The people of Gibraltar will today be holding a referendum on whether they support the joint sovereignty deal with Spain which has been put forward by the British government. The result of the poll will come as no surprise; the majority of Gibraltarians will vote against the deal. This referendum has been organised by the government of Gibraltar but the British government refuses to accept its result. Why? It will be a fair event with many MPs including some from the Labour Party acting as international observers. Another referendum will take place soon organised, this time, by the British government, and the result will be the same. Why does tax payer's money have to be wasted on two referendums, when surely one is enough. Holding a referendum in the first place is a complete farce because the people of Gibraltar have already made their feelings quite clear, they want to remain British and reject any deal with Spain. You can safely say that this whole process has been a waste of time because any London deal with Spain will be blocked by the Gibraltarians. There is a public perception in Spain at the moment that the Spanish flag will soon be flying over the rock. They are wrong. There is no sign at all that the Gibraltar issue will be settled. For the last two years summit meetings between both governments have been held but the process has not advanced at all. Spain instead of treating the Gibraltarians as second class citizens needs to launch a charm offensive on the Rock because until they have the support of the Gibraltarians the process will not advance. Spain should look south intead of to London if they want a real breakthrough to be made.

Jason Moore

Bushwhacked

Since he came to office few people have thought of comparing George W Bush with Franklin D Roosevelt. Yet in improving his party's representation in both houses of Congress at his first mid–term elections Mr Bush became the first to equal President Roosevelt's achievement in 1934. He proved himself an outstanding campaigner and he spared no effort to support his candidates, especially those engaged in close contests.

The results from Tuesday's voting will need careful analysis before their full meaning can be determined – particularly their significance in relation to the next Presidential campaign in two years time. Usually, the Congressional mid–term elections focus on local rather than national issues. This year, however, the overriding considerations were national and international in character – terrorism and Iraq. From an American perspective Mr Bush has shown firm leadership on both these issues and the electorate has understandably wanted to give him its support. By contrast, the Democrats have been unwilling either to give unstinting support to the President's policies or to propose constructive alternatives to them; nor have they asserted themselves on domestic matters.

With absolute control of Congress President Bush will now be able to push through his budget and tax–reduction proposals without significant opposition and quickly implement his Homeland Security legislation. The effect of the Republican victory on his international policies is much less easy to foresee; but he will certainly think that it should show his critics overseas – those in Europe especially – that he has the confidence of his own people.

Monitor

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