Dear Sir,

Reading the letter from Emilio Reyes, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. If this is a response to my letters from a few months ago, why has it taken him or any of his colleagues so long to respond? Even if you don't have internet access in Gibraltar, Panorama is readily available in print. And he claims to be a member of the Representation in Westminster Group - isn't it supposed to be a Movement? Previously it was the Integration With Britain Movement, though it is not so much a case of old wine in new bottles, given that wine improves with age, so much as stale or mouldy bread in new wrapping, inedible however it looks on the outside. 

Whatever it calls itself, it must be the most inept and incompetent organisation on the planet. Its website, which assumes prior knowledge of the issue, resembles something out of Monty Python's Flying Circus and reads like an old man shouting with overuse of capital letters and exclamation marks. Were the Chartists and Suffragettes ever this inarticulate in their pamphlets? One of the Movement's members said that when they were collecting signatures for the petition, some people made some good arguments in favour of Gibraltar having its own MP, but if they aren't recorded or written down and put online, how is anyone in the UK going to know?

And that's the heart of the matter - if you want to be represented in a political institution, you should be appealing directly to those already represented in it, and the 'this is Gib, not the UK, and that's the way we do things here' argument doesn't cut it. I am not privy to the Movement's meetings with the Chief Minister or Deputy Chief Minister, but I do not know what either of them have said that is so hush-hush. Even the previous Chief Minister told the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee in 2008 that he would love Gibraltar to have 'some sort' of representation in both Houses of Parliament, i.e: not just the House of Lords.

By contrast, while the incumbent Chief Minister gave no evidence to the Committee's latest inquiry into the Overseas Territories, his counterpart in Anguilla spoke in favour of a dedicated MP, and pointed out that having this and a government representative in London were not mutually exclusive. This may come as a surprise coming from a Caribbean island, but given that its closest neighbours are French and Dutch, Anguilla can see how unfavourably its status as a British Overseas Territory compares, even if it enjoys more self-government than French Saint-Martin, though no more than Dutch Sint

Maarten.In any event, while I may have been scathing as well as sceptical, I do not think I have engaged in scaremongering - that is what the Falkland Islands when it peddles its 'lone voice' argument against having a dedicated MP, which some people in Gibraltar are mindlessly parroting. However, you will only be a lone voice if you talk about nothing but yourself and yours, in which case other people will get fed up with you, and if you are unable to talk about anything else, well, you'd be better served by an All-Party Parliamentary Group, whose members talk about other people than their constituents and other places than their constituencies.

Unfortunately, while those who oppose the idea of a dedicated MP for Gibraltar have something of a protectorate mentality, much as oil-rich Brunei had before it had to be forced into independence by the UK, those who support it seem to regard it simply as an entitlement, without any inkling of what one would actually do. 'They'd talk about, you know, stuff...' seems to be the substance of their argument. That may be indulged by a media outlet in a small, closely-knit community like Gibraltar, who treat the Representation in Westminster Movement like elderly family friends, but media in the UK will be far more sceptical, if not hostile.


Ken Westmoreland