A Falklands referendum

June 14th, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

David Cameron moved to bolster international diplomatic support for British sovereignty of the Falkland Islands when it was announced that the islanders will hold a referendum on their political status next year.

Cameron accused the Argentinian government of trying to shout down the islanders’ voices and said the poll would be overseen by international observers. There has been no public affirmation of the ’ links with Britain since an opinion poll in 1986.

This is a good idea. The people of the Falklands are the ones who should determine their future. The reality is that the UK would be quite happy for the Falklands to give up British sovereignty, if that is what the locals wanted. But for so long as the islanders wish to be a democratic territory of the UK, then they will protect and defend their right to self-determination.

The chairman of the Falkland Islands legislative assembly, Gavin Short, said the referendum had not been imposed by the British. “I have no doubt that the people of the Falklands wish for the islands to remain a self-governing overseas territory of the United Kingdom. We certainly have no desire to be ruled by the government in Buenos Aires, a fact that is immediately obvious to anyone who has visited the islands and heard our views. But we are aware that not everyone is able to come to these beautiful islands and to see this reality for themselves,” he said.

The referendum would be organised by the Falkland Islands government and take place in the first half of 2013, Short said. “We will invite independent, international observers to observe the process and verify its outcome. Exact timings, the specific wording of the question, and other details will be announced in the coming weeks.

Argentina would be well advised to stop trying to bully their way into the islands. It won’t work.

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28 Responses to “A Falklands referendum”

  1. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    I think you’ll find it will work in time..Don’t they call them the Malvinos? and they are semi obsessed about getting them back.

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  2. Alan Johnstone (1,087 comments) says:

    Not Malvinos, Malvinas. It comes from the French, Malouse. Reflect that these islands were originally populated by people from St Malo in Brittany. illes de Malouse

    The result will be 100% in favour in the status quo.

    I lived there for a couple of years in the mid 90s, any islander that was in favour of union with Argentina, left in ’82

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  3. Lance (2,635 comments) says:

    Democracy should not get in the way of the righteous Argentinians freeing the oppressed Malvinians from under the jack boots of the imperialist British running dogs.

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  4. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Is there any actual need for a referendum? Have any islanders expressed dissatisfaction with the current political status?

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  5. peterwn (3,243 comments) says:

    joana – it is not a matter of the the Falklands being transferred to Argentinian sovereignty and everything carrying on as normal. The islanders would have every reason to doubt all that is needed is to ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’.

    See:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shetland#Pawned_to_Scotland

    In 1470 the Shetland Islands were ceded by Norway to Scotland effectively as a dowry. The effect of this was to extinguish all existing land property rights in the Shetlands because the property then came under the control of the King of Scotland, who seemed not to put a too fine point on it granted it to his cronies who in turn imposed punitive rents on the occupiers.

    The same sort of thing could happen to the Falklands with the Argentinians grabbing ownership of the Falklands land and granting it to their cronies.

    If the Argies do grab the Falklands, the locals might as well pack their bags and go to UK – there will be no future of them under the Argies.

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  6. RRM (9,833 comments) says:

    Argentina would be well advised to stop trying to bully their way into the islands. It won’t work.

    (Also, the Royal Air force are in even less of a position to strike at Argentinian invaders now than they were 31 years ago… so just butt out, Argentina, hmmmmkay? )

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  7. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    I get a US mag from time to time.In their somewhere they say the Argentinians won’t stop till they have them back..I guess it is not the only place where there are squabbles over island territory..China /Japan etc. When did they become British?

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  8. RRM (9,833 comments) says:

    Joana –
    When did they become British?

    Here you are:
    http://bit.ly/LmqJ0e

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  9. Longknives (4,690 comments) says:

    I’m confused- Living in New Zealand I’ve been led to believe that British Sovereignty/Colonisation is the worst of all evils…

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  10. Manolo (13,579 comments) says:

    I’m confused- Living in New Zealand I’ve been led to believe that British Sovereignty/Colonisation is the worst of all evils.

    Yes, my whanau says it is. :D

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  11. James Stephenson (2,153 comments) says:

    Is there any actual need for a referendum? Have any islanders expressed dissatisfaction with the current political status?

    The result will be 95% plus on a similar turnout, I think it’s scheduled to send a message a couple of days before Kirchner goes to the US to lobby and grandstand again.

    What I want to know is why the spinless upper class twit that is David Cameron, is so keen to give 3000 Falkland islanders their right of self-determination, but isn’t prepared to offer his own electorate the same rights over Europe.

