Monday, 23 November 2015

My Radio Broadcast of 20th November 2015

Some have questioned my involvement in frontline politics with the GSD.  My support for a party is not based on dogma.  It is based on adherence to core political values.  Mine are those of a social democrat and not of a socialist of the type and nature exemplified by the GSLP: to me the politics of the GSLP are neither socialism nor social democracy.  The politics of the GSLP are the politics of convenience based on buying votes using savers money, irrespective of the wellbeing of Gibraltar as a whole or its future generations.  I do not believe that these are the politics that voters in Gibraltar want, however much some (and it is a few) gain personally or enrich themselves from such politics.
I have no hesitation in saying that I have voted GSD at every election, except in the 2011 election at which I split my vote.  I realise now that this was a mistake in light of the GSLP’s failures to make good its manifesto promises to improve democracy in and provide good government for Gibraltar.  My passion for decades has been to improve the democratic offering in Gibraltar and systemically reduce the chances of bad government.  The GSD has adopted policies that will help me to deliver on my passion. 
The GSLP made empty promises on issues of good government in its 2011 Manifesto.  The GSLP promised a more inclusive, less divisive and positive style of government, that it would return government to the people, ensure that ministers are servants of the people, that a government is not elected to ‘reign’ over the citizens”, that the GSLP do not believe that one man should be the government, they committed to a root and branch reform of the way our democracy works, they said that such reform must be designed to give people a greater voice in the way government and parliament function and they promised to promote free speech amongst all citizens. 
When you come to vote you will be the judges of whether the GSLP have delivered on these promises. I do not consider that the GSLP have done so.  The GSD considers that The GSLP have singularly failed to deliver on any of these.  What the GSLP have done is to pay lip service to their promises by having more meetings of parliament but using the system not to advance open and transparent government, so much so that lies have been said in Parliament and questions asked by the GSD have not been answered purposefully.
In fact Fabian Picardo has used his absolute privilege in Parliament to make serious and false accusations using venomous language against Daniel Feetham, without the Speaker protecting Mr Feetham.  I refer to the incident when Mr Picardo untruthfully alleged that Mr Feetham had corruptly promised favours in exchange for the Lloyd’s Report on LNG and that he had conspired to deprive young children, the elderly and disabled of electricity:  accusations that Mr Picardo has cowardly refused to make outside Parliament and so become susceptible to a financial claim for defamation.
The very essence of free speech, the cathedral of which is Parliament, is precisely that one must suffer the expression of views by others, which one considers repellent, especially those of minorities, like the Opposition.   Well the GSD wants to return Parliament to being the cathedral of free speech in Gibraltar.  If the cathedral of free speech itself is violated, which is what the GSLP have done, then where does that leave the right of free speech that everyone should enjoy?  I would suggest in tatters, as has happened in Gibraltar under every GSLP administration.
How the GSD will deliver better government and more democracy to Gibraltar is set out in detail in our Manifesto.  Briefly, the GSD will follow open and transparent processes in non-civil service public employment and in tendering for government and government related contracts. 
It will enforce laws to prevent corruption and cronyism and afford the necessary environment and protections for investigation of both.  The GSLP acknowledged the existence of corruption in its 2011 manifesto.  The GSLP failed to introduce the anti-corruption and anti-bribery authority that it promised.  The authority’s remit was to be to “... work with the Attorney General and seconded officers of the RGP in the investigation and prosecution of corruption ... starting in 1988”.  Now, the GSLP in its 2015 Manifesto says that the RGP are resourced to deal with this.  Can you believe the GSLP will meet its commitment?
The GSD will introduce reforms to improve parliamentary democracy aimed at reinstating the supremacy of Parliament to achieve true democratic and fair government.  It will do so by separating the executive and legislature by the election of backbenchers who will not be eligible for appointment as ministers by the Chief Minister. It will restore the Rule of Law. 
The criticism that backbenchers will increase public costs is not a criticism at all.  The entire cost of 8 backbenchers will not exceed approximately £150,000.  Returning 2 or 3 public posts filled by the GSLP Government from the private sector to reasonable salaries will pay for this, with an additional saving in excess of £500,000.  The benefit of the separation of powers to improve democracy and deliver better government more than compensates for this additional cost. 
The choice is clear: more of the same opportunism from the GSLP or giving the GSD an opportunity to improve the democratic and good governance offer in Gibraltar.  I would urge you to think carefully, not least because a vote for the GSLP is a vote in favour of an LNG plant at the end of the North Mole and for a stadium at Lathbury Barracks, once built these will be there for decades.  Careful thought will lead you to conclude that a vote for the GSD is the right vote.  We offer many other exciting and affordable promises.  The GSLP continue now to promise everything that costs and is expensive.  I suggest Gibraltar and its future generations cannot afford the GSLP.  The GSD is not for austerity.  It is for prudence by cutting bad and unnecessary expenditure and wastage.
The GSD is a team of competent persons.  It is a vote for a team not for an individual who will be Chief Minister.  On the 26th November use your privilege of voting. Vote GSD, vote for Danny Feetham, Roy Clinton, Trevor Hammond, Marlene Hassan, Kim Karnani, Lawrence Llamas, Elliott Philips, Edwin Reyes, Chris White and myself Robert Vasquez.
Thank you.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

