‘The party is over’: events in Gibraltar

Yesterday’s news of escalating tensions over Gibraltar seemed a little more piquant after having watched Threads the night before. And there is certainly some sabre-rattling rhetoric to be heard, with a UKIP MEP, William Dartmouth, suggesting a warship or frigate be sent to the region, and Gibraltar’s First Minister, Fabian Picardo, observing that:

Britain had known how to defend the Falklands, and would know, if necessary, how to defend the people of Gibraltar.

Although Spain’s actions – talking of imposing border crossing fees, threatening to investigate Gibraltarians who own Spanish property, and closing Spanish airspace to flights heading for Gibraltar – may not seem to merit quite such belligerent responses, they are already having a negative impact on both Gibraltarians and their Spanish neighbours, many of whom work in Gibraltar and have been forced to wait for hours in searing heat on the border.

It is being suggested that the rhetoric has been ratcheted up in order to distract from Spain’s own corruption scandals and economic woes.  This is the view taken by Gemma Araujo, the Mayor of a Spanish town bordering Gibraltar.  She takes issue with the Spanish foreign minister who has warned that ‘the party is over’ for Gibraltar.

“His words were inappropriate,” said Ms Araujo, an MP for the opposition socialist party. “We should be working out ways of increasing the dialogue – while allowing for disagreements – rather than making things worse. We’re very concerned about it here.”

I was surprised to see that a majority of voters in a Telegraph poll thought that Gibraltar was Spanish rather than British. Presumably Spanish visitors account for this trend, with one leaving this extraordinary comment:

Hitler invaded Poland.
UK invaded Spain via Gibraltar.

Personally I agree with Robbie Travers:

Currently Spain and Britain claim sovereignty over Gibraltar. Gibraltar has been historically controlled by Spain and Britain, but in my opinion it must be noted that self-determination in the 21st century should be the method countries decide territorial disputes … In my opinion, the only fair outcome is that the United Kingdom, even from a neutral perspective, have the strongest claim. Spain have little model claims on Gibraltar. Perhaps the Spanish government should, instead of hampering business, work with Gibraltar and the United Kingdom government to boost the economy and therefore help international efforts toward a global recovery and international security.

Returning briefly to Threads – it was made at roughly the same time as the recently released text of a speech prepared for the Queen to deliver if nuclear war seemed imminent. This article highlights the political divisions which characterised the 1980s, and @al3xbrown noted an interesting feature of Threads – its (comparative) and actually quite surprising political neutrality.