Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Gibraltar and US agree exchange of tax information

Dow Jones Newswires reported this evening on a US Treasury announcement Tuesday that they have signed an agreement with the Government of Gibraltar that will allow the two countries to exchange tax information.

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Gibraltar's Chief Minister Peter Caruana signed the agreement in London in advance of the G20 meetings this week.

The agreement allows for the exchange of criminal tax information relating to any taxable year and civil tax information relating to taxable years beginning after 2008.

Additionally, it calls for Gibraltar to provide the US with information on bank accounts in Gibraltar.

Good to see the 'Chief' has moved very quickly and rather adeptly foiled any problems that were likely in the wake of the US Government and other countries looking at the so called 'fiscal paradises'!

There'll be some worried looks exchanged around Spain's 'elite' when they read about this! What are they going to bang on about now?? Maybe they should focus on where they put their own money!

In my Inbox today... the amazing story of Irena Sendler

The email that arrived in my inbox today was titled with the subject "Amazing Story... must read!"

With a cynical sigh (as we do)... I read on.

"The prize doesn't always go to the most deserving..." the email went on, "it goes to those who want to push the agenda."

Intrigued... I read on... to find this really IS an amazing story!

This is the story of a lady called Irena Sendler. The email said:

There recently was a death of a 98 year-old lady named Irena. During WWII, Irena, got permission to work in the Warsaw Ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist. She had an ' ulterior motive ' ... She KNEW what the Nazi's plans were for the Jews, (being German [sic - in fact she was Polish]).

Irena smuggled infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried and she carried in the back of her truck a burlap sack, (for larger kids.) She also had a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto. The soldiers of course wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the kids/infants noises.

During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 kids/infants.

Eventually of course, she was caught and the Nazis broke both her legs, arms and beat her severely.

Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she smuggled out and kept them in a glass jar, buried under a tree in her back yard. After the war she tried to locate any parents that may have survived it and reunite the family. Most, of course, had been gassed. Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted.

Last year Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize... She was not selected... as Al Gore won... for a slide show on Global Warming!

LET'S SEND THIS ONE AROUND THE WORLD!!!!!!!! GOD BLESS HER... May she rest in Peace.

Irena Sendler on Wikipedia

Irena Sendler
(in Polish also: Irena Sendlerowa; de domo Krzyżanowska; February 15, 1910 – May 12, 2008) was a Polish Catholic social worker.

During World War II, she was a member of the Polish Underground and the Żegota resistance organization in Warsaw.

Sendler saved 2,500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw Ghetto, providing false documents and sheltering them in individual or group children's homes outside the ghetto.

Her story was brought to light when students from Kansas found her story in a magazine and popularized it in a play, titled 'Life in a Jar'.

Life in a Jar

In 1999, Megan Stewart and her friends were inspired, by their high school history teacher Norman Conard in southeast Kansas, to investigate a small clipping on the life of an unsung hero, Irena Sendler.

When the students began their research, they found one website which mentioned her. Based on their findings, the students created a play, Life in a Jar (after her hiding place for documents).

After ten years, their play and the subsequent media attention had made her world famous. Read more...

Nobel nominee

In 2007, considerable publicity accompanied Sendler's nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.

While failed nominees for the award are not officially announced by the Nobel organization for 50 years, the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo reported in 2007 that Irena Sendler's nominator made public the nomination. Regardless of its legitimacy, talk of this nomination focused the spotlight on Sendler and her wartime contribution.

The 2007 award was presented to Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Read more...

Make sure Irena's amazing story goes around the world... share this (click 'SHARE' below) with your family and friends and ensure Irena receives the proper recognition and accolades she deserves!

USS Theodore Roosevelt on its way to G20 Summit

The US nuclear powered carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt transited out of the Mediterranean through the Strait of Gibraltar this afternoon.

The nuclear powered super-carrier is on its way to provide air cover for US President Barack Obama’s first official visit to the UK during the G20 Summit, following weeks of meticulous planning.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt will be within a day’s sail of Britain during the G20 summit.

The carrier comes equipped with an air wing of 90 aircraft including FA18 Super Hornet multi-role fighters and Sea Hawk helicopters capable of in-flight refueling.

The 90,000 ton carrier has completed a seven month tour supporting ground troops in Afghanistan where its aircraft flew 3,100 sorties dropping 60,000lbs of ordnance.

Images Credit

Images by kind permission of DM Parody © http://dotcom.gi/photos

Falkland Islands emphatic... 'We wish to remain British'

Last night I was interested to read a statement from the Falkland Islands government saying "we wish to remain British"!

Now... where have we heard that before? rolleyes

The Falkland Islands government statement was in response to last Saturday’s meeting in Chile, of UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

The two leaders met in Viña del Mar in the framework of the Progressive Governance conference and according to reports from both sides, 15 of the 35 minutes, on Argentine request, were absorbed by the Falkland Islands dispute.

Mrs Kirchner demanded that the United Kingdom complies with United Nations resolutions calling for talks to find a solution to the sovereignty conflict, while PM Brown stated what he had advanced before reaching Chile, that "there is nothing to discuss on the Falklands from our side" and emphasized the importance of self determination.

"Both sides agreed that they have differences of opinion", said a Foreign Office official following the Saturday meeting.

In their statement, the Falkland Islands government added:

“Whilst Britain and the Falkland Islands have moved on to a new relationship based on democracy and self-determination, our Argentine neighbors remain in a time warp, still pressing their anachronistic claim to territorial sovereignty. In short, they wish to colonize the Falkland Islands.

Falkland Islanders have expressed their views freely and unequivocally over many years. We wish to remain British. Our constitution enshrines the right to determine our own future. Surely no-one who supports democracy and human rights can oppose this?

It is regrettable that 27 years after the Falklands War it is still necessary to spell this out once again to yet another Argentine leader who hasn't realized that the world has changed and countries cannot ride rough-shod over the right to self-determination of free people.

We wish to remain British and the sovereignty issue is not for negotiation!"

Good for them... well said!

In solidarity with our 'brothers in arms', I've sent them my own greeting saying that "remaining in a time warp seems to be a hispanic trait... when it suits them!" I also mentioned that in Gibraltar, we've had to put up with 'anachronistic claims' to territorial sovereignty for over 300 years now!

It's about time both Argentina and Spain matured, came into the 21st century and started to respect and accept the democratically expressed wishes of both the Falklands and Gibraltar in our respective and emphatic expressions of self-determination!

My best wishes to our Falkland brothers in arms! cool

Monday, March 30, 2009

Wanna buy me a beer?

In my 'Contact Me' box and Contact Me page, where I offer you the opportunity to send me a message, I also say you can send me the usual death threats but that I prefer if you sent money!

Well, of course, I hope you realise this is said somewhat 'tongue in cheek! wink

However, if in the unlikely event that you do want to send me money... maybe you've particularly enjoyed one of my 'tales' or you appreciated a point of view I have expressed... you might want to buy me a beer? rolleyes

Believe it or not, another reader, clearly deluded... (maybe he had too many beers... biggrin ), has suggested this! Well, now you can buy me a beer if the urge takes you!

