There is no issue more guaranteed to set those of a right-leaning persuasion off into an incoherent froth that when the Spanish authorities do anything that involves the word Gibraltar. So when one of their survey vessels entered what Gibraltarians consider to be their territorial waters the other day, and the press found out, a veritable why-oh-why fest was inevitable.
The BBC, at least, gave a straight account: “The Royal Navy challenged a Spanish state vessel, the RV Romon Margalef, after it had conducted more than 20 hours of surveying. The Foreign Office said the ship's presence on Monday and Tuesday had been a ‘significant incursion’”. Was any maritime traffic disrupted as a result? Probably not. So it was another Spanish wind-up.
Indeed, the deeply subversive Guardian was positively disinterested: “Spanish government research ship entered Gibraltar waters on Monday and refused Royal Navy's orders to leave”. But the Maily Telegraph was utterly indignant: “Spanish ship in 'heated' standoff with Royal Navy in Gibraltar ... A Spanish survey ship has defied repeated orders from British forces to leave Gibraltar waters”.
And, to demonstrate its commitment to balance, the Tel added a pile of total crap from the Gibraltar Government, which, lest anyone forget, has been the author of its own misfortune by dumping a load of concrete blocks into disputed waters. “Gibraltar's chief minister suggests that shots could be fired if a Spanish ship entering the British territory's waters is mistaken for 'terrorists'”. Like heck.
What, for starters, are they going to fire with? Well, the Mail has the answer to that: “Tories demand extra troops to defend the rock from Spanish”. Wait, what? They invaded already? And that from “Bonking” Bob Stewart, who I used to think had his brain engaged at all times. Lads, lads, look: this is another wind-up, they’re all at it, and the EC advice – to engage and be constructive – is the only way to go.
Summoning the Spanish Ambassador, as happened yesterday afternoon, is totally OTT: it’s not as if they were listening in to Young Dave’s phone calls, eh? But some are all for good old hot-headed retaliation. Who? Here she comes: “Former Tory MP Louise Mensch added: ‘The next time a Spanish ship enters Gibraltarian waters and refuses to leave after Royal Navy warnings we should fire on them’”.
I’ve stopped short of calling Ms Mensch “stupid”, assuming that Oxford University did not let stupid people through its doors, but that made me think. And the Tweet that confirmed her stupidity was the magnificent “The EU is playing a very dangerous game over Spain at exactly the wrong time. Cameron’s hand will be strengthened in EU renegotiation”. Behold yesterday’s stupidest Tweet of the day.
Thankfully people like that are out of power, never to return. Good riddance, too.