A Reply to False Propaganda from Picardo and Isola

It has come to my attention that Fabian Picardo and Albert Isola have taken to selectively quoting from my writings in this blog to discredit me.  I make no apology for what I have written in the past, which writings were relevant at the time of writing.  What I do take objection to is that they should quote me selectively and out of context.  To do this is to give a false and propagandist twist to views and opinions expressed by me; views that were relevant at particular junctures in time and in context and many that remain relevant at this election. 

It is also cowardly to make these comments at rallies and events at which I am not present to give a reply but should I expect more from these two individuals?  I do not think so.   They act, as usual, in a cowardly manner to give a wrong picture by selectively quoting: it is par for the course from a party that believes more in spin and lies than reality.

At that time, 2010 and 2011, I was an independent thinker and writer giving my independent opinions on many issues: a member of no party trying to promote independents to have a say in politics in Gibraltar.  This was a personal crusade that did not succeed.  The main theme running through many of my writings was the need for open, transparent and fair government in Gibraltar and more democracy.  An opinion that I still stand by and which the GSD espouses at this election campaign. 

I continue to be an independent and radical thinker on the subject of open, transparent and fair government and my desire to achieve better democracy.  I will work tirelessly to achieve my objective on these fronts.  The only change is that I will do so within the GSD party.  Doing so does not mean I cannot or will not achieve my objective, shared by the GSD, to give Gibraltar more open, transparent and fair government with greater democracy.  The GSD manifesto includes important policies on this front that will take Gibraltar far.  My involvement in the GSD simply gives the achievement of these objectives greater credibility, not least, because those who know mw know that it has been my passion for 40 years.

Let us see what the GSLP promised in its 2011 Manifesto.  They promised:

"more inclusive less divisive and positive style of government". 

"We will return government to the people"

"to ensure that Ministers are servants of the people"

"a government is not elected to 'reign' over citizens"

"We do not believe that one man should be the government"

We are ..."committed to a root and branch reform of the way our democracy works ... such reform must be designed to give people a greater voice in the way government and parliament function."

We will ... "promote free speech amongst all citizens."

Well, I would ask all those who are said at the Chamber of Commerce dinner to have laughed when Picardo selectively quoted my writings out of context whether the GSLP promises have been achieved and whether the failure of the GSLP to deliver on these manifesto promise is one to be critical of the GSLP about.

All the GSLP have done is to tinker around the edges without making any fundamental changes to deliver what the GSLP promised in its 201 manifesto.  More meetings of Parliament, yes, but meetings at which lies are told and important questions are not answered, mostly on the important subject of public finances and the use of savers' money. 

I ask the members of the Chamber of Commerce whether their businesses function within a fair system where some have access to secret loans from Credit Finance Company Limited and others do not, in a secret system where not even the method of application for a loan is known? Fair competition, indeed!

The election on Thursday is about different visions.  A vision of prudence, fairness, openness, transparency and greater democracy that is espoused by the GSD or the profligacy and opaqueness of the GSLP that will not take Gibraltar to the good place that it should be. 

The choice is simple, continue to endanger our economic stability and so our political stability with a GSLP government for short term gain and long term pain or seek prudence with the GSD to ensure our continued political independence and economic stability for the good of ourselves and future generations.  It is about whether you want a dangerous power station in the wrong location that will be there for decades or a safe power station  in the right place.  It is about a stadium in the wrong place or in the right place and many more issues.  It is about taking the right decision now or a decision that will lead to the wrong decisions that will remain with us for decades. 