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  12. Mike Wilkinson (71 comments) says:

    I think it’s dangerous to underestimate feelings of nationalism: the Argentinian people could well be being lead down the garden path by their Government, once again. Having lived there some years ago, I believe those that live in Argentina don’t see the problems faced by their own country and just can’t understand why they don’t hold sovereignity in Las Malvinas: it doesn’t occur to the majority that the people who live there don’t want to be part of the Blue and White.

    I think whether this referendum succeeds in calming the Argentinian Government’s ambitions in the Falklands will depend on the extent Argentinian voters become conscious of its result. Given the current British policy of disengagement with governments in the area, it seems unlikely they will.

    Cheers,
    Mike

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  13. yobha (5 comments) says:

    ^you are right about the nationalism side of things Mike. I’ve discussed it with some young argentinians recently and it is amazing how worked up they get, especially when I called them the Falklands. It is all very reinforced by the government. Its shown as part of argentina on official maps, on their passport etc

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  14. slijmbal (1,230 comments) says:

    “the Argentinians won’t stop till they have them back..”

    considering they were uninhabited when they were discovered by Europeans they never were really Argentinian for them to have back is my understanding. They’re about 500km off the coast of South America so there is no real claim based on proximity.

    They cost the British government a fortune (predominantly defence and infrastructure) but maritime rights (especially oil) may make them highly profitable. It’s not common knowledge that the UK has tried several times to give the Falklands to the Argentinians but with conditions protecting the current inhabitants but that was not acceptable to Argentina.

    My guess is that this is more to do with oil and fishing rights than anything else (from Argentina’s perspective).

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  15. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,746 comments) says:

    Don’t Chile and Argentina have border disputes? Why doesn’t the UK just go all in for Chile?

    Argentina is just filling time before it goes bust again.

    If Falklands War 2 eventuates sometime in the future the UK needs to conduct operations without self imposed limitations. No Maritime Exclusion zone and they need to hit downtown Bueno Aires.

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  16. KevinH (1,219 comments) says:

    @slijmbal
    As you mention there is oil in the Falklands and this may be the issue that triggers another military dispute.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-17395537

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  17. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Argentina would be well advised to stop trying to bully their way into the islands. It won’t work.

    An interesting interpretation of an application to the UN to consider the case on the basis of international law. Even more interesting when one considers the past violent episodes by all claimants, past and present, that have resulted in the current imposition of British sovereignty, including a deliberate policy of increasing colonisation.

    There are lots of red herrings promoted by the pro-British side, including the nonsense that sovereignty necessarily entails settlement. Of course, this is not the case. It appears that Argentina inherited the islands from the Spanish (have they relinquished all claims?) and the British then forced Argentinians from the islands at gunpoint, so just who is the bully here?

    But what a great idea a referendum is! Hey, why not hold a referendum amongst Tuhoe to see if they want self-government? And what about Palestinians? I’m sure they would love a referendum that asked a question like: Would you like your lands back?

    Or are such referendums just for the white man? Well, maybe we New Zealand Europeans could have one, asking us if we would concede sovereignty of the Ureweras to Tuhoe. Would the result ever be in doubt? Would the result have any validity?

    I’m looking forward to the UN determination. If it is in favour of Argentina, the political pressure remains on Britain, who are obviously feeling the heat even before the UN position is determined. If it is not, then I guess it’s business as usual until either Argentina becomes powerful enough to retake and hold the islands, or Britain loses interest as deep sea oil and gas reserves become anathema to the world and keeping the sea from invading London becomes a higher priority at Whitehall.

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  18. Daigotsu (454 comments) says:

    “Don’t Chile and Argentina have border disputes? Why doesn’t the UK just go all in for Chile?”

    Resolved in the 1980s thanks to papal diplomacy.

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  19. bringbackdemocracy (425 comments) says:

    Nice to see a government that is prepared to abide by the wishes of the population as expressed in a referendum.

    It’s a pity we don’t have democracy like that in New Zealand.

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  20. slijmbal (1,230 comments) says:

    @Luc

    “It appears that Argentina inherited the islands from the Spanish (have they relinquished all claims?) and the British then forced Argentinians from the islands at gunpoint, so just who is the bully here?”

    conveniently ignores several visits/claims prior to that. The Spanish have one of the many competing claims and didn’t actually settle there is my understanding but decided to annex it off the French. It is arguable that the Dutch have more rights to the place than most as they had 1st European documented discover of the place, for instance, and it was uninhabited. At various times the French, Spanish, British and Argentinians have kicked off others/been kicked off the Falklands.

