The time has come to write about the issue of sovereignty. this is an issue that has dogged life in Gibraltar since the inception of British rule. It continues to dominate politics, so much so that it distorts politics to the detriment of all of us who live and work here.
Should we not forget the issue altogether and concentrate on policies that benefit Gibraltar and its people? In truth, none of the political debates on the subject of relations with Spain take Gibraltar anywhere. All it is is inter-party propaganda for one or other party to either achieve better results in elections or counteract any advantage another party might try and gain opportunistically.
It also divides where there is no division. There is no division because no one wants any change. All want to remain British. It is Spain not Gibraltar that has the problem. Why react to it? Why do politicians bring the argument to the fore?
Could it be that it distracts from real issues, real problem, real political failures that constantly surround us? Not so long ago it used to be said that the Franco regime used to raise the Gibraltar issue simply to distract the Spanish people from the actual problems faced by them and Spain. Could this be what our political classes are doing? Distracting us from their failures?
Where are we on the sovereignty issue? The fear this blogger has is that we are not at the place where our politicians tell us we are. They tell us that we defeated the joint sovereignty agreement and that it has gone away. Does this conclusion bear scrutiny? The Rt. Hon. Jack Straw's statement to Parliament that he had reached broad agreement with Spain has not been retracted ever. At the time implementation was delayed due to 4 reasons given. The fundamental reason was the refusal by the UK to share control of the military base with Spain.
A part of that agreement was that, after implementation, Spain was to encourage and promote good relations so that over a period of time, thought to be about 25 years, the entrenched views of Gibraltarians might mellow and lead to a full transfer of sovereignty. What may have happened is that, due to the inability to implement the joint sovereignty agreement, it has been put away temporarily only to be dusted and taken out when all hurdles are overcome either by time or further negotiation.
In the meantime the softening up process that was to follow its implementation may have been activated by Spain in the guise of ... yes you have guessed it ... the Tripartite Process. The GSD promotes it. The GSLP are not sure whether to object to it but criticise everything that comes out of it. Gibraltar merrily ignores the potential for advances made by Spain in the Tripartite Process that work only to undermine Gibraltar's strengths.
It is difficult to deny that Gibraltar has made a simple choice (whether one agrees with it or not). The choice is to remain British. That choice having been made there is no room for the Tripartite Process. It can only chip away at our negotiating position and undermine our ability to negotiate in the future in the unlikely event that we would want to do so with Spain. The world around us is changing. Europe is changing even faster. These changes may lead us to such a different place that Spain's claim will evaporate. Let us live with our neighbour Spain within the understanding that exist already today and with the minor inconveniences that remain. Its not that bad!
This would not require a continuation of the Tripartite Process. It makes it redundant. In any event if there is a change in government in Spain to the PP, they will abandon the process themselves. For once let us do what is obviously right and good for Gibraltar.