Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Is it Right for GBC to Broadcast Ministerial Statements?

Today I learn, from Panorama, that the Board of GBC has decided that "...having particular regard to Section 111(3)(i) of the Governor in Council's Directions to GBC dealing with political broadcasts and Section (3)(5) dealing with Fair Balance, the Board has decided, in its discretion, to grant the Opposition the broadcast requested ."

I cannot say that I am surprised. I wrote about this topic, before the decision was made, in the piece "Does the GSLP/Lib Alliance have the Will to Win?" (21 October). In that piece I questioned the fact that the GSLP/Lib alliance had not objected to the very concept of allowing Ministerial Statements. I said further that if these were permitted under the Directions then undoubtedly a right of reply by the Opposition must also exist or be the fair and democratic way for GBC to behave.

The basis and grounds upon which the broadcast of the Ministerial Statement was permitted still remain unknown. Is it permitted by the Directions? I should add quickly, before I am accused of crusading against the Chief Minister, that this is not a criticism of the Chief Minister or the GSD Government, such broadcasts have been permitted of other governments in the past. It would be of benefit if at least the basis of that decision, who took it and in what circumstances it was taken were to be made public.

What I am aware of is that the initial refusal to allow the Opposition a reply was premised on the grounds that they should do so in one of their allocated Party Political Broadcasts. If that were to have been how it should have been done, why was the same rule not applied to the Government? I can only speculate that the reason was that the contents of the Ministerial Statement were considered to be non-party partisan but rather a statement by the Government (as opposed to the governing party).

I do not necessarily accept that this logic and argument is the correct applicable criteria but applying the same logic and argument, Her Majesty's Opposition for Gibraltar should have been given an equal, fair and contemporaneous opportunity to reply. Instead we get the Board taking a decision. Did the Board authorise the broadcast of the Ministerial Statement or was it the executive of GBC?

The basis of their decision is said to be the Direction applying to "... political broadcast ..." one assumes this refers to party political broadcast, in which case why was the Opposition told to use a party political broadcast to reply? Logic dictates that it must have been because the Government equally used one of theirs. If it did not then these Directions are not applicable to either. What are the true facts of what happened? In addition, the Board say that it is the exercise of a "discretion" by them. Was it them who exercised a discretion to allow the Ministerial Statement to be broadcast? This is unknown also. It all seems a very odd carry on.

One of the unwelcome and irreparable effects of these events is delay. The Ministerial Statement was made some two weeks ago. The Panorama says that the date of the reply is yet to be announced. Any reply ceases to have some relevance because it is no longer contemporaneous and events have moved on in the time that has elapsed. The news media and especially GBC are essential elements of democracy in Gibraltar. These types of events undermine the effectiveness of the check and balance that should be provided by an independent news media in a democracy. There are few enough checks and balances in Gibraltar already so the diminution of one is a serious matter.

Lessons should be learnt from these events and steps taken to avoid a repetition in the same or similar circumstances. One major advance would be if the Governor in Councils' Directions were to be made public. At least in that way transparency would be achieved on how an independent corporation such as GBC takes decisions that have a political element to them. This will help safeguard GBC also from the criticism that it is not as independent from Government as it should be, a criticism that is often levied against GBC.


  1. I am pretty sure that GBC is not as independent as one would assume it should be. In my opinion the statement by the Chief Minister should not have been allowed at all in the first instance. Anyhow, the Opposition's right to reply is taking place tomorrow Wednesday @ 8.30pm.

  2. Nothing is as independant as one would assume it is or should be. At least GBC has had the decency to rectify it's decision.

    Guess who is having a meal with the Chief Minister tonight at the Rock Hotel? No other than Suck Sing (I am afraid I can not spell his name correctly) Yes, the same Union guy who came out in Saturday's Chronic, advocating that all union members should vote GSD. So much for the independance of the proletariat.


  3. Bhaji: OK now to the substance. Let us see what Joe Bossano has to say. As Oscar has said in the previous topic what politicians say is not normally what they mean. Let us see whether Ol' Joe uses his 12 minutes of fame to add to the betterment of Gibraltar or just to attack Caruana.

  4. Shouldn't Keith Azopardi also be given the right of reply?

  5. Well, the GBC Board is appointed by the CM apparently..so we can't really talk about impartiality at GBC!

  6. Whether he uses it to attack Caruana or not is not the point, but since you mentioned it I think that he should attack Caruana since Caruana attacks Bossano constantly. Not only that but I think that Caruana has dealt with the whole issue of OUR waters in an appalling way. I have hardly seen anywhere were the oppositon is attacked as it is here. In most countries and certainly in Europe the media and political analysts attack the Government of the day. It is only when the government is failing that the Government attacks are directed at the opposition. I believe this is the case with the GSD government as Caruana did in the Casino Calpe. They say that the best form of defence is attack!!

    In relation to GBC the problem is that the board is appointed by the Government of the day and the sad thing about it is that ALL governments have appointed usually their supporters, family and friends. Just look at the current board and you will realise what I am saying. If you don't then you are blinded by the current adminstration.

    Therefore the solution is we should ask some other body to appoint the members of the board. I say this because it happens in all committees, advisery councils, quango's etc. If and only if which is a big IF I were in government (and no one can link me to the candidature of any party since you do not know who I am,like has happen to Charles) I would appoint people from the other parties and then no one can make the accusation I am making above.

