Saturday, December 28, 2013


The British Government has made it clear it stands side by side in our dispute with Spain and that it upholds the right of Gibraltarians to self determine their own future. However the UK’s obligations should not end there. Although Gibraltar is punching above its weight on the economic front London should also be giving as much help and assistance it can to the economy of a community of just 30,000 people.

One of the success stories of recent years in Gibraltar’s economy has been the gambling industry. Now take a seat here because it has to be acknowledged that the man who established the on-line gaming companies in Gibraltar was the former Chief Minister Sir Peter Caruana for which he probably hasn’t been given enough credit.

It is clear that delicate discussions have been taking place between the UK and our Government on the new legislation the Treasury wants to introduce to claw back some of the tax income lost by major betting companies moving their operations here. London needs to be careful to balance its lust for winnings in tax against the damage it could do to our economy at a time when we are being attacked on all fronts by Spain.

This week Lord Gardiner of Kimble spoke in the House of Lords during the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill. In response to a question he stated: “The Government (HMG) have been working closely with the Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association to seek a remedy in the best interests of British consumers. Officials have met with the Chief Minister of Gibraltar and the GBGA, and there will be further meetings to discuss these matters. The Government have also hosted delegations from the Gibraltar Government and the GBGA in London. The Government very much look forward to continuing a positive and productive relationship with Gibraltar.” A lot of wise words but words that leave us none the wiser.

However Reuters does have some words of cheer. It reports that William Hill plans to maintain its online betting base in Gibraltar despite a tax clampdown that will cost it tens of millions of pounds. The company was one of many bookmakers which have set up internet operations allowing them to sign up British gamblers while benefiting from a benign local tax regime.

The UK is planning to impose a 15 percent duty on bookmakers' online winnings from British customers with effect from December 2014, a move that is expected to yield around 300 million pounds a year. Reuters quite rightly says the decision by William Hill will be welcomed Gibraltar's authorities, who have been concerned that bookmakers could move their online operations out of the territory.

Last Wednesday, Andy Lee, Managing Director of William Hill Online who is based in Gibraltar told Reuters: “We have over 400 people in Gibraltar; we run our global operations from there.  Our staff are very happy there and there are reasons why we will remain there in order to be competitive in this market.”

William Hill Online is just one of our online gaming companies. If others spoke out now in as reassuring terms as Andy Lee it would be a major boost to confidence in Gibraltar in these troubled times.

Monday, December 23, 2013


Well it seems Mariano Rajoy has sent his letter off to the Three Kings and they are going to get him a new toy: a massive water cannon. Just how they are going to get it down his chimney I have no idea.

The news was broken by Elena Valenciano is who the Vice Secretary General of PSOE, one of the MPs for Madrid and also the Vice President of PES. She reported: “Yesterday (Tuesday) we learned that the police are going to buy a truck equipped with a high-pressure water cannon to break up demonstrations. Known as jug, which has not been used in our country for more than 20 years, it will cost half a million euros and has a capacity of 7,000 litres of water to be mixed with colouring to mark the clothing of the protesters.”

Now why would Rajoy need a water cannon? Well it seems he told the Three Kings to "protect the free exercise of rights and freedoms and ensure public safety" and "in case of having to re-establish public order in the way least harmful as possible".  And so we witness Spain drift from being a full democracy to an authoritarian State.

The water cannon is all part of the paraphernalia of the PP’s new security laws aimed to keep Spaniards in check. The UN rates Spaniards as amongst the most obedient and well behaved in the world. Yet Rajoy insists he needs a massive water cannon and a draconian law to control them. He fools nobody.

So when this most tolerant of people take to the streets to protest at the handling of the economy, to demonstrate against people losing their homes, to voice their anger over the abusive banks and to rail at the corruption of the Partido Popular their Prime Minister has his answer. A new set of laws that has been condemned both in Spain and by international civil rights organisations plus his giant riot control water cannon. The silent majority will be made to remain silent.

Now if Rajoy treats his own people as if he was a dictator: as an all-powerful leader who demands they stay at home and do not use their democratic right of protest, if this is the way Spaniards are treated then his actions at our border with Gibraltar become much clearer.

Of course whilst Rajoy attacks Gibraltar, as we all know, it is the border town of La Línea and the Spaniards who cross to work who take the full brunt of his fascist actions. For Rajoy Gibraltarians may be a non-people but his fellow Spaniards are of no consequence either.

So in 2014 expect more harassment at the border, no doubt his water cannon will appear whenever Spaniards are brave enough to confront his security laws to protest and as for the people of Cataluña, God help them. I doubt if he will waste his water cannon on them when he has a squadron of armed tanks at his command.

A Happy New Year to us all!