Can history repeat itself when we least expect it?


The chief minister Fabian Picardo is as pleased as Punch because the Governor re-states the UK commitments to Gibraltar, such as Gibraltarians' right to self-determination.

Of course, we have heard it all before, or have we forgotten the Tony Blair era when the people of Gibraltar hailed the 1969 constitution as something that fully safeguarded the right to self-determination. 

And along came the Labour leader working out a joint sovereignty plan with the Spaniards, despite the 1969 constitution and the supposed right of the Gibaltarians to self-determination.

So, you hear the assurances and then those assurances become meaningless.

All that happened in the not too distant past. We can argue that things have changed, and indeed they may have changed, in that relations between Britain and Gibaltar have never been better.

But who would have thought years ago that, one day, the right to self-determination was upheld, and the next, Blaire was planning joint sovereignty with Madrid?

Said Mr Picardo in the ceremonial opening of Parliament last week: "It is always pleasing, satisfying and a great comfort to hear you restate the double-lock commitments of the United Kingdom to the Gibraltarians right to determine the sovereignty of Gibraltar and even any engagement on the negotiation of it.

"Thank you for once again making that explicit.

It is worth repeating, not just for us, but also for any who may be listening or watching from beyond our shores."

He took things one step further when he added: "And, as we established as soon as we were elected for the first time eight years ago, the speech that Your Excellency has kindly delivered a moment ago, is now in the nature of the Queen’s speech at Westminster."

So, there you are, we are as independent as the UK!

So, the Governor's speech was drafted in the closest consultation with the Chief Minister of the day in a manner designed to reflect those parts of the manifesto of the party returned to Government that will be the legislative agenda of the incoming administration in this Parliament.

Not only that but the Chief Minister, possibly thinking that he was Prime Minister of Gibraltar, added: "Your speech here now is not in the nature of the speech of the representative of an administering power instructing Members on what we are to do, what the defined domestic matters we are able to manage are, or the finances we have available to run Gibraltar.

And that is the surest sign of the maturity of our relationship and of our continued constitutional development."

Well, well. He also said that "these are exactly the things we must reflect on in the work of the Constitutional Reform Select Committee that we will be re-establishing to consider how our foundational document should continue to develop our further political emancipation.

"For these are exactly the Constitutional conventions we should have established in the first part of the twenty first century for the commencement of a parliamentary session in a territory which the United Kingdom itself tells the United Nations should be removed from the list of non-self governing territories maintained by the Committee of 24.

"It is exactly what the representative of a Constitutional Monarchy should be doing in a democracy where the Parliament is the instrument of the will of the People as determined in a free and fair general election.

And as a result of that free and fair election it is an honour for me, today, to join the cast of only two other Chief Ministers in our history to address our chamber of elected members on three successive occasions.

"And since the first moment we were returned to Government eight years ago and I was elected as Chief Minister we have ensured, that the Government we represent is styled as Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar, which is exactly what it is."

No doubt the present incumbent at The Convent will pack his bags and disappear into oblivion.

Another incumbent will take over.

Will Mr Picardo hear the same message? And will the constitutional changes that are planned see the light of day?

Let's hope that the apparent relationship that is said to exist will develop into what the Chief Minister thinks will develop.

In the past thre have been tales of the unexpected, so let us wish Mr Picardo good luck.