On Friday I begged the question in Panorama should Gibraltar seek to make common cause with PSOE to pressure the PP Government in Madrid to honour its commitments under the Cordoba Agreement and the Tripartite Forum.
It appears that as I was writing the article the Commission of the Presidency and Equality of the Andalucía Government was talking about the Foro de Diálogo too. The ruling coalition of PSOE and the IU passed a motion calling on the Spanish Government to normalise relations with our Government and to reactivate the Forum of Dialogue for the mutual benefit of Madrid and Gibraltar. It will come as no great surprise to learn that the Partido Popular representatives on the Commission voted against the first part of the motion but not all of it.
The motion was presented by PSOE. The socialists received the backing of the far left Izquierda Unida but some of the motion was passed unanimously with the support of the PP.
It was like back to the good old days of socialist rule in Spain when they promised to make the border a pleasurable and easy place to pass through. Not only did those pigs never fly they didn’t even make it on to the runway. Still we should be happy that the Commission wants to see improvements to benefit both Gibraltarians and those in the Campo, to study the situation of the Spanish workers in Gibraltar, and to increase the coverage given to Gibraltar, the Campo and Ceuta affairs on the Andalucía broadcaster RTPA.
The socialists didn’t hold their punches. Speaking for the motion Rocío Arrabal who represents Algeciras for PSOE stated: “since the arrival of the PP in the Moncloa the relations of coexistence with Gibraltar have deteriorated significantly. The Government of the nation has forgotten permanently that more than 5,000 (Spanish) workers ply their trade in Gibraltar”.
The PSOE MP from across the bay went on to criticise the Spanish Government for announcing earlier this year “the end of the tripartite forum for dialogue on Gibraltar.” Arrabal pointed out that many advances had taken place since its inception for the people of Gibraltar and the Campo de Gibraltar including “the revaluation of pensions for workers in Gibraltar, the joint use of the airport or the opening of the Instituto Cervantes in Gibraltar”.
Another voice from across the bay then spoke up in the form of PP MP Jacinto Muñoz. Well I am sure I don’t have to tell you what Jacinto said but just for the record it included the fact that the arrival of the PP Government has meant that relations will be “bilateral” between Spain and the United Kingdom because Gibraltar “is not a sovereign State with voice and vote”. He went on to argue the Tripartite Forum had produced “damaging” consequences for Spain and added that under the PP government there would be no “submission” to Gibraltar as there had been from Socialist governments.
The IU view expressed by Alba Doblas was that every time there is a PP government in Spain relations with Gibraltar take a step back. Don’t we know it. Doblas called for collaboration and not confrontation.
So there we have it. It seems both the socialists and the IU are holding the PP government to account for Rajoy’s confrontational politics with Gibraltar. PSOE also seems intent on defending the Cordoba Agreement and the Tripartite Process. Which brings me back to my question of Friday – should we do likewise?
I leave the final word today to José Carracao who up to the last election was a PSOE Senator with a special role in Gibraltar affairs. A former mayor of Jimena and president of the Campo de Gibraltar town halls he still holds major influence in PSOE. He told me: “Demuestra que en España no todos pensamos igual, que hay una parte muy importante que pensamos que tener unas buenas relaciones, amistosas, con nuestros vecinos gibraltareños, son beneficiosas para ambos lados. La propuesta del PSOE, en la que he trabajado, aportando mis conocimientos de la cuestión, apoyada por IU, exige al Gobierno de España el restablecimiento del Diálogo, que ha dado importantes frutos en otros tiempos y que debe seguir dándolos, puesto, que hay cuestiones importantes: accidentes marítimos, tráfico de drogas, terrorismo internacional, por poner sólo unos ejemplos, que nos afecta a ambas comunidades y a los que debemos dar respuesta conjunta.
“Creo que desde el máximo respeto a las posiciones de cada cual, el diálogo es algo por lo que vengo luchando desde siempre y por lo que seguiré luchando. Hago grandes esfuerzos personales por intentar convencer al Gobierno de España, que el camino que ha elegido, de la confrontación no es el adecuado. Vivimos en una zona con una renta de situación magnífica que merece ser explota adecuadamente para que la gente que aquí vivimos podamos progresar de manera adecuada, en paz y en libertad y que se reduzca la alta tasa de desempleo que azota a miles de familias y los hace infelices.
"Espero que el Gobierno de España, tome buena nota de esto que el Parlamento de Andalucía a propuesta del PSOE y apoyada por IU le demanda, en representación de los ciudadanos andaluces."