The PDP has one key strength and one major weakness: Keith Azopardi. Azopardi is a popular politician as can be seen in his personal vote that was way above the other PDP candidates at the last election. However he was also known as a card carrying member of the GSD and a former deputy chief minister to Caruana: so if you want to support a centre right party it is logical to vote for the real thing rather than the pretender. I will leave the PDP for a moment and move on to the GSD.
The big changes in the political scene between now and the next election are likely to take place in the GSD. To be honest it makes little difference whether Caruana leaves the political scene or not. He is a political dead man walking and the future of the party lies with his deputy leader and not him.
It is more in the interests of the GSLP Liberals that Caruana sticks around than the GSD. I know many on the centre left want to see the back of him but not nearly as much as a larger number on the centre right. There are many in the GSD who believe the party could have won the election if Caruana had done the decent thing and quit. Right now he impedes the party’s recovery and the setting out of a new agenda. In Parliament he is an embarrassment: Gibraltar’s answer to the bitter Tory Ted Heath. So as long as Caruana stalks around the better it is for the present government.
So let us move on to a post Caruana GSD which will come sooner or later: certainly not soon enough for Daniel Feetham. His brother, Nigel, is already a GSD guru but I suspect Daniel would like him alongside in parliament. I have a high regard for Nigel: don’t rule him out in the future CM stakes.
The current thinking is that the Feethams will dominate the GSD in the coming future: the very party that inflicted such pain on their father. Sometimes revenge is very sweet indeed.
However will the grand lords and ladies of the GSD willing follow the socialist Feethams? That is of course the key question of the next four years. Logically no: so we could see a return of Keith Azopardi to the ranks to calm their nerves or maybe Peter Montegriffo will ride in on a white charger – or being Gibraltar a rent-a-bike as once used by Joe Holliday.
There is of course an alternative: the PDP. There is only one GOP in Gibraltar to borrow the US parlance where it is the Republicans: the Grand Old Party here being the GSLP. All the other parties are relative Johnny-come-latelies. So when it dawns on the GSD rank and file that the political lunatics have taken over their asylum they can flee to the readymade PDP.
I have only crossed verbal swords with Daniel Feetham once and that was after the 2003 election which left the Labour Party with no seats. I suggested in writing that the Labour Party would not survive to see the next election: an angry Feetham countered Labour was forever. Well we know who was right and who was wrong: Daniel Feetham was and is a politician in a hurry and was never going to sit around nursing an unelected party.
However to Keith Azopardi’s credit that is just what he has done bringing the PDP to two elections without achieving a seat. He may have left the GSD in a fit of pique (is that what the Ps in PDP stand for?) as indeed did Feetham when he stormed out of the GSLP but when it came to founding a lasting party the laurels go to Azopardi.
Now Azopardi could find himself and his party on the verge of a major triumph. Whilst all the talk is of the former deputy chief minister rushing back to his former party and the subsequent collapse of the PDP here is another scenario. He stands his ground, the PDP opens its doors to the GSD members who know the ‘S’ doesn’t stand for socialist and the up to now fringe party becomes the new main party of opposition to the GSLP Liberals.
Too far-fetched? I am not so sure! If Montegriffo gave his support to his fellow former deputy chief minister, if an MP or two was tempted to defect, if the current party grandees decided the PDP not the GSD was the way to go we could witness a major sea change in Gibraltarian politics. It is certainly time for the PDP activists to hold their nerve and not drift away. Their future may well be bright: the future could be the PDP.