Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Gib yet again; and Spanish trials.

This is an El País article on the Gibraltar farce by someone called Schwartz, a 'writer and diplomat'. It contains some sense (Stop this idiocy!) and some nonsense (British ships are being sent to threaten Spain) and ends with the advice to Spain that she simply throws open the border so life can resume but then takes Gibraltar and the UK to court for chucking cement blocks into the bay and preventing trawling by Spanish ships. As the latter are famous for ignoring rules and as Gibraltar sees said fishing as illegal, this should be a lawyers' field day. Sr Schwartz suggests that when the verdict is passed down (in 10 years' time?) the UK and Gibraltar will be compelled to pay the resulting fines. Just as Spain pays the fines imposed on her by the EU, I guess.

I read at least 3 articles in Spanish papers on the Gib stand-off yesterday. Tellingly, not one of them mentioned Ceuta and Melilla. Not even to differentiate them from Gibraltar. I guess it's because the writers really do believe that these African 'enclaves' - because of the legal fiction they're part of Spain - aren't colonies. It would be nice to see this tested in a modern court. Even the court of global opinion.

The Economist, I'm pleased to say, shares my view that the UK has no strategic interest in The Rock and would be happy to negotiate its transfer. However, the idiocy of the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs has closed this off for at least a generation, says the journal. It's as serious as that. The guy should be fired.

This edition of the Economist arrived today, together with a response from Correos to my complaint. Through the mailman - and to my daughters - it was explained that the normal mailman had been on holiday and that, as my address didn't contain a number, the stand-in hadn't known where to deliver the magazines. Yes, well . . . .
1. The mailman was on holiday for 7 weeks?
2. They couldn't check my name with other letters coming into our street and so discover my house number?
3. They have more than one foreigner living in my street receiving mail from the UK?
In other words, pure bullshit. Or, putting it another way:- We couldn't manage an ounce of initiative.

While I'm complaining . . . Is it me or does this happen to others too? Over a week ago I went to Movistar (Telefónica) to change my mobile phone contract to them. A few days later, someone - presumably Movistar - cancelled my contract with Yoigo. Whereupon my phone ceased to function. When I went to Yoigo to sort this out, I was told they couldn't do anything as my contract had been terminated. And they certainly couldn't/wouldn't 'liberate' my phone so I could move to Movistar. So I went to a specialist phone shop but they said it couldn't be done except through Yoigo. So back to Movistar for the 3rd time, for another abortive attempt to get me hooked up. But at least they've lent me a phone for the duration. And told me of another phone shop where a technician should be able to help me. This will be the 6th face-to-face session and I know I will have to go back to Movistar at least one more time. Could anything be less efficient? Is it impressive that I haven't killed anyone? Yet.

Finally . . . My younger daughter - a very funny lady - has started her own blog today. Click here, especially if you're someone struggling to lose weight.


Alfred B. Mittington said...

That's the second time you say that. And the second time I shake my head at it...

Gibraltar has no strategic interest for the UK...

How very strange. Last time I looked, the UK (not to mention the rest of Western Europe) was still highly dependent (not to say addicted) to oil. And the shortest route to the Middle East still ran through the Gibraltar Straights, the Med, and the Suez Canal. Hence it seems to me that the UK has a vital strategic interest in maintaining a military port at Gibraltar, and a fortress that controls access to the Mediterranean.

Do correct me if you know better, and I'm wrong; but I remember reading that one reason why - of all uninvited busybodies - the USA will never accept a return of Gib to Spain is that Spain would then control both sides of the Straights. Which - with the chance of anti-yank Zapatero returning to power - they do not smile upon.

Yours, Al.

Colin said...

The Economist article I cited gives the facts on Britain's rundown of its naval/military interest on Gibraltar.

British cabinet papers from 50 years ago and less reveal just how little real interest the government has in the place and how much they'd like to get rid of it.

