Thursday, September 27, 2012


Before and shortly after Mariano Rajoy became Spain’s prime minister he was been mocked in that country’s media for not speaking English. Many media commentators felt he let his country down when he went to international forums and had to have a translator to hand because unlike other national and business leaders he spoke only his native tongue.

This problem seems to have translated to the United Nations which Rajoy addressed on Tuesday. There, in Spanish but with simultaneous translations in to other languages, he called on the UK to re-open dialogue with his government on the sovereignty of Gibraltar.

Of course since the Partido Popular has been in power in Madrid the British Government has made it as clear as can be that it will not re-open talks on the sovereignty of Gibraltar without our government participating as equals  or without our government’s agreement. I have suggested here in the past this has more to do with the sovereignty of the Falklands than Gibraltar but we cannot look this gift horse in the mouth.

The British Government is clear, there is no reason to believe a Labour Government would take a different view, and hence the future sovereignty of Gibraltar is safe – so what doesn’t Rajoy understand? English!

If he doesn’t understand what Cameron, Hague, the Foreign Office, our ambassador in Madrid and Gibraltar’s own government and people are telling him (except Caruana) no wonder he still believes this is a matter for discussion.

Rajoy has called for a dialogue, “direct and sincere” on the decolonisation of Gibraltar which he told the UN had been lost for ten years. He lamented there had been no discussions on a bilateral basis between the UK and Spain since 2002 because the Gibraltarians had objected.

Well the dialogue may be direct but it can hardly be sincere when you are calling on Britain to disregard the people of Gibraltar’s right to self-determine their own future and impose one, not of their making or to their liking, decreed by London and Madrid.
It cannot be sincere when you call for London to decolonise Gibraltar by in effect making it a colony of Madrid.

It cannot be sincere when you treat Gibraltarians as non-people who have no right to a say in the future of their nation.

With the Catalans going to the polls on November 25 in what will be a referendum, except in law, on that region’s determination to seek independence, with a further referendum proposed for the next legislature, you would have thought Rajoy had more to worry about than Gibraltar. Then of course he doesn’t speak Catalan either.

As I wrote here on Tuesday Spain is in very real danger of disintegration or at least descending in to a series of federal states. In that scenario any imagined claim a Spanish federation of autonomous regions may have over Gibraltar will go out of the window.

The key issue in Spain isn’t Gibraltar is it the economy, unemployment, major cuts, homelessness and the determination of the autonomous regions to break from Rajoy’s Madrid. That is what the protests in regional parliaments and on the streets are all about. Rajoy doesn’t seem to have got that message either.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


The Spain of today is in a deep financial crisis. Rather than the country pulling together it is pulling apart. The core of Spain, still less than a year since it returned a Partido Popular government, is in revolt against Rajoy and his policies.

In the autonomous regions that revolt has gone a stage further with a stronger desire than ever to see a break with Madrid. Last week the President of the Generalitat, Artur Mas, met Rajoy in the Spanish capital determined to get a new deal for Cataluña. Not only did he leave empty handed it is likely he will call elections shortly that will in essence be a referendum on Cataluña’s links with Spain.

Under the Spanish Constitution Cataluña cannot hold a referendum to leave Spain. Neither can the Basque or any other region. However a constitution only holds good whilst it is accepted by the people. We have seen with the Arab Spring how by taking to the streets people have overturned governments and dictators. Make no mistake if the population of Cataluña, the Basque region, Galicia and other areas of Spain with their own distinct identity marched against the constitution and for independence Madrid would descend in to chaos: the Spanish State as we know it would cease to exist.

All of this is a very real possibility. The nation is already on the march against Rajoy and the Partido Popular because of his government’s handling of the economic crisis. They are angry at the high jobless levels especially amongst the young, the families loosing their homes and the cuts to education and the medical services. Add to that the widely held belief in Cataluña that the region is being unfairly discriminated against which fuels further the demand for its independence. Stir in the Basques, Galicians and other regions and you have an explosive mix.

This makes last week’s call by the socialist president of Andalucía, José Antonio Griñán, for a federal Spain all the more interesting. Speaking on Europa Press Televisión, Griñán called for the development of a federal Spain, co-operative, where all are equal before the law and at the same time full respect is shown for the nation’s diversity.

The Andalucía leader stated “I think that the Constitution, that is the fruit of consensus, is the road and the solution to our problems as well.” He wants to see the country’s Magna Cart changed so it now meets the realities of present day Spain as it did when it was first drawn up.

Griñán said Spain had the opportunity to construct a nation of autonomous regions, for a phase of co-operation that will lead directly to a federal model based on the objective of a place for all, where employment is the priority and which gives hope to all.

