I have been writing a weekly column on Gibraltar for around 16 years. I try my hardest to reflect matters relating to the Rock rather than any opinion of my own. I have only one mantra I believe in the right of the people of Gibraltar to self determine their own future be it British, Spanish, joint sovereignty, independent, some federation within the EU – whatever.
As a former British colony and now I presume a British territory I believe the people of Gibraltar should have the right to expect frequent visits from the Royal Family in the same way that the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa are visited by Spain’s Royal Family.
I have seen the Red Arrows numerous times, I first went to a Battle of Britain air show at Biggin Hill in 1956 when memories of the encounter were still fresh in people’s memories and I am proud to have served in the auxiliary wing of the Royal Air Force.
So why am I telling you all this. Simply because I was “uneasy” over the display by the Red Arrows and British military aircraft over the Rock last Saturday. Please note I was “uneasy” not disgusted, alarmed or appalled but just “uneasy”.
Now there has been plenty of air shows in recent weeks in Málaga and Cádiz and true I was not “uneasy” about them. But as I drove on the road above Torreguadiaro yesterday and looked towards the Rock and Europa Point I was left with an “uneasy” feeling about how the display must have been seen from nearby Spain.
I fully understand the jubilation in Gibraltar at both the Red Arrows and other military aircraft taking to the skies to celebrate the Battle of Britain. I appreciate the feeling of pride that seeing the red, white and blue smoke spread across the sky must have engendered in the people of the Rock, a people who are denied all too often the basic visits from British Royals that their history and loyalty deserves. None-the-less I was “uneasy” - but not disgusted, alarmed or appalled but just “uneasy”.
The air display generated a predictable response from José Ignacio Landaluce, the opposition Partido Popular MP for Cádiz which includes the border region with Gibraltar. He said the air show was a “warning” from Gibraltar adding “Gibraltar and the UK get together to make our country feel inferior, making it clear who gives the orders in the colony.” He also told the Spanish Parliament that Spain had to stand first against “the expansionist pretentions of Gibraltar”.
Señor Landaluce is an idiot.
However I was still “uneasy” - not disgusted, alarmed or appalled - but just “uneasy”.
Photo: Panorama – for Gibraltar’s online reports on the air display and other news click on “Panorama” in the links box.