  7. Ghost says:

    It's a ministerial statement people not a political broadcast. It was statement with references to Gibraltar's foreign affairs and it was broadcast as such. What type of government are we after here? Our CM gives a formal statement on T.V. non political with regard to party politics and the GSLP camp are running around like headless chickens screaming right of reply.

    Do we not elect a government to lead and because we live in democracy do we not hold elections every 4/5 years, do we not choose a leader and in doing so provide him / her with the right to express and defend our position publically where circumstance deem necessary. I will not delve into the intricacies of what is and is not allowed subject to GBC's Councils Directions, as I believe that the realities surrounding the decision are primarily based around avoiding tantrums from the part of the GSLP. This in my view is a farce.

    We have voted one government into power not two and in the same way that it does us no good to have the leader of the opposition at the UN giving his view as a non-elected leader of Gibraltar, this recent tantrum shows us that the media, in this case GBC, have no capacity to understand their responsibility in this instance. This is not about a party political, it is about showing one voice and a united front on an issue which requires us to be cohesive and in which we can show political maturity to the rest of the world.

    If we or the GSLP are not content with the policies that the GSD have on these affairs we may by all means hold them to account in Parliament or in the media, or at the next election; but not in this way.


  8. Andrew............27th October 2010 12:39

    The problem we have in Gib is that every body wants to jump on the band wagon. Keith Azopardi with all due respect to him has no seat in Parliament nor dose he represent half of Gibraltar.

    The right of reply is given or should be given
    when in the Ministerial Statement the Chief Minister of the day alludes to the opposition by name or implication.

    Bhaji........27th October 2010 08:29

    Unlike you Mr.Bossano does not need his 12 minutes of fame. I find you disrespectful to the man who has defended Gibraltar through out all his working life. If Mr. Caruana was doing his job properly there would be no need to answer, or if he had been able to refrain himself from taking snipe shots at the opposition this situation would not have arisen.

  9. I would like not to be yet another 'Anon' but on this occasion I shall 'dip my toe in the water' here without getting wet...

    During a conversation a couple of years ago with a person of influence within GBC, I asked the question about how independent the Corporation is from Government.

    The answer came that 'GBC is independent of Government' (and with the jocular caveat) 'but one doesn't bite the hand that feeds you obviously!'.If such unwritten 'policy' exists within the management of GBC it surely must have some affect on its output?

    It seems to me that there is a desire within GBC to operate with complete impartiality however there is clearly an underlying fear of the big hairy hand - even more so because of the limbo they have been kept in for several years now. Biting said hairy hand might just influence the availability of funding to re-structure and update the long beleaguered and despondent GBC.

    The appointment of King was an interesting move - was this truly independent? Aside from the fact that we know that Mr.King was proffered to a rudderless GBC by the Government we don't know if the GBC Board were 'encouraged' with other influence than the recommendation to give the man the helm? They could well have just decided to make the man 'put his money where his mouth is' and realise the incredible revolution and evolution that 'the way forward' document illustrates. Sadly the actual independent report will never see the light of day despite it costing in excess of £50,000 our OUR money, which means we are missing data on how this new and wonderful new GBC is to be funded, therefore the Government and the GBC board possibly have something to hide. (hint at the end, so stay awake!).

    The suitability of Mr.King for either the review, or the role of Chief Executive remains to be seen - I for one had never heard of the man previously and I am unfamiliar with his credentials other than he used to be a journalist and anchor man on Sky News. Maybe he is the man for the job - Gibraltar needs a modern and efficient, and compact broadcaster leveraging on digital technology to improve quality and lower costs and improve efficiency in production and distribution and not a flagship rolling news service. The idea of two radio stations need not be of great expense and would effectively give Gibraltar the equivalent of Radios 1&2
    enjoyed by the UK, rather than the current single service trying to be all things to all people all of the time - it doesn't work. Perhaps then the youth might listen to something other than the Spanish Cuarenta Principales. It would also leave room for local musicians who are conspicuous by their absence from Radio Gibraltar's playlist. Maybe King has an ace up his sleeve known to Government, and potentially the GBC Board? Perhaps his connection with Sky Television might solve two 'problems' Gibraltar has with television services in one fell swoop and save a universally unpopular re-introduction of the licence fee. One thing is for certain - we will be paying more for watching television, GBC or otherwise as ultimately the taxpayer/electorate will foot the capital expenditure and any increases in running costs somehow.

  10. Ghost

    I think you need to read and do a little more research into what parliamentary democracy is all about. It is not about electing a government for 4/5 years and giving them free reign as you suggest to do and speak for Gibraltar unchecked.

    It is also about many many things including checks and balances, giving opposing views the right of reply and an independent news media. What is the criteria that distinguishes a Ministerial Statement from a party political political broadcast? You seem to suggest that it is just when it is given by the elected Governing party, that cannot the case; perhaps GBC can enlighten us on this point.

    you do not answer the basic question. On what criteria do GBC grant a Chief Minister the right to make a Ministerial Statement? I have never seen or heard of such a thing on the BBC or any UK TV or Radio Channel. I have heard of such goings on in other countries but mainly where there is a democratic deficit.

  11. Samosa: I remember that a similar fiasco happened during the 2006 Referendum on the new constitution when the Vote No Campaign complained that the hand of 6 convent Place seemed to be guiding the GBC board's decisions on the TV and radio slots. Joe Caruana and Charlie Gomez of the vote No campaign went to see the Chairman of GBC and asked him to resign! You were a member of the No campaign Robert do you know what happened exactly?

  12. I think a Minsterial Statement is made when the subject in question is so important that the Chief Minister takes the decision of addressing the nation. What he can not do is to make veiled references to the opposition because these in turn require an answer.

