Friday, June 21, 2013


Another Queen’s honours list has come and gone with many Gibraltarians asking the question when will Joe Bossano be honoured for his life of selfless dedication to Gibraltar? The answer is far from clear. It may be the Queen’s honours but the fact is she has no more idea who is on that list than you or I. It is an honours list drawn up by the British establishment.
It seems reasonable to me that if you have been elected as chief minister of Gibraltar on four consecutive occasions then at the end of the day you get a knighthood. So I have no problem with Peter Richard Caruana being given a K.
What I do have a problem is why that honour should be granted now. The 16 years of the Caruana era are at the moment a hot potato. The government tells us there are numerous investigations underway and in the life of this parliament questions will have to be answered. It may be that Caruana is made to answer both politically and legally for his period in office. Hence it would strike me as reasonable that the announcement of his honour should have been made when that due process was completed.
The second problem I have is one of timing. You will remember that Peter Hain’s book, Inside Out, was embargoed by the Foreign Office least it should influence Gibraltar’s general election in 2011. It is therefore unfortunate that the honour for Caruana should have been announced at the start of a by-election campaign when his and his party’s record in government may be an issue and he may well be called upon to speak for his party.
An argument from the British establishment may be that Joe Bossano will get an honour when he steps back from political public life. The inference being that is what has happened to Peter Caruana. True Caruana is no longer chief minister, but neither is Joe Bossano. True Caruana is no longer leader of his party, but neither is Joe Bossano. True Joe Bossano is a serving government minister but Caruana is a serving MP and as he hasn’t taken this opportunity to stand down it is reasonable to presume he will see out this parliament.
Joe Bossano will never again lead his party or be chief minister but Caruana might do both. If the Feetham leadership proves a disaster Caruana is still waiting in the wings and may come forward to save his party and be its candidate for chief minister at the next election. Unlikely perhaps but possible.
So what if Joe Bossano sees out his life with his political boots firmly on? When is the British establishment going to honour him? When he’s in his fosse?
Some may point at Joe Bossano and say he hasn’t been honoured because he is seen as a divisive character. Really? If Bossano divides Gibraltar then so does Caruana in more than equal measure. The British establishment by honouring Caruana and snubbing Bossano have just favoured one section of our society over another.
I would have thought a man who founded the GSLP in 1978 based on the statutes of the London Co-operative Movement, a party that is a sister to the Labour Party in the UK, a party that throughout its life has either been the official opposition or government as it is today is worthy of an honour.
Joe Bossano has none.
I would have thought that a man who has been an elected politician since 1972, been in our parliament since its founding in 1978, who for the majority of that latter period has been either the leader of the opposition or a two term chief minister was worthy of an honour.
Joe Bossano has none.
I would have thought that a man who is respected trade unionist, socialist and parliamentarian not just in Gibraltar and the UK but in Europe and internationally was worthy of an honour.
Joe Bossano has none.
So why hasn’t Joe Bossano been honoured?
Is it because he was born in a Gibraltar slum and not with a golden spoon in his mouth?
Is it because he didn’t go to the right school but has become an internationally recognised LSE economist with another degree in Italian through his own diligence and study?
Is it because he is a trade unionist and a socialist and not a man who flaunts himself in wig and gown?
Or is it because he has Gibraltar engraved on his heart, has always stood up for Gibraltar and Gibraltarians, would never sell out your birthright unlike some others who would do so like a shot if they thought they could get away with it? Yes perhaps that is it.
Make no mistake the unpalatable truth is that Joe Bossano has never been given any honour by the British establishment because they have snubbed him. Yet by snubbing him they snub Gibraltar and all Gibraltarians too not just those who support him politically. The Queen’s Honours List is to honour those of her subjects who have given distinguished service not those who the British establishment feels are one of them.
If anybody has served Gibraltar with distinction then it is Joe Bossano. Hence if Gibraltar is no longer deemed to be a subservient colony Joe Bossano must be honoured and soon. The British establishment not only owe it to him they owe it to you too.
The question on Gibraltarian lips is – when will Sir Joe arise?
The above article appeared in Panorama on Friday June 21. The letter below in support from the eminent lawyer James Levy QC appeared in Panorama on Friday June 28.

Dear Sir, I refer to David Eade’s article “Arise Sir Joe”

Having worked with Joe Bossano initially for 8 years when he was Chief Minister and seeing the enormous amount of progress that he made for Gibraltar, I wholeheartedly agree with David Eade’s thesis.

Joe Bossano has been much maligned by his political enemies. One day a fair history will be written and Gibraltar will see how much good he did for our wonderful country.

I have had the privilege and pleasure to work with Sir Joshua Hassan who I consider to be the father of the Gibraltarians and Joe Bossano who has followed close behind him.

I agree “Arise Sir Joe” the sooner the better.

Yours faithfully,

James Levy QC