I've added this donation box on the bottom right side bar, that allows you to send a little donation, effortlessly and securely... via Paypal... all you have to do is click on the 'Donate' button below... and Paypal will walk you through the easy 'donate' process!

So... cheers me dears... mine's a pint of Adams best bitter! Thanks very much in advance! biggrin

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Shipping Forecast... more than just bad weather

Call me weird (many often do) but for me, BBC Radio 4's Shipping Forecast is not just about weather... good or bad... it is also always a singularly wonderful, emotive and nostalgic experience to listen to!

The Shipping Forecast is a four-times-daily BBC radio broadcast of weather reports and forecasts for the seas around the coasts of the British Isles. It is produced by the UK Meteorological Office (part of the Ministry of Defence) and broadcast by BBC Radio 4 on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (part of the Department for Transport). (These forecasts are also sent over the Navtex system using a similar format and the same sea areas).

There are four Shipping Forecasts broadcasts per day:

  • 0048 - transmitted on FM and LW. Includes weather reports from an extended list of coastal stations at 0052 and an inshore waters forecast at 0055 and concludes with a brief UK weather outlook for the coming day. The broadcast finishes at approximately 0058, and is followed by a short goodnight message and the National Anthem.

  • 0520 - transmitted on FM and LW. Includes weather reports from a coastal stations at 0525, and an inshore waters forecast at 0527.

  • 1201 - normally transmitted on longwave only.

  • 1754 - transmitted on longwave only on weekdays, as an opt-out from the PM programme, but at weekends transmitted on both FM and Longwave.

The Shipping Forecast - A Distinctive Appeal

Because of its unique and distinctive sound, the broadcasts have an appeal beyond those solely interested in nautical weather!

The waters around the British Isles are divided into sea areas, also known as weather areas (see map above) such as Forties, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne, Dogger, Fisher, German Bight, Humber, Thames, Dover, Wight, etc.

Many listeners find the well-known repetition of the names of the sea areas almost hypnotic, particularly during the bedtime (for Britain) broadcast at 0048 GMT.

Like me, many listeners regard these broadcasts with affection. In Great Britain the Shipping Forecast often comes up in general knowledge quizzes and is the butt of many affectionate jokes. It is also a subject that has often influenced many in popular culture. Due to its set rhythm, calm enunciation, and evocative names, the Shipping Forecast can sound quite poetic when broadcast and it is perhaps not surprising that it has featured in songs and poetry as a result. Artists as diverse as Radiohead, film director Terence Davies and poet Seamus Heaney have used it as literal and metaphoric inspiration.

You can enjoy the hypnotic quality of the Shipping Forecast in this very emotive (well it is to me) video here:

‘Sailing By’ Theme

In addition to the broadcast, one of the Shipping Forecast's intrinsic attractions is without doubt the beautiful and very calming theme tune, ‘Sailing By’. Played as a prelude, ‘Sailing By’ was composed by Ronald Binge and acts as a bridge between the end of regular BBC Radio 4 programming and the broadcast itself.

Jarvis Cocker, lead singer of British band Pulp, chose ‘Sailing By’ as one of his Desert Island Discs when appearing on the programme.

If you've never heard ‘Sailing By’, you can listen to it here... it's the first track of this video. If you are familiar with it, you will hopefully enjoy losing yourself for a moment in this beautifully calming, nostalgic and lovely piece of music... enjoy!

The end of this piece of music is normally followed by the BBC's time signal... the 'pip... pip.. pip...', followed then by the Shipping Forecast. Pity I couldn't find this properly reproduced on YouTube! sad

You may well be forgiven for wondering why the music is set to a background of the TV 'Test Card' and the CEEFAX page. Well, apparently, 'Sailing By' was also the title track of this CEEFAX AM tape which was in service between March 1983 and the summer of 1984 on BBC1 in the stand-alone slot pre-Breakfast Time. I chose this particularly video because it is the one that more faithfully replicates the Shipping Forecast's current theme music.

A different 'take' on the Shipping Forecast

Now... a slightly different and, for me, hysterically funny 'take' on the Shipping Forecast:

BBC Radio 4's Brian Perkins read Les Barker's version of 'The Shipping Forecast' from 'Guide Cats for the Blind'; a series of three CD's released to help raise funds for The British Computer Association of the Blind.

Fans of the 'Shipping Forecast' might also like to check out Charlie Connelly's excellent book 'Attention All Shipping'.


BBC > Weather Centre > Coast and Sea > Shipping Forecast

The Shipping Forecast - Information from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The BBC Shipping Forecast: A Unique Broadcasting Experience by Radio 4

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Twitter... the real world or a world for twits

I've been using Twitter for a while now. I started using it because I thought it would be a good way to let people know about my blog posts... get them noticed by as wide an audience as possible.

Having used it for a couple of months... I'm not that convinced of it's effectiveness to get one's message across. In fact, I'm beginning to wonder what all the fuss is about.

Here's how Twitter would like us to think about them:

So... Twitter 'rocks' eh? Hmmm...

Here's another view... the "twouble with Twitter"... as seen on Current.com:

Ha ha... that's a great video, very funny and well produced and one that I think hits the nail on the head... definitely about Twitter's superficiality!

I'm tending to be more inclined to this latter view. The 'twouble' with Twitter is... that one gets completely overwhelmed by the amount of 'Tweets'. The message... if ever there is one... tends to get lost in the morass of, often banal comment or completely uninteresting or unrelated 'news' that some sources spout off with at an amazing rate!

While Twitter can be fun, on a very superficial level and while it can be a way (a simple minded sort of way) to keep in touch with friends, family, etc., even receiving updates directly from (interesting?) sources as varied as No 10 Downing Street to Google Blogs or Stephen Fry... personally, I'm afraid I don't find it exactly 'rocks' for me.

I'm happy to continue to ride this trend though... till it fizzles out... as these things tend to do... and just dip in from time to time... but I won't take it too seriously... and it certainly isn't a good marketing tool... it's not a particularly effective way of getting one's message across!

You can of course, always follow me on Twitter... and make your own judgement! biggrin

Friday, March 27, 2009

Switch your lights OFF for Earth Hour on Saturday!

What IS Earth Hour 2009 I hear you ask??

Earth Hour 2009 is a global 'call to action' to every individual, every business and every community across the globe! A call to stand up, to take responsibility and to get involved in working towards a more sustainable future.

Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia with 2.2 million homes and businesses turning their lights off for one whole hour. Only a year later this event had become a global sustainability movement with up to 100 million people across 35 countries participating. Global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome’s Colosseum and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square, all stood in darkness, as symbols of hope for a cause that grows more urgent by the hour.

In 2009... at 8:30pm on Saturday March 28, Earth Hour are asking people across the world to turn off their lights and join together in creating the vital conversation about the future of our precious planet. Earth Hour is a message of hope and a message of action. Everyone can make a difference.

It’s as simple as a flick of the switch!


The stories of what you did on the night have been inspiring members who joined the Facebook group. You can post your story here... or send them through to earthhour@wwf.org.au directly!


Update your Twitter on the night and write #earthhour or #voteearth and your #location in your update to tag it.

Join Earth Hour 2009.... flick your lights off and make a difference.

