The postcard party

By David Eade

I had to read the Panorama article again when I saw the Opposition had sent a postcard to the residents of the Alameda Estate over the possible location of this year’s fair.

A postcard? I don’t know about you but I have long since given up sending postcards as they invariably fail to be delivered or arrive so long after posting that their contents are irrelevant. The delay could certainly have the residents of Alameda scratching their heads as everybody now knows the fair is to be located at the old naval grounds.

Given the size of the Alameda Estate rather than sending a postcard couldn’t the Opposition party activists simply have gone down there and asked the residents instead? Isn’t that what community politics is all about?

Were the postcards posted or dropped through the Alameda letter boxes? If the latter then I am sure the residents would have been pleased to give their answers face-to-face with the delivering Leader of the Opposition.

I am also bemused as to why a letter from the Chief Minister to allay the fears they had whipped up should upset the Opposition so much. I quote “The use of the letterhead of Gibraltar’s highest elected public office on a local matter (however important to the residents and indeed the GSD) is at best laughable and at worst worrying.”

Given the size of Gibraltar all matters are local and the Chief Minister’s letter demonstrates he can deal personally with matters large and small. I suspect the Opposition was upset that a letter from the Chief Minister’s office should trump their cheap postcard. What did they want him to write on – a stained beer mat?

Around the world political parties are embracing new technology to communicate with the voters. Face-to-face is still the best way to make contact, especially in a small nation. However the social media and text messaging are the new means to get a party’s views across and to open a dialogue with voters.

Not for the Opposition it seems. Going to visit the residents of Alameda was obviously more then a step too far. I expect the executive meeting decreed – let’s send a postcard instead: far easier and doesn’t mean we have to meet voters. That’s the way to do it!

So come the next election how will the Opposition present its manifesto? On the back of a postcard or will that be too large a space to fill? Perhaps larger lettering will help there.

And if after the next election the people of Gibraltar decide to put their trust in the Opposition rather than the GSLP – Liberal coalition how will it deal with the challenges from Spain?

An incursion into Gibraltar’s waters: excessive border queues or bitching about land reclamation; how will the current opposition deal with that? By sending off postcards to Madrid, Brussels and London?

Postcard diplomacy: I bet Rajoy and Margallo wished they’d thought of that one.

Of course every cloud has a silver lining and I’m sure the Gibraltar Post Office will be rubbing its hands with glee at the promise of the increased turnover.

I just hope it is quicker delivering the new Government’s postcards than it is my letters.

 

Important that you vote - but for who?

By David Eade

The elections for the European Parliament will take place between May 22 and 25 depending on which EU State you vote in.

As there is now barely a month before polling day the campaigns will hot up and Gibraltarians will be wondering where to cast their vote on Thursday May 22. It is vital that you do vote - but for who?

Few of my readers will be unaware that I am a socialist and an active one at that. Hence on a European basis I will be lending my support to candidates whose parties come under the PES banner in the hope that PES will replace the EPP of Partido Popular fame as the strongest block in the European Parliament.

It therefore follows that socialists in Gibraltar will be urged to support Labour Party candidates in the South West England and Gibraltar constituency. However, there comes a time when you have to stand back from tribal politics and vote for who is the best candidate for Gibraltar.

Gibraltar has six MEPS: three of them are Conservatives, two UKIP and one Lib Dem in Sir Graham Watson. However, if you stopped a person on Main Street and asked them to name one of the six I suspect Sir Graham is the only name they will come up with.

The fact is whoever is elected for the SW England and Gibraltar seat will have everything to do with politics in Britain and nothing at all to do with Gibraltar. The Gibraltar share of the vote is too small to influence the overall outcome although our votes could push a candidate over the winning line. Hence Gibraltarians may be tempted not to vote at all but I beg you not to take that option.

Gibraltarians must use their votes wisely and the objective has to be to stop the EPP retaining power. If they win the majority in parliament their candidate for the EC Presidency will also be elected and that could prove disastrous for Gibraltar.

The Conservatives and UKIP are out of this equation because the Tories are not members of the EPP as you might expect but a fringe centre right group. Hence to stop the EPP, which the PP Government in Madrid can count on for its support in its actions against Gibraltar, we basically need PES to win.

For make no mistake: the EPP has serious form because not only does it have the repressive PP in its ranks but parties such as GERB in Bulgaria and Fidesz in Hungary. GERB are tied up in vote rigging and both are guilty of constitutional and civil rights abuses. It is parties such as these the PP can count on to attack Gibraltar.