    Now, on the question of why did he decide to make a Ministerial Statement? I, in all sinceritty believe that his hand was forced after Mr.Bossano,s UN speech.
    Recently, whenever Mr.Caruana has attended a dinner or reception and has been given the opportunity of delivering a speech he has ranted and raved about out territorial waters, for the easy applause.

    But surprise, surprise,what happens then? That
    in an international forum like the UN he goes
    MUTI. Maybe he did not want to upset our Spanish friends. When he realises his omission has not gone unnoticed he decides that a Ministerial Statement is what he needs so he requests (or orders) air time for the Chief.
    Everything would have gone according to plan if he had not decided to mention the pressure he was getting to buy BIG boats.
    Excuse me!!! he was ther one who said he was going to provide them at budget time, I heard in on the radio.

    This is what I believe has happend.


  13. Patuquita:

    Who decides that the subject is so important that a Ministerial Statement is required? It must surely be an independent editorial body, like the GBC board, perhaps?

    Also surely there must be some objective criteria that is followed,is there any? Is any of this what has happened on any occasion, with past or present governments?

    These are the types of questions that should be answered and not by the CM or any Minister. Although, save in a dire national emergency, I have difficulty in finding any other criteria that would warrant a Ministerial Statement in a democracy. In any other circumstances the usual practice is to issue press releases and allow news editors editorial freedom to decide whether to use them on the news or not.

  14. Tandoori - I had to laugh when I read you say that you have difficulty in finding any other criteria that would warrant a Ministerial Statement in a democracy. The President of the US gives a weekly address to the nation from the Oval Office. Are you suggesting that the US is not a democracy and that Obama should be issuing PDP style press releases!!!!!!

  15. Tandoori

    My dear chap, although I am very glad that I have made you laugh, two points:

    First, the President of the US only has executive power and no legislative power, which is entirely in the hands of the two Houses of Congress. He is solely the executive arm of government.

    Second in the Us there is an obvious criteria, an established formula by which the President, as the sole executive arm of government as controlled constitutionally by the legislature (both Hoses of Congress) and the judiciary with a constitutional function (the Supreme Court),
    gives a weekly statement.

    I also admit to having left out the adjective "parliamentary" to qualify the word "democracy".

  16. Tandoori masala: Robert, old bean read section 44 of the Gibraltar Constitution Order! The Chief Minister has even less legislative power then the president of the US. In Gibraltar the Chief Minister is the head of the executive and legislation is passed by Parliament. Ask any constitutional lawyer. Try Charles Gomez.Once again you are firing blanks LOL.

  17. Llanito World......... 27th October 19:49.

    I feel that it is the Government of the day that should decide the importance of the issue in question and not GBC, for they are charged as the Government, with the responsibility the electors have placed on them. Also they may be privy to information not available to the rest of us.
    Having said that, I do not believe that in this case it was necessary as I explained in the above post.
    If the Chief Minister had wanted to use a Political Broadcast,he would have had to book it, and wait.
    Why do that? "If ask and thy shall be given"


  18. Vindaloo: Exactly the Council of Ministers in Gibraltar is one thing and the Legislature is another. In giving a Ministerial address the CM acts in the same way as the Pres of the US when he gives his weekly address to the nation from the Oval Office. There is nothing undemocratic about either address. You study constitutional theory and also Constitutional law! :)

  19. Tandoori

    WRONG ...

    The Chief Minister is the leader of the ruling majority party in the legislature which is our Parliament. You need to read the WHOLE Constitution not just one section, study constitutional theory and also Constitutional law. The Executive in Gibraltar is the all the Ministers as Council of Ministers. If one wants to get technical the Executive is the Governor acting on the advice of the Council of Ministers.

    You either misread Section 44 of the 2006 Constitution or purposely mislead readers.

  20. Vindaloo

    WRONG ...

    The executive is Her Majesty who is represented by the Governor who acts on the advice of the Council of Ministers ... read section 44!

    Nothing like the US system of Government.

  21. Vindaloo: Robert it is you either misread the 2006 Constitution or purposely mislead readers.

  22. Vindaloo

    Section 44 of the 2006 Constitution has references only to HER MAJESTY and to the GOVERNMENT OF GIBRALTAR not to the Chief Minister.

    I have never said this to any commentator on this blog but ... RUBBISH!

  23. Now that some of you have had your say the following is the BBC guideline in these situations:

    "Ministerial Broadcasts


    In exceptional circumstances, such as a decision to go to war, the BBC may be required to provide time for a broadcast by the Prime Minister or relevant senior minister. In such circumstances, it is also necessary to consider requests from the leaders of the main opposition parties for a reply. The BBC, as broadcaster, has the final say on the broadcast's acceptability in terms of its compliance with appropriate legal and other standards.

    Any request for a ministerial broadcast or a reply to a ministerial broadcast must be referred promptly to Chief Adviser Politics."

    I am sure that you must agree three things applying these principles:

    1. The circumstances that led to the CM's Ministerial Broadcast would not have warranted the BBC to allow the Prime Minister of the UK a Ministerial Broadcast, so why was the Chief Minister permitted to do so?
    2. The BBC would have given consideration to giving Leaders of Opposition Parties a right of reply;
    3. The decision is one that the BBC takes NOT the Prime Minister. How did it happen in GBC when the Ministerial Broadcast by the CM was permitted?