Montegriffo comments on the question of a 'Spanish Gibraltar'

In a blog post just over a week ago, I asked the question... Can Gibraltarians ever envisage a Spanish Gibraltar?.

My question arose following comments I read in one of Gibraltar's daily newspapers, Panorama online and in my colleague Sancho's blog Tilting at Windmills.

These two articles carried comments attributed to Peter Montegriffo, the former GSD (Gibraltar Social Democrats) minister, who recently gave an interview to the Campo de Gibraltar newspaper, Europa Sur.

In this interview, Peter Montegriffo was quoted as saying that "the time was not ripe for a sovereignty solution" for Gibraltar and added, "adequate conditions must first be created before embarking on sovereignty talks".

Well, this really intrigued me!

When asked, in the Europa Sur interview, if he thought there is a solution to the sovereignty issue, he replied:

"Of course there is.

I have always thought it is possible to find a solution in the context of the European union, applying the democratic principles and of mutual respect that unite us."

In our articles last week, both Sancho and I expressed a curiosity about the basis on which future talks on the sovereignty of Gibraltar could possibly be founded. Sancho put it in a nutshell:

He says that adequate conditions must first be created before embarking on sovereignty talks... but then goes on to say he believes that a future agreement on sovereignty can be reached.

I should add that he fully backs the tripartite process and closer links with the Campo de Gibraltar. However co-operation is one thing – sovereignty is quite another.

So why future talks?

Unless I am wrong, and I frequently am, the Spanish Government’s position is clear – it believes that Gibraltar should be an integral part of the nation and even joint sovereignty would only be a stepping stone on the road to that eventual goal. All the major parties are agreed on that stance.

In contrast the people of Gibraltar have indicated in two referenda that they totally reject any sovereignty deal with Spain. Hence we have two set positions – surrender and no surrender.

If Spain’s ambitions for Gibraltar and Gibraltarians ambitions for the Rock are totally at odds with each other - surely there is nothing to discuss.

Therefore unless Gibraltarians collectively are willing to go along the Spanish route talks can achieve nothing. Indeed you can’t have talks on sovereignty when sovereignty for Gibraltarians isn’t an issue.

Spain, or rather its government, isn’t going to change its stance – so is Gibraltar?

Sancho summarises the situation very well... which is why I was even more curious as to what Montegriffo was up to.

Well... my curiosity was answered... sooner than I thought! Peter Montegriffo got in touch with me and he very kindly clarified (corrected) a number of the points that were quoted, both here and in the other media sources. His comments make for interesting reading.

Anyone who is tired of the usual entrenched positions of "Gibraltar Espanol" on the one hand and "British we are... British we stay" on the other (as I am), and perhaps who is looking for a middle ground or alternatives to these stalemated positions, will be very interested in Peter Montegriffo's views.

In an exchange of emails with me, Peter firstly corrected the Panorama quote:

"In the Europa Sur article, what I actually said was that I personally do not think that the time is right for us to address the sovereignty issue at all. I did not incidentally use the word "ripe" as reported by Panorama."

On the question I raised, about whether Gibraltarians can ever "envisage a Spanish Gibraltar" and my curiosity as to what Montegriffo was up to, he said:

"I can assure you that I do not hold the view (and never have) that Gibraltar should become Spanish. But I do believe we can arrive at a Gibraltarian Gibraltar (namely a micro-State within the European Union), that deals with and neutralises (that does not mean gives in to) the Spanish claim."

Well... that's clear enough... and I for one am very interested in exploring this possibility of a 'micro-state within the European Union' or as others are calling it, 'the Andorran model'.

Following my blog post last week, I also opened a topic (and subsequent Poll) on this subject in Gibraltar News Online forum

When I asked if he would like to comment, either on this blog or in the Forum topic, in the hope of encouraging more debate on this issue, (something I am keen to do), Peter Montegriffo said:

"I am very happy to join any debate but given that no-one in Gibraltar (certainly not myself) is suggesting a Spanish Gibraltar, why run a poll with that question?

That sort of 'enquiry' in my view simply distorts the discussion that should be had about our future. It is not a choice between British or Spanish sovereignty which is what the debate is often reduced to."

Fair comment... and one that I very much agree with. However, in my own defence, I explained that when I created the topic, my intention was precisely to shake people's thinking on the issue of sovereignty... which was raised in the Europa Sur interview.

In our exchange, Montegriffo added:

"But what I have always had in mind is a Gibraltarian Gibraltar, which both Britain and Spain will come to accept.

This is what the poll should be asking and is a more proper reflection of my views.

Not a bad idea Peter! In fact, one that I welcome very much. My intention and hope is the same as Peter's... and that is to encourage and generate debate on these issues... in particular, and indeed as is happening.. to move on from these old, entrenched views.

In the event, that is exactly what is happening in the Forum topic, as subsequent comments have moved the conversation in the direction of a 'micro-state'... discussing, as one poster commented, "thinking out of the box" on the way ahead for Gibraltar.

But I am happy to accept Peter Montegriffo's suggestion for a future poll to encourage debate on this issue... and I have asked him to suggest what the question should be. I am hopefull that he accedes to my request... as his suggestion for a Poll question (and discussion on this point) would make for very interesting debate, I think.

My thanks to Peter Montegriffo, for the courtesy he has extended me to date, in clarifying and expanding on his views.

Montegriffo's future in Gibraltar politics

Since his resignation from Government in February 2000, Peter Montegriffo has officially been out of politics. However, as can be seen from these articles, he does comment on political issues from time to time.

As for the future, Peter has recently been described as "merely biding his time until the present Chief Minister, Peter Caruana, steps down". It is thought that he will then 'throw his hat' into the GSD leadership race that will ensue.

Not wanting to miss the opportunity, whilst I had his attention, I asked Peter, if this is the case... and if it isn't, what exactly is his political agenda for the future?

As I write, I am still awaiting his response... but I have a feeling he may be playing a little coy on this one!

Peter Montegriffo

Peter Montegriffo is a lawyer and partner in Gibraltar law firm Hassans. He was Minister for Trade and Industry, with responsibility for economic development and financial services, in the first GSD Government, (deputy to Peter Caruana, the Chief Minister), between May 1996 and February 2000, when he resigned from politics to 'pursue other interests'.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

As a Gibraltarian... do you find the term Llanito (or Yanito) offensive?

This question has arisen, following on from my post three weeks ago, when I reviewed Garrett Gibbons's excellent Gibraltar Documentary Film.

You can ignore my (perhaps long winded) explanation and just scroll down to the end of this post, where you will be able to vote on a Poll I have included here... in the hope of getting your view on this question. If you wish to read my explanation of how the question has arisen... then read on.

I recently heard from Garrett, telling me that he had finally given the film a title. Garrett has chosen to call his documentary film "The People on the Rock".

I will quickly add that the film is still in 'draft form' and in the process of being produced. Garrett further informs us that the next draft of the his film may not be available until late April, as he is busy trying to finish his BA degree at Brigham Young University in the USA... but, he assures me, it remains on his 'high-priority' list! Good... can' wait!

