Sunday, 7 March 2010

Post-colonial inferiority

One of the Hon. Peter Caruana's mantras is that the 2006 Constitution ended Gibraltar's colonial relationship with the United Kingdom. This blogger does not believe that to be the case but those who do, like Mr Caruana, might learn to behave in a way more commensurate with not acting in a typically post-colonial self conscious manner.

Gibraltar is privileged to have an enormous pool of talented and able persons. It has a highly educated and well trained pool of professionals. There are limits, however. Frequently (and rightly) expertise is brought in from other countries to fill gaps in the available talent pool. This is not only wise but necessary in a small territory like Gibraltar.

Many in officialdom are increasingly (and for purely political reasons) "Gibraltarianising" (sic) more and more posts and offices and justifying the employment of local resources without fully ensuring the adequacy of those appointed to undertake their functions and responsibility. This is a self conscious neo-post colonial reaction that is redolent of behaviour arising from feelings of inferiority. decisions made on this reasoning also have a habit of resulting in the exact opposite effect of that intended because often they lead to the escalation as opposed to the resolution of issues or problems that they are intended to cure.

A recent example is the engagement of three of Gibraltar's largest law firms to assist the administrator who is intervening in the Marrache & Co law firm (see the blog below "Hat Tricks - a Conflict of Interests"). Some lawyers suggested that a solicitor's firm (and there are many in England) that specialises in these types of intervention should have been engaged. They reasoned that not only would Gibraltar benefit from their expertise (no intervention in a law firm having been undertaken previously by any of the three firms engaged or the administrator appointed) but that the intervention exercise would be done cheaper, better, quicker and avoiding conflicts of interests. This proposal was not subjected to detailed consideration. It was turned down outright without any reasons being given.

Let us hope, for the sake of the reputation of the judiciary, the legal profession and the finance centre as a whole that the decision to engage these three law firms in the task of intervening will not have adverse consequences or result in additional or greater scandal.

It is a sign of maturity, not one of inferiority, to take the right decisions for the right reasons. Those in power might be well advised to dwell on this thought before taking important decisions that could have unwanted adverse consequences on our community.

Mintoff and Malta come to mind.


  1. Dear Llanito World

    I agree entirely with your article. This administration is obsessed with replacing posts held by non Gibraltarians with Gibraltarians, even when the Gibraltarian candidate perhaps is not ready for such an appointment. The next appointment will be the first Gibraltarian Attorney General. We can only wait and see who might grab that Number Post? My money is on JN.

  2. Well JN QC would be the ideal candidate to replace RR QC with and the sooner the better........or not?

  3. This blogger will not comment on identified individuals especially when persons named have not even indicated any interest.

  4. I agree with comment no. 2 that JN would be the ideal candidate. He is miles ahead of the other contenders.

  5. Do you know things that no one else knows ... first that Ricky Rhoda QC is leaving the post of Attorney General and secondly all candidates who might apply for the post such as enables you to decide that JN QC is the only one for the post?

  6. Plato says:
    Irrespective of the merits of Ricky Rhoda QC leaving the post and unlike the other bloggers, I have no special knowledge it is clear that if James Neish QC were to take up the post, he would be an excellent Attorney General. Probably no better or no worse than anyone else in Gibraltar or expatriate. He is an excellent individual who is praised highly by many in Gibraltar because of his legal skills, friendliness and common sense. In this instance, should Peter Caruana's government choose him, I congratulate Peter Caruana.

    However the point of this particular blog is to stress the importance of the right individual for the relevant post and task. Of course, there are posts and tasks beyond local expertise and the Government must always take this into account because if they do not, then they are responsible for the consequences. My position even before the 2006 Constitution (which is imperfect) was that Gibraltarians had to increasingly occupy all possible posts in shich they had areas of competence and that we no longer had to pay homage to our colonial past. I am glad that Peter Caruana agrees with me. For once, I do not agree with all of Llanito World's entry. But then, this is the purpose of the blog.

  7. No criticism of JN QC is intended or made by this blogger who agrees with Plato's assessment of and praise of him.

    I do not belive that the blog differs in any material respect with the sentiments that you (Plato) express in slightly different terms, so any difference in views is in my mind semantic and not substantive.

  8. Plat says:

    Llanito World

    There are obviously issues which are of such importance that without doubt ‘outsiders’ are necessary. We unfortunately tend to think of Gibraltar and the beginning and end of the Universe. A powerful nation. Alas, it isn’t. It is just a little piece of Rock with 30,000 souls who are overtly threatened by their neighbour, Spain with total destruction. The constraints theoretically offered by democracy, EU rights, UK protection are not enough. Remember that Jack Straw, then foreign secretary, sometime back admitted in the UK Parliament that a joint sovereignty deal had been struck with Spain! We must therefore be very careful.

