Thursday, January 24, 2013


So we know the runners and riders in the GSD Leadership Stakes and it’s a two horse race. Daniel Feetham says he is going to say little more as “this is an internal matter for the GSD”. He is right and he is wrong.

It will be the GSD executive that chooses the party leader: no argument there. However we can only presume that the chosen one will lead the GSD in to the next general election and will be the party’s candidate for Chief Minister. Hence who the party elects is of interest to us all.

I spoke on Tuesday to two people with very differing views on the Bossino candidacy. One believed Damon was merely putting his marker down for the future and hoping to secure the deputy leadership post. In that person’s view Feetham is a shoo-in.

The other view was very different. That person believes that Bossino is the candidate of the true GSD who wish to stop Feetham at all costs. No surprise in that thesis but I was surprised by the strength with which it was delivered.

I believe Daniel Feetham is the most interesting politician. I may make him the subject of my second book. Second you make ask? Yes my first belongs to another!

The Feetham family are socialist. Daniel Feetham was a member of New Labour and returned to Gibraltar intent on taking the GSLP crown when Joe Bossano stood aside. Joe wouldn’t budge so Danny stomped off to form the Labour Party. That fell flat on its face electorally and as Feetham is only in politics to be Chief Minister he made the ideological switch to the GSD where he finds himself close to the first of his targets: the party leadership. Whether he achieves that we will see in the coming weeks. If he does then the GSD will have a socialist leader with the other socialist members of the family waiting in the wings to take party positions. The attraction of Danny to the GSD is he is an experienced politician who can perhaps give the GSLP Liberals a run for their money. The problem for Feetham is if he fails. He has no desire to be deputy to anybody: not Caruana and certainly not Bossino which sounds too much like Bossano for his taste. I wouldn’t rule out another political incarnation for Feetham or he may just decide the game is over: for now.

Which of course leaves us with Bossino. I said in an article back in October that he could be shaping up to be the true GSD leader. As the party leader really has to be in parliament the traditional wing of the party had little other choice. There are two strong points for GSD members in electing Bossino – the first is he isn’t Danny Feetham and the second is he is not tarred by the Caruana administration brush. Against him is the fact he is new to frontline politics. However I doubt if he is a fool and he has three years as opposition leader to learn the ropes.

I agree with Bossino that a party leadership contest is always desirable. I am sure Fabian Picardo would have welcomed a challenge for the leadership of the GSLP. However since then he has passed the ultimate test – being elected by the people of Gibraltar as their Chief Minister.

Nor do leadership elections always turn out the way a party imagines. The current leader of the Lib Dems and the UK’s deputy prime minister is Nick Clegg. However had the 1,300 postal votes caught up in the 2007 Christmas post not been excluded but added to the count it would be Chris Huhne who would have led the party in to the last election as more Lib Dems voted for him. Currently Huhne is out of the cabinet as he awaits trial for perverting the cause of justice over a 2003 driving charge. He could yet return to the Cabinet or be sent to jail.

I have yet to hear who Peter Caruana favours to replace him. One has to remember that ahead of the last election he insists he backed Fabien Vinet to be one of the GSD candidates only for the party to vote him out. So may be having the former Supreme Leader’s hands placed upon you is best avoided at all costs – especially if they are not on your head but around your neck.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


If you had asked me before the end of last September about One Nation politics I would have pointed you in the direction of former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli and the One Nation tradition in the old Conservative Party.

That was to last year’s Labour Party Conference in Manchester when party leader Ed Miliband captured the concept of One Nation for the socialists. He did it just a stone’s throw from where Benjamin Disraeli had first used the term in a speech at the Manchester Free Trade Hall some 140 years before on April 3 1872.

Now I presumed at the time this was the second coming of One Nation politics but I was wrong. It was the third. The second happened in the mid-1990’s when Tony Blair became leader of the Labour Party. It was part of his New Labour journey from One Nation politics to the Stakeholder Society to the Third Way.

So to Ed Miliband’s speech at the Fabian Society Conference in London on Saturday. Certainly the Fabians were anxious for flesh to be put on the One Nation bones. Did Ed achieve that? He certainly did for me but then I have long embraced the notion of One Nation politics. Some of those around me shared my satisfaction but others didn’t and I wonder if they are waiting for Ed’s One Nation to fit their agenda, which I am not sure it is ever going to do.

One Nation politics is essentially a British, perhaps even English, dogma. It will be the socialist buzz words ahead of the next British General Election. Yet I can think of no better way to describe how politics in Gibraltar should be carried out and I would argue that in essence Fabian Picardo (not to be confused with the Fabian Society) is a One Nation politician.