Anyhow, when I heard of the title Garrett had chosen, I'm afraid I was disappointed. I told Garrett that I didn't think "The People on the Rock" was the best... most descriptive title he could have come up with... and I offered him my own suggestion... "The Llanitos of the Rock of Gibraltar". For me, this is a much more descriptive title of what Garrett's documentary is about.

This, of course, is just my opinion. Ultimately of course... and bearing in mind it IS his film... it's entirely up to him what he chooses to call it.... and I very much look forward to the next draft.. and end product.

The discussion over the title however, has thrown up a question... over the term (or word) "Llanito" (or Yanito).

When Garrett read my suggestion, he graciously said he would "consider my advice" (heis a diplomat our Garrett)... but he added:

"I'd like to use "Llanitos" in the title, but I got chastised by several Gibraltarians for calling them Llanitos... a few people got really upset, telling me that it was a derogatory nickname!"

I have to admit, I was VERY surprised to read his comment! In response, I said:

"I've never heard anything of the kind and find it very surprising that ANY Llanito should take umbrage for being called what we call ourselves!

I would think this sort of sentiment very much in the minority! It doesn't trouble me in the least and no one has ever expressed a negative view on being called a Llanito to me... ever!"

That's really my impression. Perhaps I'm wrong. I often am... and at the end of the day, I have been living away from Gibraltar for quite a few years, (though I did live and work in Gibraltar between '96 and 2002) so it's not inconceivable that feelings may have changed in this regard.... but I doubt that there has been THIS fundamental a change.

Now, if we were talking about the word or term 'Gibo'... then yes... that I would understand if a few (quite a few even) take umbrage with that term. I make my views clear on this subject here: Defining the word or term 'Gibo'.

To reinforce his argument, Garrett asked me to re-look at a portion of his documentary, where a Gibraltarian comments on how he prefers to be referred to... and to my surprise, he feels that 'Llanito'... "es una palabra fea"!

You can see what Garrett is getting at in this excerpt from his documentary film, in the first few seconds of this video, listen to the response by this Gibraltarian, when asked "what does Llanito mean?":

Garrett wonders if this chap's reply is because Garrett is "an outsider"?

"These guys didn't like me throwing around a local term that they use to describe themselves?"

Well... quite possibly but I have to say I am nevertheless surprised to hear this chap... with all due respect to him, saying that "Llanito es una palabra fea". I really am.

For me, it's never been a disparaging term, far from it. The term 'Llanito' reinforces my Gibraltarian identity. I would go further, it's a term that I am proud to be referred to as! In my experience, I think this chap's view is NOT shared widely by Gibraltarians... and it's not I don't think, a generation thing. At 55, I'm more his age myself.

But... this discussion got me thinking... and wondering if it's just me. I wonder if others feel like this fellow does. So I thought it would be an interesting exercise, to set up a Poll, asking the question:

Do you find the term Llanito (or Yanito) offensive?
Don't Know
Sometimes (if so when Your comment would be appreciated)
pollcode.com free polls

If you choose the fourth option, 'Sometimes', I would appreciate it if you would explain by commenting here, using our comment facility at the end of this post, as it will be interestng to read your views on this further.

I'm sure many Gibraltarians will find this an interesting exercise... and I very much hope you will contribute to the poll. Please also share this with your family, friends, work colleagues... as the widest possible vote will give us the best impression of whether a Gibraltarian finds the term Llanito (or Yanito) offensive.

Thanks in advance for your input! :)

Update - 3rd May 2009

Well... now that the Poll has been running for just over a month, I thought I would post an update.

The results to-date, whilst a little disappointing on the numbers who have voted, is nevertheless fairly emphatic and confirms what I had thought. 25 people have voted so far... and this is the result:

Yes 8% 2
No 76% 19
Don't Know 4% 1
Sometimes 12% 3

Naturally I would have hoped for more votes but for reasons that escape me, many people have chosen not to vote. The page has been viewed 116 times since it was posted. Many of these are visitors from Gibraltar. Many of these page views were probably people who do not qualify (by that I mean not Gibraltarian). A few were also probably returning to check how the poll was going, myself included three or four times. However, I am sorry to say it's still very disappointing that only 25 people bothered to express themselves.

A special thanks to all of you who did bother to vote... and thanks also for your comments, which were very enlightening.

So... I think Garrett will agree, that there really isn't any reason or cause for concern, in choosing to include 'llanito' in the documentary's title.... which is how this question first arose, as this poll indicates (albeit with a very small sample) that the vast majority of Gibraltarians will not be offended.

I won't close the poll... so please feel free to continue to vote as I am still hoping over time, to obtain a wider sample of how Gibraltarians feel about being referred to as Llanito!

Thank you all again!! smile

The grumpy old Gibo's still got it!

Yep... it seems like the grumpy old Gibo's still got it!

Seems I can still attract the attention of sexy blondes... in this case I've attracted the attention of a sexy Russian wordsmith!

Marina says I wrote a 'nice post about her' (well I did)... and now she's made a nice post about me too!!

One or two of her readers are a bit 'up in arms' though and not too complimentary either... coming out for her like knights in shining armour! ha ha Quite right too... all good fun guys!

Marina... however many guys you have helping you (behind the scenes... doing an excellent job too), like bees around a honeypot... I think all's well with the world... things as they should be and you are a clever girl Marina... and dead sexy! :)

Oh... any chance of one of your famous calendars?? Actually, I'll be happy with just a pic... especially if it's a signed one!?? :@:@ ;)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Burglar kills 3 month old puppy in Gibraltar

The Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP) reported this afternoon that they are investigating a burglary in which a three month old pet bull dog puppy was killed.

Police were called to investigate a burglary reported to them at 21:15hrs on Tuesday evening, 24th March 2009.

It appears that a residence at Castle Road was broken into sometime during the hours of 9am and 9pm on Tuesday 24th March. The only items that seems to have been stolen was a games console. However, the burglar or burglars, incomprehensibly, also saw fit to kill a three month old pet bull dog puppy that was in the residence!!

Why the burglar(s) saw fit to kill this puppy is beyond me. This image on the right, is of a bulldog puppy of a similar age as the one the burglars killed, in this case 14 weeks old. Surely, the little dog the burglars saw fit to kill, would not have been any threat to the burglar(s). It certainly would not have been able to give any evidence against them... so I find it incomprehensible that anyone could do such a thing... for ANY reason!

I really feel for the owners as they must be distraught over their loss of a loved pet!

The RGP report that crime scene investigators were called in to search for clues and that inquiries are being conducted. I very much hope they catch whoever is responsible for this appalling crime... and that they get the punishment they deserve!

I would ask anyone who may have any information about this dreadful incident... to contact the Royal Gibraltar Police on any of the following telephone numbers:

20072500 (non-emergencies only)
199 or 112 (emergencies only)
155 (Community Crime Line to anonymously report a crime)
20077677 (Drugs Hotline for a drugs related call)

Update - 10:12 am 26th March 2009:

According to a report on this in the Gibraltar Chronicle, apparently the puppy was dropped from a third floor balcony... the 'scumbags'!

I take my hat off to... Marina the Very Sexy Russian 'Wordsmith'

If you're male and you haven't come across Marina, the very sexy Russian 'Wordsmith' before... then I can assure you you're going to enjoy this!

