THE decision of Spain’s Supreme Court to convict Catalan politicians and activists and hand down lengthy jail sentences following their bid to win independence in 2017 is truly appalling.

Normal Western countries don’t lock up democratic opponents, and for an EU member state in the 21st century to have political prisoners beggars belief. This situation raises serious concerns about the very nature of democracy in Europe.

READ MORE: Europe, now it's up to you: Full statement from Catalonia’s Foreign Minister

The EU and the rest of the international community must intervene, offering the parties a way out of the conflict. This is no longer an internal Spanish affair, it is a European and a global crisis. The EU does not need to take a side in the argument, rather it should act as an impartial mediator, looking at democratic and negotiated solutions.

The EU cannot afford not to intervene; the crisis will simply escalate. Let the EU help Spain and Catalonia find peace.

Alex Orr

THE conduct of the Madrid-based Spanish Government towards the independence aspirations of Catalonia is contemptible and recalls the dictatorial dark days of Francisco Franco.

Scotland is an established nation, one of Europe’s first, and in its quest to resume the self-government that has been wrested from it by wilful Westminster distortion of the Treaty of Union it is well-placed to see the Catalonia situation for what it is: a denial of legitimate self-rule.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon responds to sentencing of Catalan leaders

As has been seen in world affairs relating to such independence aspirations, there are two main outcomes – suppression by the established central government, or agreement between the two parties whether resulting in full or regional power for the aspirant. Czechoslovakia showed the agreeable way and has resulted in two independent countries, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Spain is presently showing the disagreeable response of suppression.

But how democratic is it to imprison people for expressing a desire to be responsible for their own affairs?

America, ie the USA, chose self-rule rather than being governed by Britain, then in turn suppressed a like-minded group of its regional states that wanted to be self-governing. Thus occurred the American Civil War.

Maybe there are argumentative contradictions in such matters, but jailing people should be regarded as a contemptible response to any aspiration towards self-rule and responsibility. Most of the world’s independent countries co-exist peacefully with each other despite media focus and attention on those which don’t, and this focus and attention can be justified by the old saying about the exception proving the rule – in this instance, self-rule.

Ian Johnstone

I HAVE neither bought a single item of Spanish produce nor visited Spain since the oppression following the 2017 independence referendum. And I will not have another holiday in Spain unless this is resolved, if ever.

Maybe if every European was to cancel their Spanish holiday, the damage to the economy would send a powerful message to these tyrants.

I’m disgusted that Europe turns a blind eye so far.

Ros Lauchland
via email

I READ the letter by your correspondent Crisdean Mac Fhearghais (October 15) with a weary shake of the head.

Like Messrs MacNeil and McEleny, there persist some in our movement who seem to believe they want independence more than others. That somehow Nicola Sturgeon is only “playing” at wanting independence.

“My dad is bigger than your dad” writ large on our national struggle.

Crisdean believes a change of leadership is all we need. But Scotland holds the moral and political high ground right now.

As Brexit enters its end game, precipitous action by the Scottish Government or SNP could prove fatal to our cause.

A cursory glance at Scotland’s history shows that for every Bannockburn we have a dozen Floddens; lost because we chose the wrong tactics or the wrong ground, surrendering advantages because “our blood was up”.

At this crucial juncture, I look towards Braveheart. Not the painted faces and martyrdom but in that schiltrom with the English cavalry baring down and Wallace shouting “Hold! Hold!”

We’ve been at this 300 years. To break ranks now and surrender the high  ground before the fog of Brexit clears will only lead to defeat.

Henry Malcolm

IN Scotland there are now three things that are inevitable – taxes, death and the refusal of a Section 30 order. The Scottish Government is fully aware of these, there is no need for a Plan B.

John Jamieson
South Queensferry

LIKE rats leaving a sinking ship, the Tories followed by the Tory LibDems couldn’t get out of the chamber quick enough when Ian Blackford stood up during the Queen’s Speech debate.

The unseemly and undignified race to the door was a clearly calculated insult to Scotland. Even Scot Jo Swinson showed a clean pair of heels with a nippy exit.

Perhaps these disgracefully rude MPs forgot the TV cameras were recording everything, oblivious to the clip that would end up on Twitter and Facebook, furthering the cause of independence.

I’ve written in vain in the past on how playing the Westminster game will not work. SNP MPs must play there own game using parliamentary rules against the workings of Parliament.

Mike Herd