    Does anyone want to comment to argue that GBC, a licence fee and Government funded independent public service broadcaster like the BBC should have guidelines different from the BBC? Or will GBC publish its own Governor's Direction, which, if memory serves me right were derived from the BBC guidelines.

  24. There Robert is where you were wrong AGAIN. Caruana came on TV to tell us his position on a physical confrontation between the military of a country whose armed forces are thousands of times larger than ours and our police. The situation was exceptional and the 1st BBC rule applied. The opposition party GSLP made a request to reply and it was granted - 2nd rule met. You invite your readers to argue with you but it is not necessary your contradictions are clear from the face of your article.

  25. Anonymous at 08:16

    You are not seriously suggesting that the incursion incident is as exceptional as a decision to go to WAR? I find that an extraordinary position for anyone to adopt. Certainly the UK's more moderated reaction does not support your argument.

    The Opposition were granted a reply 2 weeks later after protestations by them and an initial REFUSAL on the basis that they should use one of their allocated party political broadcast slots. The right to reply was not considered contemporaneously with the decision to allow the Ministerial Statement, which belies your position.

    There is no contradiction in my article. You attempt to rewrite events. I am sure readers can decide whether I am right or wrong. I am sure of my grounds.

  26. Brown Cow said

    LW I think your blog on this issue is very strong.

    In Gib we are always arguing about OUTCOMES - should we have built a massive airport or what the CM said in his Ministerial address. But the PROCESS by which we arrive at an OUTCOME is far more important in terms of the quality of democracy that we enjoy.

    Your question - how did GBC come to grant the CM airtime in the first place - is fundamental and remains unanswered. The core question could be deployed in respect of any number of OUTCOMES in Gibraltar.

    Secret Governors Directions, undue influence, family and friends on the board or was this a case of the GBC Board acting impeccably? We simply don't know because the information is not in the public domain or easily accessible. In the UK (as LW you have demonstrated) it would be an easy exercise to find out the basis upon which a Ministerial broadcast was granted. In Gibraltar the matter is shrouded in mystery.

    Uncertainty, mystery, failure to dispose of undemocratic and colonial systems, and even secrecy about the PROCESSES of decision making in Gibraltar promotes speculation and undermines confidence in our system of Government. We are a small society already wary of stepping on our neighbours toes – particularly so when those toes might belong to somebody who may be able to directly influence the course of our life. Lack of transparency in public governance, even on simple issues, compounds our predisposition to anonymity at best, or silence at worst.

    Gibraltar lags far behind most western countries when it comes to basic aspects of democracy. We have a parliamentary democracy sure, but really who cares? Most of the decisions that affect our daily lives do not require legislation so our parliament provides no democratic check or balance.

    Most of the decisions that affect our day to day lives – planning permission, location of bin stores, airports, administration expenses, etc - are the sorts of decisions that would be taken by Town Council’s or Local Authorities in the UK. Their provision of information, the consultation that takes place, the feedback on consultation, the transparency of decision making far outstrips anything we have in Gibraltar. And if they get it wrong the Council / LA better watch it – elections are only ever two years away.

    A brief visit to any UK local authority website is instructive (Take for example East Sussex - http://www.eastsussex.gov.uk/yourcouncil/consultation/_ ) where “Council, Cabinet and Committee meetings are open to the public and press. Anyone is free to come along and listen to the debates, or submit questions in writing before the meetings.”

    Our equivalent to the Town Council, is our Council of Ministers which takes decisions about how Gibraltar is run on a daily basis without any scrutiny by the public or democratic check. Otherwise it is the chain of Government Commissions which are chaired and appointed by the Executive , usually held in private, and from whose processes the Government is generally exempt. On the few occasions when legislation is necessary the EXECUTIVE have a parliamentary majority in any event.

    Your blog on how GBC came to make its decision can and should be applied to all PROCESSES of Government in Gibraltar.

  27. Now that peace has prevailed on this issue I would like to say that the Chief Minister even controls parliament. As leader of the House he can say and do basically what he likes. He decides when it meets, he decides what item is tackled from the agenda by changing standing orders,he changes motions presented by any member to suit his party political needs, (a master at this was Sir Joshua who use to change motions presented by deleting all the words except This House...etc. And before all those satelites from the GSD accuse or even mentions that other Chief Ministers did the same the answer is YES they did but it was the GSD who in 1996 advocated to change this since they experienced what the GSLP did to them. The GSLP never advocated to change the system. But as soon as the GSD got into power the Chief Minister started to abuse his power. So much so that I remember listening to the radio once and the members of the House of Assembly then were kept in session until well gone 2am. It was then that the speaker Judge Alcanatara said "I am going" to the surprise of all. The Chief Minister then ordered the Attorney General to take the Speakers' chair and all members had to stay there until 2.15am when HE the Chief Minister decided to adjourn for another day. Apparently even the other Ministers were annoyed at the CM.

    In relation to GBC and whether the Chief Minister should or should not have a Ministerial Statements I believe that he should. But if he subsequently attacks the opposition then they have a right to reply.

    The problem is that the so called journalists at GBC should have immediately gone to the opposition to give a reaction to the criticisms of the Chief Minister and at least given the Leader of the Opposition an extensive interview to rebut the CM.

    It is therefore clear that the person above who said that GBC does not want to bite the hand that feeds it, is correct.

    What should happen is as does with the BBC is that GBC should not be at the whim of the Government of the day and they should have there existence guaranteed. The board to be appointed by the general public and not by the CM as is the case and that the Journalists have a free hand and act as true professionals in there own right without fear or favour as happens now.

