Quite why the government of Spain should choose the middle of the holiday season to mount a diplomatic and on the ground campaign against Gibraltar is worrying. It is not just entirely the wrong way to attach the citizens of Gibraltar to their cause it is that they have not thought through the wider consequences.
With so much delicately balanced in financial and economic terms it is the wrong argument to get into at the wrong time. Looking impartially at the situation surely if Spain wanted the Gibraltarians to opt for their rule a policy of unalloyed generosity, civility, helpfulness and fellow feeling would be better.
Shouting, bullying and macho posturing may be all very well in dealings with Brussels, but Gibraltar is different. For a start it is a lot more coherent and civilised. What few governments, notably those of the UK and Spain, fail to understand in the modern world is how much is now out of their control.
The obvious one is finance and banking. Less obvious is the power of the internet for communication and organisation. Small entities now have much more scope for either defending themselves or for going on the attack. The dire economic situation in Spain is one where they do not need much more bad news or adverse shifts in international demand.
But one stupid disastrous blunder or a series of nasty events could trigger international reactions. The easy one is for some to decide to call for boycotts of Spanish goods and produce. The really determined could organise this kind of thing all too easily.
Another point of weakness is finance. It is likely that the tax avoidance and kind of banking facilities now available in Gibraltar may well be a thorn in the side of the Spanish tax raising authorities. But these are closely interwoven with those in other tax havens. Taking over Gibraltar by force will not change the situation. Overnight the money could be gone.
If the Spanish government sparks off an international flight of capital that affects Spain badly at the same time as facing a world wide internet campaign against its export trade then it could inflict serious harm on its own economy. What is worrying is that they are stupid enough to do it. Also, it could happen all too quickly.
One of features for which Gibraltar is famous is its colony of Barbary Macaque Apes, or more properly, monkeys. What is the old saying?
Softly, softly, catchee monkey?