatting to someone from Catalonia. We got to discussing politics and the previous independence referendums that have taken place there, and he said that all he wanted was for the voice of the Catalonian people to be heard, regardless of the outcome of any future votes.

And really that is what this whole thing boils down to – the will of the people. The UK-based Economist Intelligence Unit scored countries on a Democracy Index and divided them into four different regime types: full democracies; flawed democracies; hybrid regimes; and authoritarian regimes.

Spain is currently listed as a “full democracy” regime. I have to wonder if, after these actions, it may find itself dropping in the ranks.

The will of the people is more than just fundamentally important, it is crucial. When the people of Catalonia elected a pro-independence majority to their parliament they knew that this referendum would be held. They voted for it to be sure that it would be held.

It is wrong, no matter what way you look at it, for the Spanish Government to be blocking it.

Thousands took to the streets to protest following the actions of the Spanish government. Since the democratic principle of voting for what you want seems to have been completely ignored, I can only hope that they will listen to the democratic principle of peaceful protest.

The Catalonian Government still insist that the vote will go ahead next Sunday. I hope that the Spanish authorities see sense by then and let it happen peacefully.