London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson once visited Gibraltar, a feat he has today shared with readers of the Maily Telegraph, in exchange for the trifling amount of £5,000 in “chicken feed”. And, dontcha know, it was just like the Monty Python travel agent sketch, with fish and chips, melted ice cream, and Watney’s bleeding Red Barrel.
Crikey chaps, Gibraltar ... near Spain isn't it? Yikes, long time ago ... what was I drinking? Or even thinking? Oo-er! Cripes!!
Sadly, from that point, Bozza goes swiftly downhill, as might be expected from a pundit whose witterings are dashed off while awaiting Sunday luncheon, and do not get checked for their veracity by whoever at the Telegraph draws the long straw and has to knock his copy into some kind of coherent prose fit for Monday’s paper. And the first deviation from the facts comes with the cause of the ruckus.
“The Spanish authorities have decided, for no good reason, to revive the border checks and general harassment of the Franco epoch”. Bullshit. Gibraltar is not part of the Schengen zone, and so border controls are in place – as they are for anyone arriving in or departing from mainland UK. No revival has taken place: the Spanish authorities are just taking a lot longer over it.
It gets worse: “Forget all this palaver about a few concrete blocks that have been dumped in the sea ... this isn’t a row about fish”. And again I call bullshit, as that is exactly what it’s about, as I pointed out yesterday. So when Bozza blusters “I am afraid that this is a blatant diversionary tactic by Madrid” he demonstrates that he has not bothered to find out what is going on.
Those concrete blocks, as I mentioned previously, were dropped into the Bay of Algeciras without the Spanish – or the British – being informed beforehand. It is an area where fishermen from nearby La Linea catch shellfish, mullet and sea bream. It is their livelihood. And the Gibraltar authorities have just cut it off, seemingly without being overly fussed about the consequences.
So when Bozza says “Today the unemployment rate in La Línea is 36 per cent”, this is bullshit thrice over: that rate just went up a few points, as it had around 400 added to those out of work after those “few concrete blocks” got “dumped in the sea”. Heck, Bozza even gets his Royal Navy fleet deployment wrong: “HMS Illustrious is about to bristle into view on the southern coast of Spain”.
Very good Bozza, and where is Illustrious going to stop over? Not in Gibraltar. The ship will sail into Rota (Cadiz). In Spain. And quit telling readers that this is all about the EU, and the Euro, and that if only Spain re-adopted the peseta, all would be magically healed. It doesn’t matter what currency Spain is using, those 400 fishermen would still have been chucked out of work.
Still, it keeps him busy and away from fouling up London. So that’s all right, then.
When BoJo talks about 'a blatant diversionary tactic by Madrid', I don't think he's making it up. I just think he's telling a half truth.
If he'd said 'a blatant diversionary tactic by London and Madrid', he'd have hit the nail on the head.
I doubt whther the matters at issue really make either Cameron's or Rajoy's list of the top ten things to worry about.
Giving the public somebody other than the government to get angry with ... well that HAS always been a top priority for Cameron. It doesn't matter whether it's benefit claimants allegedly living it up, unemployed single mums jumping the housing queue and bagging mansions, or swan-eating illegal immigrants coming for our jobs and benefits, or dastardly Spaniards threatening our plucky little rock, the issue itself is minor, but it generates enough outrage to divert attention from whatever those in power are doing badly or failing to do at all (to be fair, I'm not sure that Labour, on present form, would be far behind in the scapegoating race). And if a bit of tough talk keeps the Tory Europhobes happy, all the better.
And as for Rajoy, I'm sure he'd love to see Spanish people getting angry about Gibraltar, as opposed, say, to corruption and unemployment.
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