It’s time for Spain to grow up and accept the will of the people of Gibraltar

Does Spain really need another territory that doesn’t want to be Spanish?

The rekindling of the dispute over Gibraltar is a big step backwards after the progress made by Spain’s previous socialist government’s growing acceptance of Gibraltar’s independence.

At a time when Spain faces record unemployment levels, exceeding 25 per cent, it is depressingly unsurprising that the government should opt for an irredentist approach to Gibraltar so as to divert public anger.

I have written previously on how President Kirchner has used the Falklands to try and distract Argentinians from the country’s economic woes. Meanwhile far-right parties in Europe spur on irredentist nationalism. Jobbik advocate a ‘Greater Hungary‘ and Golden Dawn call for the liberation of southern Albania.

A basic reading of 20th century history reminds us how potent a mix economic uncertainty and irredentism can be.

While Spain is far from the extreme fringes of expansionist nationalism, it is nevertheless unfortunate that time and time again the people of Gibraltar are subject to delegitimisation, isolation, and burdens placed on them by Madrid.

For forty years the border with Spain was closed after the fascist dictator, Franco, reasserted Spain’s claims over the Rock. Since then Gibraltarians have had their territory violated by the Spanish air force and navy, challenges placed to their right to vote in EU elections, opposition to joining UEFA , excessive border checks, and now threats to charge a fee for crossing the border and the preventing of flights to Gibraltar from using Spanish airspace.

Gibraltar has been British since the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, a treaty recognised in international law. Even if one questions Britain’s actions in the War of Spanish Succession, bear in mind that southern Spain wasn’t ‘Spanish’ until the Reconquista – a process that led to the forced assimilation and inquisition of the Moorish and Jewish inhabitants.

If it seems hypocritical of Spain to question Gibraltar’s independence on that basis, then how much more inconsistent is it that Spain currently occupies Ceuta and Melilla in Morocco – despite the fact Morocco claims them?

We must respect that the majority of the inhabitants are Spanish and for that reason Spain, rightly, refuses to negotiate their freedom away – but why does Spain continue to insist that the future of Gibraltar does not concern the Gibraltarians and is simply a bilateral issue?

Referendums held in 1967 and 2007 showed 99.64 per cent in favour of British sovereignty and 98.48 per cent against dual sovereignty, respectively. The British government has now refused to negotiate on the future of Gibraltar without the permission of the inhabitants.

In 2000, Gibraltar issued a statement that called for ‘neighbourly relations with Spain’ and, crucially, that ‘Gibraltar is neither Spain’s to claim nor Britain’s to give away’.

The Socialist Labour Party is the governing party of Gibraltar – one of three major parties – none of which advocate any change from the status quo. Spain on the other hand has separatist movements in seven regions, a protracted conflict in the Basque Country and a growing push for independence in Catalonia – with a million taking to the streets calling for secession.

Does Spain really need another territory that doesn’t want to be Spanish?

This year marks 300 years of British rule in Gibraltar – a cause of celebration across the Rock. With this anniversary in mind, it is time for Spain to grow-up and accept the will of the people of Gibraltar.

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22 Responses to “It’s time for Spain to grow up and accept the will of the people of Gibraltar”

  1. Mainake Málaga

    time to say bye to Spain. British GO HOME! Gibraltar is SPAIN!

  2. Alex Ross

    How surprising…a silly right-wing nationalist twat! From the country that brought us General Franco!!

    (In our country calling for people to “go-home” is normally associated with the racist far-right).

  3. S&A

    That’s an awesome idea, cono. Are you going to ethnically cleanse the rock as well, just like you did with the Moriscos back in the day?

    Grow up.

  4. David Lindsay

    The United Kingdom already stretches to Shetland. Why not also to Gibraltar? The Spanish enclaves in North Africa, which predate and have never been part of the Kingdom of Morocco, are fully integrated into Spain, complete with MPs at Madrid.

    But I am increasingly at a loss as to why an economically viable, and already almost entirely self-governing, distinctive community, the Genoese, Catalan, Sephardic, Maltese, Portuguese and Minorcan roots of which are all reflected in its remarkable local dialect, does not simply declare itself independent and stop caring about treachery from London. Even though that mix is entirely a product of British sovereignty. Including the only permanent Sephardic community still in existence on the Iberian Peninsula. Britain did that.

    Let those be the two options at a referendum in Gibraltar: incorporation into the United Kingdom, which now allows for the continuation of considerable internal self-government; or independence. It is only a pity that that referendum could not have been held in this tercentenary year of British Gibraltar.

    The Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party was founded out of the trade union movement, and specifically out of the T&G (now Unite), in order to secure for the British workers of Gibraltar the same pay and conditions enjoyed by other British workers. Under Joe Bossano, first elected for the Integration With Britain Party, it won the 1992 Election with 72 per cent of the vote under the slogan, “Give Spain No Hope”, which was not at all what the Major Government had wanted to hear. But the Major Government is back now.

    To support a foreign interest against a British one would be to descend to the level of Margaret Thatcher, with her Single European Act, her Anglo-Irish Agreement, her refusal to recognise the Muzorewa Government while she held out for the Soviet-backed Nkomo as if he would have been any better than Mugabe, and her open invitation to Argentina to move into the Falkland Islands that she could not at that point locate on a map.