In such a small community as ours the One Nation concept sits very easy indeed with Gibraltarians’ core beliefs. It wasn’t the philosophy of the GSD which set out to serve its own at the expense of the majority. However Fabian Picardo governs for all Gibraltar and not just those in the GSLP or Liberals. In his heart and soul he believes in fairness: a concept that is shared by those in government with him.

Blair’s 1997 view of One Nation politics was set out in the Labour Party’s manifesto. He stated “I want a Britain that is one nation, with shared values and purpose, where merit comes before privilege, run for the many not the few, strong and sure of itself at home and abroad.” Isn’t that 2013 Gibraltar?

Miliband in his 2012 conference speech hoped for Britain to be a land in which “patriotism, loyalty, dedication to the common cause courses through the veins of all, and nobody feels left out”. Isn’t that 2013 Gibraltar too?

If Gibraltar is to be successful this small nation has to be one nation. For well over a decade the GSLP – Liberals have demonstrated first how a coalition can work for a country in opposition and how that can be successfully carried through in to government. This is in stark contrast to the Conservative Lib Dem coalition in the UK which is self-serving and not there to serve the nation. Now as One Nation politics again takes centre stage in the UK we here can point to how it is a core Gibraltarian belief which defines our small nation as one nation.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


It is the dogma of the majority of Spanish political parties that Gibraltar is an integral part of Spain and should be recovered. The mantra is “Gibraltar Español” and I have always presumed that those on the right of Spanish politics chant it louder than those on the left.

There are those in Gibraltar who welcomed a Partido Popular victory in the last elections because they take the view that you know with the centre right party where you are and you can expect the worst. Not only that but your expectations are likely to be met. The present PP administration certainly is proving the truth of that belief.

In contrast with PSOE you never know whether you are going to get the good cop, the bad cop or whether to an extent on Gibraltar relations they will cop out altogether.

I have held the view that if the centre right and far right could be eliminated from the Spanish political body matters for Gibraltar would change. It is my belief that it is because the parties of the right and principally the Partido Popular have enshrined “Gibraltar Español” on their hearts, minds and souls that all other parties in the political spectrum dare not but chant the mantra. Failure to do so would leave them open to accusations of betraying Spain.

In the 1980s Joe Bossano had talks with the PSOE of Felipe Gonzalez to see if the GSLP could obtain membership of Socialist International with their support. The fact is that if PSOE blocked the move the SI would not grant the GSLP membership. On the face of it this should have been a political matter with a small p. For a socialist party in Gibraltar to join the all embracing socialist movement worldwide should have not been a matter to meet with PSOE’s opposition. However it did as it would do today but the main reason given by Gonzalez to Bossano was that such a move would cost him valuable votes in an election.

Now would a PSOE supporter abandon the socialists and vote with another party because Gonzalez had not objected to the GSLP’s membership of SI? My guess is he or she would not. However if the centre right and right parties got hold of this information then they could blacken PSOE’s name with voters because they didn’t stop the GSLP becoming internationally recognised. That holds a lot of truth.

If you ask the average Spaniard do they believe Gibraltar is Spanish they would answer yes. Not because it is engraved on their hearts, minds and souls but simply because it is the common acceptance. However if you asked a Basque or a Catalan, first they couldn’t answer because they do not view themselves as being Spanish. Secondly they could hardly say yes because what they wish for their own regions is the independence from Spain that Gibraltar currently enjoys.

However the average Spaniard is not a politician. So whilst you will get the knee-jerk reaction to the Gibraltar question when you ask them what are the political priorities in their lives opinion polls have constantly shown that Gibraltar does not even feature. Jobs, the economy, housing score high: even ETA and terrorism scores low but way ahead of Gibraltar which does not register at all.

It is interesting that the present Partido Popular government in Madrid, whose priority is jobs, the economy and housing, has chosen to make Gibraltar a key plank in its foreign policy. However the PP totally fails to understand that for Spaniards the Rock of Gibraltar is simply not important. Hence we find the Spanish Premier Mariano Rajoy being ridiculed in Spain and the wider world for demanding before the UN that Britain hands over Gibraltar.

His country is in economic meltdown, key parts of his country want out, the world is in recession, there are numerous wars, people are starving, Arabs are demanding the freedoms that we take for granted and all Rajoy can ask the gathered UN delegates and leaders is: “please can I have Gibraltar back?” He is like a spoilt child wanting a toy in the shop window which he simply can’t have.

The people of Spain by and large could not care what happens to Gibraltar. If the parties of the centre and the left wished to truly reflect their wishes, neither would they. However they are all caught in the sight of the weaving cobra’s head of the right and centre right and dare not turn away. If Spanish politicians on the centre and left had the courage to break that spell there would indeed be a new era in Spanish – Gibraltar relations to the benefit of both societies. Yet for now no mainstream Spanish politician dare but chant “Gibraltar Español”!