I have stated here before that the GSD opposition- not that they take any notice of me - should not pick fights with the government in areas that its record is bad; some may even say a disaster.
The GSD has to remember that for four terms it was the Gibraltar Government and that administration’s record is the one it has to stand on. From time to time the party harks back to the days of the last GSLP Government as if what happened pre-1996 is of relevance. Only one member of the present government was in office then albeit as chief minister. However what the GSD did between 1996 and 2011 is very relevant indeed as it impacts on the here and now.
It is all very well for the former Captain of the GSD ship to willing walk the plank but that has changed nothing. He has been replaced by his former cabin boy and the GSD still has to answer for its time in government.
The new captain, cabin boy Feetham, has to learn from the Labour Party in the UK who found itself in opposition after a similarly long period in government. Feetham was a member of New Labour in the 90s and for all I know may still be a party card holder. Under its new leader, Ed Miliband, Labour has been careful first to hold up its hand to its mistakes and then to criticize the coalition in areas where the government cannot immediately return fire on its own record.
This is a skill, amongst many, that Feetham still has to learn. The captain is dead, long live the captain’s cabin boy. He may have been just the cabin boy but he was still allowed to sit at the captain’s wardroom table and took part in the decision making.
So one area where the GSD needs to hold its fire is housing. Under the Caruana government there was no housing policy, a fact admitted by the former Supreme Leader after he squeezed home in the 2003 election. For Caruana and indeed Feetham the only housing they were interested in was in Sotogrande. The fact that many Gibraltarians were forced to live across the border in La Línea in cheap flats because there was no affordable housing here did not register on the good ship GSD’s radar.
Now of course if a person goes to the GSD with a concern or complaint over housing then the party should contact the minister concerned on their behalf. Who knows Charles Bruzon may even be minded to reply and solve the matter, which is in stark contrast to when he was the opposition spokesperson when he rarely received the courtesy of a reply let alone action from the GSD minister.
The GSD in government employed a scorched earth policy to housing before it left office in 2011. There was not one housing project under way, there was not one housing project ready to go. This meant that when the GSLP Liberals came to power no new housing could be delivered until they had been planned and built. To the government’s credit it has been able to still provide homes by refurbishing housing stock that had stood neglected, abandoned, just like the GSD’s housing policy.
So before the GSD attacks the government over only allocating 324 flats, having 950 new homes underway with more in the pipeline it has to answer, to the public’s satisfaction, a number of questions. First how does it explain its scorched earth housing policy? How does it explain that many of the new homes it did provide were sub-standard? How does it explain the debacles surrounding a number of disastrous development schemes that cost the Gibraltar tax payer – you – millions of pounds? And how did it skilfully turn hundreds on the waiting list to 1,400 in 2011? When the GSD fully tells us that then we can start the process of moving on!