Gibraltar National Day 2012

Wow! Just wow!

Like most of Gibraltar we decided to put patriotism before any fear of terrorist attacks and went to the National Day rally in Casemates Square.

Wandering down Main Street and the pubs were well busy

Gotta wear the right colours

The new (ie Dec 2011) Gib government pledged to bring back the political stance to Gibraltar’s National Day and today they did it in big style.

A zillion UK MPs had been invited to participate which they did. Why would you not? A free jolly to sunny Gib? Of course they would be happy to come and voice their support for Gibraltar’s right to self-determination and retaining British links.

In previous years, the GSD (Gibraltar Social Democrats) had toned down the national day speeches so that it was no more than a banal speech about Gibraltar, awarding children prizes for fancy dress, and giving out medals of honour. Boring.

In Casemates Square today, we heard from Ulster Unionists, Scottish Nationalists, Labour, Liberal and Conservative. Where was the Welsh front I ask?

Anyway, the SNP and the UDP got huge roars of support. Can’t say I agree with Ian Paisley (Jnr)’s stance on homosexuality aka homophobia, but he’s certainly got the art of rhetoric off to a T, just like his old dad.

The Labour MP, Jim Dobbin, Chair of the all party Gib committee, or something like that, didn’t get such a resounding reception.

Maybe that was because Jack Straw fucked it up trying to negotiate joint sovereignty back in 2002.

A bit of history.

The first referendum in Gib was 45 years ago in 1967. Then, there was a later one in 2002 after the secret deals between Straw and Madrid.

International observers
In order to ensure that the referendum was conducted fairly and that its result could not be dismissed, the Government of Gibraltar invited a panel of distinguished observers headed up by Gerald Kaufman, MP.

Their published report confirmed that:
The observers were extremely impressed with the organisation of the referendum and particularly welcome that the role of the observers was integral to the process, as distinct from the more passive role of observers in other elections. The meticulous way in which votes were counted exceeded requirements and went beyond requirements adopted for UK elections

Reaction in the Spanish media was hostile, with El País commenting that:
No Spanish Government, neither this one or its predecessors, has done enough to make joint sovereignty or integration with Spain an attractive prospect.

The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ana Palacio described the referendum as “illegal” and “against all the UN resolutions”.

For his part Jack Straw described the decision of the Government of Gibraltar to hold its own referendum on the prospect of shared sovereignty with Spain as “eccentric”.

Final effects
In his evidence to the British Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee in 2008, Jim Murphy MP, Minister of State for Europe, stated:
“The UK Government will never — “never” is a seldom-used word in politics — enter into an agreement on sovereignty without the agreement of the Government of Gibraltar and their people. In fact, we will never even enter into a process without that agreement.

The word “never” sends a substantial and clear commitment and has been used for a purpose. We have delivered that message with confidence to the peoples and the Governments of Gibraltar and Spain. It is a sign of the maturity of our relationship now that that is accepted as the UK’s position.”

Meanwhile today, we heard the word ‘Never’ alot.

The UK would NEVER give up Gibraltar, and Madrid should stop claiming Gib. The next time a Spanish fishing boat came into Gib/British waters it should be apprehended. Very gung-ho. Willing to back it up UK?

And from Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, Gibraltar was not willing to share one grain of sand or one drop of water. Not one drop.

Fabian speaking to Gibraltar

As always, Joe Bossano got a rousing reception too, when Fabian reminded everyone he was the man who introduced National Day 20 years ago.

In 1992, the then Chief Minister of Gibraltar Joe Bossano, travelled to the United Nations to argue for the right to self-determination inspiring the formation of the Self Determination for Gibraltar Group (SDGG). In order to generate popular support for self-determination they held the first National Day at John Mackintosh Square (the Piazza) on 10 September 1992 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the day the 1967 sovereignty referendum was held.

The first National Day was so successful that the avalanche of people that spontaneously turned up could not fit into John Mackintosh Square. The Government then took the responsibility of providing some help organising the event, since it fostered the right to self-determination that the Gibraltarians had been demanding at the United Nations since 1963. Therefore, the Government declared the 10 September a public holiday and in 1993 the venue was changed to the larger Grand Casemates Square.