Marina Orlova is her full name... and she proves intelligence is sexy!

Marina is a YouTube celebrity and the lady behind (or is it in the forefront) of HotForWords, a site (apparently) dedicated to teaching students across the globe about the intricacies of language.... at least that's what the supposed basis is!!

As a way of introducing her to you (it's the best I can do I'm afraid)... here's one of my favourite recent videos of her, showing Marina teaching us... a 'Cure for Hiccups':

Apparently, Marina's love for words began because she wanted to learn English. "In Russia the best way to do that is to study philology, which gets into the origins of words," she says.

"This makes learning so much more interesting, and the result was that I eventually became a teacher for about 20 high-schoolers back in Russia.

It was a lot of fun, and the students never seemed to miss class!"

No, I bet they didn't. Hardly surprising!

Though she never planned on becoming an internet celebrity, Marina says it just happened. One day, she received an email that inspired her to reach out to new students, via the web.

"My two degrees in philology were going to waste and one day in 2006 a friend sent me an email which said ‘YouTube.com - check it out.’ That email changed my life! I immediately created a channel and started uploading videos."

The rest as they say... is history... as now, her videos have been viewed over 170 million times!!

With a new word each week, her virtual classroom grows daily. Her calendar girl good looks and intelligence have granted her quite an audience, but given the choice... would she rather be pretty or smart? "I'd rather be smart!" she says.

Yes Marina... quite right... me too!!

Call me an old cynic... and I really don't want to spoil any of the fun... but come on guys... I'm as red blooded as you... and there's no doubting the fact that Marina is delicious and sexy (and quite amusing too)... but you just got to see through this!! This is just a different (and clever granted) take on an age old idea... a new perspective in offering us red blooded males (with perhaps more money than brains)... SEXY ladies in the media!!

I bet my bottom dollar (not sure if that's a well chosen phrase) that Marina is not the only one 'behind' HotForWords... there's a hell of a lot more going on in that background... believe me... including a few clever techie geeks and marketing people!

But... do I care? Not a bit... in fact, I take my hat off to Marina today... for maximising her very obvious potential... and very attractive upfront future... in fact... I've joined 6,843 others and am now following her updates on Twitter... we don't want to miss our weekly dose of interesting etymology now do we??!

Gibraltar discrimination laws 'woefully inadequate' say GGR

Gibraltar's Equality Rights Group, GGR, have today criticised the Gibraltar Government, accusing them of "extravagance" and saying anti-discrimination laws in Gibraltar are "woefully inadequate".

In a statement today, welcoming news that MEPs in the EU’s Civil Liberties Committee have now formally backed plans for a Directive on multiple discriminations, Equality Rights Group Chairman, Felix Alvarez (right) said:

"Over the years, legislation on separate discriminations has been introduced and the EU and individual member states have been in the process for some time of bringing anti-discrimination measures together in a more coherent way.

This, of course, is ironic for us, since it is happening against a backdrop in Gibraltar where we hardly have any anti-discrimination law at all, and what there is, is woefully inadequate!"

"Of particular importance," added Mr Alvarez, "is the fact that under the new Directive, governments will not be able to discriminate on housing against people whether disabled, gay, or across a range of categories".

The GGR Chairman urged the Gibraltar Government to "take note". He reminds them that only three months ago, the Gibraltar courts ordered the Housing Committee to re-consider their discriminatory treatment of a lesbian couple regarding a joint tenancy, a decision they subsequently refused to change. The case went to appeal, at huge expense to the Gibraltar taxpayer. The case is also likely to proceed "further and further" says Mr Alvarez, "until exhausting the judicial process at Strasbourg".

Accusing the Government of "extravagant" spending of tax payers money, Mr Alvarez concluded:

"This indecent use of taxpayers’ money, to simply delay the inevitable, only serves to emphasise the entrenchment of a Gibraltar government increasingly at odds with modern trends in social law.

If we are to believe that government is serious about cutting down costs on litigation, this kind of spending is not only disproportionate, it is also extravagant.

At the end of the day, we are talking about treating all citizens in a fair and equal way."

Well said Felix! Bringing Gibraltar's human rights legislation into the 21st century... is long overdue!

Gibraltar commits to share tax information

The Government of Gibraltar has reaffirmed its willingness to share tax information with other states as part of the global drive for tax transparency.

Writing in Accountancy Age, Judith Tydd reports that the Gibraltar Government's declaration comes just weeks away from global leaders meeting in London for the G20 summit, where international tax transparency and co-operation is thought to be high on the agenda.

In a written statement, the Government of Gibraltar said it "shares the view that international co-operation in tax matters has become increasingly important, and will inevitably and necessarily be an ingredient of the new financial order that will emerge in the aftermath of the current global financial crisis".

A Gibraltar government spokesperson said they have "concluded negotiations of the text of a tax information exchange agreement with the US, and anticipates the agreement will be signed shortly."

Government Statement

In the context of the ongoing debate and proposals for reform of the world financial system in the run up to the forthcoming G20 London summit, the Government of Gibraltar repeats its longstanding commitment to exchange of information on the basis of the current OECD Model Agreement. We share the view that international co-operation in tax matters has become increasingly important, and will inevitably and necessarily be an ingredient of the new financial order that will emerge in the aftermath of the current global financial crisis.

Gibraltar remains willing to participate in exchange of information on the OECD model basis.

Gibraltar is one of the countries and territories that has committed to the OECD standard. We have concluded negotiations of the text of an agreement with the United States of America, and of the operative parts of the text with another of the largest OECD countries. Both are due to be signed shortly. In November last year the Gibraltar Government offered such agreements to all OECD member countries, through the OECD itself. Others have also received the offer by direct bilateral approach.

Gibraltar is an integral part of the European Union, including its single market in financial services. Accordingly, all EU Regulatory and Supervisory directives and other laws, as well as all European Union laws, agreements and measures relating to transparency, exchange of information (including for tax purposes) and Regulatory co-operation and direct taxation already apply in Gibraltar. Gibraltar’s finance centre is thus “on-shore” the EU.

Gibraltar accordingly welcomes the current initiative to ensure the raising of the bar on a broader, more global basis. We welcome the recent commitment made by some countries to the OECD exchange of information standard, which finally levels the playing field in this important area.

Gibraltar accordingly re-iterates that it continues to stand ready to conclude bilateral exchange of information agreements with OECD countries as and when individual countries may wish to conclude such agreements with Gibraltar.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Guardian reports Good times on Main Street for thriving Gibraltar

The UK's The Guardian newspaper reported today on the "Good times on Main Street" and spoke of a "thriving Gibraltar".

The report says that Spaniards are flocking to the Rock looking for bargains created by the strong euro and a falling pound, causing Gibraltar's economy to boom.

Good times on Main Street - The Guardian story

A line of Spanish cars snakes past the Union flag and helmeted Gibraltarian bobbies at the frontier. But their owners are not here to reclaim Spanish sovereignty over the rocky peninsula. They are here to spend mighty euros on goods priced in cheap pounds.