    The NEWS Plus that has appeared now on GBC should be renamed to "Caruana Plus"

    To finish why are interviews with the Chief Minister so long and interviews with others are nearly always cut short with comments from the interviewer "Well we are running out of time"

  28. Gaffaw: According to the genius Llanito World a ministerial broadcast can only be made when a country is about to declare war (or I suppose has war declared against it). By that rule we will never see a ministerial broadcast on GBC again until the tanks of the Division Acorazada Brunete reach the Piazza Grill and the goat which the Tercio keep as a mascot nibbles at the grass verge around the Trafalgar Hill Roundabout. Keep it up Robert, this really is vintage comedy disguised as a treatise in democracy.

  29. Guffaw

    Please read what I write more carefully and do not make a fool of yourself by allowing me to publish your idiotic attempt at ridiculing me. You are undoubtedly one of the buffoon wing of the GSD supporters. Thankfully their intelligent wing is more populated.

    What I have quoted is not MY OPINION it is the BBC GUIDELINES so your attempt at discrediting me is a non-starter unless you can first discredit the august organisation that the BBC is.

    GO BACK TO SLEEP OR BETTER STILL BACK TO SCHOOL but stay awake during classes this time, perhaps you will learn both to read and also understand what you read. It will help you not make a fool of yourself.

  30. GSD (Buffoon Wing) Statment: This is to certify that Gaffaw is not and never has been a member of the GSD (Buffoon Wing). Have you tried the GSLP's Dirty Tricks department?

  31. Anonymous at 18:22

    ... and how would you know?

  32. Brown Cow..spot on !!

    Unfortunately a good proportion of the population are unaware of the vast difference between our "democracy" and that of the UK. Transparent open process is an unknown concept in Gibraltar which the Govt of the day is only too happy to capitalise on !!

  33. Que burro son "a good proportion of the population" y que clever so to ustedes!

  34. Es verdad Robert es usted un enterado, sabe lo todo.

  35. Ghost says:

    Joder! I leave for a day and LW losses the plot....:)

    If there is ever a case for checks and balances its right here on LW. I find Brown Cow's and other assessments of our lack of democracy quite astounding. What is truly frightening and which leads to my suggestion of keeping Robert in check on this one, is that such a well read character, a lawyer for the love of god, actually agrees with statements that suggest Gibraltar is comparable to........quite frankly North Korea!

    You would think that we live in an era where there is no freedom of speech and in which there is suppression social, economic and other, a society frightened to express itself, where there is only one line and no other, a media unable to perform its very own checks and balances, a political system in which the opposing party is unable to express its right to speak and inform the public and therefore create public opinion which in itself (in a place like Gib) is a check and a balance.

    So as a remedy to all of this and in order to prove our democratic credentials we need to (and lets face it people we are a population of 30,000) vote on pretty much everything, the GBC board, the Mayor, elect a town council for domestic issues, what else I wonder? In effect we may as well remove the entire concept of having a Government and micro manage everything in the name of good democracy. Pull the other one Robert and to Brown Cow, I bow down and say, classic stuff - fuera de serie!

    No system of democracy will ever be spot on and the very fact that we live in a democracy allows for the questioning of the system without fear of consequence, thats the beauty of it. Please lets not hammer our maturity and success as a democracy in the name of party politics which is effectively what we have grown to accept (on occasion) from this blog.

    The point we are here to debate in my view and which is driven by the heading of this blog is two fold; i) should there be circumstances where an elected leader has the elected right to address the community on matters deemed serious enough and which touch on no internal party political issue? ii) is there a basic need to address the structure, responsibility and the very nature of the media in Gibraltar? The answer on both counts is absolutely yes! And by all means lets have this debate, but to systematically accuse Caruana of blame on everything is quite frankly an insult to all our intelligence; I am surprised that LW has not already made a reference to this and in the interest of good debate steered the topic back to its core.

    We do live in a democracy and if we are discontent with how it is being run, we have elections to remedy. I am the first to admit that a four term govt is by natural default going to suffer the consequences of its age and this is in my opinion is our real gripe and is reflected on almost all the blogs that we care to contribute to.

    The sad truth I am afraid, is that our democracy has not had the ability to check and balance a four term loosing opposition led by the same individual; had this not been the case =, we may well have groomed the right leader to take us on to new heights and success' . Maybe we should consider including caveats in our constitution that prevent two term loosing leaders to present themselves for further elections, in other normal democratic elections its a given after one loss.


  36. I just wish those who take to insulting me did so for what I say not what others say, that they explained and enlarged also on their arguments and that they had the decency an courage not to hide behind anonymity.

    I repeat, I publish comments whether or not I agree with them. They do not often reflect my own views, which is obvious from the last few that I have published. Please remember I make the decision to publish. I can just as easily reject these comments and no one would be the wiser.

    It is obvious to me that, for ulterior motives, that i have a good idea what they might be, some persons want to discredit this blog. I have no problem with that at all. I write it for my own peace of mind and satisfaction. Many people read it, which gives me satisfaction but equally those who do not like it have no obligation to read it. Certainly i will continue writing my opinion, which I do not expect everyone to agree with, and certainly i do expect everyone to agree with me. I will continue also to publish the opinions of others whether or not I agree with them. I do not do so for the sake of popularity.

    Anonymous at 20:06 and 21:55

    If you are referring to the comment made in relation to " ....a majority of the population ..." that is not a comment by me!

