Letter: Proudly British

A N WILSON BELIEVES that "Charles should have handed over the Falklands" (14 March) but provides no more substantiation for this assertion than a rehash of Dr Johnson's arguments in a 1771 pamphlet, which are no more true today than they were in the 18th century.

Mr Wilson states that there is no "tradition", national or otherwise, among the inhabitants. Many of the current population are fifth- and sixth- generation islanders whose antecedents settled in the Falklands long before President Menem's family came to the Argentine.

Since there was no indigenous population in the islands when the British naval captain John Strong made the first known landing in 1690 and none when British sovereignty was claimed in 1765, the current population represents the only tradition there is. That tradition is firmly British in culture and nationality and way of life. To call them "nerds" or "sheep- shaggers", as Mr Wilson does, is an insult not just to the Falkland Islanders but to the British people whose traditions the islanders honour.

Second, he quotes Dr Johnson's assertion that "this was a colony [sic] which ... never could maintain itself". Dr Johnson was wrong on two counts. The islanders are settlers, not colonists. Since there was no indigenous population, there could be no colonisation. Further, we are now economically self-sufficient in everything but defence. This accounts for less than 0.5 per cent of the UK defence budget and the islands offer unique tri- service training facilities to British forces.

Last, we are not and never have been, dependent on the Argentine. We don't need to go to Buenos Aires for secondary education. There is a perfectly good secondary school in Stanley which has just recorded its best-ever GCSE results, well above the British average.

We produce our own meat and vegetables and horticulture products. We have a thriving fishing industry and are diversifying our agriculture to provide even more home-grown food. White goods are imported from Britain and in any event, there are no transport links with Argentina.

To assert that the islands "are much more part of the Argentine than they are either `independent' or `British' " is patent nonsense. The Falklands are no more part of the Argentine than the Isles of Scilly are part of France.

Councillors JAN CHEEK, RICHARD COCKWELL, LEWIS CLIFTON, NORMA EDWARDS

Falklands Island Government

Stanley

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