My Falkland Days.
Sir Rex Hunt
Perceived wisdom at the Foreign Office was that the islands were expendable and indefensible militarily (and, some lib-lefters thought, morally, although few reached the absurdities of the UN Committee of 24's complaint of colonialism against a non-existent Spanish speaking native population). This being so, FO policy was to shunt To divert, switch or bypass. the Falklands as quickly and unobtrusively on to Argentina as possible. The present writer in private conversation with Nicholas Ridley There are two Nicholas Ridleys:
Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven, Iron Lady, Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Thatcher , maybe nobody would have done so.
The Islanders, determinedly British by blood, culture and choice, despite discouragement and outrageously dirty tricks dirty tricks
1. Covert intelligence operations designed to disrupt the economy or upset the political situation in another country.
2. , were not to be so easily shrugged off. They were dismayed at the Communications Agreement of 1971 which was presented as fait accompli. It gave Argentina air control of their only link to the outside world, replacing the Falkland Island ship contact to Montevideo; they found it unreasonable that a few extra yards could not be added to the air strip at Stanley so Stanley So (Traditional Chinese: 蘇凌峰; Simplified Chinese: 苏凌峰; Pinyin: Sū Língfēng that British planes could land, and at so little cost. They were dismayed when the Ministry of Defence decided to withdraw HMS Endurance There have been two Royal Navy ships with the name HMS Endurance. Both were named after Sir Ernest Shackleton's Endurance, the ship crushed in the ice of the Weddell Sea during the expedition to Antarctica from 1914 to 1915. , the local survey ship and the only protection for the Islands and Antarctic dependencies. They were upset at the final insult of the British Nationality Act which removed their automatic citizenship and right of entry to the UK. Even the Governor began to notice the evasions and blatant lack of information he received from the FO. In the same way that the Islands were declared indefensible and not defended, they were also declared unviable and not given aid. But while the FO declared that it was the dispute with Argentina which led to economic stagnation Economic stagnation, often called simply stagnation is a prolonged period of slow economic growth (traditionally measured in terms of the GDP growth). By some definitions, "slow" means that it is significantly slower than a potential growth as estimated by experts in , the dead hand was that of the FO trying to blackmail the Islanders into accepting Argentinian rule. Unfortunately, most of the Islanders knew Argentina much better than the FO, which continued to appease Argentina by turning a blind eye to her illegal invasions of Southern Thule Southern Thule is a collection of the three southernmost islands in the South Sandwich Islands: Bellingshausen, Cook, and Thule (Morrell). Southern Thule is British territory, though claimed by Argentina. and South Georgia South Georgia, island, c.1,450 sq mi (3,760 sq km), S Atlantic Ocean, c.1,200 mi (1,930 km) E of Cape Horn. A dependency of the Falkland Islands from 1908 to 1985 (along with the South Sandwich Islands, a group of nine small, volcanic islets c. and they appeared to be much more aware of approaching war than Whitehall.
Sir Rex gives a telling blow by blow description of those fraught weeks of war, including the story of the Belgrano which should settle doubts.
Since June 1982 much has been done to develop the Falklands, but too much of a grudging attitude still remains, when it comes to aid for civilians, such as delay in setting up a 150 mile economic zone for fishery. By this time the local government revenue has soared: it is able to do so much needlessly refused before. Yet, once again, the FO without any information or consultation has announced a new constitution for the Islands, hiving off the Antarctic possessions and raising the inevitable suspicion that the FO can more easily pass the Islands to Argentina (according to an unpublished FO Report, the mandarins still think their pre-war attitudes were right). It is just possible that the value of Antarctic possessions will be realised in time. Britain still has a unique role in relation to strategy, communications, research and minerals in the only unspoilt part of the world.
Sir Rex's very personal account of the Islands and the islanders makes one want to know more about this tough and loyal people. Angela Wigglesworth exactly meets this need. Her book contains pictures and vivid thumbnail sketches of many 'cheys', islanders whether of fourth generation or newly come with the war; some town bred, one even from the similar Isles of Scilly. One only has to step out of the plane at Stanley to enter an already known community. Reading about this brave and independent people who only want to stay British, brings a feeling of humble gratitude; but not alas, at the Foreign Office.