    And Ghost:

    The comparison made by Brown Cow is not with North Korea it is witht the United Kingdom. I will leave it to Brown Cow to reply to you if she wishes to. LW has checks and balances ... for example your ability to comment and that of all others.

  37. Is Ghost a Minister in the GSD government? I have my suspicions of whom it might be ...

  38. Longanisa: We all know who (not "whom") "Ghost" is Robert. His contributions are a good foil to your mostly interesting but imperious arguments and keep this Blog interesting. The various Indian dishes have added spice to this and when it comes to the insults of Gaffaw etc you Robert can give as good as you take.

  39. Ghost says;
    LW o am sorry that you have been offended by some if my comments; you really ought not to take it so personally. I assume you are familiar with ...:) smilely face which I used in the only reference to what might have been considered an insult.
    As regards to the substance of my posting and your comment on it, i will reply later when I have time. For now it is important for me that you are fully aware that I value the LW blog and enjoy my democratic right to express my opinion in it.

  40. Ghost

    I have absolutely not been offended by your comments, sorry if you thought so. My comment on being insulted was not aimed at you at all. It was aimed at the 2 short anonymous comments that precede yours. I also value your contributions.

    My only reference to you is at the end wen I specifically refer to you. All I said was that the comparison made by Brown Cow is with what happens in the UK so your reference to North Korea is completely off the wall and intended to distract from a very valid argument by Brown Cow as to the democratic deficit in Gibraltar. Many people speak about it privately but few voice it publicly and certainly the political classes in Gibraltar want to keep it well in control ... after all it would make their lives more difficult.

    And to Longanisa

    Yes, I do enjoy it all but imperious? Perhaps it is just that readers cannot see my smile when I write many things. I like to keep the spice going, it attracts many a new reader.

  41. Ghost`s contributions are fast becoming predicatble and to use his/her own words astounding. To dismiss Brown Cow`s comments on what are factual obvious differences between our processes and that of the UK - possibly the oldest and most advanced democracy on the planet, for all its faults - is beyond astounding and symptomatic of GSD "luvvies" who seem to think that elections to elect an all powerful CM once every 4 years is as far as democracy goes. Democracy is NOT a spectator sport. We all have the right to particiapte on a daily basis and to demand an open, transparent and accountable government. Is this not the essence of democracy ?? We should be aspiring to better and increased democracy. Denying that we still have a way to go yet does us no favours.

    Yes... lets stick to the issue at hand here and not muddy the waters with the usual.. GSD = best thing since sliced bread, GSLP = disaster waiting to happen.

    Talk about party politics !!

  42. Brown Cow said:

    Ghost - as LW has already identified my comparison is with the United Kingdom not with North Korea. I did not mention freedom of speech, suppression, or fear. Nor did I direct my comments at the Government of the day. I have simply stated my opinion about the existing PROCESSES of governance in Gibraltar in respect of important day to day matters which do not require legislation

    My opinion is a simple one - despite the fact the Gibraltar is a small town with its own parliament, in reality, we have less transparency, information, and control about important day to day issues than people living in the United Kingdom – and less ability to make meaningful contributions.

    In my view Gibraltar would be better governed if our PROCESSES more closely reflected those one might find in any UK local authority.

    Ghost – I invite you to consider this. Are you a fan of our SYSTEM of Government, as it relates to the above matters, or just our present Government? Imagine a scenario where the politician you most despise was sitting in the Chief Minister’s chair doing all sorts of things which you strongly disagreed with. Would you then be so keen on our current PROCESSES of decision making?

    What I object to is;

    1) Governments not having to submit to ANY form of PROCESS whatsoever- like for example our Government do not submit to any kind of planning process for any of their projects no matter what their scale or impact; OR

    2) submitting to a PROCESS which does not take place in public but provides a cloak of legitimacy – in the present instance a Ministerial Broadcast being granted by a Government appointed board which sits in private, makes decisions on the basis of criteria not in the public domain, and takes two weeks to sit and consider a legitimate right of reply request.

    I am not suggesting, as you appear to think I am, that OPEN GOVERNMENT = WEAK GOVERNMENT. That is not how most Local Authorities function. They can and do take unpopular decisions, and they live by their choices. Governments need to be able to Govern and PROCESSES need to take account of that. But in Gibraltar we need more openness, transparency, public consultation and participation and it needs to be on a formal footing.

    The recent Government “public consultations” are a one way dialogue whereby Government decides what it is going to do, often actually starts doing it (Traffic Plan), then presents a fait acompli to the general public in the form of a consultation paper, invites comments which it promptly ignores (GBC consultation, and the Traffic Plan).

    That said, it is just this sort of consultation (either written or in committee), on a statutory basis, held at the outset of the decision making process, and demonstrating by results that the views of the general public are actually being taken on board (or considered and rejected), that enhance the quality of the democracy we enjoy in Gibraltar.

    A good local example of this are the consultations carried out by the Ministry of Justice. People might agree or disagree with the OUTCOME of for example, the recent pronouncement on underage drinking. But if you look at the PROCESS which has been employed to arrive at that outcome it is hard to criticise it. The results benefit Gibraltar – because they truly represent the broadest consensus on where, as a community, we think we should be heading on an issue – AND they benefit the politician implementing them because…” they truly represent the broadest consensus on where, as a community, we think we should be heading on an issue” and therefore they are popular.

    Being in Government is tough. You’re criticised if you get it wrong, ignored if you get it right. In terms of enhancing the quality of democracy in Gibraltar I can clearly see the benefits of improving transparency and participation in decision making. But, from a politicians perspective, that there are great benefits too.