Now the Lib Dems are part of the ALDE group in the European Parliament who will not be in the majority. Yet Europe like Gibraltar understands coalitions, as the UK does not, so it is likely that PES and the ALDE will seek common cause in the new parliament.

Ideally Gibraltar will be represented by at least one Labour and Lib Dem MEP after the next election. However, make no mistake, Sir Graham Watson faces his toughest re-election battle ever and in some ways the result is out of his hands.

It may be unjust but when voters in the UK go to vote in the European Elections they are likely to reject the Lib Dems and hence Sir Graham in the process. The fact he has worked his socks off on his constituents behalf will not even enter the equation: they will reject the party and along with it the man. In the worst case scenario we will see the advance of UKIP which would be a disaster for Gibraltar. Gibraltar needs to be in Europe not out. We need more Europe not less.

What Gibraltar certainly needs is Sir Graham Watson back and of course I hope that the Labour candidate Clare Moody joins him. Yet the re-election of Sir Graham is vital because his track record on our behalf speaks for itself: he has ten years of knowledge of what makes Gibraltar tick and he knows how to fight the PP and EPP in Brussels.

I urge you to vote on May 22. I urge you to vote tactically to defeat the PP and EPP. I urge you to vote for either PES (Labour) or the ALDE (Lib Dem) candidates. You have only one vote: please use it and use it wisely.

Will the chief minister ever host a state dinner for the Spanish prime minister?

By David Eade

Will the dispute over the sovereignty of Gibraltar ever come to an end? It has been going on for over 300 years and whilst artillery sieges may have been replaced by border chaos there is no obvious end in sight.

The nature of the dispute has changed too. Not from the Spanish side which no sooner was the ink dry on the Treaty of Utrecht was claiming the Rock as an integral part of its territory. A claim it had hardly been keen to exercise in the years before 1704 when the Rock had been held by the Moors and then passed around to any Spanish noble who would have it.

Yet on the British -Gibraltarian side the change has been dramatic. The Rock has changed from being a fortress guarding the Strait to a small nation. Its people have passed from being colonials to Gibraltarians with their own inalienable right to self-determine their own future.

Against that scenario it is difficult to see a way forward given that neither side is going to give in. And yet...

I say "and yet" because I am sure like many readers I watched the Queen receive the Irish President at Windsor Castle on a State visit with Martin McGuinness, the former IRA Chief sat at the table with all the great and good of both nations.

The relationship between Britain and Ireland is a very curious one. Centuries of open conflict and bloodshed yet on a one-to-one basis the Irish and the English get on very well.

The Irish can vote in all UK elections, indeed Irish men and women sit and have sat in both the House of Commons and the Lords. British TV and radio stations are home to many famous Irish broadcasters and performers and at a basic level it was Irishmen who built the roads, railways and canals that transformed Britain in to an industrial nation.

As a Catholic growing up in London it was natural that many of my friends were Irish, my own family can trace its Dublin roots. I was in London during the IRA bombing campaigns of the 1970s yet there were no attacks on the Irish communities in our midst. I was in Dublin in the year the IRA assassinated the British Ambassador in 1976 yet in that period of "The Troubles" I was never insulted or attacked for being a Brit.

Ireland's troubles are far from over but the template of the "Good Friday" and other Agreements have been used in South Africa, the Basque region and elsewhere.

So how does that relate to here? At a one-to-one level the people of Gibraltar and their Spanish counterparts are close. Many Gibraltarians have Spanish surnames, many families have relations who are Spanish, many Gibraltarians live and shop in Spain, the links are strong and enduring once the politics are put aside.

So the Gibraltarians and the Spanish are just like the English and the Irish in that they can and do co-exist in harmony when you take the politics out of the equation.

So will there be a time when the Chief Minister of Gibraltar entertains the Prime Minister of Spain at a State banquet in St Michael's Cave just as we have seen this week at Windsor Castle?

Will the Prime Minister of Spain entertain with full honours the Chief Minister of Gibraltar in Madrid as a return gesture?

In the present climate it is difficult to see how a political solution will be reached - but then who foresaw the Queen dining with a former IRA Chief after that terrorist group blew up her cousin, the Earl of Mountbatten, in County Sligo in 1979?

Certainly not me - but they did!

