|Gibraltar as seen from mainland Spain.|
Recently a friend of mine who lives in
emailed me to ask how things were over here in Spain
vis à vis the Gibraltar brouhaha. Well, folks,
here on the average Spanish street,
there is no Gibraltar issue. Spaniards tend to
pasarlo por el forro de los cojones,
in other words, they couldn’t give a poo. What is interesting, however, is how
the whole issue throws light on various national tendencies and
First, though, a little bit of history. Gibraltar became a British colony in 1713, when the
UK traded Menorca
for it under the Treaty of Utrecht. Today this might seem like a rather bad deal
but we must not forget that Gibraltar is at the mouth of the Mediterranean and
as such was of huge strategic significance when had an Empire and wars to
fight. Now, however, with the advent of nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers,
long-range bombers, cruise missiles &c. and the Britain US
7th Fleet just up the coast in Rota, Gibraltar
is, in strategic terms, quite unnecessary. And here the problem begins.
Plenty of room for ciggies in the
And troublesome it most certainly is. In my humble opinion it is more a reason for shame than for national pride. It is home to money-launderers, smugglers, tax-dodgers and online gambling companies. If anyone could explain to me where the huge number of teenage chavs driving around the streets of
(yes, there is more than one street – just!) got the money for their fully boom-boxed
up BMW M3s and tuned-to-the gills American trucks, I would be grateful. I can’t explain it - legitimately. Gibraltar is the distilled essence of all that is bad in
In the past, Gibraltar had its uses for us Brits in
it was a place to go and stock up on tea, Cheddar cheese, Digestive biscuits,
creme eggs, cheap duvets and whatnot. Now, however, such delicacies (except
creme eggs) are to be had in Mercadona, an omnipresent Spanish supermarket. Duvets etc. are on sale in IKEA at even lower prices in Seville
in Gib., especially if we take into consideration the murderous euro/pound
exchange rate unscrupulously exacted on the unwary traveller by money-grabbing
Gibraltarian shop owners. Even the Gibraltarians go food and furniture shopping in Jerez Spain – mainly to . Jerez
Spanish Fishermen with their
illegal nets? Spanish ciggy
smugglers? Depends on the day,
But to the present “problem”. This is nothing more than posturing on all sides for political gain and summer headlines. In my opinion the Gibraltarian government comes off morally the worst. The present kerfuffle was provoked by the dropping of 70 concrete blocks in disputed waters. The ever-rapacious Spanish fishermen whine that it will destroy their livelihood, instead of letting them continue to do it quite efficiently for themselves with their illegal nets etc. They should be happy. They might be able to squeeze yet another subsidy out of the central government, paid for out of the taxes of those of us still in economically productive work. If not, they can always go back to their day job of smuggling hashish and ciggies from, yes you’ve guessed it, jolly old Gib. The Gibraltarian eco-warrior government is so obviously acting in defence of the little fishies that this probably has nothing to do with its own internal popularity ratings or general Spain-baiting bloody-mindedness.
|A bristling gunboat. Hooray!|
Gibraltar's government is like a spoilt little brat throwing (in this case almost literally) stones at the bigger boys and then running to hide behind his older brother when the nasty bigger boys come chasing after him. Poor older brother! Through no fault of his own, he finds himself embroiled in playground squabbles that really shouldn’t concern him – or is he such an unwilling participant? It would seem not. The British government has sent gunboats “bristling over the horizon” to quote Boris. And we all know there is nothing quite so popular in Britain as sending a gunboat - preferably with the band of the Royal Marines playing on deck as it leaves port - somewhere to frighten Johnny Foreigner and, if necessary, give him what for. It’s a good job we’ve still got some gunboats left – for the moment. It might, however, be rather difficult to give the greasy Dagoes what for, considering that they are our NATO allies.
Keeping the Empire - and Spain - out
of the hands of Johnny Foreigner at
the British taxpayer's expense.
Let us now look at the Spanish government, struggling in the mesh of a series of corruption scandals. What better way to bury an inconvenient story than to unite the people behind a truly grand national issue such as the sovereignty of a pirates’ nest just off the coast of one of Spain’s most economically depressed provinces? This is one of the oldest tricks in the politicians’ books: to unite a nation, find a common enemy. It worked really well for Bismarck and Hitler. However, were
Spain to succeed in
regaining Gibraltar, It would find itself with
a huge new drain on its defence budget. Yes, British taxpayer, you are paying
millions to defend southern Spain
from Maghreb aggression. Mainland Britain sure as hell is not on the Maghreb radical Islamists’ shopping list of territory in
the hands of Infidels. Al-Andalus most definitley is. The newly-taxed ciggies
might go some way to meeting the cost, but not very far.
Orf for a jolly time in Sotogrande
to spend some of our tax-free
is at present
cutting off its Rock to spite its face. All of those Gibraltarians who have
holiday homes on the Spain Costa del Sol or in the Sotogrande millionaire’s country club, as well as those who shop in Spanish hypermarkets and malls
are now being discouraged from doing so by the hours-long waits at the
frontier. I have seen this with my own eyes at the almost deserted shopping mall. Thus
the Spanish government is further depressing the depressed Jerez .
Obviously, they will still be letting the ambulances through so that the poor,
persecuted Gibraltarians can continue to enjoy the high standard of service
offered by the Andalusian Health Service – better than any I have ever seen in
the NHS. And obviously without contributing to the costs. Guess who does that, O
British taxpayer? province of Cádiz
All in all, then, this latest episode of tri-partite jingoism is serving the politicians on all sides quite nicely while costing the British and Spanish taxpayers money that they can ill afford on the mock defence/siege of a limestone outcrop that would be better off as Spanish province. It’s a pity we didn’t hang on to
Menorca; at least we might have first dibs on the
sunloungers before the Germans.
Probably a lot more polite than some of
Gibraltar's "finest" - see footnote 2.
 A note for the British tourists: British pounds are legal tender in Gib, but the same is not true of Gibraltarian pounds in GB.
 A personal anecdote: Once when entering
in my Spanish registered car, a PC snapped his fingers and whistled at me as if
calling a dog over. When I got out and remonstrated with him over such
discourteous behaviour, his excuse was “I thought you were Spanish”.