Such an argument equates a personality, namely and for the present Peter Caruana, to the the people and territory that he is the Chief Minister of, rather than making him their and its elected servant. Such propaganda precisely supports the view, expressed in this blog in the past, that when any politician become bigger than the place they govern and its electorate, then it is time for a change, even if that change simply serves as a reminder of the democratic process, namely, the power of the electorate. A Government and a Chief Minister are not there as an end in themselves believing they or he alone has all the answers, it and he are there to serve the people to the best of their ability and with ears open to bring into account what are the needs of people.
One central ingredient of any totalitarian ruler is that the cult of personality takes over from and engulfs the commonwealth (as in common good) and so the State. When a personality is over revered and/or feared the journey down the slippery road to the end of democracy is well advanced. Especially so if any reverence is founded on the selfish motives of sycophantic adherents rather than the interests of the State and its people as a whole.
The belief that democracy starts and ends with the right to elect a government every 4 years is mistaken. Democracy is much, much more. Democracy encompasses a complex interaction of checks and balances. One of the more important of these is the separation of the legislature from the executive, closely followed by the independence of the judiciary.
This separation is best achieved by the system of government of the US, where executive authority is vested in the President, who can only exercise it under laws passed by the two House of Congress. Even this system is open to criticism but it is about as good as can be found. Closely behind the US is the English Parliamentary system in which, despite government ministers sitting in the legislature, a government has the fear of defeat by backbenchers with the Opposition. In addition the House of Lords has certain powers of oversight.
Both systems, that in each of the US and in the UK, would not deliver democracy as efficiently without one other factor, a free press. It is a free press, acting responsibly, that, for example:
- gives widespread publicity and criticism to what either or both the executive and the legislature are up to;
- helps to inform public opinion and enhances the ability of individuals to make informed decisions at the ballot box;
- contributes to keeping politicians on their toes
- assist in keeping politicians from abuse and corruption;
- reports openly publicising abuses of power and attempts by politicians to coerce or frighten persons into acts that are contrary to their wishes and/or interests.
- keeps a focus on the wider interests of a State or its people rather than the interests of a particular Government, which can become too focussed and narrow.
Gibraltar has a press but how free is it? GBC is funded by and so dependant entirely on Government, the Chronic (which, notwithstanding, does sterling work in bland reporting of news and press releases) is heavily indebted to Government, the New People is the GSLP mouthpiece, 7 Days the GSD mouthpiece, VOX was closed down due to its heavy indebtedness (which did not seem to bother certain people whilst it was "on message"), that leaves Gibraltar with Panorama, which, despite its leanings to the left, publishes a wide range of views from different subscribers.
In short, in my judgement, there is not much (if any) of a free press in Gibraltar. Neither the US nor the UK system of separation of the executive and the legislature exists in Gibraltar, because the entire executive makes up the government benches in the legislature. The conjoint result is that a democratic deficit exists in Gibraltar that is substantially larger than would be accepted in most western democracies. I make no apologies for anything that I have published in this blog, therefore. It is published in exercise of the right to freedom of expression. I believe that this blog makes a valid (although, likely, small) contribution to democracy in Gibraltar.
More so when none of what is published is anti-Gibraltar, certainly it cannot be branded as such for the reason given, namely, that it criticises aspects of the GSD Government's and Peter Caruana's actions and policies and certainly not because it allows others to comment anonymously. In addition I do not believe that there is a single blog published that is critical of Gibraltar itself. There is not a single one critical of anyone at a personal as opposed to a political level. It contains also criticism of the political actions and policies of others, aside from Peter Caruana and the GSD. It praises Peter Caruana specifically for being a great believer in and defender of the right to free speech, indeed, had it not been for the forceful exercise of this right by him in his extreme criticism of the previous administration, the GSLP, would he have ever been elected? I note that those who label this blog anti-Gibraltar have never labelled Peter Caruana or the GSD with the same label, is this just subjective licence or partisan bias? Readers should bear in mind that the actions of an incumbent Government will always be more susceptible to criticism and so an imbalance can be and is usually perceived to exist.
I, and all others, did not live through the closed frontier days, in defiance of Francisco Franco's (El Caudillo's) dictatorial Spain, lacking freedom of speech, to be frightened into silence by hypocrites with commercial interests who consider themselves to be the guardians of Gibraltar but who are, by maintaining close relations and contacts with all incumbent Governments, the guardians of their own wealth, interests and lifestyle. I will certainly not be silenced by their baseless accusations that this blog is anti-Gibraltar. This blog is a responsible exercise of a fundamental right of freedom of speech (sadly otherwise largely absent in Gibraltar), without which freedom, democracy would be closer to death in Gibraltar. If exercising that freedom leaves me open to the accusation that I am obsessed by politics, as I was accused yesterday of being by someone close to the Chief Minister, I will take that as a compliment and not an insult.