By a Newsnet reporter

On the eve of the vital Catalan elections, which have been dominated by the promised Catalan independence referendum, the Guardian newspaper has found itself at the centre of a controversy for apparently distorting a report on the country by writer Matthew Tree. 

The article, entitled Catalonia: 'A country can exist quite happily without a state of its own', gave readers the impression that Mr Tree is opposed to Catalan independence, however the writer has taken to Twitter to denounce the Guardian for cutting his article in such a way as to make it say the opposite of what he originally wrote.

Mr Tree is a long-standing supporter of Catalan independence, tweeted:  "To anyone who might have seen it: IGNORE my Guardian article: it was cut to say the opposite of what I meant. The original version is on FaceBook."

He added:  "Paragraphs changed, omitted or clumsily shortened. Especially: the end was lopped off, so changing meaning of whole piece."

The writer has said he was in touch with the commissioning editor, who denied authorising the changes to the piece.  Mr Tree awaits a full explanation on Monday, however the Guardian has already refused to rectify the article.

He tweeted:  "I wrote to the commissioning editor to complain and to say goodbye for good.  They won't rectify."  

A number of minor alterations were made to the body of the original text, but the most serious change came in the final paragraph.  In the version published in the Guardian, Mr Tree's final sentence was given as: "A country, of course, can exist quite happily without a state of its own." This statement was taken out of context and used by the Guardian's editors as the title to the article, giving the impression that Catalan independence is unnecessary.

However in the original version of the article, published on Mr Tree's Facebook page, this is not the final sentence in the piece, which reads:

"A country, of course, can exist quite happily without a state of its own.  This is not now the case of Catalonia, unhappy as it mainly is with the state it was obliged to join three centuries ago.  Hence the current push for independence, after which – if the Catalans vote for political parties that favour it, as they seem due to do on November 25th – articles like this defensively informative one will become thoroughly redundant."

Mr Tree also stated on Twitter that the Guardian's regular Spanish correspondent, Giles Tremlett, is on record as stating that "learning Catalan is a waste of time".  

In a similar episode, Catalan writer Quim Monzó has also complained on Twitter that the Guardian had distorted an article he wrote about the challenges facing the Catalan language, published in the newspaper on Friday.  In a Tweet in response to Mr Tree complaints, he wrote:  "With mine they have also done as they wanted.  Paragraphs altered, citations altered, title changed ...  A shame."  [translated from Catalan]  

The Catalan writer did however make it clear that the Guardian had not altered the sense of his article, unlike Mr Tree's.

On Thursday, the Guardian was also criticised for an article concerning today's Catalan elections.  The article, entitled 'Catalan separatists face poll setback' said that the Convergència i Unió (CiU) party of Catalan president Artur Mas would struggle to achieve the necessary majority to ensure that the referendum is pushed through the Catalan Parliament and implied that the referendum may never take place.

In fact there are five pro-independence parties contesting the Catalan elections, the CiU, ERC (Esquerra Republican Catalana - the Catalan Republican Left), ICV (the Catalan Greens), CSI (Catalan Solidarity for Independence) and CUP (Candidatura d'Unitat Popular).  Between them, these parties are widely expected to win a large majority in the Catalan Parliament.  

The PSC (Partit dels Socialistes de Catalunya), affiliated to the Spanish-wide PSOE party - broadly equivalent to the Labour party in the UK - have also hinted that they may support the right of Catalans to decide their future in a referendum, although the party remains opposed to independence.

The new criticisms of the Guardian and its sister paper the Observer come shortly after the Observer was forced to print an apology and make alterations to an article claiming that EU President Herman Van Rompuy had made a "recent" intervention in the debate on Scottish independence and had "poured scorn" on the Scottish referendum.  

The article, titled "EU tells Alex Salmond to think again in Scottish independence row" stated that: "The president of the European council has intervened in the Scottish independence debate, claiming that nothing will be gained from breaking up the UK."

However it soon emerged that the "recent" intervention from Mr Van Rompuy was in fact made some 18 months ago, before the Edinburgh Agreement between Holyrood and Westminster which ensured the legality of the Scottish referendum.  Neither did the paper point out that Mr Van Rompuy had made his remarks in response to a highly loaded question on "separatism" and its "evil work".
The Guardian's "Reality Check" series, billing itself as "all you need to know" about Scottish independence, was also criticised for one-sided coverage of the debate and its anti-independence bias.

Although the UK media is overwhelmingly opposed to Scottish independence, the distortions and biased coverage of the Guardian and Observer are a particular bitter pill.  The Scottish Yes campaign solidly aligns itself with civic - not ethnic - nationalism, social and liberal democracy, resistance to the cuts agenda of the Westminster parties, internationalism, and opposition to nuclear weapons - all of which are values which the Guardian and Observer claim to espouse and defend.