National identity

The active opposition of the Spanish Government to self-determination combined with the negative posture of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, strengthened the resolution of the vast majority of the Gibraltarians to press ahead for their decolonisation by the year 2000 in accordance with the high principles of the Charter and the target date set by the United Nations to eradicate colonialism.

Instead, the UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, proposed joint sovereignty with Spain, which further intensified the sense of national identity reinforced by the National Day.

The 2002 National Day was closely followed Gibraltar’s second sovereignty referendum in which the proposed plan for shared sovereignty was overwhelmingly rejected by the Gibraltarians.

So there we have it. Gibraltar does not want to be Spanish, and courtesy of Joe Bossano, every year on September 10, we reiterate this message.

The start of the release of 30,000 balloons representing the population of Gibraltar

Personally, I think a nice sign hung on the north face of the Rock, saying ‘Fuck Off, Spain,’ would be a good idea, but perhaps it is too blunt. So we will all keep dancing around the silly political circles.

Watching the fireworks (ours, not from Spain)

However, most people today listened to the speeches and then happily danced away. Or ate out. Or walked home. But had turned out to support Gibraltar.

Walking home – and proud to be British

And to finish with a different sort of patriotism. Congratulations to all the British athletes who took part in the Paralympics, that closed yesterday, and won an astounding 34 gold medals and 120 in total to come third behind China and Russia. Given the respective populations of our countries that was one hell of an achievement.

Some more history:

These games marked the return of the Paralympic movement to its spiritual birthplace: the British village of Stoke Mandeville first hosted the Stoke Mandeville Games, an athletics event for disabled British Second World War veterans, to coincide with the opening of the 1948 Summer Olympics in London.

The Stoke Mandeville Games were the first ever organised sporting event for disabled athletes, and served as a precursor to the modern Paralympic Games. Stoke Mandeville also co-hosted the 1984 Summer Paralympics with Long Island, New York after its original host, the University of Illinois, pulled out due to financial issues.

Anyways, here in Gib, the main post box has been painted red, white and blue, following the Summer Olympics, no gold because we didn’t win gold, but we did have a rhythmic dancer and an umpire participating in the London Olympics.

Red white and blue postbox

London did well with the Olympics and the Paralympics and so did our British athletes. While we celebrate National Day here in Gibraltar today, we also remember and value our Britishness.

More Gibpix either in a slideshow or another post…. slideshow now added

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

All sources: wiki – accurate enough for Olympics and Paralympics, and the snippets of Gib political history.


59 comments on “Gibraltar National Day 2012

  1. Congrats on your great National Day celebration and the grand turnout. Very nice post. Interesting side note. We are experiencing a helium shortage here in USerland. Our uni tradition of releasing helium filled balloons after our first gridiron touch at home has been drastically cut back. Instead of 1000s there were only several dozen this year. And for the past 12 years they have been eco-friendly balloons. Your ballon release looked impressive. Am supposing that the Spanish Air Defence Ministry did not think the balloons’ radar blip was a flight of Gib fighters headed their way. 😉


    • I could have made ten posts out of this one! One of the comments made by our Chief Minister was that the balloons were environmentally friendly and if any animals found them they wouldn’t cause any harm.

      We only do this once a years so maybes 30,000 ain’t that bad? Until today and doing a bit of research I didn’t realise the nuances of national day and the political origins. But still I support Gib’s right to self-determination and not to be bullied by a bigger (and poorer) neighbour next door. I suspect Spain loathes our national day :)


    • LOL. Cheers Harry. It was good to have politicians from NI here sharing their views and experiences. I like Spain, and I guess you do too. But really after 308 years one wonders how thick they are to not have got the message. It gets boring and annoying too. But I guess you can tell me about it and more…..


