Coffee House

The politics hovering over the Falklands

1 February 2012

6:33 PM

1 February 2012

6:33 PM

With HMS Dauntless and now Prince William gliding across the Atlantic to reinforce Britain’s claim on the Falklands, there’s no denying that tensions with Argentina have been raised. But let’s not get carried away. As Admiral Sir John Woodward reminded us last week, the latest round of defence cuts rules out, or at least undermines, a British counter-invasion. The deployment of our shiniest boat is, in reality, the sum total of what Britain can do to scare off any invasion.

And there could be another barrier to the government’s hawks, other than resources: namely, the Lib Dems. Nick Clegg did try to rally support for our cause on a trade mission to Brazil eight months ago, but it’s unlikely Cameron’s partners are enthusiastic for this sabre-rattling over the Islands.


After all, their supporters certainly aren’t. The most recent polling suggests that 53 per cent of those questioned believe Britain still has the most legitimate claim to the Falklands. But, breaking that down, less than half of the Lib Dem agreed with the statement, compared to 75 per cent of Conservatives. There is also a clear split on who should control the Islands: 78 per cent of Tories agree the British Government should retain control, compared to, again, under half of Lib Dem voters.

For now, despite the escalations of the past few days, the idea of all-out conflict between Argentina and Britain seems unlikely. But if military action looms closer, then there could well be a political conflict somewhat closer to home.

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Show comments
  • Dimoto


    Go look at a map, you obviously haven’t the foggiest where the Falklands are.

    Brasil has all the oil it needs.

    Brasil is a famously unwarlike country.

    Brasil moved out of the ranks of the Latin banana republics, and into the ranks of the modern, industrialised countries, some time ago.
    Shame about the beautiful but tragic Argentina.

  • Tarka the Conquistador

    Laughed my socks of at the Argentinian comment re Prince William, i.e. he arrived wearing the uniform of the Conquistadors…from a nation founded by…the Conquistadors!

  • Rhoda Klapp

    What does the most recent polling say about public support for that war we are actually fighting? Compared to that, is not speculation about another one rather irrelevant?

  • Wily Trout

    It’s all about oil, isn’t it? Or at least, the possibility of mega-globs of the stuff.

  • DavidDP

    “More Brits live in Buenos Aires than the Falklands”

    I’m trying to work out the point of this comment, and failing miserably I’m afraid.

  • MilkSnatcher

    This article is fanciful at best. Unless the LibDems are going to throw away the time-honoured cross-party consensus in time of war or aggression against British interests and rebrand themselves the CND, I don’t see any way that even a politician as unskilled as Nick Clegg would do such a thing. Oh wait, it’s Nick Clegg.

  • michael

    Brasil, arming rapidly, will do an oil deal with Argentina.
    To the victor the spoils.

  • Ostrich (occasionally)


  • roger37

    LibDem=5th Column.

  • starfish

    “…discovery of oil mean that deals will have to be done with Argentina”

    or Chile

    When is this spineless govt going to take on Argentina’s embargoes etc with the WTO?

  • Pot Head

    More Brits live in Buenos Aires than the Falklands and the discovery of oil mean that deals will have to be done with Argentina.

  • Frothy

    Poor trolling Erica. Stick to stalking Nick Cohen.

  • EC

    Erica Blair,

    Not a fan of the Welsh either, then.

  • Mr Jones

    There is no milatary escalation. The deployment of Dauntless is as a routine replacment for the FF/DD currently on station. The posting of rotary-wing SAR crews to Mount Pleasant is a standard rotation. There is no sabre-rattling whatsoever.

    Argentina do not possess, nor could they rapidly generate the assets or skills sets required to pose any credible threat to the Islands, acting alone or in confederation with other South American states including Venezuela.

  • RCE

    ‘Britain’s claim on the Falklands.’

    Relativism comes to The Spectator. Probably why no-one reads it anymore.

  • Erica Blair

    Britain didn’t care about the rights of the inhabitants of Diego Garcia and still refuses to allow them to return home, so what’s the fuss about a bunch of inbred sheep sh*ggers?

  • murciano

    As with Gibralter it is down to the Falkland Islanders as to whether they remain part of the United Kingdom or not.