  43. Brown Cow

    Thank you, I did not want to interfere. I think you explain your position perfectly and once again I agree with your philosophy.

    The propagandist attempt by Ghost to compare with North Korea is a lawyer/politician tactic to deploy the argument to extremes and distract from the true and valid argument that you are making but as the old adage goes, truth will out.

  44. Valiende chuma etay echa!! Robert quite frankly it goes to show that the venim de tiene the ones above is such that you should ignore them. Freedom of speech! Yes, totally but insults and attacks are obviously the trade marks of those in the GSD camp. Y depue se la dan como si fueran educados and worst still inteligente.
    And they are the ones who have the audacity to call los del GSLP chumos!
    The Difference between the GSLP supporters is that you see them coming i.e. son la medallas de oro y el mercedes, but then you have two options, you can confront them or you can take cover, whilst with the GSD supporters they can and give you a kiss in the cheek and say how good you are, but beware porque the knife comes out and they stab you in the back and twist it until you drop!

    Having taken that off my chest porque veo the bad milk que hay, I beieve that it is clear that some people want to defend the undefendable. When the GSLP was in Government many of those who are defending the undefendable from the GSD were the ones who used to criticise them for lack of democracy, transparency, openness,etc now they harp on about showing leadership, having to govern, he (Peter Caruana) knows best etc.

    The reality is that politics in Gibraltar is shallow and people like Ghost are the ones that demonstrate this. He insults then says he did not mean it that he smiles etc. What he needs to do is to unmask himself and then we can take his comments seriously since he is such a joker!

    This blog for me is a positive thing which quite frankly is a breath of fresh air and it is being spolt by some you I think have a hidden agenda to discredit. The knife is out!!They are constantly undermining people such as Fabian, they are undermining ideas such as yours Robert, and they undermine anything which is contrary to them and the GSD government. They Bow down to all the antics of the GSD. The GSLP also had and have people like them but you see them coming as I said above. So if we ignore those comments we can then have a mature debate on all matters and be critical of the Government without fear or favour.

  45. Ghost says:

    Anon 10:58 / LW, my reference to North Korea was and remains an exaggeration and used only to highlight the fact that in my opinion we are throwing the baby out with the bath water when it comes to democracy in Gibraltar.

    I am not muddying the waters with regards to party politics and refer only to factual references, that being that our democracy is tiring of a four term leader, not because of his leadership (which in my opinion remains unchallenged), but because our democratic instinct tells us that it is almost undemocratic to be in this state. And whilst this is true, what is almost disgracefully apparent is our frustration with the opposition, something LW touched on in his piece about their will to win.

    Let’s face truths here people, it’s not Caruana you should be holding to account it’s the lack of any ability the opposition has had to create intelligent opposition, that at the least shows us youthfulness and desire to increase our democratic accountability and take Gibraltar further from what we all surely agree has been an accomplished political history and I include Hassan and Bossano’s (in his day) reign.

    Back to the point / questions I raised earlier i) should there be circumstances where an elected leader has the elected right to address the community on matters deemed serious enough and which touch on no internal party political issue? ii) is there a basic need to address the structure, responsibility and the very nature of the media in Gibraltar?


  46. May I suggest that you all stop looking backward and look to the future. Surely that future lies with Keith Azopardi and the Progessive Democratic Party. Joe B, Peter C, Daniel F, Peter M, Dr. Joe and the others are all yesterday's men. Keith has a passion for politics and offers a fresh new approach to politics in Gibraltar. He is a true inspiration and a young man who we can trust to steer Gibraltar in troubled waters.

  47. Brown Cow


    I asked a question. Answer it.

    "Are you a fan of our SYSTEM of Government, as it relates to the above matters, or just our present Government? Imagine a scenario where the politician you most despise was sitting in the Chief Minister’s chair doing all sorts of things which you strongly disagreed with. Would you then be so keen on our current PROCESSES of decision making? "

  48. "should there be circumstances where an elected leader has the elected right to address the community on matters deemed serious enough..."

    Possibly.. but the criteria and process employed to arrive at the decision to televise the statement should be in the public domain and NOT behind closed doors AND "matters deemed serious enough" should be clearly defined.

    Having said this the whole situation appears to have been a bit of a farce and obviously not serious enough when a couple of days later the talks were back on again !

  49. The last comment by Ghost is not even signed as Ghost. Beware with what he/she says. You do not even have the guts now to continue signing Ghost any more?! Is it that anon 11.59 above is right in his/her analysis? I presume Ghost will not comment!

    In relation to Keith Azzopardi's fan I believe Keith is a good politician but please do not tell us not to look bachwards since I can see a Minister of Health in the GSD Government and a former member of the Liberal party. He might offer a DIFFERENT approach to politics in Gibraltar NOW because he has changed from before, but he definately does not offer a fresh NEW approach to politics in Gibraltar.
    After saying this he might have had the guts to confront Caruana, but we are not privy to that and then eventually resigned from the GSD because Feetham was annexed via the dedocracia system of the GSD to them.
    I personally believe Keith to be a good politician as mentioned above and you can sell him in different ways. He has good ideas and most importantly he seems to follow his conviction which I believe is really admirable. Unfortunately he will not even have a seat in Parliament but he should continue with his party.

  50. Ghost Says:

    To Brown Cow and LW - I am a fan of reality. That is my position.

    Do I believe that our system of Govt serves its purpose - yes. Do I also believe that there is margin to improve our democracy? of course I do, whether it is exercised by this Govt or any other (before or after) I would still strive for a better and a more accountable democracy.

