Some have questioned my involvement in frontline politics with the GSD. My support for a party is not based on dogma. It is based on adherence to core political values. Mine are those of a social democrat and not of a socialist of the type and nature exemplified by the GSLP: to me the politics of the GSLP are neither socialism nor social democracy. The politics of the GSLP are the politics of convenience based on buying votes using savers money, irrespective of the wellbeing of Gibraltar as a whole or its future generations. I do not believe that these are the politics that voters in Gibraltar want, however much some (and it is a few) gain personally or enrich themselves from such politics.
I have no hesitation in saying that I have voted GSD at every election, except in the 2011 election at which I split my vote. I realise now that this was a mistake in light of the GSLP’s failures to make good its manifesto promises to improve democracy in and provide good government for Gibraltar. My passion for decades has been to improve the democratic offering in Gibraltar and systemically reduce the chances of bad government. The GSD has adopted policies that will help me to deliver on my passion.
The GSLP made empty promises on issues of good government in its 2011 Manifesto. The GSLP promised a more inclusive, less divisive and positive style of government, that it would return government to the people, ensure that ministers are servants of the people, that a government is not elected to ‘reign’ over the citizens”, that the GSLP do not believe that one man should be the government, they committed to a root and branch reform of the way our democracy works, they said that such reform must be designed to give people a greater voice in the way government and parliament function and they promised to promote free speech amongst all citizens.
When you come to vote you will be the judges of whether the GSLP have delivered on these promises. I do not consider that the GSLP have done so. The GSD considers that The GSLP have singularly failed to deliver on any of these. What the GSLP have done is to pay lip service to their promises by having more meetings of parliament but using the system not to advance open and transparent government, so much so that lies have been said in Parliament and questions asked by the GSD have not been answered purposefully.
In fact Fabian Picardo has used his absolute privilege in Parliament to make serious and false accusations using venomous language against Daniel Feetham, without the Speaker protecting Mr Feetham. I refer to the incident when Mr Picardo untruthfully alleged that Mr Feetham had corruptly promised favours in exchange for the Lloyd’s Report on LNG and that he had conspired to deprive young children, the elderly and disabled of electricity: accusations that Mr Picardo has cowardly refused to make outside Parliament and so become susceptible to a financial claim for defamation.
The very essence of free speech, the cathedral of which is Parliament, is precisely that one must suffer the expression of views by others, which one considers repellent, especially those of minorities, like the Opposition. Well the GSD wants to return Parliament to being the cathedral of free speech in Gibraltar. If the cathedral of free speech itself is violated, which is what the GSLP have done, then where does that leave the right of free speech that everyone should enjoy? I would suggest in tatters, as has happened in Gibraltar under every GSLP administration.
How the GSD will deliver better government and more democracy to Gibraltar is set out in detail in our Manifesto. Briefly, the GSD will follow open and transparent processes in non-civil service public employment and in tendering for government and government related contracts.
It will enforce laws to prevent corruption and cronyism and afford the necessary environment and protections for investigation of both. The GSLP acknowledged the existence of corruption in its 2011 manifesto. The GSLP failed to introduce the anti-corruption and anti-bribery authority that it promised. The authority’s remit was to be to “... work with the Attorney General and seconded officers of the RGP in the investigation and prosecution of corruption ... starting in 1988”. Now, the GSLP in its 2015 Manifesto says that the RGP are resourced to deal with this. Can you believe the GSLP will meet its commitment?
The GSD will introduce reforms to improve parliamentary democracy aimed at reinstating the supremacy of Parliament to achieve true democratic and fair government. It will do so by separating the executive and legislature by the election of backbenchers who will not be eligible for appointment as ministers by the Chief Minister. It will restore the Rule of Law.
The criticism that backbenchers will increase public costs is not a criticism at all. The entire cost of 8 backbenchers will not exceed approximately £150,000. Returning 2 or 3 public posts filled by the GSLP Government from the private sector to reasonable salaries will pay for this, with an additional saving in excess of £500,000. The benefit of the separation of powers to improve democracy and deliver better government more than compensates for this additional cost.
The choice is clear: more of the same opportunism from the GSLP or giving the GSD an opportunity to improve the democratic and good governance offer in Gibraltar. I would urge you to think carefully, not least because a vote for the GSLP is a vote in favour of an LNG plant at the end of the North Mole and for a stadium at Lathbury Barracks, once built these will be there for decades. Careful thought will lead you to conclude that a vote for the GSD is the right vote. We offer many other exciting and affordable promises. The GSLP continue now to promise everything that costs and is expensive. I suggest Gibraltar and its future generations cannot afford the GSLP. The GSD is not for austerity. It is for prudence by cutting bad and unnecessary expenditure and wastage.
The GSD is a team of competent persons. It is a vote for a team not for an individual who will be Chief Minister. On the 26th November use your privilege of voting. Vote GSD, vote for Danny Feetham, Roy Clinton, Trevor Hammond, Marlene Hassan, Kim Karnani, Lawrence Llamas, Elliott Philips, Edwin Reyes, Chris White and myself Robert Vasquez.