The choice to be British
Fri 15th Mar 2013
Congratulations to the British Falkland Islanders, including the large Saint Helenian community there, some of whom are my relatives on my mother's side. With the American lease up next year, when are the British Chagos Islanders going to get their referendum? They remain proudly British, doubtless a contributing factor when David Miliband lied to Parliament in order to create the world's largest marine reserve where they are properly entitled to live, thereby ensuring that they could never return while it remained in place. Over to his brother.
Cristina Kirchner may not be Galtieri, but she is still a Peronist. The British Left ought to be making common cause with President Evo Morales of Bolivia, the standard-bearer of indigeneity, expressed not least as the nationalisation of foreign gas interests in his country, against centuries of abuse and oppression by a white Latino minority which bears more than a passing resemblance to the ruling element in Argentina. The Falkland Islanders are descended from the first human inhabitants there. They did not dispossess anyone. Rather, white Latino chauvinism is seeking to dispossess them.
And the British Left ought to be making common cause with the anti-consumerist, organic community-valuing President Pepe Mujica of Uruguay. That country was created by Britain specifically not to be Argentina. Greater Argentina does not only mean the end of the British Falkland Islands. It also means the end of Uruguay.
The British Overseas Territories are British by choice, and those which remain even now always will be. The same is true of the Crown Dependencies. To be British is to be not just any, but at some level all, of English, Scots, Welsh, Irish, Manx, Channel Islander, Mediterranean, North American, Caribbean, Southern African Creole (I am one, albeit a half-Scots one), Indian Ocean Creole, Polynesian, and South American in the sense of a product of the British "informal empire" that once dominated South America.
Sort out the problem of the British tax havens. But do so while charging the British people of the Overseas Territories and the Crown Dependencies only home fees to study at British universities. Do so while building the airport on Saint Helena, which is essential to the defence of the Falkland Islands, and while holding a proper inquiry into the healthcare situation on Saint Helena. Do so while giving justice to the Ascension Islanders and to the Chagossians, in both cases regardless of what a foreign power might think.
Do so while restoring the BBC English for the Caribbean Service. And do so while recanting David Cameron's pre-Election pledge, barely reported by his media creators, to give a share of Falkland Islands oil revenue to Argentina without requiring the slightest movement on the sovereignty question. When is there going to be a Commons vote on that?
To choose to be, including to remain, British is to choose the Welfare State, workers' rights, trade unionism, the co-operative movement and wider mutualism, consumer protection, strong communities, fair taxation, full employment, pragmatic public ownership, proper local government, a powerful Parliament, national and parliamentary sovereignty, civil liberties, the Commonwealth, economic patriotism, energy independence, a realist foreign policy, peace (including the total eradication of nuclear, radiological, chemical and biological weapons), and the need for a base of real property for every household from which to resist both over-mighty commercial interests and an over-mighty State.
That is what the voters of the Falkland Islands have chosen. Let the voters of the UK, not least at the Scottish independence referendum and at the 2015 General Election, be given that same choice at the ballot box: the choice to be British.