Whilst the radical Catalans and Basques want full on independence Griñán’s call is for a Spanish federation of independent regions. Needless to say both of these visions have the Partido Popular in panic because it is a centralist party and rather than cede power it would rather disband the regions with control returning to Madrid as in the days of Franco.

If Spain does disintegrate then it would work in Gibraltar’s favour. It is Spain that claims sovereignty over Gibraltar but if the Spanish State does not exist then there can be no claim. There can be no claim from Cataluña, the Basque region, Galicia, Valencia or even Andalucía. Any remaining claim from a rump “Spain” in the centre of the Iberian Peninsula would hardly ring true.

Hence the threat to the Partido Popular is that not only could it loose all the Spanish regions but also what it sees as its right to bully Gibraltar into submission. Gibraltar can easily build alliances with the separatist Basques, Catalans and so on: indeed the blocks already exist. It is in our interests to start this work sooner rather than later.

(Since the above article was written the secretary general of PSOE, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, the former Minister of the Interior, has spoken in favour of a federal model for Spain in line with that found in Germany).

Friday, September 21, 2012


I know that in his youth our Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, flirted with the music scene so might I suggest to him that the name ‘Picardo and the Pirates’ has a certain ring to it. Readers with long memories will remember the successful 50s and 60s group ‘Johnny Kidd and the Pirates’. There is no rule that says you cannot be a chief minister and a pop star.

When news broke of the confrontation in Sevilla, where the Chief Minister was speaking at a lunch forum and was presented with the pirate flag, my mind went immediately to music and Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Pirates of Penzance’. The former British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, was a keen devotee of Gilbert and Sullivan. I interviewed him at length in 1981 for WQXR – the classical music station of the New York Times. After reviewing his lengthy political life we talked of comic opera and his particular liking for the Pirates. The 1879 musical was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic and is as popular now as then. Perhaps a performance could be arranged for Gibraltar’s Inces Hall.

Of course as a pirate Fabian Picardo is in good company. Sir Francis Drake is a national hero in Britain but is viewed as a notorious pirate in Spain. I guess you pay your pieces of eight and takes your choice.

In history pirates did operate out of Gibraltar but the real stronghold was further up the coast in Cádiz. To this day you can walk along the Callejón de las Piratas in Cádiz’s old town: they used to meet and trade their booty in the nearby Posada del Mesón in the calle Mesón.

No great surprise as the city and province was strategically placed to intercept vessels trading between Africa and the Americas and was a pirating hot spot especially in the 17 th and 18 th centuries. The corsair pirate ships used the Cádiz coast as a refuge and also as a centre for their operations.

Although we have a set image of the pirates of old those who operated out of Cádiz had a close relationship with Spanish aristocrats and senior members of the military. I guess the Partido Popular hierarchy and Guardia Civil of today!
The first famous pirate spoken of in Cádiz was Fernando de Sahandra who in the 15 th century made a healthy living by targeting Berber trading ships. He disregarded the protocols of his day and even sunk a Sevilla ship that was owned by the Reyes Católicos.

Around the same time Pedro Fernández Cabrón took advantage of the conflict between Ponce de León and the Guzmans to rob them both. Learning that Fernando de Aragón did not look kindly on his pirating activities he converted to extreme Christianity and was pardoned by the Reyes Católicos in 1478 because of his contribution to the faith.

Then the were the Galindes brothers, Pero and Diego, who with a crew including local fishermen assaulted a Breton vessel owned by John Ropel and bagged a valuable booty of 600,000 maravedíes, a unit of Spanish currency used up to the 19 th century. Ropel protested to the Marqués de Cádiz but as the nobleman wished to keep on the good side of the local people he told him in future to strengthen the defences of his ships and dismissed his complaint.

The next time our chief minister meets a Spaniard waving a pirate flag he can talk authoritatively of Cádiz’s Antón Bernalt, Jerónimo Marrufo and Jerónimo de Cubas who were deemed as legal pirates. They achieved this status because when they sent their corsairs to raid a wealthy merchant ship they had already agreed with the Spanish authorities what percentage would be paid over to the public coffers. How very Partido Popular!

Monday, September 17, 2012


There is an accepted rule amongst journalists that you should write or report on the news yet should not be the news yourself. It is a rule I have tried to abide by yet have failed as Gibraltar’s former Chief Minister, Peter Caruana, has twice named me in Parliament and once in a Gibraltar Government press release. On all three occasions it was a case of shooting the messenger and shooting yourself in the foot at the same time.
On Tuesday my editor pointed me to a piece on the Panorama website where reports are reproduced about Gibraltar in the Spanish media. The story in question came from Intereconomia and was entitled “Eurovegas, otro Gibraltar en el corazón de España.” Curiously I had written about Eurovegas coming to Madrid and Barcelona’s response – Barcelona World, just days earlier.
However this was a rambling report linking Eurovegas with Gibraltar and in the centre of the piece, by one Santiago Mata –an historian by all accounts, was the reference to Panorama and me.
It reads: “Uno de estos llanitos más exaltados y que además vive en la Costa del Sol, David Eade, propone en Panorama como forma de expansión de su influencia votar en España, para lo cual tendrían que estar censados, claro. Pues sencillamente constátese dónde viven, oblígueseles (en concreto a Eade) a pagar lo que deben al fisco, y luego si quieren votar, que voten.”