As financial turmoil and recession sweep the world, this tiny, sun-baked strip of land on Europe's southern coast is proving a miraculous survivor thanks to a sinking pound and an economy that grows at a rate comparable to that of China.

Many of those cars end up circling around the car park of the Rock's largest supermarket, a local branch of Morrisons, as they fight to grab one of the few empty spaces.

"We used to come here just to buy cheap alcohol and cigarettes," said Jesús Martín, from the Spanish town of La Linea, just across the frontier. "Now we buy everything."

Spanish shoppers cram the Morrisons aisles, looking suspiciously at such quintessentially British foodstuffs as Marmite, baked beans and hot-cross buns, but snapping up everything from cheap milk to rice.

"Things used to be cheaper in Spain, but not any longer," said Ana Santos, who had come for nappies and groceries.

Articulated lorries arrive daily to fill the shelves at Morrisons with goods brought direct from low-cost Britain.

"Last Christmas was a record for the store," said Edward Macquisten, of Gibraltar's Chamber of Commerce.

"Everyday staples are now more expensive in Spain than they are in Gibraltar. That is unheard of. People come just to visit Morrisons."

Along Main Street, Spaniards are extending their British shopping experience to the local branches of stores such as Marks & Spencer, Bhs and Mothercare. Underwear, babygrows and make-up are all taken back into Spain.

Spaniards are not the only ones flooding across the border. British expatriates, some struggling to cope with the plunging value of their pensions against the euro, are coming from miles away to shop. Some drive for more than an hour from Málaga.

"We used to do our weekly shop at a Spanish supermarket but now we come here," said Ray Emerson, who lives in nearby Sotogrande. "It's just as cheap, if not cheaper."

Even Gibraltarians are spending more on the Rock. "We used to go over to Spain every Friday night for a Chinese and a drink," said health worker Sukh Khaira. "Now we stay here to go out."

Gibraltar's escape from the worst of the global downturn even extends to property. Sleek new high-rise apartment blocks line the harbour. Estate agent Louis Montegriffo said that, overall, prices were still rising slightly. Demand from rich foreigners seeking a safe harbour by taking up Gibraltar's offer of residency for "high net-worth individuals" is on the up.

"We actually saw an increase in the numbers looking at the beginning of the year," he said.

Over the past few years Gibraltar's economy has grown at up to 12%, more than doubling in size over a decade. Financial services, low taxes and a niche in online gambling have transformed an economy that, a quarter of a century ago, was more than 60% dependent on the Ministry of Defence.

"If we were a sovereign state we would be 13th in the world in GDP per capita," said the Chief Minister Peter Caruana. That would put it above Canada or Switzerland. Growth will slow with the global recession, he said, but will not stop.

The future looks relatively bright. The European court of first instance ruled in December that Gibraltar could set its own tax rates. Corporate tax is expected to tumble, attracting more business.

With offshore havens now on the global political hate list, however, Gibraltar may find itself under intense political scrutiny.

Marcus Killick, head of Gibraltar's Financial Services Commission (FSC), said the Rock's status as part of the EU placed it at the bottom of any list of offshore centres that might be targeted by politicians. Gibraltar has neither the banking secrecy of Switzerland or Andorra nor the non-EU status of the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. "We are required to comply with EU directives," he said.

At his Image store selling souvenirs, cameras and cheap watches, Suresh Manji was not so sure about the future. "Things are down on last year. There are fewer tourists and local people are buying less," he said.

The tourist season has not started yet, but the 7 million visitors who cross the frontier every year are key to prosperity.

"That will slow down this year," Macquisten said. "There will be fewer British visitors to the costas and it follows that you will get fewer here."

Tim, an expatriate shopper from Marbella, 40 miles away, said: "You already see fewer people visiting their houses in Spain. I've got neighbours who normally come for public holidays. This year we haven't seen them."

Many Gibraltarians, however, will be praying the pound stays weak as they continue to roam the aisles in Morrisons.

Spain's El Mundo enviously picks up the story

In a typical tone of envious criticism, Spain's national daily, El Mundo, grudgingly reports on The Guardian story today, saying that it's the Spaniards who are saving Gibraltar from the global recession!

"Gibraltar is escaping itself from the crisis, not because its financial system is strong and secure or because its citizens have been more careful with their mortgages. No... nothing to do with any of that! It's Spaniards who are coming to Gibraltar to buy, taking advantage of the weakness of the pound, which is raising this British territory east of the Bay of Algeciras."

All I'll add is my grateful thanks to them... "Cheers me dears"!

I take my hat off to... the kid who painted giant phallus on parent's roof

Tonight... I'm taking my hat off to the teenager who painted a giant phallus on his parent's roof!

BBC - Newsbeat are reporting the story of this 18 year-old who secretly painted a 60ft drawing of a phallus on the roof of his parents' £1million mansion in Berkshire.

Apparently, it's been there for a year before his parents found out. They say he'll have to scrub it off when he gets back from travelling.

Is that funny or what! lol

Monday, March 23, 2009

$75 million of Madoff Assets located in Gibraltar

According to the New York Post, a lawyer for the trustee seeking to locate assets belonging to self-confessed Wall Street scammer Bernie Madoff said today that more than $1 billion has been located - far less than the staggering $64 billion the feds said he stole from investors.

Lawyer David Sheehan said $75 million has been located in an account in Gibraltar, raising to $1 billion the amount a trustee has recovered for investors.

David Sheehan, a lawyer acting for Irving Picard, who was appointed by the Securities Investor Protection Corp. to unwind Madoff’s businesses, also said at a court hearing today that French authorities may soon seek to seize Madoff’s chateau in that country, which is worth about $1.6 million.

Sheehan’s disclosure came at a court hearing where he urged a judge to award SIPC, which is conducting a broad investigation of the assets of Madoff Securities, a power of attorney over Madoff’s UK unit.

SIPC is a government-backed corporation to cover losses when brokerages fail. US prosecutors probing Madoff urged US District Judge Louis Stanton in New York to hold the power in escrow and not to grant it to Picard. Stanton didn’t rule on the matter.

Madoff, 70, was jailed two weeks ago after he pleaded guilty to orchestrating a Ponzi scheme where he ripped off thousands of investors.

Madoff faces 150 years behind bars when he is sentenced in June.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I take my hat off to... The England Women's Cricket World Cup Winners!

Tonight I'm taking my hat off to... the England Women's Cricket Team... who outclassed New Zealand to win the Women's World Cup with a thrilling four-wicket victory in Sydney yesterday.

An event... that remarkably, has gone largely unreported in the UK and sadly and very surprisingly to me, has not caught the headlines... well, not that I've noticed!

At least BBC Sport do mention it, buried deep in their sport's pages: BBC SPORT | Cricket | Women's cricket | World Cup joy for England women

Nicki Shaw, a late replacement for the injured Jenny Gunn, was the unlikely hero, claiming 4-34 as the Kiwis were dismissed for 166 in 47.2 overs.

Openers Sarah Taylor (39) and Caroline Atkins (40) calmly took England to within touching distance of the target.

England wobbled slightly - losing five wickets for 40 runs - but won with relative ease despite a nervy finish.

