John Carlin will not be writing for El País anymore. The British journalist was fired this Wednesday, according to himself, and later confirmed by illustrator Oriol Malet. He published two weekly columns, one regarding football and the other of a political nature.
Carlin maintained a position divergent of the editorial line of the Madrid newspaper regarding the Catalan conflict, despite not being pro-independence. He had been making this clear, subtly at times, in the columns of the newspaper and, above all, in an essay published in The Times of London last Saturday, 7th October, entitled: “Catalan Independence: arrogance of Madrid explains this chaos”.
The essay is direct and critical of Spanish political culture (defined by the expression of Miguel de Unamuno, “contaminated by the barracks and the sacristy”), the King and Mariano Rajoy, while appearing rather compassionate with the fate of the Catalans within Spain.
Two examples, to set the scene: “I have never forgotten a conversation I had 15 years ago with a man who remains a pillar of that establishment. ‘I can’t stand the Catalans,’ he exclaimed. ‘They always want to make a deal. They’ve got no principles, for God’s sake! No principles!’” The last sentence of the essay reads: “Rajoy calls Puigdemont a traitor but if the conflict descends into widespread violence, and if Catalonia does eventually achieve independence, history may record that the bigger traitor was Rajoy.”
Carlin’s last column in El País was published this Wednesday. With the subtitle and title, he is already playing with fire: “The independentists would not have achieved half of their objectives without the help of the PP [Popular Party] and its coreligionists in the media.” Perhaps El País interpreted this as an allusion to them.
His writing between the lines was well-illustrated in his penultimate column. Even based soley only the title, the hidden message is clear enough: “Piqué for President. The best solution for the present crisis in Spain is that the centre [defender] assumes command.”
Carlin is also known here in Spain, for his book Playing the Enemy, about how Nelson Mandela managed to unite black and white in South Africa on the occasion of the Rugby World Cup in 1994. The film Invictus is based on this book.
Son of a Scottish father and a Spanish mother, Carlin has been writing for El País since 2004. His byline has appeared in The Financial Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New Statesman, The New Republic, The Observer, The Guardian and The Daily Mail. He has also worked on television documentaries for the BBC, PBS, ESPN, Canal Cuatro and Canal+ España.
El País has already jettisoned, for reasons of ideological censorship, the historian and UAB professor Joan B. Culla, a collaborator of 30 years, as well as columnist Francesc Serés. On October 9th, new writers Joan Francesc Mira, Enric Sòria, Martí Domínguez and Manuel Baixauli were all added to the newspaper’s roster of journalists tasked with reporting on the Catalan question.