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Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Remember that old marcher’s chant – “The People United Will Never Be Defeated”? Well today Gibraltar celebrates its National Day and a people united they are not.

In recent years there has been a National Day rally in Gibraltar’s Casemates. This consisted largely of leading politicians from the Rock’s major parties taking the stage to declare Gibraltar’s nationhood and the right to self-determination. There were also usually a number of British politicians on an away-day that made speeches which would largely have been treated with derision in their home constituencies.

This year the GSD government of Peter Caruana has knocked the Casemates rally on the head. His view is that now that Gibraltar has a new constitution and its colonial status is at an end the traditional National Day rally is redundant. Instead there will be a civic rally in John Mackintosh Square addressed by the mayor, Solomon “Momy” Levy, with music and choirs.

This has caused uproar from the opposition parties – the GSLP and Liberals – as well as the unelected PDP. Adding their voices have been the Self Determination Gibraltar Group (SDGG) and Voice of Gibraltar. They argue that Caruana is wrong and that despite the new constitution nothing has changed and hence the National Day rally should continue in its past form. Of course a cynic might say they were just upset at being denied a political platform for the day.

Step forward the SDGG to organise a rival rally in Casemates that of course is being attended by all of the above. It is timed for 11.00 the same hour that the official government ‘civic’ celebration is held further up Main Street. What will happen is that members of the GSLP, Liberals, PDP, SDGG and VoG will head to Casemates whilst the GSD supporters will be in John Mackintosh Square. This will leave the politically neutral on the Rock – basically one man and his dog – to choose which event they will support although the dog will probably favour the government’s celebration as there is free food.

At the end of all this the two sides will sit down and decide which rally was the most popular and therefore who has bragging rights for the coming year. They will conveniently forget the people who didn’t attend either rally and opted to spend the public holiday having lunch in Spain instead.

Of course the wider world, or rather the real world, will say that if the 28,000 Llanitos can’t come together to celebrate their Gibraltar National Day then they are still a long way off being a nation. However look on the bright side – “shooting yourself in the foot” is now truly established as the Rock’s national sport.


In today’s (September 11) report in the Gibraltar Chronicle the police estimated that over 4,000 people attended the Government’s “civic” ceremony in John Macintosh Square known locally as the Piazza. The police placed the figure at the SDGG organised political rally in Casemates at 850. You can read reports of the National Day celebration at http://www.chronicle.gi or by clicking Panorama on the links section.


Anonymous said...

The problem for the majority of Gibraltarians is that their world ends at the border so they have no interest in what the rest of the world thinks. Blame it on the border closure! Alfredo García

Thomas said...

Shooting yourself in the foot is a well practiced Gibraltarian sport! Don't forget two delegations trip off to the UN, one representing the government, one representing Joe Bossano, to give opposing views on the decolonisation of the Rock - not bad for just 18,000 voters. If only it was an Olympic sport and Gibraltar would be guaranteed gold.