It is no laughing matter!

Thursday, 19 November 2015


Last night at the GFSB Picardo accosted me in bullying terms because I had dared air the issue of corruption in general terms and without pointing the finger at anyone or any group of people.  Well Picardo I have no fear of airing a subject that is so much in the public interest that it is talked about in whispers on a daily basis. 

I will talk and write about it especially when you try to bully me into not doing so. A tactic that I fail to understand why you adopt when the corruption issue features in your own party's manifesto in 2011.  You have committed to establish an anti-corruption commission. Surely you would not have made this commitment involving cost it you did not feel there is corruption in Gibraltar?

It is an issue that in the public interest needs to be debated and needs to be brought out in the open. It is not a subject that I have aired now because you have been in government. It is a subject that I wrote about in 2011. Indeed, I put forward the idea of an anti-corruption body then in the blog that I wrote in 2011 on that subject.  It was because I wrote about it that you made your manifesto commitment and then singularly failed to implement it. 

So yes, Picardo, I will say it over and over again: there is corruption in Gibraltar that needs to be stopped and you agree with me. However the right atmosphere needs to be created by having appropriate legislation to protect those who make reports that would lead to investigations, the collection of evidence and then the necessary convictions and punishment.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

The "Undecided"

One of the most significant features of the current electoral campaign are the undecided voters (who are not shown at all in the latest GBC poll) , without diminishing the significance of the voters who will vote blank.  

The  group who will vote blank are exercising a democratic right.  Others have written about the ineffectiveness in reality of voting blank.  I will limit myself to urging them to think about their intentions carefully.  A blank vote really send only a message of disaffection: that message falls on deaf ears, unless those who are disaffected engage as candidates with a view to changing the system against which they are rebelling. I have done precisely that: I will try my hardest to change and improve the system in manner that will reduce the confrontation that exists in politics and Parliament today.  It will be a slow process but it has to be started and once started, hopefully, it will progress to fruition in a good place.  

I am sure undecided and blank voters have a view on the power plant, on the stadium or on public debt or on some other area of policy. Blank voters should consider exercising their right to vote for people who share their view, even if it is on one issue.  The undecided have an easier task because they will decide and vote. Each group should remember that if the power plant and/or stadium is built in the wrong location, it will remain in the wrong location for decades. If our public finances are mismanaged to the point of our debt not being affordable, the repercussions for Gibraltar especially, in light of our issues with Spain, do not bear thinking about. 

I would urge the undecided to carefully consider policies but also to carefully consider the vision of each party.  The GSD has a vision of care, prudence, fairness, transparency and openness.  The GSLP have reverted to their opaque past, pretending, for example, to be fair and open when the reality shows that they hide a substantial part of the public debt and refuse to answer questions in Parliament.  The GSLP reality is also that they stampeded onwards with a project like the power station at North Mole without the necessary safety reports and without following the  processes required by law to be followed. For example,  public consultation required by law has not taken place.  What is the purpose of a legally required public consultation if contracts have already been signed and construction has started?  It will simply be a cynical process.  It displays the same cynicism that the GSLP display towards everyone about everything.  I could go on but I think I make the point.

The GSLP keep reminding everyone of situations that they consider to be past mistakes of the GSD without reminding anyone of the great things that were achieved for Gibraltar by the GSD in its 4 terms of office.  Well that argument about alleged past mistakes does not justify their own failures: for example, to build a car park under Commonwealth Park or two stories on Laguna and Glacis Estate as well as the roofing, to provide greater democracy and to do away with corruption and 'enchufes' by setting up an anti-corruption body.  That argument made by the GSLP is an admission of their own wrongs because two wrongs do not make a right!

I believe that people should vote.  I believe that the undecided are undecided because they are unhappy with the GSLP Government.  I would urge them to go and vote and obviously to vote for the GSD but importantly to  exercise their democratic right to vote.  After all, now, that same democratic vote means so much more:  ever since the GSD achieved the major advances with the 2006 Constitution, our Parliament has so much more power that can be used by the right people for the benefit of Gibraltar.  Make sure that this enlarged power is used constructively and works for Gibraltar by voting for the careful, prudent and democratic GSD vision.