    This brings me back to the point I wish to expand on. There are issues that are so important for Gibraltar that they must be handled properly. Take the Marrache example. Hopefully they will be innocent of all the charges but our justice system will determine that. One of Gibraltar’s prime industries is the Finance Centre. Admittedly other Jurisdictions finance centre may leave much to be desired. If we get the Marrache case handled wrongly, the Finance Centre will be ‘destroyed’ by envious outsiders not to say the least Spain! The consequences for Gibraltar will be horrific. (refresh the first paragraph) In this particular case, the Government should have appointed someone with expertise as apparently suggested by some local lawyers. The government had to get this one right! They haven’t. I am sure that the local lawyers will deal with the matter professionally but if they do not, who will be to blame. Someone will have to take responsiblility. Clearly the government and their advisors.

    On the other hand, look at the GBS/King issue. Gibraltar never needed an outsider to tell Gibraltar what needed to be done with GBC. All you needed was an individual with the chutzpah to do what we all knew for years needed changing. We never needed a rocket scientist for this one. Clearly it couldn’t be a GBC incumbent but I am sure that there are indeed honest and righteous individuals capable of seeking any necessary advice from sources and with the guts to implementing. Just go over the border to La Linea. Little TV stations survive and flourish there. No foreign expertise required.

    There are many many examples of the above. Just look at our GHA!

    My point is that no one appears to look at the bull and tackle it by the horns. We walk around, look at the bull and back off. Then we bring an expatriate who does not do a good job of it, and then we continue as if a splendid job is been been done. Alternatively, we criticize the expatriate professionalism but do not ‘sack’ him as soon as possible.

    Fred, where are you????????

  9. Fred says:

    I agree that Gibraltarians should be in control of their institutions.

    However, I also think that we need individuals with a broader understanding of the "real world" than that which can be attained in a few legal courses in the UK. I mention legal courses because so much of our political life is in the hands of lawyers who interpret the world through the narrow prism of legal practice.

    I also worry that we do not have the right moral fibre to really take care of our institutions in the right manner. We are prone to cronyism and nepotism verging on corruption and this diminishes the quality of our governance.

    On the specific issue of the Marrache case I suspect that it has been kept in Gibraltarian hands because there will be plenty of dirt to fall out. I think the current course of action will be seen as an attempt to keep a lid on unpalatable facts. What was always surprising was that the Marrache link to the Mills-Berlusconni case was not reported in Gibraltar that I can see, and I think this is indicative of a culture that thinks it is invisible to the world and that feels that a few punchy statements in the local media will dispell any negative views about Gibraltar.

    In short, by all means "Gibraltarianise", but let's pull our socks up.

  10. Plato says:
    Thankyou for your excellent post. Your third paragraph is superb. As to the Marrache-Mills Berlusconni case, this is new to me. It certainly has not been reported. I wonder why?

  11. Fred is right but is this case not a good example of the obvious consequences, with many others to be suffered, of Gibraltar's quick and eager conversion into a "playground for the rich" society (mostly unknown foreigners) sponsored by government as its main theme of economic and land development and fiscal expansion?

  12. Fred says:

    Plato, there isn't a conspiracy theory as regards the Mills-Berlusconi reporting in Gibraltar. It is simply the case that the media failed to pick-up on it.

    This is the same media that has irresponsibly reported key evidential facts, which the Marrache's defence is rightly relying on now to try to get his clients out of prison.

    Having said all this we must be absolutely clear about three things: firstly, that the Marrache's MUST be deemed innocent until a court decides otherwise, this to some extent explains my view that external lawyers should have dealt with the firm's affairs and not local lawyers; secondly, even if eventually found guilty the Marrache's were not acting in a vacuum, and others will also have to account for themselves; and, thirdly, the Marrache's seem to have been "caught", when many other's with lesser or greater crimes and/or pecadilloes on their hands are enjoying their freedom - let he who is free of blame cast the first stone.

    There must always be space for contrition, forgiveness and redemption or we are nothing. With Easter round the corner it's the least we should be thinking of as a community.

  13. Fred says:

    Anonymous (posting 11 March, 23.58),

    I hear what you are saying...and agree. The current system is not equitable for most Gibraltarians. The worst thing is that "the big boys" in Gibraltar are so hubristic that they do not realise that they are only bigg(ish) fish in a small pond - the the tools of external interestes... and not the ones you would immediately think of.

  14. This blogger has to now make an admission: he is a lawyer ... sorry!

    Hopefully, however, I have started something that will grow bigger because for the first time I get the feeling that this is becoming a centre for decent and free expression of opinions that are for many reasons otherwise subjugated.

    I hope I can continue to bring up subjects of interest to stipulate further debate.

    Please feel free to suggest subjects. i will give my honest view on all!

    ... and thank you all for your comments: please keep them coming and spread the word.

  15. Fred said:


    "Llanito World is seditious." Discuss.

