Friday, June 28, 2013


A week to by-election day when the voters of Gibraltar and not pundits like me will decide who will be our new MP. However with a week to go I will none the less give my reflections on how I see the state of play for the GSD. I will turn to Albert and to Neil in the coming days.

I am still of the view that the coming by-election could be disastrous for the GSD and for Danny Feetham’s leadership. Had the GSD been wise they would have sat this election out. They should have taken the high moral ground and said that as the vacancy had come about due to the sad and untimely death of Charles Bruzon, a GSLP Government minister, they would not contest it. They would have suffered some ridicule for doing so but it would have been the correct choice politically.

Instead Feetham allowed himself to be goaded in to putting forward a candidate probably not realizing that the strategy of the goaders was to make him do just that. So he has to fight the election on the GSD’s record, which like an old 78 is scratched and warped, and attack a government that is delivering on its manifesto.

In Marlene Nahon they have an able candidate or she would be if she wasn’t standing for the GSD. You cannot take to the social media and bear your political soul rubbishing the GSD in the process then do the opposite of what you proclaimed and end up as the GSD candidate. You are dead in the water before you start.

I see that Marlene describes herself as an avid horse rider. Perhaps that is why some political hacks dubbed her as a stalking horse candidate. If elected as an MP she could ride down Main Street and tying up her steed outside Parliament. She could even arrive as Lady Godiva wearing the GSD manifesto. The sight of Joe Holliday on a pushbike was stunning enough but nothing compared to Marlene and her trusty thoroughbred.

There are those who point to Marlene’s selection over Danny’s boys, who were also named as GSD candidates for selection, suggesting this demonstrated a snub or defeat for Feetham. I do not buy that argument: indeed on this I believe Feetham got it 100 per cent right.

Marlene Nahon will fight the GSD corner albeit with one if not two of her hands tied behind her back – an old circus pony rider’s trick. In the unlikelihood of her winning, Danny can point to his excellent choice of candidate. If she fails then his brother and his other standard bearers, who I believe were just on the list as window dressing, live to fight another political day unscathed. None of them wanted to be labelled the GSD candidate who failed.

Perhaps the plight of the GSD in this by-election is best demonstrated in the Facebook positing of Neil Costa. Neil is of course a Liberal Minister in this Government and wrote: “Curious. Only one central criticism on my 18 months on tourism and that related to what we inherited from the GSD! No comments from the Opposition on my Budget Address on the Port, the Gibraltar Maritime Administration or Commercial Affairs. Instead, the brunt of criticism against me was about my public statements against the then Government. We all felt in the twilight zone.”

In the twilight zone – and that is exactly where the GSD will exist until they have the courage to come to terms with their past and drive the stake through the previous government’s heart. You can’t attack the present government when all your efforts have to go to defending your own indefensible past.

By the by: I believe that Neil Costa has proved to be one of the unsung successes of this Government. In opposition he shadowed Yvette Del Agua. He demonstrated the GSD health service was on life support and the voters agreed with him and sacked Del Agua. His new portfolios are a very different kettle of fish. I met a tourism professional in London in the first months after Neil became minister. He had met Neil and I was taken aback by the praise heaped on him for his grasping of his portfolio and his intellect. Over a year on obviously the tourism head honcho was spot on.