It seems that there is some glitter of hope in Gibraltar politics that may result in less confrontational politics in Gibraltar. We have seen recently the GSLP extending invitations to the GSD that the parties should work together on issues of national interest. The GSLP has congratulated the Chief Minister on his appointment as an Overseas Bencher of the Inner Temple; I also join in those congratulations. The GSD has invited the GSLP to participate jointly in parliamentary reform.
I hope that these signs truly reflect a new dawning for politics in Gibraltar. I hope that it not just a ploy to sow dissent amongst those in the GSLP who agree with electoral and parliamentary reform and those who may not. I hope that something positive and constructive will come from these developments. I hope that electoral and parliamentary reform does become a reality. I hope that, because it is such an important issue, that it does not get mired in party political dissent causing the new impetus to hit a dead end.
The PDP reaction is not helpful. It militates at making the issue party political, precisely because of the views it has expressed, which will tend to polarise the issue at a party political level. The PDP are not represented in Parliament. They have to accept this distinction in status from the other three parties. This will not prevent the PDP from having an input through representations and lobbying. The PDP’s input cannot be at parliamentary committee level, put simply, the PDP has not been elected into Parliament.
I would like to make a positive gesture following these developments. A few commentators have credited this blog with having agitated the issue of electoral and parliamentary reform in manner that has led to recent developments. I thank them for expressing that view but the reality is that the most that this blog has done is to bring the issue to the forefront of the minds of the mainstream parties. Others have also had similar views and policies.
The truth is that the GSD promised reforms in its manifesto. The Chief Minister subsequently confirmed his desire to give effect to reforms. He then put the issue on the back burner using the excuse that the GSLP did not support reforms. I do not agree with this reasoning and have so said in the past. The GSD could have pushed for reforms by publishing its policy on the subject and then criticized the GSLP had it vetoed the ability of Parliament to pass them or an adaptation into law. The GSD has now reacted to the change of opinion by the GSLP expressed by Fabian Picardo to the effect that it would support reforms. The Chief Minister has given a new impetus to the process by inviting a cross-party approach, which would now be difficult for the GSLP to turn down.
Electoral and parliamentary reforms are the main focus of my politics, which are contained in the "Core Principles" that I published. On the basis of giving both the GSD and the GSLP the benefit of the doubt that they will together enact reforms to promote democracy, I have taken the decision not to stand for election. I will continue writing this blog. My decision not to stand for election is also predicated following careful thought over the period of the recent holidays. The reality is that, although I have many offers of active help and support, these do not translate into persons willing to stand for election. Each has his or her reasons for not putting their head above the parapet. I understand fully their reasoning. It is not an easy thing to do. Often business, employment or family considerations militate against standing for election. Consequently, I would need to stand-alone.
The chance of election standing alone, as an independent, is very limited. Additionally, as has been pointed out by some commentators, there is a school of thought that my standing for election detracts from my ability to be considered "independent" when writing this blog. It is clear that being seen to be writing "independently" provides a useful forum and catalyst for change. I believe that the move toward parliamentary reform, in part, has been stimulated by this blog and my publication of the "Core Principles". I want to give our mainstream politicians a chance to deliver the reforms, which are needed and so clearly wanted by the electorate.
My ability to promote change alone, even if elected into Parliament as an independent, will be no greater than my ability to agitate for that change by writing this blog. I have decided that I wish to retain the strength and credibility of this blog by not standing for election whilst I have such limited chances of either success or, even if I were to be successful, of influencing the subject of electoral and parliamentary reform. I believe that the mainstream politicians will deliver some reform. Perhaps they will not go as far as I am suggesting but the benefit of some reform is that the advances it will provide will itself create the way by which further reform may come about.
What I have done, do and will continue to do on this blog is to express my political opinions. I make great efforts not to make personal criticisms of anyone in what I write. I try my utmost to moderate comments to avoid personal criticisms; I may not succeed but, when anyone points any failures out to me, I do reconsider and delete offending comments.
Neither this blog nor I have the power to promote anyone into government or remove anyone from government, as some have suggested. That power lies in the hands of the electorate alone. All that can happen is that my opinions may or may not sway voters. I trust that my decision not to stand for election will be indicative that what I do is express very much how I see politics. I do not believe that this delivers “independence”, as no one is “independent” in politics. What it delivers is my subjective analysis and view. You may or may not agree with my views, which is a right I deeply respect as a democrat.
What I do promise is that, on this blog and elsewhere, I will tirelessly pursue my campaign to achieve electoral and parliamentary reforms in order to correct the deficit that I feel exists in democracy today in Gibraltar. All I am doing by deciding not to stand for election is to have faith in the new impetus given to this issue by the mainstream parties. I am of the view that the statements made by both the GSD and the GSLP are now sufficiently robust for them not to retreat from their commitment to improve democracy in Gibraltar. The credibility of both of them will suffer no end, should they fail to deliver on these promises.
I make no excuses or apologies for vociferously pronouncing on policies and views that I adhere to and issues that I fervently believe in. I make no excuse or apologies for campaigning for greater democracy in Gibraltar. I believe we deserve it. I believe that we did not resist Franco’s Spain to accept any deficiencies in our democracy that are capable of being remedied by our Parliament. I hope that the GSD and the GSLP do not disillusion the electorate. If they do, they will not just be letting me down. They will be letting down all Gibraltar.