    It’s a mess, which supports the idea of letting the people who live there make up their own minds.

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  21. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Slijmbal

    The idea that the few colonisers should have the final say is risible in theory – as I attempted to point out in my above post – and in practice, especially taking into account your description of the situation as a “mess”. So it is surely down to a matter of law as determined by the accepted authorities.

    But even the Security Council can’t make a final determination in Argentina’s favour because Britain still holds its colonial era veto. However, a UN recommendation is still, surely, politically powerful for Argentina.

    Bringbackdemocracy – so we can count on your support for a referendum amongst Tuhoe on their sovereignty claim?

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  22. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    Peterwn,

    there was never a King of Scotland. The nation was the Kingdom of Scotland, but the monarch was the King of Scots. From memory (and I am happy to be corrected on this), the King of Scots never took the Norman position that the monarch owned the land of the entire country and allowed his vassals use of it under oaths of fealty. Land in Scotland belonged to the landholder, hence your summation of what happened is, I think, incorrect.

    The fact that it was used as security for the dowry of the Maid of Norway would seem to suggest that the land may have been a direct possession of the King of Norway, which would mean that the land would then have transferred to the Scottish Crown, which may have lead to a different status from the rest of Scotland.

    Luc,

    you give so much creedence to the opinions of the UN, which has a non-western majority, and includes such beacons of tolerance and democracy as Saudi Arabia, Iran, and North Korea. You really are a useful idiot, aren’t you?

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  23. dubya (229 comments) says:

    Luc, I doubt you could call the current day inhabitants of the Falklands ‘colonisers’, as much as you could call you or me a coloniser of New Zealand. The colonisers are long dead. The Falklands are inhabited mostly by Falkland Islanders of various ancestry, many of whom have lived there for several generations. The political status of the Falklands directly affects ONLY Falkland Islanders. As such, they are rightfully placed to decide their future by popular referendum.

    I’m sure a UN recommendation is politically powerful for Argentina. But I don’t think Falkland Islanders will take a blind bit of notice (a good approach to take to any unelected busybody).

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  24. slijmbal (1,230 comments) says:

    @Luc

    I like the way you use colonists as it currently has negative connotations.

    when the settlers (it was uninhabited, unknown place and 500km offshore) have been there since the 1800s then yes we do leave it to the inhabitants.

    There is arguably a better case for the UK to keep it as the Argentinians effectively surrendered their rights about 1850 and didn’t actually care about the place. They also have right of sole settlement over a long period. Even after that the UK tried to come to a deal that would allow Argentina to have the place in the mid 1900s from memory (and more than once from memory – too lazy to google) but the Argentinians would not agree to the pre-conditions around the current inhabitants.

    …..but I come back to the humans involved – this has been their home in many cases for many generations – there were no displaced natives. I suggest the rest of us leave them to make their own mind up.

    The idea that the UN should possibly override the opinion of the Falklanders I find a damn sight more risible than them determining their own destiny.

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  25. Fairfacts Media (372 comments) says:

    We mustn’t forget the role of Obama in this.
    His regime either supports Argentina or sits on the fence.
    Of course, Obama on the side of loony left socialist governments.,like what we have in Argentina, is all we can expect from the corrupt Marxist.
    There was a day when the leader of the free world believed in freedom and democracy and would have sided with the people.
    Instead he sides with dictators and demogogues.

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  26. kowtow (8,319 comments) says:

    The dagos who colonised the mainland have a problem with the poms who colonised a few windswept islands while they were empty.
    Hypocrites.

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  27. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Fairfacts
    I’m pretty sure it has been long-term US policy to favour the Argies on this one.

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  28. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    When I used the words colonised/colonisers earlier I was referring more to the recent post-war arrivals, encouraged by a campaign by Britain to increase the population on an island that had been experiencing a long term, potentially terminal, decrease in population.

    But I doubt the Argentinians would quibble at the use of the word anymore than Maori would quibble at it being used to describe European New Zealanders even today. I guess it all depends on one’s point of view.

    F E Smith – Attacking the UN is a little pointless when every country either belongs, or aspires to belong, to that organisation, and generally the world takes serious note of its deliberations and conclusions. You may find that at variance to your somewhat distorted world view, but, really, who cares?

    Ibn the case of Saudi Arabia, of course, the great US of A is the entity propping up the House of Saud, such is their devotion to the cause of promoting democracy.

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