    The issue of democracy and the prospect of improving it is for me not the problem, we are too small a community with way too many opinions to fall prey to dictatorship; our community by very nature is incredibly political and opinionated to ignore the wrights and wrongs. This is where I (as on many previous postings) will again return to the fact that we have elections to improve what we all might consider requires improving....accountability seems to be your gripe at present. So by all means lets express our right and give our political parties a mandate; a realistic one though and demand more transparency. Having said this (and I hate to bring it up again cause you'll all be up in arms having tantrums and suff - and on a friday too) we still remain with the problem of finding a more credible Govt, one that can truly challenge Caruana and it ain't there - even LW agrees...:)

    To those who think that Keith may be the answer; thats a really really big ask and a long shot. The PDP made the mistake of aligning themselves to the GSLP prior to the last election in the hope of becoming the next credible opposition - big mistake, and loads of back tracking to do.

    Good weekend to you all.

    LW did you look into breakfast in Madrid?


  51. Llanito World-Robert Vasquez said: "Is 'Ghost' a Minister in the GSD government? I have my suspicions of whom it might be ..." Now that is an interesting proposition indeed. If it is not; might it be the brother of a GSD Minister? Rob, who do you have in mind?

  52. Keith Azzopardi is also the part of the BORING past.

  53. Fred says:


    why don't you just tell us about the damn breakfast in Madrid, instead of being such a silly tease?

    And by the way, some of us are going to vote GSLP just to get things moving again in Gib, and not necessarily out of conviction. Gib is resilient enough to cope with a change.

  54. Poppadum: Fred is right to say that Gib is resilient enough to cope with a change. I would like change. I believe that we could do with Joe Bossano back in No 6 or even boring young Keith or Danny Feetham but I do not think we would do very well with Fabian there. The happy coincidence is that I am convinced that Fabian has tired of politics like his professional partner Peter Montegriffo and does not want to be in government. If anyone disagrees please provide an example of anything that Fabian has done or said in the last 4 years to show that he is interested or indeed is an interesting proposition. Or better still ask Bossano.

  55. Poppadum

    Fabian continues to accompany Joe Bossano to all his UN appearances and now also to the Labour Party conference where he met the new Labour leader, Ed Miliband. That to me does not demonstrate that Fabian has lost interest in politics. Don't know how Fabian manages to keep up the pace, learning the ropes from Joe in addition to constantly travelling with his full-time job.


    'Azopardi' as in 'Keith Azopardi' has ONE 'Z'.

  56. But when he goes to the UN Fabian sits there like the sphinx. The body language is one of disinterest. He has not come up with any initiatives or ideas in recent memory. No, I don't think that Fabian is interested in politics any more he is just pretending. That is is his prerogative.
    Are you sure that Azopardi has only one "z" it seems to me that several zs are more appropriate zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  57. It Seems that Freedom of expression is not what I thought it was!! Having written my opinion on the cooment of whether Ghost is a govt minister or his brother it seems that LW thought it might be libelous. Be that as it may and frankly since its your blog I will not go on about it. But above it is becoming clearer and clearer who not only ghost is but all the indian menu people we are getting. I believe all this about Fabian is a ploy to discredit him and the arguements are shallow.
    What has Danny Feetham done anyway before he was minister, according to him he came to Gib not to save the GSLP as some would say but to apparently try to clear his father's name since he thought that it had been tanished by the GSD. Since he could not do it through the GSLP since they realised what he was about he forms his party and then joins the party that he believes discredioted his father. Is he the one that poppadum above believes could be the next Chief Minister?? The fact he is mentioning Joe Bossano back to No 6 is just a decoy.

  58. Anonymous at 10:44

    Not all of it, re-read and re-submit with a very small part deleted. I cannot refer to that part.

    You could always submit under your name ... that would be true freedom of expression. At least I try!

  59. Anon

    You said "when he goes to the UN Fabian sits there like the sphinx. The body language is one of disinterest". Well, Joe Saunders used to accompany Joe Bossano to the UK but now Fabian has taken over in order to learn the ropes. Sure, it must be quite boring just sitting there listening to a speech that you have already read - but it must be good experience for when the time comes for Fabian to read the speech himself.

    In the past we have had the ridiculous (and expensive) spectacle of both Joe Holliday and Danny Feetham travelling all the way to New York to watch Peter Caruana read his speech. Thankfully we're now spared the spectacle (and the expense).

    Caruana now only takes Richard Garcia to avoid the other two squabbling, but Richard retires in two weeks' time so it will be interesting to see who accompanies the CM next time.

    You also said: "Are you sure that Azopardi has only one "z" it seems to me that several zs are more appropriate zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz" That's a good one!

  60. Ghost says:

    I think it is only fair at this stage to categorically confirm that I am NEITHER a minister NOR the brother one!

    I trust that my anonymity and my right to remain anonymous will be respected and that we can continue to debate the many issues surrounding our homeland with the freedoms afforded to us by this blog.


  61. Brown Cow for chief minister

  62. Ghost - you have political aspirations of a GSD disposition.

    Like so many aspirants before you, your wish for personal advancement far outweighs any genuine belief that you might improve public life in Gibraltar. Hence your inability to accept some of the perfectly valid (and non partisan) criticisms that have been made of our system of Government above.

    It is a shame, but not a surprise. Almost all of our current flock of sheep like politicians fall into the same category.

  63. Ghost

    Just as you have the right to remain anonymous on this blog, other posters also have a right: to try and guess who you are!