I think that, if it were a threat, the fortress could be taken out with a single rocket. An Excocet, say.

Sierra said...

Very few modern tankers can use the Suez Canal:


Colin said...

Peter Hitchins this last week:

I have no idea how the future of Gibraltar will be resolved. Quite how anyone could persuade a group mainly composed of English-speaking Genoese, who enjoy being British, to give that up, and to abandon their own sovereignty over that superbly spectacular rock, I have no idea. Why would anyone (apart from our Foreign Office, whose instinct is to surrender anything as soon as it can) want to? Britain’s strategic interest in the rock vanished 50 years ago, but the population are absolutely set on staying under the Union Flag and the Crown of St Edward, and why shouldn’t they, in this age of self-determination?

Alfie, Stop shaking your head! It'll fall off and none of us wants that|

Alfred B. Mittington said...

My dear Colin, I will shake my head until it rolls off if necessary. Like Saint Denis, I am able then to pick it up and run off with it...

The Economists argument is extremely thin. 'The Navy has mostly gone'. Yeah. Well. The question is not how many ships there are now, but whether the Navy could return in strength if a crisis demanded it. As in: Mr Erdogan and Mr Putin making a nice deal to let the Russian fleet into the Med, for instance.

Exocet rockets taking out fortresses? You're funny, Don't you think the military planners of yesteryear's Cold War kind of foresaw that sort of thing, and worse, and took measures? Do you truly believe we Brits are so dumb?


Colin said...


If the Yanks have bunker blasters that can reach Iranian nuclear plants, then surely we can destroy a few cliffs. Especially as we know where the weak points are.

No one in the British press talks of Gib having strategic value.

The rundown of forces on the rock isn't the essence of the loss of strategic value; it's the consequence of it. The place just ain't worth defending any more. a few drones controlled out of Kansas/Vladivostock would be a greater
threat to ships either in the Straits or elsewhere.

Forgive the Americanism but you seem to be inordinately fond of them. Not to mention your spelling.

Are you sure you're a Brit? I think we should meet so that I can assure myself. What's your street address down in Portugal? Ill be in Oporto later this week.

Alfred B. Mittington said...

Drones can do what fleets and military strongpoints did in the past??? Amazing that the great military powers of the world have not recognized that, and abolished their ships and air force and infantry divisions on the spot! Must be the evil interests of the Military Industrial Complex...

Oh dear....

If you want a similar 'optimistic' view of how the US could win the war again Japan with air force only, read Tuchman's book on Stillwell. It will teach you a thing or two.

If you wish to learn about the Group-think of the British Press, read what they wrote about Mr Hitler in the 30s. They were prophets whom we must worship!!!

I am as British as the Royal House, you oaf!


Colin said...


You clearly aren't au fait with the realities of the British Navy these days.

As it regularly said/complained of:
1. It would be impossible now to put together a Falklands type fleet. Despite knowing this, the Argies don't appear to be planning another invasion. Must be afraid of something.
2. The sole remaining British aircraft carrier won't have planes on it for the next 3 or 4 years.
3. Britain's infantry numbers are a fraction of what they were 20 years ago. 10 even.
4. It won't be long before we have a navy the size and capability of Holland's. To pick a country. Perhaps just a few canal longboats with guns mounted fore and aft.

If you have to go back 80 years for an example of British press group-think, you're really clutching at straws, Alfie. These days they take very different lines from each other. Or at least from the Guardian. The last paper to support retention of Gibraltar, being written and published by Liberals with a distaste for the lower classes who populate Gibraltar. Let them eat tortilla!

But, anyway, all right thinking people know that Gibraltar is of no strategic interest to Britain - otherwise why offer to share the place with the Spanish in 2002? Hardly the most reliable allies. We don't mind you being wrong. Though we sympathise with the loneliness of your furrow.


Alfred B. Mittington said...

Back in 1935 all right thinking people knew that Mr Hitler only wanted justice for his nation and putting a stop to communism.

