Normally when reporting on a Labour Party Conference once the Government of Gibraltar reception has passed you are confined to UK issues. This year is different because next May, Gibraltar in common with the rest of Europe, goes to the polls to elect our new MEPs.
Gibraltar will be represented by six in the constituency it shares with the South West of England. Curiously three of the Labour candidates seeking your votes already have links to the Rock.
Number one on the list and hence the most likely to be elected is Clare Moody. We will return to her in a moment but she is a member of the Unite the Union and campaigned in Gibraltar at a previous Euro election as a candidate. Second on the list is Glyn Ford who was our Labour MEP until the last election when the number of seats was reduced from seven to six. At number four is Hadleigh Roberts who led Labour’s criticism against Peter Hain when the Labour MP took advantage of the border blockade by Spain this summer to press home his long discredited joint sovereignty beliefs.
As it happens all three were at the Government of Gibraltar’s reception on Sunday night and Clare Moody spoke alongside our Chief Minister Fabian Picardo and the Shadow Minister for Europe, Emma Reynolds.
In the South West and Gibraltar seat Clare Moody, a Unite political officer and former aide to Gordon Brown, topped the regional list of candidates in the poll amongst activists. She is backed by six separate unions but it was still a surprise she came ahead of Glyn Ford, a popular Labour figure who was the MEP for a decade.
Clare has stated that it is vital that the candidate at the top of the list for 2014 is someone who can win for Labour in that election and who can then deliver for the South West and Gibraltar afterwards. She believes she is that person.
Small in stature but full of vitality and charisma Clare is on the campaign trail already. She said: “Our region has a huge amount to offer and a huge amount to gain from the European Union. However, the people of the South West and Gibraltar are currently represented by UKIP MEPs, who apparently spend their time sleeping through parliamentary business and Tory MEPs, who are marginalised in the parliament because they don’t belong to a mainstream parliamentary grouping.
Speaking at our Government’s reception Clare made it clear that not only did she want to be elected for Gibraltar but pledged that she would be a strong defender of and advocate for Gibraltar. She was scathing about the recent Partido Popular Government’s campaign against Gibraltarians and suggested that with Madrid mired in an economic and corruption crises Rajoy and Margallo should keep their noses out of our business. Gibraltarians have the right to exist independent of Spain and that right must be respected.
Over the coming months Gibraltarians will have their own chance to make up their minds about Clare Moody because she will shortly be heading this way. Expect to meet her on a doorstep on street near you.