Gibraltar must have a soccer stadium

By David Eade

I have written here recently on the proposed GFA stadium questioning whether Europa Point is the ideal spot and also arguing that people should have been far more involved in the decision on its location. However it never crossed my mind that there would be those who believe there should be no stadium at all because Gibraltar's team will never win.

That seems to be the view being expressed by some, hardly a great morale booster for the national team - and it certainly shocked me. Neither it is accurate. Also it is only by playing the big boys in the beautiful game that our minnows will at least become medium sized fish.

I was in Budapest at the weekend and drove past a new football stadium. The two Hungarians I was with were discussing the politics of the situation but I turned the conversation to an occasion that still reverberates with all English soccer supporters. I refer to November 25 1953 when the mighty Magyars humiliated England at Wembley Stadium 6-3.

At the time Hungary were the world's No 1 team and were on a 24-game unbeaten run. England was shown to be well behind the times in training and tactics and that humiliation went on to be the cause of the reinvention of how the game was played back home.

It was a Hungarian side whose heroes are still known today wherever the beautiful game is played: Ference Puskás, Sándor Kocsis, Zoltán Czibor and László Budaj. However, here's the thing. My Hungarian colleagues went on to say it had been downhill ever since and in recent years Hungary has not even qualified for the European or World Cups let alone been champions.

On Sunday I passed a massive mural commemorating that game on the side of a wall in a back street in central Budapest, as if it was a moment Hungarians savoured but were too embarrassed to display in public.

As I have also stated here before we know that in the initial years Gibraltar will be feeding fodder for the major sides of Europe and hence the UEFA dream could become a nightmare unless supporters remain strong. Gibraltarians have to back their team draw or lose and really celebrated when they win. However the national team should never believe that they have to take on the opposition and Gibraltarians.

When it comes to football I am tribal. I am not one of those who support Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea or Liverpool because they are the major team of the day. I am one of those staunch band of supporters who back my local team, one of the less glamorous teams: a team which probably loses more often than not but it is my team. I even know a number of people in Gibraltar who support Portsmouth: now there's real dedication. It is this tribal loyalty that Gibraltar needs too.

So here's what I am saying. Yes Gibraltar must have a soccer stadium. Yes Gibraltarians must be consulted. Yes it must be in the best location possible. And, yes, we must sing even when we are losing, which might be more often than not.

As Bill Shankly said: "Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that." So too should our passion and commitment be for our national side. We can't expect the lads to have those qualities on the pitch if we don't have them in the stands.

Incursions will increase due to flawed Foreign Office policy

by Leo Olivero

The Spanish President last week made a ridiculous and unbelievable doorstep comment in Brussels regarding the research vessel incident a few days earlier, Rajoy declaring ‘there wouldn’t be a repetition of the incident’.

If you believe that, you believe anything a Spanish politician tells, or you have zero concept concerning the incursions issue, frankly anyone would be just plain stupid to even think these illegal incidents at sea will ever stop, at least for the long foreseeable future.

Yet, on the same day Rajoy was playing to the media gallery in the Belgium capital it was a different story from the Guardia Civil in Madrid. As top GC commander made his own analyses the exact opposite to what Rajoy had said, saying the ‘Guardia Civil will continue to protect Spanish state vessels and all other functions in the same way as they have been doing, especially in what are Spanish national waters’.

Putting a Stop to Incursions Has Nothing Positive Going For it!

At the moment, putting a stop to these incessant illegal Spanish incursions into BGTW has nothing-positive going for it! In my opinion, incursions will not only continue, but also intensify as a direct result of the FCO’s passive and totally non- confrontational policy regarding this important issue!

There is no deterrent value to any part of the current policy by the FCO. Even the way incursions are outrageously classified into 3 distinct groups, merely confirms the pathetic manner this serious issue is being handled by London. So the fact that incursion continue, and will not stop, until something serious is done should will shock many in Gibraltar.

True to their word, over the weekend and just days after the incident last week the Guardia Civil were at it again playing provocative games inside the Western beach area with a mini flotilla of local enforcement vessels on tow attempting to deter them in imposing themselves in BGTW.

And yesterday morning there were multiple incursions by the Guardia Civil vessel and two ‘Salvamare vessels who were again testing the resolve of the local enforcements agencies who again implement an operation both on the western and eastern side of the Rock

With the British Government making their position clear, regarding what they think is the best policy to tackle Spanish incursions, not withstanding the fact that British efforts so far have miserable failed, in fact FCO policy regarding incursions is considered so passive and unreceptive to the situation that it encourages the Spaniards to continue making these illegal transgressions into BGTW.