  2. Well it is a good day for it, us here having paraded all Olympians and your National Day, us listening to bullshit from Cameron and you remembering Jack Straw,, well nothing changes…heehee, hope your day was good, here it is without politicians would be better… good as usual ;)


    • I do think the UK (ie GB plus Northern Ireland so rude to exclude NI) has done a superb job in hosting and participating in the olympics. I wouldn’t be interested in listening to SCameron at all.

      Another blogger first pointed out Jack Straw’s devious behaviour, but once you google it, it is pretty up there too. He made a few faux pas and Gib wasn’t the least of it. Toe rag.

      I’ve not done the music scene though… all the politics tired me out… and its all very quiet here right now. zzzzzzzz


  3. Your opening statement sums up my response as well… wow. I love the colour – is it that the red & white are the colours of St George, and convey a fighting spirit?, and that so many people believe, and come out to be part of it, a nose thumbing to both terrorists and Spain. Good that the pollies are rousing, and have the talk. Hopefully it wasn’t brought out for the occasion only.


    • The red and white is to represent the flag which you can see behind the stage where the politicians spoke. It is a red castle, to represent the fortress of Gib, and the key is meant to emphasise its significance. Ironically the coat of arms of Gib received its Royal Warrant from Queen Isabella of Spain :D The red and white is a terrific show though, and even just dressing in the same colours gives a very strong feeling of unity.

      Who can tell with politicians? I was impressed with our Chief Minister, who despite being a British-educated lawyer, managed to generate enthusiasm in his speech, sounded committed, and without talking down to people. He and the Gib govt can’t do everything on their own though, we do need British support given our size geographically and our small population when being threatened by Spain.

      Patron saints of Gibraltar (which is a Catholic country) are St Bernard and Our Lady of Europa.


  4. It looks like it was a wonderful day, you always manage to make the photos come to life, so us viewers get a feel of the celebrations.
    I love the post box, I think all the UK ones should be painted like that :-)


    • Thanks V. I’ll try and add a slideshow later today. I just wanted to get a post and some pix up on the day and I’d taken more than 100…

      (I like to beat the Gib Chron at posting news up :) – and when I googled for images on national day I was up there at the top, so was pleased with my little self. No idea where I am now, but it was getting there first I wanted. Me competitive? Never).

      I’d meant to take a postbox pic when they painted it, but invariably forgot the camera. Yesterday was perfect as no-one going in and out of the PO, and it fitted nicely with my comment about the paralympics that I wanted to include to mark the closing of the games. Ours are normally red UK style, which is OK too being one of Gib’s two national colours. Gib postal service and stamps are quite interesting, must get round to a post on them!


  5. Though not a grand fan of wiki, i’ll have to admit they sometimes do get it right (er) than many of the rest. Case in point: look up the definiton of ‘Iberian Peninsula’, and in nine cases out of ten you get ‘Spain and Portugal’. Wiki is one of the very few to actually include Gibraltar (and Andorra…) as part of the peninsula…

    Another good, informative, passionate post – thanks :)


    • I’m not a wiki fan either, but I am lazy. If I’m doing a more serious piece of research I’ll look up a lot more sources. This was really to explain how national day started, the desire of Gibraltarians for self-determination, and the devious talks held by Jack Straw with Madrid. For something like that wiki serves – and the paralympics too.

      I still see some errors and I suppose I should point them out instead of tut-tutting.

      Thanks. I do support the right of Gibraltarians to determine their own identity. Gib is NOT a political football for Spain and the UK to kick around between themselves. And that applies to all other small nations too. I do write unbiased/objective posts from time to time. Occasionally I even write why Spain still wants Gibraltar and their farcical reasons for continuing to claim it. In a way, I’m reflecting the views and mood of Gibraltarians. If they wanted to be Spanish, that would be their choice and I would reflect that. But they don’t.


    • Yes, I only realised this year the history of National Day. So all the more reason to wear our red and white and support Gibraltar’s desire for independence and self-determination.

      But there is always a good feeling. Lots of drinking but no violence! Can’t imagine it in the UK. For some it is a day off, for others, it probably means more. Who knows?


