A chilly walk into Town saw me pass numerous newspaper stands and most of the headlines were either about Islamic Preachers being let “loose” in the UK or the state of the Falkland Islands. The weather is bitterly cold, and so are those desolate lumps of rock in the South Atlantic, so it got me thinking. Combine this with a discussion yesterday in my History lecture about the “usefulness” of keeping them as part of British Territory, I wasn’t alive when the conflict happened, but it’s engrained as part of British consciousness. So here is my two pence as an English Citizen. There is no clear conclusion, but the fuss being kicked up over them is overwhelming, especially from the Argentine side which I also have personal interests in – so time to get typing.
The Falkland Islands were originally settled by a plethora of Nations, not limited to Spanish, Dutch, Argentine and finally us Brits. We recolonised and took them over in 1833 when we still had a Worldwide Empire. I unduly apologise to any Pakistani readers here, as I know the annoyance, distress and historical control us Brits have wrought on the Asian Continent as a trading route, so you’ll have to bear with me on this one. If any older readers will remember, our Iron Lady, Maggie Thatcher sent our Troops halfway round the world to fight the Argentine invading forces in April 1982. it was controversial, not least with the sinking of the Belgrano, but I’m not going to dwell on it. I don’t know enough to form a coherent article – all I do know is that my friend who’s Father was a Commander in the Navy then, was unable to leave ship as his surname is Thatcher and was therefore a high-value target.
Recently, oil has been a factor in the Falkland Islands, as drilling is beginning and is reported in the News. Obviously it’s muted now, but the recent activity is what’s got me thinking. Back in 1982, Britain was under a Conservative Government and we are now (the Liberal Democrats aren’t even an effective force – we are a Conservative-led Nation. No doubt about it) and we are beginning to get tensions over what is essentially a 4,700sq mile set of islands which are bafflingly as far away from Britain as you can get, yet are as British as London. Defining Britain, however, is an entirely different matter for another day.
So the recent tensions are over the true ownership of the Islands. Who does own them? Well us Brits have been there since the 19th Century, but they are in darn close proximity to Argentina. The upkeep of the Islands has been reported as quite expensive, but no official figures have been released. There are British Armed Forces bases there and the Islanders rely on imports from Chile and other South American Nations as it is so inhospitable. They’re between the Southern tip of South America and Antarctica for fucks sake.
So as I was saying, the recent tensions are a talking point. Argentina is going to the United Nations (which are practically an attack dog with no teeth) about reclaiming the Islands, but what about the now 4,000-odd population of British people living there, the Military installations and potential oil? If we can successfully get oil from the shores of these islands, then our costly upkeep will be repaid and chances are, with the money, we can buy our way to keeping the Islands as British. I do find it strange just how patriotic the Islanders are, being so far away. I’m not a Patriot myself – I believe more in personal freedoms as opposed to State-given ones but that’s my view.
Going back to my point of Coonservative Governments as well, it seems strange that David Cameron (who some call Margaret Thatcher’s Son) has sent over a Type-45 Destroyer ship (the best in its class) as well as Prince William starting a 6 week tour of duty there (he won’t be doing much work, but Prince Andrew was involved directly in the conflict). To the Argentines, this is seen as provocation, and they have the cheek to say that Prince William “wears the uniform of the conqueror”, harking back to my point of the days of British Imperialism. It’s not a case of reconquering and enslaving as we used to do, rather holing onto a piece of territory that has been part of Britain within everyone’s lifetime. Even to someone like myself who was born in 1990, it’s British – no matter how strange a concept it is. If anything it reminds me of Ireland. A divided place with many differences and ideals of self-determination, but in such close proximity to another State (England, or the United Kingdom if you’d prefer). I like to call it the “Dis-United Kingdom” seeing as Scotland are calling for independence, Welsh people always rip on the English and Norhtern ireland is just a political minefield. But hey.
So where from here? Well I suppose we will have to wait for the UN to make a decision which could take a while, and see what the effects of Prince William and the “provocative” acts of us Brits are on the Argentinians. I have Argentine friends and although the place is rather savage with one of my friends surviving a 9mm to the head last May, it is a rich nation who profited from the fleeing Nazis post-1945. German interests are high there even now which is where most of Merkel’s money comes from (who controls most of the European Union) and almost every car in Argentina is a German-made one. So it’s not as though they are an impoverished Nation as a whole.
I just say we hold a referendum, the Islanders will no doubt want to stay British, mainland Brits will be divided as the younger Generation won’t have a clue, but as long as we can keep the oil, then we’re onto a winner.