In the 17 years I have written about Gibraltar the name Feetham has cropped up many times. At first it was Michael in the last days of the Bossano GSLP administration. More recently it has been Danny and to a lesser extent his brother Nigel.
In the small pond of Gibraltar’s politics I have found Danny an interesting and intriguing character. I have followed closely his return from the UK, his flouncing out of the GSLP, his founding and abandonment of the Labour Party and his seeking refuge with and becoming an MP for the GSD.
I have labelled him a political carpetbagger and make no apology for that. Yet on a personal level I have always found him open, friendly and an engaging person.
I had intended to write in the coming weeks or months an article entitled the Feetham Effect as the general election grew nearer and it became clearer how the GSD plans its future. I expect and hope that will still be the case - that I will pen such a piece and Danny impacts in a major way on the future political life of the Rock.
Yet that is politics. What happened in broad daylight in a Gibraltar street on Tuesday afternoon was criminal – as is all too vividly shown by Danny’s blood stains on a car in the press photos. It could all too easily have been a personal tragedy for him and his family – it is bad enough it was a painful shock for Danny, his children and loved ones. I have no hesitation in sending them my heartfelt best wishes.
I have yet to meet a Gibraltarian who does not believe the people of the Rock and their small homeland are extremely special. Yet I ask in all seriousness whether Gibraltarians know just how special this place is? I ask because when a situation is the norm, what you have grown up with it, it is all too easy to take it for granted. However for a person like myself who views Gibraltar with an outsider's eyes you appreciate the uniqueness that is Gibraltar and its society.
The first thing that strikes you is that Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and other religions all live together in perfect harmony. When you consider that Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or those taking their names in vain, have been or are responsible for many of the major, bloody conflicts in the world you understand just how special that is.
The second point is that if you walk down Main Street on any given day you will pass top lawyers, politicians, business people, the military and church leaders. The visitor would never know and the Gibraltarian would not bat an eyelid because he and she is used to living cheek and jowl with the good, the bad and the ugly in their community. I was always bemused how often, when I queued for my newspaper in Sacarellos, the late Bishop Caruana was waiting his turn or had just popped in to say hello.
So I hope the Feetham Effect I write about is a political one and not a social one. The dreadful events of Tuesday should not result in Gibraltarians changing how they live. Of course the police must ensure that any official be he or she a politician, legal eagle, military or religious is able to go about their daily life free from attack, especially if they are dealing with measures of a controversial nature.
Yet the real tragedy would be if a Gibraltarian knifeman in attempting to murder the Minister of Justice was able to change how Gibraltarians interact with each other in a free and open manner. It is that which makes Gibraltar unique and must be defended at all costs.