Well done girls... I take my hat off to you!! :)

You can read the full report here: BBC SPORT | Cricket | Women's cricket | World Cup joy for England women

RIP Jade

Jade Goody, in happier times at the height of her celebrity, at Soccer Six Music Industry charity football event at Upton Park stadium in London - May 2007
It was with great regret that I heard of Jade Goody's passing this morning.

Such a sad irony... that she should pass away from us on Mother's Day.

Perhaps, in a way, it is quite fitting as her main concern in her latter days was all for her children and making sure she left behind enough to provide for them and ensuring they get the education and upbringing that Jade herself was never able to enjoy. She's left a great legacy for them... and maybe for all of us too!

My condolences to all her loved ones... who will forever have warm lasting memories of her!

RIP Jade! xx

Facebook Book of Condolences

Facebook users may be interested in this 'Book of Condolences for Jade'.

Cervical cancer screening prevents cervical cancer - more info at Cancer Research UK
Cervical cancer screening

Cervical cancer screening prevents cervical cancer.

Cervical screening is sometimes known as the 'smear test'. At screening the doctor or nurse takes a sample of cells from your cervix using a spatula or a small brush. They examine these cells under a microscope to look for any unusual changes. Read more...

Help fight Cancer - Donate to Cancer Research UK

Friday, March 20, 2009

Madoff pirates twats blanca luz and the height of hypocrisy

Spain has netted a huge fine for illegal fishing.

Andalucia must pay the record 100 million euros fine for failing to prevent the capture of rare fish and for illegal fishing off the coasts of Andalucia.

The massive fine is being levied on Spain by the European Union, after constant warnings about the illicit capture of, in particular, young boquerones and chanquetes, went unheeded.

The European Court has ruled that Spain has continually failed to control the illegal fishing in its waters.

And they have the cheek to accuse Gibraltar of 'piracy'! Don't you just love 'em? Listen to this...

Yesterday, our friend, that guiding light of Spain's right wing PP opposition party, José Ignacio Landaluce (or Blanca Luz for short), was stirring it up for Gibraltar again, no doubt whilst enjoying stuffing himself over lunch with plenty of illegal omega 3!

While the illegal fishing goes on 'Blanca Luz' has the bare faced cheek to denounce Gibraltar's "fiscal paradise" (yawn), impugning that somehow, Gibraltar is responsible for 'him who Madoff' with all those rich people's money!

Reaching out for the high (immoral) grounds of hypocrisy, 'Blanca Luz' affirmed yesterday, that the Madoff case "ratifies the denunciations" he has been "making for a long time" over Gibraltar's "money laundering" activities!

'Blanca Luz' assured that the investigations that the New York authorities intend to conduct in Gibraltar, (with which by the way he fails to mention that the Gibraltar authorities are co-operating fully), the "known destination of the money allegedly defrauded by the banker Bernard Madoff", is once again "raising the unfair competition posed to the rest of European Union countries, by the the "Rock's fiscal paradise laws".

What I would love is for that other old wily Spaniard, Judge, Baltasar Garzon, himself under fire for some supposed 'fishy tax' wrongdoings... to sort his problems out... and come and have a look at 'Blanca Luz's own tax and money affairs. I wonder where 'Blanca Luz' stashes his dosh??

I'm sure it is pure idle gossip... and well we would say this wouldn't we... but I am given to understand... from good authority... that many of Spain's top bods (and this includes in high places in political circles) have loads of dosh stashed away... in the many banks of our grand 'fiscal paradise'... but of course, they will never admit that will they?! What a bunch of hypocritical twat pirates! Sheesssh... don't it make you mad? It does me... and yes I am coming out with a touch of the vernacular as I cannot bring myself to talk propa English when discussing twats!

I wish I had the GrumpyOldTwat's grasp for imaginatively (and comically) tinkering with Photoshop... as otherwise I'd dress our friend 'Blanca Luz' up as a Johnny Depp lookalike in 'The Pirates of Andalucia'!

For his prowess in reaching heady heights of hypocrisy... I am awarding 'Blanca Luz' today... my highly honoured "Twat of the Week" award!

Postcards from the World... my new blog

Just for a bit of fun... I have created a new blog today... Postcards from the World!

The idea of this site is for people like you to send me a souvenir tourist postcard from your part of the world. I would like you and people like you, to help me build an interesting collection of souvenir postcards from all across the globe!

If you wish to participate, all you need to do is to obtain a suitable souvenir tourist postcard of your town, city or country or any place you are visiting or have visited... just scan it into .jpeg format and send it to me... and I shall publish it in its own page in Postcards from the World.

If you would like to include a brief description of yourself and your town, that's fine. In fact, that would be very welcome and will add further interest to your postcard and the page I publish it on... don't you think? But please... I would like to ask people to be brief (unlike me)!

As and when I can, I shall also include a link (and brief description) to a page on Wikipedia for your location. For instance, in my case it would be for Gibraltar where I am originally from.

So... if you would like to participate and help me build a nice collection of souvenir tourist postcards from around the world, visit Postcards from the World now and just follow the simple instructions there.

I do hope you can help me build an interesting collection of souvenir postcards from all across the globe... so please do paricipate and send me your souvenir tourist postcard!

I look forward to receiving many great postcards from all across our wonderful world!

Thank in advance! :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Can Gibraltarians ever envisage a Spanish Gibraltar?

Can Llanitos... Gibraltarians, ever envisage a Spanish Gibraltar? There's a question to ponder!

Personally, I don't think so. For ANY Gibraltarian, certainly of my generation, the possibility of a Spanish Gibraltar is anathema... it's simply unthinkable!

My question arises following recent comments apparently made by Peter Montegriffo, the former GSD (Gibraltar Social Democrats) minister, in an interview with the Campo de Gibraltar newspaper, Europa Sur.

I tried searching for this interview but was unable to find it in Europa Sur online. I can only assume it was only carried in the offline version.

I did however, find some 'third party' comments on this interview. Gibraltar's Panorama online carried an article on it yesterday and my colleague, Sancho, blogging over at Tilting at Windmills also made some interesting comments.

Peter Montegriffo is a lawyer and partner in Gibraltar law firm Hassans. He was Minister for Trade and Industry, with responsibility for economic development and financial services, in the first GSD Government, (deputy to Peter Caruana, the Chief Minister), between May 1996 and February 2000, when he resigned from politics to 'pursue other interests'.

Whilst Montegriffo comments on political matters from time to time, he has officially been out of politics since his resignation from government. Many however, believe he is merely biding his time until the present Chief Minister, Peter Caruana, steps down. It is thought that he will then 'throw his hat' into the GSD leadership race that will ensue.

In his blog comment, Sancho said:

Given that when the two big beasts of Gibraltar politics, Caruana and Bossano, step down the leadership of the Rock will be in a state of flux, it would be a brave man (or woman) that rules Montegriffo out of the top job. His views should be listened to.

Sancho may be over dramatising this... but he may have a point. Montegriffo certainly seems to have the attention of a few influential people in political circles... and not just in Gibraltar but across the border too. Montegriffo has long been the secretary of 'Mar del Sur', a Spanish socio-cultural association which seeks collaboration between the two sides of the frontier. The group is thought to have links with the PSOE party in Spain.