    • LOL! They are environmentally sound apparently, and it’s ok if your dog/cat/guinea pig finds it first and takes a bite at it, because they are animal-friendly too. I’m trying to think what direction they were going in. Slightly west, but mostly straight up. Think they need a bit of a wind from the south to blow anything your way. The balloons are really spectacular though.


  6. Interesting to have the SNP support there. Clearly they support self determination, even if they look like self determining themselves in the other direction and breaking with the UK. Is there a movement for an independent Gibraltar, or could it simply not resist Spain deciding to march its soldiers across the border and lay claim to it.

    Hopefully be there dressed in red and white 10th September 2013. Blu


    • Yes, I guess there is quite a difference between UDP and SNP, UDP being far more like Gib in wanting to retain British links.

      Gib sees itself as a decolonised nation (even though the UN doesn’t) that is part of the realm (the British one obviously). I’ve not heard anything about total independence, I think the biggest movement was setting up the SDGG (referred to above), so that Gib could decide its future and not Spain or the UK. Given Gib’s history, I think the main issue here IS maintaining the status quo rather than going for anything new.

      And all you have to do is look at the Falklands… I am sure Spain actually would be very tempted to take an ‘independent’ Gib with only the Gib Reg to fight against all of Spain’s forces. Bit of an unfair battle however strategic Gib may be positioned. Apart from anything else back in 1704 – and later in the C18th when Spain was having a few more attempts to take Gib – there were no air armed forces. I think the current position suits Gib – we have our own internal government, and the UK is responsible for foreign policy and defence. We’re a town council with a difference.

      One of the MPs said on Monday that Gib needed the UK – and that the UK needed Gib. Gib was used when everyone decided to pile in against Ghadaffi, and is always used for a stop for ships travelling in and out of the Med – or even further away. So although the naval presence has been drastically (and sadly) reduced compared with earlier years (eg I’ve got pix from our first visit in 96), it is still used. ‘Planes used Gib to practise flying in a small airspace before the Olympics too.

      Hoping you’ll be here too, preferably before September! Interestingly it will be the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Utrecht, so an interesting one there for fun and games.


  7. Firstly, thanks for thanks for stopping by.

    Great Article. Interesting to read on occasions for fully public celebration with strong underlying political tensions. The “Fuck Off Spain” sign made me laugh. I wish we could hang a similar one on the south walls of Canada (no rock here and the walls are figurative)….but we would probably have drones in our skies shortly thereafter. A lot of Spain is embroiled in civil/labour protest, does this transfer to Gibralter at all? Unfamiliar with the labour organization of Gib. As Gib is not FIFA sanctioned would I also assume most of the local population supports Portugal or is there a rift there?

    Thanks for writing.


    • Thanks. The only way Spain’s labour problems translate to Gib is that Spaniards are desperately keen to either get work or hang onto their current jobs in Gib.

      There is no problem – normally – with the intermixing of the local populations. many Gibraltarians support Spanish football teams, eg Barca, Real Madrid, and from our point of view, whenever England is knocked out of world tournaments, doesn’t usually take long, we always support Spain. Who have a far better team anyway.

      I think it’s reasonable to say that for the most part Spaniards and Gibraltarians get along together. The problem is the politics.


  8. This post is really funny because your sentence about putting a sign on the rock that says, f*ck off Spain had me laughing out-loud. Guess it would be nice if the UK would actually keep their word apprehending any spanish vessels. I think it is wonderful that Gib went ahead with the celebration and did not allow the terrorist scares to stop the festivities.

    Loved the colors by the way, and the “square” pictures walking down the street were really great photos. The town looks so quaint and all of the people look so friendly. Your commentary with the use of the f*ck word and Spain in the same sentence gave me a good laugh for the day, thank you for that, it was much needed!


    • Well, it’s not my usual tone on here. I try and keep this a fairly anondyne and pleasant blog. But really. We have had this for more than 300 years. Spain signed an international treaty in 1713 agreeing to cede Gib to Great Britain (following the actual capture of Gib by anglo-dutch forces in 1703) and promptly spent the next 100 years trying to take it back. In the 21st century they are still banging the same drum. Gibraltar does not want to be Spanish. And as all the diplomacy in the world is changing nothing – I thought my helpful suggestion might get the message across.

