Thursday, September 24, 2009


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.


chiripi said...

... and that is what makes us liberal as well as Liberal, we are uneasy, we are not disgusted, alarmed or apalled ... All the best to all you fellow Woolies out there

PROSPERO said...

As someone commented on JimenaPulse (in an otherwise insulting comment and thus unpublished): "Landaluce ¿por qué no te callas?"

Pip said...

I am very proud to be allowed to live in Spain , a country with such a rich and diverse cultural history, and to be embraced by strangers into their community as if I had lived here all my life.
I have heard the arguements over the sovereignty rights to the rock of Gibraltar and gone away to research the subject myself.
I have heard from the die hards who believe Gibraltar " belongs " to Spain and those who think otherwise. I have even heard from the Spanish who understand the resentment felt as a result of Spanish involvement in Ceuta and Melilla, so much so that they believe that if they are to regain sovereignty in Gibraltar, then consideration must be given to renouncing their claim over the two regions of northern Marocco.
If the world had to revert to what a few die hards want then there would be utter turmoil let alone total unrest. It is not a matter of who we were, it is who we are here and now. Was it not the Spanish in 2002 who sent in a gun boat to remove a Moroccan presence from a rock in Spanish waters off of Morocco. Was it not the Spanish who reinforced its military presence on the Chafarinas Islands off the coast of Morocco amid growing tensions over another island. The at the time Prime Minister Aznar stated " We will make all possible diplomatic efforts to restore the rule of international law ". These actions were seen by the Spanish to be lawful and quite rightly so, but was it not just making the Moroccans " feel inferior " and hopefully back off, " and making it clear who gives the orders in the colony ". Sad to say if the reputedly best aerobatic team in the world is thought of as threat to someone´s esteem then they are very short sighted indeed. The Red Arrows are, at present, the best and everyone else comes second including the Spanish.
When the public went to see the Red Arrows in Gibraltar, I believe the last thing on their minds was anything to do with having an inferiority complex or remotely associated with politics at all. It was more a joining of all walks of society to see and enjoy being entertained by an incredible air display team. The feedback I have personally received has been all positive (except for the lack of contingency plans to cope with the overwhelming public attendance).
I believe one mans political views have to be, in this case, treated with the contempt that they deserve.