Anyway... it appears, that in this interview with Europa Sur, Montegriffo said that the time was not ripe for a sovereignty solution. He backs the Tripartite Forum, which he says is "making greater headway to remove the distrust that still exists between those on either side of the frontier". I would agree with him wholeheartedly on that as I also support this view.

Montegriffo, however, then added a surprising and intriguing comment. He said that "adequate conditions must first be created before embarking on sovereignty talks".

Asked if there is a solution to the sovereignty issue, he replied:

"Of course there is.

I have always thought it is possible to find a solution in the context of the European union, applying the democratic principles and of mutual respect that unite us."

Hmmm... well maybe if Spain ever grows up and allows their 'democratic priniciples' to mature... and maybe if they actually start to respect the democratically expressed wishes of a people... exemplified in at least three referenda over the last forty years... this may be so at some time in the future... but then again, pigs may fly!

Moving on... Montegriffo added:

"I think that at present the conditions are not there in Madrid or in Gibraltar to tackle an agreement on this topic, as there is still too much distrust as neighbours.

It will be premature at present to seek a solution, which is not urgent anyway."

Not urgent... no, or desired, at least by me and I am pretty sure, neither is it desired by the vast majority of Gibraltarians!

Sancho, in his post, summarises the situation succinctly:

I am curious by what the former GSD minister says in an interview with Campo de Gibraltar newspaper, Europa Sur. If he is quoted correctly he stated the time is not ripe for a sovereignty solution. He says that adequate conditions must first be created before embarking on sovereignty talks...but then goes on to say he believes that a future agreement on sovereignty can be reached.

I should add that he fully backs the tripartite process and closer links with the Campo de Gibraltar. However co-operation is one thing – sovereignty is quite another.

So why future talks?

Unless I am wrong, and I frequently am, the Spanish Government’s position is clear – it believes that Gibraltar should be an integral part of the nation and even joint sovereignty would only be a stepping stone on the road to that eventual goal. All the major parties are agreed on that stance.

In contrast the people of Gibraltar have indicated in two referenda that they totally reject any sovereignty deal with Spain. Hence we have two set positions – surrender and no surrender.

If Spain’s ambitions for Gibraltar and Gibraltarians ambitions for the Rock are totally at odds with each other - surely there is nothing to discuss.

Therefore unless Gibraltarians collectively are willing to go along the Spanish route talks can achieve nothing. Indeed you can’t have talks on sovereignty when sovereignty for Gibraltarians isn’t an issue.

Spain, or rather its government, isn’t going to change its stance – so is Gibraltar?

Curious Sancho?? You and me both! Curious as to what Montegriffo is up to! But... the question Sancho raises, is an interesting one... one that has been on my mind for some time too.

Frequent readers of my blog will know how I feel about Gibraltar's sovereignty. I have stated it quite clearly at the start of this post. For me... and for many Gibraltarians, at least those of my generation I'm sure, this is not an issue that is 'up for grabs'! I consistently maintain this:

Gibraltar belongs to the People of Gibraltar. It is neither Spain's to claim nor Britain's to give away!

But... Montegriffo's comment and Sancho's understandable question, bring up the issue, as I say, that is often on my mind these days. Will Gibraltar ever envisage the possibility of being Spanish viable?

Montegriffo, in his statement, seems to imply, that whilst conditions may not 'be there' in Madrid or in Gibraltar, to tackle an agreement on sovereignty now... they may be in the future?

Actually, I disagree with him with regards to Madrid. The right 'conditions' certainly seem to me to exist in Madrid. Sancho clearly also sees it this way.

Only last week, the foreign affairs committee in the Spanish 'Congreso' (parliament), in a rare display of unity, the ruling PSOE and the PP opposition parties came together and urged the Spanish government to renew their demands and talks over the sovereignty of Gibraltar. Futhermore, the demand for sovereignty over Gibraltar to be returned to Spain, is officially included in every Spanish legislature! So I cannot agree with Montegriffo on that point.

Now... as for Gibraltar... the right conditions are certainly not there now... but will they ever be??

I think most Gibraltarians of my generation would not think so. As I say, the question is anathema. Gibraltarians have been harrassed and bullied for decades. Many experienced the 12th 'siege' when the frontier was closed in 1969 and commercial, military and air travel restrictions were imposed on the community for the best part of twenty years. This dictatorial behaviour by Spain, which lasted long after Franco's death, has left huge scars on generations of Gibraltarians, who I may add, are little pacified by Spain's continued belligerent critical attitude and demands towards Gibraltar even today. A very strange policy for consistent Spanish governments to pursue and one that, only in recent years, has seen any softening, following the Cordoba Accord and the ongoing Tripartite Forum process.

Since the border was reopened in 1986, however, younger generations of Gibraltarians have been enjoying a different experience. These days there is wide cross border interaction, for shopping, travel and many other leisure activities. Young Gibraltarians are mixing more and more with their counterparts across the border, in a way which would have been unthinkable some years back... and of course, impossible through the late 70's and early 80's. Some Gibraltarians have even started choosing to go to Spanish universities, as opposed to the United Kingdom, (as has always been traditional), for their further education.

Of course, their new experience does not necessarily mean they are more easily disposed towards Spain, but I do sense a slight shift in the traditionally entrenched views.

Whether this means younger generations may be more disposed to look at the possibility of a Spanish Gibraltar, I would doubt it. But... if the penny were to finally drop with Spanish politicians... to take a more seductive, perhaps more mature and sensible approach to their politics towards Gibraltar... who might say what could be the result.

Are these the 'conditions' that Montegriffo has in mind for possible future talks? Quite possibly.

Generations of Gibraltarians have consistently said an emphatic NO to Spain in referendum after referendum. IF... (and this is a very big IF) Spain were to take a more relaxed approach, a more conciliatory and friendly... perhaps even more helpful approach towards Gibraltar, maybe even taking away those hateful intrusive border restrictions.... who knows what result a future referendum on the sovereignty of Gibraltar might throw up??

During my lifetime... I have seen the longed for but unimaginable happen. The collapse of Communism and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The taking down of the Berlin Wall. The end of sectarian killing and the coming of a (hopefully lasting) peace in Northern Ireland. I still live in hope of similar in the Middle East, Gaza and Israel.

A Spanish Gibraltar? Well... it's simply unthinkable, undesired... and complete anathema to me and my generation and all older surviving generations. Will this remain the same for future generations?

Perhaps... this is what the wily political lawyer is getting at! Whose to say what's round the corner?

For myself, I hope Spain continues their belligerent stance, pissing off all Gibraltarians... old and young, as they have been doing for centuries! Gibraltarians can live with that... we've been doing it for years. The alternative, at least for me... doesn't bear thinking about... and I very much hope the younger generations of Gibraltarians continue to see it this way... in perpetuity!

Update - 22nd March 2009 16:40:

Readers interested in this topic, may be interested to view/participate in this Poll I've set up, following a request from Forum member:

Discussion Forum > Poll: Will Gibraltarians ever envisage a Spanish Gibraltar?

You will need to be a Registered Member in the Forum to participate. Registering is easy and a simple process that only takes about 5 minutes of your time.