THEY do it differently in Catalunya.

Politics is a passion and you can't ignore it. It's like football.

Catalan nationalists are on the streets banging pots and pans all night, building human pyramids, joining hands the length of the Pyrenees. They hold million person independencia marches in Barcelona, in which the broad streets become a red and yellow striped rivers, the colours of the Catalan flag.

Scottish nationalists often say they wish the Scots were, well, just a bit more Catalan - a bit more demonstrative about their politics. Gordon Wilson the former SNP leader, says in his book Scotland: the Battle for Independence that the "robotic" Yes Campaign should have got out more and been more like the real nationalists in Catalonia.

So why don't the Scots get a bit more passionate about their identity? There is a very good reason: history.

Identity means a lot more in a country like Spain which was under a fascist dictatorship only 40 years ago. Under, Franco, the Catalan language was suppressed, nationalists were imprisoned and there was no free press.

I remember visiting the Catalan parliament in the Parc de Ciutadella in Barcelona and being astonished to learn it had been a barracks for Franco's troops until the 1970s. You can still see the bullet holes on the walls from the civil war.

That is something we can hardly begin to imagine. Politics is more passionate in Barcelona because a lot more was at stake. Politics has been a life and death issue for the people within living memory.

And that is why the Madrid government is so short-sighted in refusing to accept the right of the Catalan people to have a referendum about their future. It has evoked those bitter memories of Madrid rule from the pre-democratic era.

The Catalans just went ahead anyway and held their own symbolic referendum over the weekend in which two million took part and 1.6 million voted "Si Si" for independence - the same number, coincidentally, as voted Yes in the Scottish independence referendum in September.

Over here, the Scottish and British governments handled the independence issue more sensibly. David Cameron and Alex Salmond shook hands over the Edinburgh Agreement in 2012, laying the ground rules and ensuring Scotland's referendum was legal and sorted in all its details.

We all took that for granted at the time, but perhaps we shouldn't have. It was a real achievement and meant the matter was resolved calmly in a democratic manner without the need for confrontation.

Many Scots weren't happy about the result, of course, and some even claimed the referendum was rigged. Some Scots seem to have been having second thoughts, according to Professor John Curtice. If the referendum were held tomorrow, Yes would win according to recent polls.

But that is just the way with referendums. You can't go on repeating them. The SNP has accepted the result and moved on. But just imagine the anger there would have been here had the UK government refused to hold one at all?

Nationalists shouldn't yearn for big street demonstrations human flags on the beach and all the circus. It's great fun, but much more important is what happens in the ballot boxes. And the lack of street demonstrations shouldn't be taken as a sign Scots don't take their politics seriously.

What is remarkable when you think about it is that the percentage of the electorate that voted for independence in Scotland, 1.6 million out of an electorate of four million, was actually higher than in Catalonia where 5.4 million people are eligible to vote.

Most Catalans didn't vote this week because the referendum wasn't legal and they didn't feel they wanted to register a vote either way without a proper campaign and an agreed question. But the fact remains the independence movement is larger here than in noisy Catalonia.

No, Scots don't bash pots and pans - they don't need to. They use the ballot box instead. And while I love Catalonia and its amazing street demonstrations, I'm more comfortable with politics as it is played here.