Don't believe the arm chair strategists who go lustily against the grain of traditional strategic thinking, the trumpets of their impressive genius blasting...

Glad to see that at least you concede that I am as British as the Royal House...


Colin said...

Yes, I guess I must congratulate you on getting something right.


Perry said...

During Operation Desert Storm (1991) there was a need for a deep penetration bomb similar to the British weapons of WWII, but none of the NATO air forces had such a weapon. As a stop-gap, some were developed over a period of 28 days, using old 8 inch (203 mm) artillery barrels as casings. These bombs weighed over two tons but carried only 647 lb (293 kg) of high explosive. They were laser-guided and were designated "Guided Bomb Unit-28 (GBU-28)". It was proved to be effective for the intended role.

An example of a Russian bunker buster is the KAB-1500L-Pr. It is delivered with the Su-24M and the Su-27IB aircraft. It is stated to be able to penetrate 10-20 m of earth or 2 m of reinforced concrete. The bomb weighs 1,500 kg (3,300 lb), with 1,100 kg (2,400 lb) being the high explosive penetrating warhead. It is laser guided and has a reported strike accuracy of 7 m (23 ft) CEP.

The US has a series of custom made bombs to penetrate hardened or deeply buried structures:


Azra said...

Here we are, in the 21st century and countries are still fighting over land like we're in the dark ages. In my personal opinion, I do believe that Gib belongs to Spain, the way Ceuta and Melilla belong to Morrocco... based purely on their geographical location. This that countries want to claim other countries hundreds of miles away from the mother land is bullshit (the people are only ever in it for the benefits).

Anonymous said...

Colin, Well Jane Austin must be turning in her grave, after these multiple displays of pride & prejudice. But most enjoyable none the less.

The British army's opinion is at


It says "Gibraltar is well situated to observe shipping channels through the Straits and it could dominate the western entrance to the Mediterranean in time of war.

Its communication systems, runway facilities and harbour make it an important base for NATO."

Must say Colin I was surprised today by your dogmatic statement "my view (is) that the UK has no strategic interest in The Rock and would be happy to negotiate its transfer". No wriggle room there then. Ha.

But maybe you know a thing or two and you're not telling? Why are UK governments so keen to slough it off, even in the face of intense patriotic pride of her inhabitants?

Search me.

In these austere times, if our present government were to wish to divest itself, it would be propitious to cancel all those concessions which make it such an earthly paradise. UK Brits would approve of this, if they could see some useful infrastructure arise back home. So what are the low hanging fruit?


Says "Gibraltar benefits from an extensive shipping trade, offshore banking, and its position as an international conference center. It is a well known and regulated international finance centre and has been a popular jurisdiction for European offshore companies. The financial sector, tourism, shipping services fees, and duties on consumer goods generate revenue." AND "Non-resident businesses do not pay income tax unless the source of this income is Gibraltar proper. There is no tax on capital income." AND "there is no capital gains tax, wealth tax, sales tax or value added tax. Import duty is payable on most items at 12%" AND "Individuals pay quite high taxes . . . unless they are able to take advantage of High Net Worth Individual status or gain exemption as an expatriate executive." AND "Gibraltar is a VAT free jurisdiction" AND "There is no Estate duty in Gibraltar" AND "There is no Capital Gains Tax in Gibraltar." AND "There are no wealth, gift or other capital taxes" AND "Income from occupational pensions is generally taxed at 0% for those aged 60 and over" AND "Income from qualified investments, such as interest from bank and building society deposits and income from quoted investments, is tax-free."

Has George Osborne not heard of Gibraltar? Perhaps he has relatives there?

Bringing that all into line with how one would be treated in Southampton must be worth at least a dozen UK hospitals each year.

Then we could have another Gibraltar referendum.

We're all mugs to put up with all this nonsense.

Maybe with so much additional largess headed our way you may change your "no strategic interest" opinion Colin and keep it for a while?


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