There is now an acknowledgment by all political parties that there is a need to improve conduct in public life. The PDP recognised as much by proposing reforms of Parliament and of the electoral system. The GSLP/Liberals have not only recognized the need for such reforms but now have put codes of conduct on the political map in Gibraltar. The sadness of all this is that it was the GSD that was elected into government in 1996 with a promise to clean up Gibraltar's image and of good governance. 16 years on, the best that it comes up with is minor proposals for reform and an admission that they have failed to carry out this central and core policy that was promised by them to the electorate. Yes, it may be that in terms of the fast launch saga Gibraltar's image has been cleaned up by 16 years of GSD administration. This cannot, however, be a good reason to keep them in Government. This sorry episode was ended, never to to be resumed by any future administration. There is a new issue on this front today that needs to be tackled.
The image of a jurisdiction is greatly dependent on the image of its government. It is not realities that produce a good or a bad image, although realities play a big part. It is perception that goes to the root of image. Perception of the GSD Government on this front is fast becoming tainted. It is irrelevant whether there is good or bad reason for this. I would think that its record of omission on the subject of parliamentary and electoral reform is such as would give credence to the image of the GSD Government that is evolving. The central question is what good reason could there be for this failure? I shall leave the reader to come to his/her own conclusion.
In the course of my research on the subject of a "Ministerial Code", a subject which has now been made topical by the recent press release issued by the GSLP/Liberal Alliance, I came across the following:
"Our new government has a particular and historic responsibility: to rebuild confidence in our political system. .. people have lost faith in politics and politicians. It is our duty to restore their trust. It is not enough simply to make a difference ... the key principles [are] freedom, fairness and responsibility ...we must remember that we are not masters but servants. Though the British people have been disappointed in their politicians, they still expect the highest standards of conduct."
The sentiments expressed in this quote are of equal application in Gibraltar. They are sentiments expressed in this blog week after week. It is taken from the Rt Hon David Cameron's Prime Ministerial Foreward to the Ministerial Code of the UK.
The question in Gibraltar is how does it best seek to achieve a result at the forthcoming General Election that is most likely to deliver this objective? The choice will be to block vote or to show disapproval of the political system by breaking that block vote. Voting for individuals irrespective of party allegiance and delivering to party leaders a low personal poll is a very direct expression of discontent. Party leaders cannot have it both ways. If they choose to exert autocratic power they must also take the blame for failures personally.
If you cannot break away from the block vote, what to do? Well that is a choice for you. I will simply leave you with one thought, the GSD have promised open, transparent and good government. They got into power on the back of this promise in 1996 in a background of wholesale breakdown in law and order. Certainly there have been improvements in Gibraltar but have they delivered on systemic changes that will continue to deliver to Gibraltar open, transparent and good government in the future by ALL administrations? I do not believe they have. I believe that that in complete disregard of and in breach of sacred promises to the electorate, there has been a complete and utter failure by the GSD to deliver any such systemic reforms. This is the primary reason why I shall not be block voting for the GSD at the forthcoming election, contrary to how I have voted in the past 4 elections. I will vote for worthy individuals. I urge you to do the same. The alternative is a vote for the GSLP/Liberal Alliance or for the PDP. The PDP have promised systemic changes. The GSLP/Liberal Alliance is now making very interesting promises on this front. The GSLP/Liberal Alliance has historic baggage. It is time for the electorate to discard this consideration and move on. We owe as much to the survival of democracy in Gibraltar. If a GSLP/Liberal Alliance does not deliver on its promises, in 4 years, we can return a GSD Government who will, by then, have learnt the lesson of having ignored and treated the electorate with disdain on this issue.