If the results of the regional elections in Catalonia prove anything, it is that the constitutional crisis in Spain is only just beginning. The pro-independence parties won most of the seats in the regional parliament, but fell short of winning 50 per cent of the vote, and both sides, the Unionists and the independentistes, have claimed victory. According to the pro-independence parties, the election results give them a mandate to form an independent state while the government in Madrid says it will block any kind of referendum. The two sides appear to be more entrenched and divided than ever.

So what are we to make of the Scottish Government’s offer to mediate in the crisis? Is it a genuine effort to find an answer or just mischief making? Would Scottish nationalists trying to mediate between Spanish nationalists and unionists help the two sides move forward - or add fuel to the fire?

In some ways, the answers are academic as there is no realistic prospect of the Scottish Government’s offer being accepted (and it would have been better anyway for the offer to come from both the UK and Scottish governments). But the fact that the Scottish Government is making the offer at all is revealing about the SNP’s long-term strategy, the kind of nationalism it is seeking to promote, and where it sees itself in the world.

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There are a number of reasons the SNP has made the move and the first is that the nature of the Catalan cause has changed. For years, the SNP did nothing to support or promote independence for Catalonia – indeed, it did nothing to support any separatist cause other than its own – firstly, because it did not want the Spanish to make any kind of negative comment on Scottish independence but secondly, because the SNP wished to be seen as a party of government rather than a rabble-rousing version of Comintern, the body set up in the early days of Soviet Russia to provoke socialist revolution abroad. But with the conservative elements in the Catalan movement giving way to a softer, more civic nationalism, it is much easier for the SNP to build some bridges.

The Scottish Government has also made the offer to mediate because it has a vested interest in ensuring the Catalan campaign does not go badly. The pro-independence parties have promised to unilaterally declare independence, but that is the last outcome the SNP wants to see. If UDI goes badly, and chaos and perhaps even violence ensues, that could damage the cause of separatism around the world, including in Scotland. People will say: Catalan has tried independence and look how badly it’s gone there.

One other reason the Scottish Government has made its offer is to promote its international standing and in particular the international stature of Nicola Sturgeon, but it should be careful about how deeply it becomes involved. Not only would the SNP have a much stronger case to act as mediators if they had actually won the referendum last year, the party should be mindful of its promise to focus on running Scotland. To be fair to the SNP, it has not made a habit of raising nationalism on the international stage, but there are important domestic matters to be getting on with: the crisis in the NHS, the state of the public finances, the new powers heading to Holyrood. The Scottish Government has offered to mediate in the Catalan crisis because it thinks it may benefit from the move, but the Catalan crisis must never become a distraction from the more important job of working for the benefit of Scotland.