There are four candidates in this by-election and you might argue that the independent has the hardest task because he does not have a party organisation behind him. Equally you might say that Albert Isola has the easiest job because he is the candidate of a popular party of government. I would venture that Albert Isola has the hardest campaign to fight by far.
If you elect Marlene Nahon she will sit as an opposition GSD MP for this parliament and may be the next. If you elect Nick Cruz he will be the PDP’s first MP but a lone voice in the chamber unless he can persuade some GSD MPs to switch parties. If you elect Bryan Zammit the Senior he will do on the Opposition benches exactly what he does on Facebook. However if you choose Albert Isola not only are you choosing an MP but under our electoral system a Government minister too. Hence he has to demonstrate he is up to both tasks from day one.
I have met Albert Isola and I have interviewed Albert Isola but I would describe him as an acquaintance and not as a friend. No slight here: it is I am simply old school and whereas on Facebook you can be instant friends with people you have never met I would never presume I am a friend with somebody until I knew them well. This has allowed me to watch Albert Isola in action from a dispassionate stand point.
I am going to use two words to describe Albert Isola: one you will find surprising for me to link to a politician and one you may view as being over the top. However I will justify my use of both.
Albert Isola is a former MP, the joint head of one of Gibraltar’s most respected law firms and has standing in our community. If you coupled that with a strong manifesto, hard campaigning and good public debates both you and indeed the candidate would be right to believe he or she has done enough to win your vote.
So here is the first word I am going to associate with Albert Isola: humility. I use that word because despite all of the above from the day he was selected as the GSLP candidate he has gone to spend time with each government minister both of his own party and the Liberals. The purpose of his visit wasn’t a photo opportunity but to listen and to learn. Believe you me a man of Albert Isola’s standing who has the ability to sit, to listen and to learn has humility.
The second word I am going to give you is exceptional. Albert Isola has already demonstrated he has grasped something which many politicians never understand in their political lives and that revolves around a party’s manifesto and what it should be.
Caruana was quite open about the fact that the GSD manifesto was a ‘wish list’. If you had a project he’d include it on the list as then you were more likely to vote for his party but once in power the ‘wish list’ was dumped till the next election.
This explains why Feetham is so alarmed by the numerous pledges in the GSLP Liberal manifesto. What he has failed to grasp but Albert Isola does fully is that this lengthy manifesto isn’t a “wish list” but a declaration of core beliefs and commitments by two left of centre parties.
The reason I say Albert Isola is exceptional is he has demonstrated the further understanding that a manifesto isn’t a leaflet or a brochure: it is a living thing. And what makes the manifesto live is the Government’s ministers who are charged with carrying out the election pledges which come with their portfolios. A party once elected can ignore its “wish list”. However it cannot simply hand such a detailed manifesto as drawn up by the GSLP Liberals to civil servants and tell them to get on with it. A minister has to drive the delivery him or herself.
It is Albert Isola’s ability to hit on this from day one; to sit, listen and to learn from those who carry the responsibility of delivery that for me marks him as a man of humility with the potential to be an exceptional politician.
On July 4 you’ll make up your own minds.