Thursday, November 24, 2011


I was strap hanging on the London Underground last Thursday next to two young students who were deeply in love. I know this because between each segment of conversation they embraced and kissed passionately. It was annoying because the lad, when coming up for air, had mentioned Gibraltar.
It transpired that one of his tutors was a Spanish lady who also happened to be a surgeon, so obviously he was studying medicine. The subject of the Spanish General Election had come up in a chat and he asked how Gibraltar played in to all this. She was obviously rather taken back and said it didn’t, it wasn’t even an issue. La doctora was obviously surprised he should think it would be.
Now I have often written here in the past that whilst Gibraltar may be a hot topic in the Campo de Gibraltar in wider Spain it isn’t. Indeed it is mainly only an issue for Partido Popular politicians and right now they have more than enough on their plate without worrying about Gibraltar.
This was underscored on the same day when El País carried a major interview with Mariano Rajoy ahead of Sunday’s general election. The questions and answers spread over five pages and covered such headings as cuts and spending limits, the budget, street protests, Europe, reforms, tobacco – abortion – gays, ETA and the law, foreign affairs, Europe and various speeds of development, change, corruption and Valencia. Out of all of that how many words did Gibraltar get: 15.
Question: Gibraltar. Rajoy: Yo no voy a renunciar a lo que creo que es nuestro, como es natural.
As widely predicted Rajoy will be the new prime minister of Spain. In his interview he did talk a lot about Cameron because both are now Conservative prime ministers. He discussed Cameron over a fifth of a page but never once mentioned Gibraltar.
He said he had not spoken to Cameron directly recently as Britain is not in the euro but stressed that the Spanish and UK governments were in contact continuously. Anyway Rajoy certainly doesn’t speak English, I am not sure if Cameron speaks Spanish but he does have languages other than his native tongue.
Apparently last October the media had carried interviews with Rajoy where he had praised the policies of Cameron since becoming British prime minister although he added some of what he said had been used against him in Spain. He added he spoke of Cameron not slashing spending on the health service or education and had ruled out tax rises all of which he strongly approved of – perhaps Britons would argue on those points.
However both Cameron on taking office and now Rajoy find their countries in an economic mess. He supported the British premier’s intention to slash the deficit and says that is what he will do in Spain. Rajoy pointed out that these problems were shared by the major European countries but being a politician added that the previous PSOE government had made matters worse.
Last October Rajoy was quoted in an interview saying: “Yo haría algo similar a lo de Cameron en España.” He stresses he isn’t going to cut education, the health service or raise taxes but criticises Cameron for cutting social welfare. Rajoy is going to continue with investment as that is necessary, he says, for Spain to improve pensions, education and its health service. But Gibraltar – just 15 words!