As someone who has voted GSD (and is happy to say so) in every election at which the GSD with Peter Caruana as its head has been elected into government, I fully recognise that the GSD and Peter Caruana have done much for the betterment of Gibraltar. It is right that he should boast about this in his speech to the Casino Calpe, which unfortunately I missed. Unfortunately because I would have liked to have been there, both as a courtesy, because I am a past President and Life President, but more importantly because I would have heard his talk first hand. As it is I was unable to be there because I am on my annual holidays. I write this piece (some will say because I need my head examined) looking over the Grand Canal in Venice. Consequently, I rely (with thanks and attribution) on the Chronic report.
As a democrat, I am concerned that Peter Caruana should so openly criticise the GSLP opposition party on the basis that it has a "leadership" crisis. I am concerned that he should criticise its leader, Joe Bossano, on the grounds that having lost 4 elections, he is not worthy to be its leader. I do not agree. It may be a ground upon which the electorate might decide not to vote for the GSLP but it is not an issue upon which an election should be fought by the GSD. It is not for Peter Caruana to decide who should or should not be the leader of the party that opposes him. That is a decision for the members of that party alone. If it means that an election is lost on that ground, so be it but, at the very least the democratic process will have taken its course.
I am sure that it has not gone unnoticed that the other side of the coin of that selfsame argument is that, according to Peter Caruana, the electorate has no choice but to vote for the GSD and so install Peter Caruana as Chief Minister again. Implicit in his argument is the concept that he alone is worthy of that position of responsibility. Why? Because Joe Bossano has lost four elections so is not worthy of your vote and Fabian Picardo might do "crazy" things. This, together with the mantra that ... "Gibraltar is too astute to change good for bad ..." is a perfect argument to do away with democracy altogether. Peter, it is not you that decides what is good or bad, it is the electorate.
Perhaps he feels that Gibraltar should implement a dynastic system like that of North Korea? Should one not ask at this stage, who is in line to take over from Peter Caruana as leader of the GSD? There are many rumours about that ... and guess what ... is there anyone on the cards? I do not know but it seems to me that if the GSLP have a leadership problem, don't the GSD have the same problem? Maybe not but will Peter Caruana enlighten the electorate on that issue? Perhaps Peter Montegriffo is better equipped to answer that question.
let us make a quick analysis of the way Gibraltar has developed economically. If my memory serves me right the GSLP government were faced with a period of major transition in Gibraltar's economy from an economy virtually entirely dependent on UK Defence expenditure (and an ailing privatised dockyard) to one based on the private sector. Who laid the foundations for the changeover? If my memory serves me right, it was Mr Bossano's GSLP government. In addition to developing the pillars of the economy, finance centre, tourism, and the the port, it attracted the biggest ever (still today) foreign investment to Gibraltar in the guise of the Danish investment in Europort, which has been put to use by the GSD government, in part, as a hospital.
What has the GSD government actually innovated? Very little other than to build on the economic foundations laid down by the GSLP administration. Well, there is the Cordoba Agreement giving rise to the tripartite forum. Is this a success? Each reader can judge this for himself, but flights to Madrid, a failure, queues, well, are they much better? And now, clashes in the bay, which in another era would have possibly led to more serious consequences and which has led to even Peter Caruana questioning the effectiveness of the Trilateral forum. This statement could be considered the beginnings of an admission by him of the failure of this policy of engaging with Spain without tackling the fundamental issue of sovereignty. Oh yes, sorry, there is the joint use air terminal, but where is Spain's bit? And yes, the Instituto Cervantes, well we all know where it will be located but when will it be up and running? And without a shadow of doubt the GSD has, as promised, eradicated the tobacco trade. Has it? Still the GSD government can deliver the capital expenditure projects that it is delivering. What is paying for these in part? Could it be tax revenues from tobacco sale? All that The GSD have delivered is a more sanitised version of this trade. Let us not forget what it was the tobacco trade that resulted in the defeat of the GSLP government in 1996.
And then the excuse to end all excuses. There are no additional flights to Gibraltar because Peter Caruana says that he does not allow Joe Holliday to increase air services until the new air terminal is ready. Sorry! My understanding is that most airports and air terminals are not expanded until existing facilities are stretched. Perhaps Mr Caruana either knows different or has expert consultants who have advised him different. To boot do Ministers have any power when Mr Caruana can "... not allow ..." one of them to effectively undertake and succeed in their own ministry, or is it just an excuse for the failure?
In the end it is all about democracy, something that the GSD promised in 1996, with less centralised government nt controlled by NO 6 and greater transparency, you can judge whether the GSD has delivered on this promise. I am a fervent believer and adherent to democracy and the right to freedom of speech. If in the UK two brothers can fight over the leadership of the Labour party and still love each other, there is no reason why speaking ones mind should poison relationships. In this regard each of Joe Bossano, Daniel Feetham and Fabian Picardo have been magnanimous, they have each been critised in Llanito World and each of them have seen fit to discuss these criticisms with me, that is real democracy and free speech at work.