Sunday, 24 January 2010

Complaisance, Complacence or a Struggle for Improvement?

There is often much comment in Gibraltar that in the GSD we have the better of two bad choices for government. The theory goes why elect the GSLP/Libs (the only alternative under the present electoral system), if the GSD has done overall much better than the GSLP/Libs ever did or could do. In this way the GSD is forgiven its ever increasing failings and failures and electors caste their votes in favour of the GSD.

This argument has historically justified dictatorship, totalitarianism and consequently evil. Many a regime that has committed atrocities, not least the Franco regime in Spain, has had their existence justified on such opportunistic, expedient and cowardly argument. It is a fundamentally flawed argument born of lazy indifference and usually made by those benefiting financially from the system that it seeks to justify and support. A system must not be justified or forgiven because it delivers second best.

It is an argument that favours mediocrity. If there are failings and failures the demand should be for reform of the system. Reform that will deliver excellence by correcting that which is wrong. The reform that is crying out to be made in Gibraltar is a reform to the electoral system such as will deliver two things. First encouragement for more people to stand for election and give the electorate a greater choice. Secondly a backbench to counteract the power of the executive.

If evil and wrongdoing is to be avoided there is a need to separate the executive and the legislature. This will allow the rule of law to operate as it should. The executive can only act under powers given to it in laws passed by the legislature. This allows the legislature to act as an overseer of the executive and prevent what can be a quick descent into rule by virtual diktat. A fanciful thought? It has happened in what were previously British colonies, not least in Malta under Mintoff and not so long ago. Thankfully the ultimate check and balance in a democratic system, elections, usually make any such descent short lived but prevention is invariably better than cure.


  1. I have two comments on this blog.
    Firstly, was there not a fair amount of political hyperbole sometime back from our politicians on this point? Was this supposed to be part of the 'new' constitutional reform? If so, have the people of Gibraltar forgotten what the politicians said? Was it the GSD and or the GSLP?
    Secondly here in Gibraltar the ordinary man in the street is a political analyst, albeit an amateur. But what about our 'professional' political (paid and unpaid) analysts in the newspapers,radio and TV. They are mute. Why? Possible reasons are financial, loss of influence and fear. The media here in Gibraltar is definitely tame, very tame. A great shame.

  2. Politicians have for many years and elections promised electoral change, including the GSD prior to their getting into power in 1996. They have singularly failed to make the change. They repeated the promise when the change was not included in the 2006 Constitution by promising to legislate for backbenchers. This they have not done, nor do they seem to be working towards doing it.

    No political analyst writes about this type of issue. They do not seem either interested or else they are to "establishment minded" to want to rock the boat. The independence of al media in Gibraltar must be doubted. The Gibraltar Chronicle is heavily dependent on the goodwill of the incumbent government. GBC is entirely dependent on government financing. Most other newspapers have direct or indirect connections with one or other political party.