There can be little I can write about Catalonia that has not already been said by every quality paper, every informed columnist and every intelligent journalist - that we are headed into a tragedy, that it's gone too far, that it never should have happened. And also that neither side, both so pig-headedly stupid, so intransigent, so puffed with ferocious virtue, will move.
Blood and force will not solve the crisis, will not diminish the urge for self-determination. Civil war is not yet possible - unlike the former Jugoslavia, both sides are not in possession of military hardware. Catalonia's leaders will be consigned for the rest of their lives to grim Spanish prisons. Terrorism instead will emerge; taxes will be unpaid, ministers spat at, Civil Guards on patrol will be slaughtered, government buildings bombed, aircraft flown into the Cortes, the King assassinated, innocent lives destroyed. Eventually, after both sides are utterly sick of the bloodshed, Catalonia will regain a measure of self-government.
Can we ever realise that we can avoid all the blood, the agony, the grief, the lost years, the economic turmoil and cut straight to the deal? Where in God's name is a Statesman or Stateswoman of stature who can halt this descent into Hell and bang both their stupid heads together?
You cannot, you simply cannot, hold an entire people captive, subjugated, against their will. The right of self determination is inconvenient but unavoidable. That's why we agreed with Scotland's wish for a plebiscite in 2014, in which they voted No, a result (despite what the SNP may think) that both nations agree binds us for generations. We must also face the reality that Catholics in Northern Ireland will outnumber Protestants possibly within my lifetime, and if that rebalance results in a plebiscite that approves rejoining the Province to the Republic then we must learn to live with it. That's what an advanced and mature democracy does.
For Catalonia, I pray that both sides will pull back, agree to restore the status quo ante, release the Catalonian hostages from Spanish prisons, and above all agree to a binding referendum on independence when heads are cooler, say in 2022, to allow the necessary changes to the Spanish constitution.