Argentina, Britain, France, the Netherlands and Spain have all seemingly had claims on the small island which provokes big controversy. The history is quite muddy, and different sides claim history supports their claim, so I’m going to avoid such debate and focus on now – claims on territory, benefits of owning the island and the reasons behind wanting to own it.
For claiming a piece of land, I’m wary of any government saying it can own land. Many in the UK seem to reject the notion of the Falkland islands being a colonial grab from the 1830’s, however regardless of your political persuasion, the islands were “claimed” by a government thousands of miles away. That’s colonialism. Whilst the word conjures up the shameful/glorious* (*delete as you feel politically appropriate) past of the British Empire, to grab land which is not near you IS colonial, it’s a simply use of correct words.
Whilst one could argue that claiming land is appropriate for inhabitants, it could only work if every country in the world was only inhabited by its natives. This leaves UKIP feeling smug for the UK, but incorrect as our peoples are made up of centuries of immigration and invasions. It also means countries all round the world, famously the USA and Australia as needing a change of hands in terms of ownership. As someone mentioned on the radio this morning, sovereignty and ownership of land is a matter for states, not people. So technically, the need for Argentina and the UK to negotiate over the Falklands/Malvinas* (*delete as you feel politically appropriate) is a correct one, it’s not down to a group of people.
Also, can you imagine if a country owned the Orkney/Shetland islands from 200 years ago? We’d be bitching just as much until we go them into our ownership!
Paying no tax to the UK government is excused by saying they are self-sufficient (£100million GDP and £200million in reserves). This is famously done mostly by local business and fisheries and farming. Also, there is not MP for the Falklands, so “no taxation without representation” seems to sit here. However, the big bone of contention some UK taxpayers have (and many more should have) is that we pay for their defence. They islanders can’t argue they are self-sufficient, yet rely on another country to supply military support completely free.
I’m of the understanding that in the early 1990’s, it cost about £1million a DAY to run the military operation there. With upgraded aircraft (Tornados to Typhoons) and various ships, supplies and military personnel that have to go there for months at a time, I’d imagine this is at least double by now. But even accounting for a slight increase, we’re talking perhaps around half-a-billion pounds to fund the military cover for an island claiming to look after itself.
Which leads on to why should the islanders want to class themselves as British? If you are on a piece of land which is contested, and you’re offered totally free military cover from air land and sea, are you going to turn it down? Are you going to say “Actually, UK, thanks for your help but we can go it alone now”, on that one point alone, I doubt it. However I do appreciate that some will argue it’s to do with heritage or history. This is then conflated with the earlier question of who really owns the islands anyway.
So why must we be seen to own the islands, or at least maintain them as a British colony? Sorry David Cameron/The Sun/Daily Mail, I meant…erm…well – no other word, it’s a colony.
If I were to be really cynical, I could argue the mineral deposits and many barrels of oil sitting off the island in the sea. Whilst paying no direct tax, I’m guessing the UK Chancellor has an agreement already with the islands on how it can take revenue from any drilling.
This leads to the resolution. Let’s guess there is 20 years of oil in the sea. The UK and Argentinean governments agree to fund 50% each on the construction of an oil rig, and give 50% of the workforce each, take 50% of the oil each and thus 50% of the profits each. For those 20 years, we will be at peace for at least profitable reasons, but after spending years of working together and being able to co-exist, relationships will hopefully improve.
Britain’s answer to this idea? I’m sure it would be coaxed in something reasonable, logical and very grown-up like “NO!! It’s MY oil and you’rrrre not having any ner-ner-ner!!!”.
So, well on the way to improving the situation, then.