      The colours really are fantastic, it really is wonderful to see such a throng of people all dressed in the same colours. It’s not a uniform because we don’t all look the same, but it does show support for Gibraltar.

      Thanks for your comments, and if it made you laugh, that’s great. :)


  9. it looks you all had a great National day, i wish you many
    more to come! Sad though to see that a great nation
    like Spain, a pseudo democracy, is still trying to bully
    Gib into submission. Francos ghost maybe?


    • Good to hear from you. Yes, it was a good day. A bit more nationalistic than previous ones, which we liked given the current situation regarding the waters dispute.

      Yeah, maybe franco won’t die. Or rather, poor Spain can find nothing better to do than claim Gib? :) Thanks for the comment.


      • your welcome, im sure its envy though, Spains having a tough time, they look at a small country next door thats doing ok and they’re envious, its easy to understand i suppose its the kinda place id like to be too


        • Gib has always done better than Spain, but La Linea in particular gains from Gib in terms of employment, as do Spaniards crossing the border for fuel, tobacco and spirits.

          It’s a nice place to live, but it also has its down sides.


          • what would say they were? its not that i mean to be nosey but
            its just that it seems that once employment is secured then quality of etc would far suppass anywhere else in the UK or even the Med


          • yes i see that, half a dozen agencies offering the same jobs in ebanking etc, no one looking for van or taxi driver, shop staff etc?p


  10. There’s nothing like a threat to bring out the patriot in us all – to a point, not such a bad thing, in the end! Very few of us appreciate what we have until it is threatened… Interesting POV.


  11. (Ok, I’m running a bit late reading – but Molly is very time consuming.)
    What a great celebration – so nice to hear/see all the pride of country. Love the balloon picture in the post – and the mailbox seems to fit Gib perfectly. The red castle makes a great sign and statement.
    But I like your idea with the sign face of the cliff.
    Hey, can people order those red t shirts like in the header?


    • Mollies (and Pippas) are a priority well above blogs :)

      There was lots of music as well, but we like to listen to the lunchtime speeches adn watch the balloons because that is the real focus of the day, and more ‘political’ now with the election of the Socialist/Liberal government. When I say political, I mean in terms of Gibraltar’s independence rather than party politics.

      The cliff sign came to me after the face of the queen had been flashed up there for jubilee celebrations. Shame they didn’t make one of her to hang there all year :) although there is one on a pedestrian overbridge not far after people have come across the runway.

      It’s a good t-shirt I think. Pretty unequivocal. It’s the only one I have seen though. Didn’t see any others on the day so maybe it was a one-off special order? It wouldn’t have been expensive though as Gibbos seem to go big on identification by t-shirt whether it is business, clubs, Nat Day or anything else.


      • Ooops just had another look. It obv is a business one for the travel firm Parody Tur, so they must have got a certain number made and handed them out to clients and friends. Last year ours came from the Paint Shop – pic here – (near the bottom, blows up larger). There is another pic of a guy with earphones and his has the Gibraltar National Anthem on – for some reason when that pic blows up it shows my white trousers. That’s what happens when you import from Blogger……


  12. Well, I guess different expressions of nationalism are friendlier than others. The equivalent, though not really the same is Quebec in Canada –but only for those who want an independent Quebec which …frankly I don’t believe it will happen successfully. Economic independence is now even more difficult to achieve in this century.


    • That’s an interesting point. In fact Quebec has always been like that for as long as I can remember. And while I know little about Canada we must have learned something at school, probably because it is in the Commonwealth, I had a ladybird book about it, and of course we learned french at school so the use of french in Canada cropped up there.

      Canadian politics must have been well covered in British media because I still remember the Pierre Trudeau (first) government and the conflict with the Parti Quebecois. Of course the difference there with the referendums is in the vote. Totally different to Gib referendums where 99% vote to retain the status quo.
      The Falklands one will be an interesting one to watch.