  • wrinkled weasel

    Why have the British government deployed a shiny new bad ass boat? The Falklands stands in symbolic relations to the might of Britain and in particular the credibility of the office of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. If the Falklands falls, it is the end of Cameron as far as Tory voters is concerned.

  • Number7

    Have we got any Hunter/Killer subs left?

    I suppose we have to ask McBruin.

  • Yow Min Lye

    How can anyone in this country (aside from the odd Bonaerense in exile) possibly believe Argentina has a better claim to the islands than the United Kingdom?

    Or that the wishes of the islands’ inhabitants – their own kith and kin – count for nothing?

  • Mr. Bubbles

    We don’t ‘claim’ the Falklands at all. The Islanders themselves want to remain part of the UK. It’s a simple as that; we either defend our territory, and the right of self-determination, or we don’t, and any Prime Minister or politician who isn’t willing to do that, yet IS willing to get involved in all manner of pointless wars in the Middle East (and in the process undermine public willingness for just future wars), is a disgrace to this country.

  • Tom Plunkett

    So “under-half” of Lib.Dem.voters believe that the Falklands are British? I knew they were a deluded bunch of Euro-fanatic weasels but I didn’t realise what a pathetic, Anglo-phobic quislings they are as well. What sane person with a glimmer of respect for democracy and self-determination could possibly think like that? Despicable.

  • TrevorsDen

    ‘the sum total’ ? What about submarines? What about the fighter aircraft at Mount Pleasant?

    Explain with just what assets the Argentinians will invade the Falklands? They have virtually no navy a limited air force and a scratchy army. Will the Argentinians break international law?

    The notion that if (‘if’) Argentina instigates military action against the Falklands then the LDs will scream surrender is nothing more than hysteria.

  • James Strong

    There would be no need for a counter-invasion and no need at all to to engage Argentine forces at a place of their choosing.

    Simply lob missiles at their installations on the mainland, and keep doing it until any invading force leaves.

    Let’s not entertain any ideas of proportionality. If an aggressor chooses to start a conflict he doesn’t then retain the right to determine the size, nature and location of the conflict.

  • Dimoto

    I don’t believe Argentina is really interested in the Falklands.

    A lease-back agreement with a share of any oil revenues might have it’s attractions.

    But then, what would the brain-dead Peronistas, with whom Argentina is apparently terminally addicted, use to whip up national hysteria ?
    Renewed jealousy of Brazil maybe.

    If they were really serious, they would be reaching out to the Kelpers and trying to seduce them to see Argentina as a friendly neighbour.

  • David Cockerham

    So LibDems don’t believe in the right of self-determination?

  • DeltaGamma17

    Interesting! More on the Falklands as-it-happens please!

  • ButcombeMan

    You are a worrying lot on here. Utter lack of common sense and political nous.

    If the Argies do try anything (unlikely) and Clegg tried to stop the appropriate response, it would consign him and his party to even further electoral oblivion.

    Nothing like an external enemy to bring a nation together.

  • Judy

    Er, just how many Lib Dem voters are there these days? How many constituencies are likely to be Lib Dem even on the basis of the present electoral boundaries if there had to be an election tomorrow?

    And just how much would it be electorally helpful to the Lib Dems to be seen to be supporting handing over the Falklands to Argentina?

  • RPC

    With the margin for error in the poll about 50% of the paltry 9% of voters who intend to vote Lib Dem believe that Britain has the most legitimate claim. A small number think Argentina has the best claim, so there’s a very clear majority of their voters in favour of the British claim. If Argentina were to invade the vast majority of Britons would support military action to liberate our fellow citizens and the small number of supporters of all parties who believe Argentina has a better claim will not stand in the way of overwhelming public opinion.

  • Raffles

    Further proof, were it needed, that any coalition with the Limp-Dems is becoming impossible to defend. The argument for status quo in the Falklands is very simple if you study the history and have any regard for democracy which the limp party claim to. As with their desire for a European superstate though they prove to be total hypocrites and out of touch with public opinion thank God.

  • Axstane

    So as we always suspected, more than half the LibDems are not really British but are internationalists who would cheerfully give away Gibraltar to Spain and the Channel Islands to France if they asked nicely.

    I am astonished that any Conservatives think the same way – any at all. The Falklanders are not some subject race that we conquered – they are our people with, obviously, more right to be considered British than the LibDems.