    LOL :) Knowing that you are a lawyer means that I don't know if I want to keep on talking with you! My fingers feel dirty as I type!

    Joking aside, most Gibraltarians I know tend to express themselves like the contributors here when they talk in their homes and clubs. The only place that true debate does not take place is in our Parliament, as already pointed out in that other fine blog "Letters from Gibraltar".

    The reason that debate does not happen in Parliament is because it is dominated by legal, rather than political, discourse - they have not learnt that it is not a Court, amd if it is then it is them who are on trial.

    Dominique Searle also produced some good commentary today on the opposition. He is right in suggesting that the opposition seem to lack the hunger for government, in sharp contrast to the way the opposition was when Mr Bossano was fighting to get into government.

    Mr Bossano's biggest "mistakes" were "las lanchas" and not giving the FCO even a glimmer of hope on the sovereignty issue. What's interesting is that some of those in the FCO who have dealt with Gibraltar issues respect Mr Bossano and hold him in some regard... the same cannot be said for Mr Caruana, despite the fact that they did so much to get him in.

    Although i respect him, I do not think I would want Mr Bossano as Chief Minister again, but I do want an opposition worthy of the title, and a Chief Minister that allows for greater levels of debate.

  16. Ke vamos a hacer todos llevamos una cruz ... la mia es ser abogado in a "barristocracy" but I have always been a rebel and I don't intend to change ... even in late middle age!

    I agree lots of debate at home and in clubs but no action and then they vote GSD! Searle's article was good and spot on the truth. Why is the GSLP/Lib Opposition so weak? Tendrand algo que los aguanta?

    I don't know what the FCO think but cna guess you are close to the truth. Sometimes a change is needed to get to the end of the journey ... so why not Mr Bossano for a while?

  17. Plato says:

    I congratulate Fred's and Llanito World's posts. Delightful. Things are happening. On the Opposition, all they have to do is simply stand up in public (Piazza, Alameda Gardens etc etc) and talk to people, with an old fashioned loudspeaker. Not just one month pre-elctions. NOW. Show their physical presence and talk to the masses. Get over the points that we are discussing here. All opposition parties need to be active and be seen to be active.

  18. This whole group of "parliamentarians"/"heads of the civil service" should close their political chapters and aspirations and let others sort out this mess of two-decades they have created for this society's future and well-being by their divisive and shallow politics. The Spanish and English Governments have used it to their advantage since 1988. No more sweeping things under the political carpet.

  19. Llanito World, can we debate the legal basis for telephone tapping in Gibraltar and lack of parliamentary accountability?

  20. Fred says:

    Llanito World, can you please ask others to start their postings with a name in the same way as others do? They stay anonymous as you know, but it makes life more intresting! Thanks.

  21. Fred says:

    I agree with Plato on what he says on old-fashioned political canvassing. I want someone to come to my door and explain to me in a few sentences what their vision for Gibraltar is and what their policies will be to acheive it. They should start now, walking around the estates (that includes Moorish Castle, Laguna, Glacis, etc) a couple of hours every evening and just talking to people. And, they should not define themselves by reference to their political opponents - I just want to know what they are going to do in simple plain English/Llanito.

  22. Fred says:

    I saw "Enemy of the State" with Gene Hackman and Will Smith and I don't think the law has much to do with phone tapping! They are all listening! That's what those huge call centres in India are really for! LOL!!!

  23. What does Gibraltar produce in terms of industry and products ?

    For years it has lived off tobacco money , smuggling and moneylaundering( thru so called respectible law firms and accountants -- its fact so don,t even try to deny it ) .

    The Marrache case is just the tip of the iceberg , and that is why no UK specialists were invited into the administration of M and Co .Too many cats would get out the bag .

    Gibraltar should engage in theformulation of a solid long term business plan that involves legitimate industries , business and commerce .

    We have went from Smuggling tobacco , to money laundering and now gambling .Nice ethical businesses i think not .

    Marrache -Mills - Berlusconi -- That s a big one where Benjamin Marrache was actively and illegally involved through channeling funds through companies and trusts formed thru his former law firm .

    The powers that be here in Gibraltar know all about this case i suspect , but because of its size they prefer to keep all details realting to Gib under wraps .

    Gibraltar has to realise it cannot survive in the big brave new world , or if you prefeer the age of globalisation ,with the types of industries and commerce it currently has .

    Think about it , what if the gaming companies were to leave the rock ? Where would that leave the Gib economy -- in a dire state .

    Gibraltar the time has come to pull up your socks and start looking long term in order to survive in this ever increasing small planet of ours .

  24. Anonymous 8 May 2010:

    I disagree strongly that Gibraltar lives off money laundering or smuggling, although like everywhere in the world some illicit activity must exist. To say that this is the basis upon which Gibraltar survives is to be too harsh.

    In any event what is your suggestion for an alternative economy to that which we have? You destroy the existing without suggesting an alternative.