The status of Gibraltar was not resolved when the UK had a veto before Spain joined the EEC in 1986 and I doubt whether this would have happened had the Rock been French. Its overseas territories are an integral part of France and are not expected to become dodgy tax havens to earn a living (“Defend Gibraltar? Better condemn it as a dodgy tax haven”, Comment). In return, they get to elect députés to the Assemblée Nationale in Paris. Even Saint Pierre et Miquelon, with around 5,000 voters, will get a seat in this May’s elections.
Post-colonial geography is complex, given how such distant territories can be uneconomic to maintain, but it’s a false economy to expect them to become tax havens. Over the last few centuries, they have helped support the growth in our collective wealth and security and, if they wish to remain part of the UK, our Caribbean islands, Bermuda and Gibraltar should be allowed to elect MPs and pay taxes and, in return, get proper financial support from the British government.
I wonder if the European commission has allowed the Spanish to make the running over Gibraltar in return for Spain not vetoing the accession of an independent Scotland into the EU, as a final snub to perfidious Albion once a post-Brexit Britain has disintegrated under the strain.
It is interesting to see how elastic the concept of democracy becomes in the hands of Brexiters. A small majority of Brits, influenced by lies from the media and unscrupulous politicians, votes to leave the EU. That must be obeyed; the people have spoken. But a larger majority of Scots and Northern Irish votes to stay in the EU. That must be ignored.
When 99% of Gibraltarians vote to stay in the EU, that must be disregarded as well, while at the same time we will deploy our armed forces to defend them from possible attack by the Spanish, who wish to absorb them and... er... keep them in the EU. The leader of the Green party described the Brexit decision as a “rightwing coup”. Sounds accurate to me.
Dr Peter Wadhams
Credit Corbyn on Syria
The Observer view on Trump’s air strikes against Syria is clear (Editorial). It is, as you write, provocative, maverick and with no justification in international law. Curious, then, that you do not equally clearly condemn the unequivocal support for Trump’s impulsive missile strike by Michael Fallon on behalf of the Conservative government and by Tim Farron for the Liberal Democrats. Even more curious is that you cannot bring yourself to congratulate the only leader of a major party who has also unequivocally condemned the dangerous American action. You clearly strongly agree with Jeremy Corbyn’s position. Why not, then, give praise where praise is due?
Educations that corrupt us all
Two books and their reviews last week reveal a deep, unpalatable truth about our country. Reviewing Stiff Upper Lip by Alex Renton, Andrew Anthony writes: “Those people [sadistic abusers] have often gone on to senior positions in politics, the military and the judiciary.” In his review of Life After Life, Chris Mullin writes: “The authorities resorted to a cover-up.”
The link is that when those in the establishment show such abuse and lack of respect for members of their own class, and spend their lives denying and covering up their private behaviour, we should not be surprised when cover-up and denial become second nature in the public domain.
If we want a society based on social justice and equality before the law, we have to question the justification and value of private education.
Appraising art, not artists
The article on Eric Gill’s legacy by Rachel Cooke (New Review) does indeed raise an important moral and artistic dilemma – can the art be separated from the artist?
As a youngster, I danced and sang along to Gary Glitter and watched Rolf Harris on TV. As a runner, I had a good laugh at the Jimmy Savile lookalikes doing the Great North Run and thought Savile was a good guy (if a bit weird), for raising all that money for charity. I and many others enjoyed their output; can we do that now? We can’t, but will we in the future?
Eric Gill is from a slightly earlier era, but his life is well documented. As we go further back in time, we know less and less about the artist, but the art endures. Ancient art is, in the main, anonymous and is thus evaluated on its own merit. Is ignorance of context a defence in art appreciation or a freedom? We do need, as Rachel Cooke suggested, a wide debate on this issue.
Not Boris’s worst blunder
Surely this is precisely the time for our foreign secretary to visit Moscow (“Bombers back in new strike on Syria sarin attack town”, and Editorial), although I do recall Mr Johnson making another foreign policy misjudgment (well, for the country that is).
John F King