When I started Gibraltar watching there was only one Feetham on the block. No not Danny but his father Michael. Yes I am that old! It was 1992 and Michael Feetham who had been a founder member of the GSLP was a government minister departing from office when Joe Bossano’s party swept back in to power in that year’s election with over seventy per cent of the vote. Those were the days, Joe!
Since then Danny has burst on to the scene. The bright young lawyer, who was a member of New Labour in the UK returned to the Rock, joined the GSLP of old Labour Joe Bossano where the sparks soon started to fly. After stomping out of the GSLP because Joe wouldn’t stand aside (and has yet still to do so) he formed the Labour Party. When that got nowhere at the 2003 elections he threw in his lot with Caruana, first as his bag carried (was it carpet I wonder?), and then after the last election as a minister in the GSD government.
As the next election approaches we have still to be assured that the chief minister intends to seek re-election for a fifth term. However it has to be said I have seen no sign that he won’t. At some stage in the future he will step aside and Danny Feetham has been tipped by many to take the leadership of the GSD. There is only one fly in that ointment – Danny is a socialist through and through, it is his birthright, and hence that puts him at odds with his own party. His arrival caused much disruption, his crowning as king could split the party asunder.
There is another factor in the Danny Feetham mix; it is personal and not political. Last year he suffered a horrific knife attack that nearly cost him his life. The scars are on his body but the emotional injuries inflicted on him and his family will also remain forever. The fact this heinous crime was committed before his children leaves me lost for the words to describe my feelings on the matter. There are rumours that Danny might stand aside at the next election. He would be a loss to the Gibraltar political scene but who could blame him if he decided enough was enough. As a skilled still-young lawyer, with minister of justice on his CV, his legal future is very lucrative indeed.
Whether Danny goes or stays I would still turn the spotlight on his brother Nigel. In the days of the Labour Party, when Danny as now holds the Feetham centre stage, I wrote several articles predicting Nigel was the one to watch. Might I yet be proved right? He would I suspect deny any such ambitions but whilst he has stayed in the background he has followed Danny from the GSLP to Labour to the GSD. A highly talented legal eagle too – he has also made his mark in the Rock’s public life, not least with his posting to the Financial Services Commission.
So let me just say this. When Caruana welcomed David Miliband to the Rock Hotel to meet with Moratinos in 2009 I was in the media pack. A British journalist standing next to me declared as Miliband shook hands with the chief minister – there is Britain’s next prime minister! Well he was totally wrong on that score.
When I attended the Fabian Society Conference in January it was addressed by the new Labour Leader. He was a Miliband, not the charismatic David but the backroom strategist Ed. Had you asked Ed in 2009 did he foresee becoming the next leader of the Labour Party he would have probably given you the same answer as Nigel would now for the GSD.
It would take a braver man than me to say that history will not repeat itself. It may well be that a Feetham will be a future chief minister, not Danny, but Nigel.
Let’s wait and see!