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Saturday 10 August 2013

Gibraltar – What They’re Not Telling You

[Update at end of post]

As the war of words over border checks continues, the more gung-ho part of the British press has put out a firm and consistent message over the dispute between Spain and Gibraltar: it’s the rotten foreigners’ fault, we’re in the right, and you shouldn’t pay any attention to the Spanish press, because it’s all lies. And, as with much of their domestic coverage, this is mostly crap.
Even the visit of some Royal Navy ships to Gibraltar in the next few days is being talked up – note that the Daily Mail has even supplied a Dad’s Army style graphic showing a big red arrow pointing at southern Spain – as some kind of show of force to Johnny Foreigner, whereas the Cougar 13 exercise had been planned some time previously. The ships are on their way to the Gulf.

And here we find the first nugget of information that the press isn’t telling its readers: not all the Royal Navy ships are stopping off in Gibraltar. HMS Illustrious, apparently being too large for the anchorage there, is instead stopping over at Rota, just off Cadiz. Yes, it’s visiting Spain. And the Spanish authorities have no problem with this. This is not another Falklands conflict.

But the main item not being relayed by the British press is the reason for the extra border controls that have delayed traffic going in and out of The Rock recently. To find this out, you need to look at, er, the Spanish press (you thought “don’t look at the Spanish press” was some kind of benign advice? More fool you). And El Pais helpfully provides an English edition for this purpose.

The additional border controls are a specific response to the Gibraltar authorities dropping what they call an “artificial reef” into the Bay of Algeciras, which is stopping Spanish fishermen going about their business. This, Spain alleges, is in direct contravention of the 1999 agreement between Spain and Gibraltar on fishing rights in the waters around The Rock.

Why the press is not letting its readers know this, I will leave up to you to figure out. What is also not being relayed to us here in the UK is that Spanish PM Rajoy is taking a relaxed attitude to the matter, and is not changing his or his Government’s plans during the holiday season. Anyone thinking that the authorities in Madrid are going to jump when Young Dave calls have another think coming.

And some of the punditry has been beyond lame, not least Nile “Chauncey” Gardiner at Telegraph blogs, telling that Spain will bemaking life as difficult as possible for the people of Gibraltar, while drumming up support for its position in southern Europe – appealing to Portugal, Greece and Italy for example”. The Portuguese, Greeks and Italians have no interest in the dispute whatever. None. Zero. Nada.

Gardiner’s idiocy is typical: keep the readers ignorant. No change there, then.

[UPDATE 1745 hours: as Jon Worth has pointed out, the stopping and checking of traffic crossing frontiers is no more than what happens to anyone entering and leaving the UK, as anyone crossing the Channel, using Eurostar, or standing in line for yet more airport passport queues will know.

As he points out, if Gibraltar were to join the Schengen zone, there would not be a problem, and, as Spain is a signatory, this would be an ideal way of calling Madrid's bluff. But it probably won't happen, as Gibraltar is a Crown Dependency and the UK is not going to join Schengen, given the migration paranoia of the Fourth Estate.

Strangely, other EU member states, and Switzerland, have no problem with maintaining border security while being part of the Schengen zone. But, hey-ho, that's what happens when you allow attention seeking politicians and newspaper editors to dictate policy]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

No need to panic unless Cameron is seen playing bowls on Plymouth Hoe.