R-Grassroots: Falklands response to No.10.

tbg Real Grassroots presents Mo Metcalf-Fisher

"Every few years the issue of the Falklands arises and causes a slight stir within Britain, usually as a result of some witless propaganda campaign by the Argentine government. Talking to those with little interest in politics and current affairs one is usually lucky for any conversation to go beyond simplistic but regrettably common expressions such the following: 'they are so far away'; 'what's the point of fighting over islands thousands of miles from Britain?' Such complacency indicates little passion or desire for embarking on a defensive strategy that comes close to resembling that of 1982.

"But the need for a serious discussion to take place within Britain has become ever more compelling due to Argentina’s persistent demands for Britain to 'hand back' the Falklands and its damning of our continued association with the Islands as a ‘last stand’ in the name of colonialism. We had all hoped that David Cameron’s commitment to holding a referendum within the Falklands would have been sufficient to disprove Argentina's bogus argument that the islanders have little say in the future of their land. But President De Kirchner continues to harass Downing Street by reaffirming her deluded argument that the Falklands remain the rightful property of her economically moribund nation.

"The argument relating to Argentina’s alleged ‘natural’ right to the Islands is, among other things, both factually false and historically nonsensical.

"Without delving too far into history (see Cawkell, 'The History of the Falkland Islands', for a full exposition), Argentina can be shown to have never rightfully held the Falklands and has as much claim to the islands as Germany would the Channel Islands. For Argentina has only once held the Falkland Islands, and then by virtue of the brutal and illegal military occupation of 1982 which was detested by the islanders. Much like the invasion of Jersey, Alderney and Guernsey by Nazi forces during the Second World War, the Falkland islanders were held to ransom by an unpleasant, authoritarian regime.

"Alas for Argentina their hold of the islands lasted a mere two months due to the heroic efforts of Britain’s Armed Forces and the strong political leadership provided by its then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. If anything, historical analysis would provide a much more convincing argument for Spanish sovereignty over the Islands. Spain held the Islands briefly during the eighteenth century before returning them to the British in 1770, despite claiming continued ownership until 1806 when their governor departed. Yet today, Spain makes no claim on the islands.

"If geographical position offers a more substantial argument in favour of Argentine sovereignty then one ought to assess the implications more broadly before espousing views on the Falklands and their connection to Britain. Territories (to name just a few) such as Greenland (DK), Aruba(NL) or Guam (US) all remain territories of countries that have little claim on the basis of geographical proximity yet are generally seen as uncontroversial cases and thus ignored.

"Regardless of these facts, there will always be those who ignore the truth and continue to support Argentina's case for invasion (given the facts, that is what it would constitute).

"American actor Sean Penn has, for example, expressed his support for Argentina with no grasp of the existing arguments and no obvious motive with the possible exception of looking to enhance his credibility amongst left-leaning audiences. Without meaning to delve too deeply into possible debating strategies for those holding the Penn position, it should perhaps be asked ask how Americans would view a prospective occupation of Puerto Rico or Hawaii by foreign invaders. Should they shrug and dismiss this alternative way of thinking they would be guilty of gross hypocrisy and their position would be unworthy of serious debate. The left, who damned the efforts of our troops in the eighties and stick firmly to the anti-colonial argument, have never been keen on taking into account the opinions of those who remain central to the Falkland question; the Islanders themselves.

"Breaking down the two aforementioned responses, we see that despite being 'far away' the Falkland Islands is comprised overwhelmingly of self-identified British subjects (over 70%), with many 'Kelpers' having strong links to the UK in terms of culture, business and ancestry. Alongside those born on the Islands, the Falklands enjoys a much smaller number of other nationalities including Chilean, Scandinavian, Japanese and, of course, Argentine ex-pats who live in harmony with a broad and mutual respect for the islands’ close links with Britain.

"It is discomforting that many British mainlanders continue to have such little empathy for their compatriots overseas.

"I ask the question: how would you feel if someone you held dearly lived, worked or was stationed on the Falklands and was felt continuously threatened by the possibility of Argentine occupation? For anyone to sit by and offer no defence of the welfare of our compatriots knowing that if not themselves, but friends or neighbours had such connections feels me fright. Knowing the flaws of the geographic positioning argument, would their position change if the debate centred on a locality closer to home? Imagine, if you will, the invasion of the Shetland Islands by Norway. Would we still hold such low regard for our people and our rightful claim on the land?

"For the question to be put to rest, at least for the foreseeable future, Britain, Argentina and indeed the International community must honour the results of a referendum whose implementation remains in the hands of David Cameron and his government.

"Never has there been a more pressing time to offer a referendum than now. Whilst many still willingly or unwillingly believe Argentina's lie that the islands remain their territory, a referendum result in favour of the Falklands remaining British (which I am convinced will be the outcome) shall hopefully convince the doubters and victims of Argentine propaganda of Britain’s lawful and much appreciated ownership of the islands.

"In the meantime, Cameron has handled the provocation from De Kirchner and the moral cowards who attempt to legitimise her position effectively and with grace. Now would not be the time for responding aggressively, for Britain remains above the thuggish agitation tactics employed by the Argentine president and continues to approach the issue with nothing but respect for the wishes of the islanders."

Mo Metcalf-Fisher"