  5. David Lindsay

    On the desire for a monument to the ILP Contingent, which went to Spain in order to fight Fascism, but whose members were killed there by the agents of Stalinism –

  6. Philip

    While I agree with the general points made in this post it must be said that Gibraltar is hardly innocent in all of this. Its tax havenry and tolerance of cross border crime is a significant problem. I agree that Spain have no legitimate claim to sovereignty and that it’s all really just sabre-rattling intended to distract the public from their real problems but Spain do have some legitimate grievances against Gibraltar and Britain. Pretty much the same situation with regard to the Falklands and Argentina – not legitimate claim to sovereignty but some justified grievances.

  7. Alex Ross

    Yes…that’s quite a sensible position. It would be very nice if we could separate the legitimate issues of dispute (fishing, cross border crime or oil reserves) in each case (Falklands and Gibraltar) and deal with them maturely through the proper channels, whilst eschewing the silly nationalistic temper-tantrums (which currently seem to emanate mostly from Argentina and Spain – even though they are something the UK often excels at given the opportunity…).

    The immediate intuitive response of the left on these issues (just canvassing a few friends) is very strange to me…as if it is *only* the UK which can ever be considered an “oppressor state” and that the histories of fascism in both Argentina and Spain and the fact that both states have engaged in appalling acts of colonialist violence have to be put to one side…

  8. Alec

    I’ll take your point about the obstreperousness of the Gibraltarian government (although personally would compare it with not much more than an uppity town council in Blighty), but I’d be interested to hear what the Kelpers have done wrong.


  9. Richard Gadsden

    Gibraltar: Spanish for 242 years, British for 309 and counting.

    751 years under the Moors, more than Spain and Britain combined, so perhaps we should return it to Morocco?

  10. Colin A

    Hasn’t there been a sort of perfect storm with this issue where both the UK Government and the Spanish government has had cause to hope for a bruising little argument? I mean, before this, there was the matter of the racist vans driving around London, and the legitimate problem for the government of officials demanding ID from perfectly innocent citizens that happened to be non-white. At the same time, the Spanish PP had its corruption scandal that touched even the Prime Minister, who had to testify in their parliament.

    I see it as thus; both PM:s had ample cause to prolong this diversion and play up the fight in order to deflect attention from local difficulties.

  11. Howard Fuller

    I’m just wondering if Spain is going to be principled enough to give back Ceuta and Melilla, their enclaves in Morocco in case anyone has forgotten about them. I recall their argument against this continued presence (which the Moroccans call anachronistic) was that they were an “integral part of Spain”. Whilst Gibraltar……….

  12. Philip

    How many councils in Blighty have their residents pay only 30% income tax and actively work to undermine the tax and regulation regimes of jurisdictions, including the UK?

  13. Alec

    Dunno, and can’t be arsed finding out. Back to my question…


  14. Philip

    Well, none, which was the point!

  15. Alec

    So why did you: a) say there was some germ of legitimate grievances against the Kelpers; b) go on to expand on this with the tax arrangements?


  16. Basque_Spaniard

    The fascism of spain?? Thats what all out of spain says. Spain under General Franco was military government. The more fanatic fascists were destroyed in the Blue Division. Even if you contact any fascists in spain they will say that with Franco they felt happy but they didn´t have the influence that wanted to have.
    The political party in that times were a coalition of extreme-right, conservatives, liberals, military and the Catholic Church.
    General Franco position against allies was neutrality he only support the axes in the war against soviet union. Even in the war of japan Franco support USA.
    When Allies and Soviet Union won against germany, the soviet Union asked to the allies to invade spain and the allies said no.
    The allies have the control of spain very well.
    The allies have planned everything even in the future of spain. USA and UK wanted to reestablished the monarchy in spain because the knew the danger of the comunist in spain. USA has a very fluent contact with spain.

  17. Basque_Spaniard

    Moorish occupisation of gibraltar: 711-1309
    Spanish ocupation: 1309-1333
    Moorish reocupation: 1333-1462
    Spanish reocupation:1462-1704
    British ocupation:1704-…
    Spanish ocupation: 266 years
    Marocco didn´t exist in the moorish ocupation it was the almohads empire.
    The reconquista was the war between spaniards and moors.
    The moor were invaders.

  18. Michael Noonan

    This phoney, contrived crisis over Gibraltar, is just a graphic indication of the hole that the Spanish government is in. It is in an economic mess, with huge levels of unemployment, and the government has been rocked by a number of scandals. This crisis has been deliberately, and one might say cynically manufactured by the Spanish government in order to divert
    public attention from problems at home. It is the classic diversionary tactics
    that desperate regimes have been known to indulge in; so that they can wave the
    flag and play the nationalistic card. (As well as being a piece of prize
    humbug, when one considers that Spain has enclaves, similar to Gibraltar, on
    the coast of Morocco, that it has no intention of negotiating about, or of changing
    their status). Though it’s a tactic we normally associate with dictatorships
    and juntas – as with the Argentinian invasion of the Falkland Islands – rather
    than a modern, Western democracy.

  19. Iestyn ap Robert

    BTW the frontier was closed between 1969 and 1982 for pedestrians and 1985 for vehicles. That’s not 40 years…

  20. Mikko

    Oh dear, how hispano-centric. Nobody existed before Spain…. Talk about a Francoist world-view…

  21. Mikko

    Spain has learnt nothing and still thinks everything revoklves around the RC Church and the “eternal Spain”, unchanging and unmoving. How sad. That is the Francoist inheritance.

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