This coming 10th of September, Gibraltarians will once again congregate in Casemates Square, in red and white, to celebrate National Day. As with every September on the same day since 1992 when the then Chief Minister Joe Bossano (now Sir Joe Bossano) and currently a member of Fabian Picardo’s government, called for and obtained the support of the people for their claim to self-determination before the United Nations.
National Day represents the popular support in the streets of the Gibraltarians’ national identity. Although the 10th of September commemorates the first referendum in 1967, when the Gibraltarians voted overwhelmingly to retain British sovereignty.
The intensity of the discourse has always reflected the current state of relations with Spain. When Peter Caruana (now Sir Peter Caruana) was Chief Minister and there was some degree of consensus with the socialist government of Rodríguez Zapatero and his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Moratinos, the event took a different form, although the election of Fabian Picardo, which coincided with a more aggressive approach from the Partido Popular government, marked a return to the political nature of the day.
Who can forget the speech given by William Serfaty from the main stage in 2001 when he called for unity of national purpose and resistance to Spanish pressure and demanded decolonization. A year later in 2002, a referendum was called which rejected the British Foreign Secretary’s plan for joint sovereignty and reaffirmed Gibraltarian nationalism.
For whom will the red and white fireworks sound for on the next National Day?
Last year, which seemed to be the last time that the event would be held before Brexit, the then Prime Minister Theresa May gave a powerful speech confirming British support for Gibraltar and Fabian Picardo stating his understanding that Brexit would have to be adapted as an opportunity despite the fact that he was talking to people who had voted to remain in the EU.
That was before Prime Minister May underwent the trauma of seeing her proposals for an orderly withdrawal rejected by the British government.
It is expected that in a few days time, it will be Boris Johnson who reaffirms British support for Gibraltar at a time when he is determined that his country will leave the European club by hook or by crook on the 31st of October.
Picardo has worked indefatigably to avoid a collapse on the 1st of November, but fear and uncertainty will grow on both sides of the border as the fateful day approaches.
National Day 2019 will be a day for celebration, but also one for reflection. A demand to those who are responsible to ensure that there is no collateral damage to the interests of the people on both sides and their respective futures. Let’s see what happens…
David Guetta at the Europa Point Stadium
This year’s National Day will be dominated with the music festival known as Monkey Rocks, where the headline act is the French DJ, David Guetta. An international act with more than 50 million records sold throughout the world and who has been widely acclaimed over many years by the likes of Billboard Magazine and the Grammies.
This year’s event is organised jointly by the Monkey Rocks Festival and the Self Determination for Gibraltar Group. It will be funded in part by the Government and will take place at the Europa Point Stadium.
There will be areas designated as family friendly and entrance will be free for children under the age of 12 so long as they are accompanied by an adult. To avoid traffic congestion and allow for easy access to the site, there will be a free shuttle service between Europa Point and the City Centre.
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo has said: “As a result of public concerns regarding previous Monkey Rocks festivals, the Government has provided additional funding in order to ensure that public safety and order are given top priority.”
Tickets cost £65 for the seating area and £45 for the general entry and have been available since the 25th of July on www.buytickets.gi. Doors will open at 3 PM and the first act starts at 4 pm.