      Ironically, here in Spain it is the reverse. With the appalling economic situation, the richer northern communidades want independence. Pais Vasco (Euskadi) has always demanded it, and they have their own language (euskera) and had/have their own terrorists – ETA. Pretty similar to the IRA really. Catalunya is now pushing for it too, (also have their own language, Catalan), and according to our Spanish neighbour, a couple of others want out because they feel they are subsidising the poorer parts of Spain – but hey, that’s how politics works.


        • Er no. I remembered vaguely, but had to look it up. Knew it was something like Truffaut, but knew he was films not politics! But I did remember the incredible dissension, one of those stories, for whatever reason that sticks with you. I just didn’t remember the detail. Although when I read it, it came back, including René whatshisname. Which isn’t bad for forty years ago :D

          Equally so, I remember Russian troops and tanks going into Poland, and my parents and uncles worrying about another world war. Perhaps news media was more representative then. Who hears about Canada now? I don’t.

          If it isn’t American-based, collapsing EU economies, or yet more vitriol against Muslims, it ain’t news :(.


          • I was reading an on line copy of a Morrocán newspaper yesterday, interesting to see that Spain refuses to enter talks with then about Ceuta, theyre watching the Gib situation closly


          • We just enter the same old dances. None of the people want to change. Just the governments to score points. And when Spain is skint – got to do something to show they are worth being in power. If governments spent less time trying to recapture ancient history and more time looking ahead they might be more successful.


  13. Nice post. Sadly any study of British history and politicians shows the various administrations are never to be trusted. Not for nothing is Britain described as ‘perfidious’.
    Good luck with the future and let’s hope the governments involved remember that this is about the people, not geo-political deals and elite stitch-ups.


    • Thank you. That’s absolutely true and I should know as a history graduate. But it’s one thing being on the end dishing it out where it doesn’t matter and a far different one being on the receiving end. I did see a headline the other day that proclaimed Britain was staunchly backing Gib or some such similar meaningless garbage so lets hope so. Appreciate your comment and visit.


      • Thanks mate. It’s probably like when a chairperson of a professional football team says they have complete confidence in the manager – then next day the manager’s sacked ;)
        I’m sorry to be so cynical, but when I saw the names of the politicians concerned…


  14. Can you imagine the torture of being off line for weeks and weeks? Well I am back, saw yr comment well Pippa’s on Marvin’s blog just now. We have a laptop, wifi, and new email addy, but not only that…….I have bought an iPad……..yesterday. And loving every apple pie bit of it! Will read yr blog in more detail soonest! And since the amazing Olympics, our wee town actually does have a gold post box….thanks to Andy Murray! Will read more soon! j x and m x


    • Sort of. I have been on a self inflicted summer regime of less blogging and also in Spain I am internet less. Not always a bad thing.

      Welcome to appleland :) or macland, well anyway you get the idea. I am a total apple missionary, or some such position.

      Wasn’t Andy Murray brilliant. Just su-fucking-perb. So to bark. I think it’s great to be proud of our country and our achievements (well we don’t have a lot these days – think we should go colonise a few countries really) so I loved the excellent performances of the Brits in both sets of games. Doubt either of us will see that again in our lifetimes so one to remember huh?

      good to see marv is looking his usual gorgeous self. Pipps has an arthritic poor, so is limping even though taking some NSAIDS (cox 2s)

      are you a mother in law yet? :D


    • Dear Mr Caswell
      You have not borrowed one of my photos, as you misleadingly describe it. You have taken it without my permission. If you had had the courtesy to read my T&Cs you would see that it does not provide for people to do so and then pass by to say they have ‘borrowed’ a photo.
      While I appreciate you actually telling me that you have taken a photo without asking my permission I would appreciate it even more if you could take it down from your blog post. There are plenty of other photos out there that I am sure you could use.
      And as I know what my photos look like, why on earth would I want to visit your blog to look at one of MY photos?
      Yours in disgust


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