Over many months it’s been made clear to London that the present Gibraltar policies regarding the frontier and incursions have failed and need change. This criticism has come from not only from here Gibraltar but by UK ministers and powerful governmental bodies like the Foreign Affairs and Environmental Committee’s who have both blasted David Cameron’s government for their poor performance in this respect.

Nothing Will Change According to FCO Top Two!

Having said that, it been made quite clear by William Hague and David Lidington that nothing is going to change and current policies will remain in place.

Mr Hague recently told the Foreign Affairs committee the United Kingdom Government has no intention to step up its efforts or do anything else to calm the continued Spanish hostilities against Gibraltar and its people!

If anything, Mr Hague confirmed what many here already knew and suspected. Particularly after months of total silence and inaction by the FCO and UK Government, ‘that absolutely nothing was going to happen from a UK Government perspective’ to effectively stop or persuade the Spanish Government, to at least improve things at the frontier or to quell the situation out in BGTW regarding incursions.

Hague said it was right for the UK to maintain the present stance. As it was right for the UK Parliament to debate these things and for parliamentary members to put forward alternative ways of proceeding, but did not want any new way or different policy stance on the part of the United Kingdom. Although, in the same breath he said

“We will continue to respond robustly, as we do, but continue to offer a way forward for all concerned.

Nearly a year ago the Queen during speech at the ceremonial opening of parliament mentioned Gibraltar, the Foreign Office later responded, saying that tensions over Gibraltar had increased in the last year due to a local fishing dispute and unlawful incursions by Spanish police and Naval vessels into British Gibraltar Territorial Waters. The FCO said its objectives are to maintain UK Sovereignty, ensure Gibraltar’s security and prosperity and calm tensions with the view to better cross-border relations and co-operation.

However, as much as I think the Queen’s at the time speech gave Gibraltar a welcomed boost, particularly after nearly three years of an intense anti-Gibraltar campaign by the Spanish government, which still continues. One important point she made reference the ‘Security’ of Gibraltar has been and still is poor with a less then convincing (enforced) role by the Royal Navy and coupled with the recent statements by Hague and Lidington leaves a static, unchanging and rather dangerous situation.

Passive UK Policy

Taking into account the latter comments by the two most senior officials at the FCO and coupled with the shallow manner in which we now know the foreign office classify Spanish incursion, can there be little wonder the incursions problem continues to be a constant problem and an issue of concern, where it matters, here in Gibraltar.

I also believe the stagnant UK policy over incursions will heighten tension and an increase or at least a continuation of these incidents. Especially With the warmer whether fast approaching, better sea conditions and the long hot summer not that far over the horizon. With the usual increase in of pleasure boats and craft enjoying the use local waters. I can envisage, in fact I expect more than one incident involving Spanish law enforcement agenciesParticularly after the Spaniards received have listened, recoded and was sent by word of mouth by Hague and Lidington another extension of their official free pass to come into British Gibraltar Territorial Waters with the full knowledge that nothing will happen.The Gibraltar Government, I suspect have been pressuring London to do more about the incursions problem, but must have been aware where the FCO stood on the matter. The UK in the form of the Royal Navy Gib Squadron are practically bystanders, except when they running after the spanish vessels and sending them those intimidating and chilling radio messages to leave BGTW, which in my opinion is a waste of time and valuable manpower.UK Wants no Trouble With Spain! I guess at the end of the day the Government and the people of Gibraltar will have to come to the conclusion, the UK obviously wants no kind of trouble with Spain, with too much at steak for both countries away from the Gibraltar problem. And would prefer a daily scenario of Guardia Civil incursions and violations of our sovereign waters with the Spanish fishing fleet ravaging our seas destroying our environment and at the same time making a mockery of our laws The Foreign Office in this respect has clearly put a pistol to the Government’s head! No one in Gibraltar wants a bloody war out in the bay or any other part of BGTW, what most people do expect is our territorial sovereign waters to be effectively defended, our laws respected and our environment protected from any Spanish unlawful activity. In previous similar reports in Panorama I have highlighted that to allow the police to enforce laws and effectively carry out their duties in local water, it is impossible whilst armed Guardia Civil vessels illegally enter BGTW as if it was their own, and not only obstruct local enforcement agencies, but take executive action. Something they do on most days, particularly when protecting fishermen or any other spanish vessel.One wonders what tragic incident will it take before effective measures are put in place to deter Spanish state vessels breaking International laws of the seas and repeated violations of British Sovereign Waters!