The most recent criticisms of the Guardian and Observer highlight the shortcomings of the UK media in their coverage of the aspirations of certain European nations to self-determination.  Questions are already being raised about whether it is possible for Scotland to conduct a free and fair campaign in the face of such an overwhelming barrage of distorted and biased media commentary and reporting.


# Morag 2012-11-25 01:31
Please excuse my inexpertise but it truly
appears to me that these hypocrites and thieves ,of folks lands and souls and ways unique are out to pull the ghastly spook, they say we cant we dont have the power that we need them and we are a burdensome shower yet they want us still to be shackled to them , so we must have something the truth will tell.
# tartanpigsy 2012-11-25 03:33
The Guardian, and its sister paper The Observer, neither guard , or observe, the facts that is.

They are both representative of a closed minded . psuedo north English internationalis t perspective on the world that they live in.

This will change, but only after events have over taken them......

As Che said "Hasta la Victoria Siempre"

For those of you not yet aware of it, or unwilling to accept it, WE ARE THE VELVET REVOLUTION
Scotland has 2 choices,
Make it happen or shut the F**k up and stop whingeing.
Choose now or forever "had thy wheesht"

Y , perdoname por el castillano malo, pero Viva Catalunya libre, republicano, y como una hermana de Escocia, Ya y siempre!
# weegie38 2012-11-25 08:31
Quoting tartanpigsy:
The Guardian, and its sister paper The Observer, neither guard , or observe, the facts that is.

Anyone who seriously believes the Guardian and Observer are progressive left-wing papers ought to read "Guardians of Power: The Myth of the Liberal Media".
# .Scot 2012-11-25 04:00
Independence will unite the British Scots & the Scottish Scots for the first time in 300 years of seperatism and distrust. Independence is not Separatism. It is unionism of the people of Scotland. There is no argument in support of the phoney construct that is the British Union/empire. There never has been one & there never will be one. I'm voting Yes to unite Scotland.
# Ready to Start 2012-11-25 08:33
I wonder if this happens with newspaper articles on Scottish independence.

Good news according to Sunday Times this morning is that Scottish TUC is refusing to join the Bitter Together campaign which the Sunday Herald says is being funded by a Tory held Dinner in Chelsea at £750 a head which the Tory spokesperson says is not newsworthy.
# Macart 2012-11-25 09:29
When looking at the politics of all UK titles there are few surprises to be had in terms of resistance to Scottish independence. The Telegraph, Mail and Express (right wing and reactionary, so you don't have to be), Independent (overly pontificates whilst being woefully ill informed), Scotsman (????? who knows, who cares?), The Record (Labour without knowing what that actually means) and the Sun (anyone's so long as they buy, buy, buy), Herald (two words Magnus Gardham).

Of them all, the most treacherous, hypocritical and biased is the Guardian/Observer, with its thoroughly outed cadre of commentators posing as political analysts and objective experts. A supposedly centre left title espousing the best of Liberal and Labour ethics. Socially aware, inclusive, supporters of free speech and honest opinion, yer caring, sharing, cuddly, thinking lefty title.

Unless you happen to be into Scottish democracy.
# gedguy2 2012-11-25 11:52
Lies, damned lies and Britnat facts.
# weegie38 2012-11-25 12:32
Both The Guardian and The Independent have been perpetrating one myth on the Catlan election all week. Namely, that a referendum could only happen if Arturo Mas' party wins an outright majority of 68 seats.
What they were ignorant of, or more likely conveniently ignored, was the fact that parties like the Republican Left already hold 10 seats in the Catalan Parliament and will probably gain in the election today. As such, pro-referendum parties are practically guaranteed a majority.
What's changed is that Mas' CiU has moved to support a referendum, and they called this snap election to justify that change, following the huge demonstration on September 11th.
# Jamieson 2012-11-26 15:19
What they were ignorant of, or more likely conveniently ignored, was the fact that parties like the Republican Left already hold 10 seats in the Catalan Parliament and will probably gain in the election today.

You should never be amazed at how ignorant about anything is your average journalist in the English media (and some in the Scottish too)
# Teri 2012-11-25 14:18
More Guardian newspapers are bought by the BBC than by any other organisation. This might explain why a lot of what the BBC churns out is misinformation. That plus the press releases from the Scottish Unionist Alliance or Dependency parties as I call them.

Whilst we all moan about bias in the media, we need to remember that misinformation is one of the weapons of conflict and deal with it as such.

As for the Guardian newspaper, fear not, it is haemorrhaging money daily, is running up massive annual losses and is quite definitely in the final death throes.
# Jamieson 2012-11-26 16:09
That plus the press releases from the Scottish Unionist Alliance or Dependency parties as I call them

Teri: The best propaganda is simple and easy to remember. So they are better described as either the "Bitter Together" mob or "NO-men".

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