Now my initial reaction was to shrug the report aside until my good friend and colleague of the printed word Alberto Bullrich pointed out: “they are saying so in the most right-wing medium since Franco.” At which point my blood was stirred!

For the record I am not a “llanito” but would be proud to be so. I do not live on the Costa del Sol nor have I for 15 years. I pay my tax, social security and all other charges demanded of me by Mariano Rajoy and also by the Gibraltar Government. I have exercised my right to vote in Spanish town hall elections and European elections and will continue to do so. I certainly have not nor will not vote for the party of Franco whatever disguise it comes in.

That apart what has raised the un-named writer in Intereconomia’s ire is the fact that I was suggesting in a recent Panorama article that Britons and Gibraltarians who lived in the Campo de Gibraltar, who are registered at their town hall, should exercise their vote in favour of pro-Gibraltar parties or policies. I also pointed out that as the number of British and Gibraltarian residents in the Campo de Gibraltar was rising steadily, as too is their percentage over Spaniards, that in future they could form a strong political component across the border. This concept, known as democracy, obviously terrifies the Intereconomia scribe as it probably does right wing Spanish politicians in general. The fact that British and Gibraltarian voters living in the Campo de Gibraltar could kick out Partido Popular councillors and possibly cause the party to lose power in local town halls is simply too much to bare.

Had Intereconomia kept stum then my previous words and views on the possibility of Britons and Gibraltarians playing a role in Campo de Gibraltar politics would not have made the columns of the Spanish press or indeed this website. The fact that they have suggests the right in Spain fears the power of the Gibraltarian vote: so the next time Spanish local elections come around think very long and hard about that then use your vote in the interests of the Rock.

PS: Intereconomia states I live on the Costa del Sol. As I said I don’t but curiously when I have been attacked by GSD supporters in the social media that is a claim they have also made. Surely GSD members are not in contact with “most right-wing medium since Franco” or are they?

Friday, September 7, 2012


Yesterday I penned an article for Panorama on the need of Spain to decide if it supports the rule of law or not. If it does then it has to recognise the legitimacy of the laws passed by Gibraltar’s Parliament, such as the 1991 Nature Protection Act, and the Geneva Convention to which it is a signatory giving Gibraltar three miles of territorial waters.
After I wrote the article I read a press release from our own government. This told me the Gibraltar Government had cancelled the contracts issued to Mr Nigel Pardo by the previous GSD administration. The contracts were in the name of his two companies of Land Projects Ltd and of Gibraltar Land Reclamation Company Ltd (GLRC) as Project Managers.
What caused me to raise my eyebrows was this phrase:The companies were informed that GSLP/Liberal Government have an objection in principle to maintaining in force contracts which were awarded illegally in the light, notably, of EU public procurement requirements.”
I know little of Mr Pardo but I understand that he is related by marriage to both the former Supreme Leader QC and also his one-time henchman Joe Holliday. If that is not the case then I am happy to be corrected. Either way that is not a crime.
Yet it would seem that the former Supreme Leader QC did enter in to an illegal contract deal with Mr Pardo, who may or may not have family links to him.
I am not sure whether this was illegality on Mr Pardo’s part: after all he may not have known the legal status of the deals. However as the former Supreme Leader is a QC we can presume he was fully aware of what he was putting on the table for this family related gentleman to sign. Even if it only became apparent later then the contracts should have been rescinded.
This begs the question: how can a GSD government, led by a leading lawyer and a QC, have a total disregard for the law. The former Supreme Leader may have thought he was the law, or above the law on whatever heavenly cloud he was floating on, but sadly for him he was not and is not.
So the former Supreme Leader broke EU law and also seemingly ignored the 1991 Nature Protection Act of Gibraltar: a law which still stands to this day. I suspect the list will get longer before we are done. One day the law will catch up with the former Supreme Leader and his former Government.
It will be interesting to hear what the former Supreme Leader’s Justice Minister, Daniel Feetham, has to say on the subject of these laws especially as he also is a respected lawyer and participated in this government.
For instance as the law minister did Mr Feetham advise his chief minister that he was breaking the law? If not, why not? If he did what was the former Supreme Leader’s reaction?
How does Mr Feetham justify his being a member of a government which has clearly acted illegally when he was meant to be the uphold of the law?
I do have a third question relating to Mr Feetham and the former Supreme Leader but that can wait to another day.