The next time a Spanish state vessel enters Gibraltar’s waters, Britain should extend the limit of those waters to 12 miles

By David Eade

The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, has been explaining to the media the latest incident in Gibraltar’s waters after the EU and Africa Summit ended in Brussels on Thursday.

Last week a Spanish State vessel entered our waters as well as a Guardia Civil escort. This was cause for the Foreign Office to yet again summon the Spanish Ambassador Federico Trillo for tea and biscuits. Severe punishment for any Spaniard!

Rajoy said he hoped that such an incident would not happen again. He said he would examine what happened so it wasn’t repeated. If Baroness Warsi is correct that is what Rajoy’s London mouthpiece Trillo told her “in secret” in November.

Then in a conciliatory voice Rajoy made the statement which you and I know means it will happen again, and at any time. “Tenemos formas diferentes de ver las cosas y alguna vez da lugar a estos incidentes.”

Well for once Rajoy was speaking the straight truth: we have different ways of seeing these things.

The Spanish way is that under the Treaty of Utrecht it takes the view that Gibraltar has no territorial waters other than those of the original harbour.

The British, Gibraltarian and it has to be said international view is markedly different. The UN Convention of the Seas recognizes British Gibraltar Territorial Waters and the limit currently stands at three miles. Under the same convention Britain has the international right to extend that to 12 miles were applicable.

Spain is a signatory to the UN Convention but added a clause that it did not recognize the claim for Gibraltar. This clause has no legal standing because you cannot sign a UN Convention and then tack on exclusions. The only place that exclusion is recognized is in Madrid.

So Rajoy will take the view that Spanish State vessels be they scientific, the Guardia Civil or the Armada have every right to enter the waters around the Rock because they are Spain’s.

Britain, with international backing, will send out its patrols to escort these intruders away because they are British Gibraltar waters.

“Tenemos formas diferentes de ver las cosas y alguna vez da lugar a estos incidentes.”

I wrote here on Friday that it is my belief that the only way to bring Spain in to line is for Madrid to realise that actions against Gibraltar do have an impact on Anglo Spanish relations. In other words the next time a Spanish State vessel enters our waters Trillo is sent packing.

One other thing. The next time a Spanish State vessel enters British Gibraltar Territorial Waters then Britain should extend the limit of those waters to 12 miles. Immediately.

The international law of the seas is on our side. It will send a message to Madrid that Britain takes its international waters around the Rock seriously as has no intention of being pinned in to the old harbour. It would also allow larger Royal Navy vessels to be deployed in defence of those waters.

“Tenemos formas diferentes de ver las cosas y alguna vez da lugar a estos incidentes.”
 


Menos tapas y vino tinto, old chaps

Blimey, que sipisape se armo off Europa Point the other night.

Don't tell me, was it to do with el new stadium?

Of course not, it's not all football these days, my dear, o no te enterate del stand-off cuando llego un Spanish state vessel y empezo a trabajar as if it was in Spanish waters.

Right, yes me entere, y tambien me dijeron que hubo un collision between una lancha del RGP y un vessel de la Guardia Civil.

Not only that pero there was a slight injury to a sailor, aunque the authorities are keeping quiet about el choque y el injury porque, it could have been worse.

It will be worse one of these days, unless el Foreign Office allows the MOD to take the action they have to take, my dear.

Es que todo esto se esta convertiendo en un cachonfinger. Y los Spanish dicen que they are going to carry on entering our waters, conque los del Foreign Office had better wake up.

Y el choquesito de la otra noche could get worse. Segun los de la Guardia Civil hubo un peligro serio de choque de embarcaciones, so there you are.

Bueno, the answer is quite simple. What they have to do is stay in their waters and stop invading ours. Con tanta agua que rodea a Spain, haven't they got enough but to come here to mess ours.

Tiene razon, pero lo que pasa is that all the Spanish hear is that the waters are theirs y se lo creen!

That is why que what los del British Embassy in Madrid have to do es dejarse de comer tantas tapas y tomar vino tinto, and send out a press release explaining that the waters are as British as Big Ben.

Claro que si. Bueno hija, let's see que nos trae this week. Ta, ta.

Adios mi alma.

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