In going forward we must not go backward

Panoramic view
by Joe Garcia

Once upon a time, not very long ago, there were those fluttering on the fringes of politics who would portray the notion that Gibraltar should clinch a deal with Spain while Franco was alive, because after his demise it would be more difficult to make political headway. We all know that time has proved them wrong.

Gibraltar has since made more political headway than what some of those people could not foresee in Franco days. A democratic Spain has not only opened the once sealed frontier, but has agreed to Gibraltarian representation in the so-called tripartite forum.

Of course, this is not enough. But the lesson to be gleaned is that by standing firm on the fundamentals we can make inroads. That is the way forward.

But in going forward we must make sure that we do not go backward, by making concessions on the spur of the moment that should not be made.

If the people had agreed to go down the route promoted by the fluttering class in Franco days, our rights would have been eroded and our homeland would have been something else.

As Gibraltarians, we must fight for international recognition to the right to self-determination. Despite the trials and tribulations of an ever-changing world, this has been our homeland for 300 years. Is there any place in the world, any people, whose political credentials can justifiably be questioned after so long?

And as we evolve further as a Gibraltarian community we must not lose sight that it is Britain which has always been at our side - even if at times there have been elements in the Foreign Office who have generated the impression of being more interested in defending foreign interests than our British interests.

This brings us to the new Constitution which has provided us with greater devolution of power. But if such power is to mean anything in real terms, it must be power for the people - and not only for the politicians!

The Chief Minister of the day can probably feel that he is a king, but what do the people think? If there has been a devolution of power, where is it?

And is the new Constitution working? Magnanimous in victory - that's the phrase we should have uppermost in our minds because, if we think we scored a victory with the new Constitution, should we not implement it in a manner that draws maximum support from all quarters?

Then there is Britain, the colonial power, where are they and where are we? The Gibraltarian people have evolved from this British Rock of ours. The time-honoured links with Britain have given us our strength, and now that we are stronger through our political emancipation, should we not implement the new Constitution with the greatest care and attention to ensure that we remain within the British umbrella - rain or shine!