*Bossino breath of fresh air in Azopardi’s stale politics
*GSD need to reconsider its leader
*GSLP-Liberals disdain for democracy shown by Sir Joe Bossano
*Wide dissatisfaction with GSLP-Liberals but no alternative in Keith Azopardi
*Community Services and Supplies Limited is a parallel unelected government
*Parliament disrespected by GSLP-Liberals
*Secrecy and subterfuge resurrected by GSLP-Liberals
*GSD under Keith Azopardi lacks credibility on open and transparent government promise
*Sir Joe Bossano says voters can “lump” secrecy in public projects
*Gibraltar heads to dictatorship
GSD’S QUESTIONABLE LEADERSHIP IN A DYING DEMOCRACY
Damon Bossino MP’s Party-Political Broadcast [PPB] this week brings a breath of fresh air to the political scene that his party leader, Keith Azopardi, fails to deliver. The Gibraltar Social Democrats [GSD] need to think deep about its leadership if it is to make inroads at the next general election.
Mr. Bossino must improve how he delivers his messages however, to get wider coverage of his core views. He needs to emphasise at the start of his PPB the total lack of respect for our democratically elected Parliament shown by the GSLP-Liberals through Sir Joe Bossano.
It is exemplified by Sir Joe Bossano saying that Mr. Bossino and the GSD should “lump” that he does not answer questions put to him in Parliament as he does not care.
DISATISFACTION WITH GSLP-LIBERALS NOT ENOUGH TO DELIVER A GSD WIN
The current trend is a noticeable dissatisfaction with the GSLP-Liberal Alliance, but an overall feeling that there is no alternative in sight. The consequence will likely be a low turn-out at the election which favours a return to power of the GSLP-Liberals. Voters will only be motivated to go out to vote if they see a good alternative.
The alternative now, the GSD, is led by Mr. Azopardi who was a Minister in the last GSD Government. His government in its day promised open and transparent government, then failed to deliver. Can you believe that renewed promise made by Mr. Bossino under that same leadership? It is questionable, to be polite.
GSLP-LIBERAL UNELECTED GOVERNMENT
Mr. Bossino highlighted that the GSLP-Liberals have a new secret economic plan It is now called the National Economic Plan. It is run by a parallel unelected and undemocratic body, called Community Services and Supplies Limited.
Community Services and Supplies Limited does not answer to or in your Parliament. It is shrouded in secrecy. It is owned by a charity whose object are to do precisely what are the duties of a government. The aims of the charity are to “benefit the Gibraltarian community on any level such as the human, social, economic, educational and medical”.
PROJECTS COVER ALL AREAS OF GOVERNMENT
As far as is known, this company is involved in the Victoria Stadium project, the Eastern beach promenade project, the 300 studio flats at Coaling Island, the old peoples’ home at Rooke, the pensioner flats at Laguna and the Chilton Court project. Yet there has not been a public tender for any of those.
Community Services and Supplies Limited is therefore building pensioner flats, studio flats for key workers, car parks and offices for clubs, an 8,000-seater stadium and an old peoples’ home. All matters that are the responsibility of an elected government that should be democratically answerable to Parliament.
NO RESPECT OF THE ELECTED PARLIAMENT
A democracy needs to respect the central democratic institution that is an elected Parliament. The scrutiny of parliamentary questions is lost completely.
Community Services and Supplies Limited is allowed to act outside the democracy provided by Parliament. Is that what you want from your democratically elected Government? Well, it is what you will get from the GSLP-Liberals, as Mr. Bossino highlights.
The parallel dictatorial government established under Community Services and Supplies Limited goes against the constitutional concept of ‘peace, order and good government’, which is the duty of the Governor to protect. There is no place for democracy to be substituted by autocracy.
Community Services and Supplies Limited bypasses Parliament, as demonstrated by Sir Joe Bossano’s disdainful and sneering behaviour when answering questions put to him by Mr. Bossino.
SUBTERFUGE AND SECRECY RESURFACES BUT NO ALTERNATIVE AVAILABLE
As Mr Bossino said in his PPB, the subterfuge and secrecy that was widespread in 1996, when the GSLP lost the general election to the GSD are rampant again within the GSLP-Liberal Government.
Do you really want them back in government? Or do you want truly open and transparent government that was promised to you but has not been delivered by the GSLP-Liberal Government.
The problem that exists is that the alternative, which is the GSD, as currently constituted and under its present leader does not instil confidence in voters that they will get open and transparent government. It is a change of faces with no believable prospect of it delivering a change in substance.
GSLP-LIBERAL MINISTER DISRESPECTS PARLIAMENT
Mr Bossino highlights that the secrecy is so much in your face that the GSLP-Liberal Government refuse to answer questions put to them in our democratically elected Parliament. The GSD, and so all voters, is told by Sir Joe Bossano when he failed to answer questions in Parliament that it should lump it as he doesn’t care!
It is that total disrespect of democracy that is shown by the GSLP-Liberal Government.
Mr. Bossino promises that in Government the GSD will put an end to this secrecy and opaqueness. Your democratically elected Parliament should have the ability to properly scrutinise transactions of this nature. The GSLP-Liberals prevent that happening.
GSD LACKS CREDIBILITY
The question is, is that GSD promise of open and transparent government believable whilst Mr. Azopardi leads the GSD?
Mr Bossino promises that the GSD will carry out a root and branch change to the way we manage our internal affairs. He does not promise however any change to our electoral or parliamentary systems which are core to achieving that objective.
Mr Bossino preaches the need for an independent Allocation Board to take decisions on the award of contracts remains. Saying that Gibraltar is the only UK Overseas Territory without a Public Accounts Committee. We need one to properly scrutinise the expenditure of your money. That is palpable but the GSD promised it in its days in government but failed to deliver.
One example is how millions of pounds worth of government work is directly allocated to some law firms with connections to ministers comes to mind. That was a subject brought up yesterday in questions asked in Parliament by Elliott Phillips MP. Why then does the GSLP-Liberal government spend so much in salaries to tens of lawyers directly employed in the public service?
OLD GSD PROMISES RESTATED
Mr. Bossino says further that looking to the future, the GSD will ensure that measures are put in place to stimulate the economy in circumstances where the GSD will hopefully have a safe and secure deal with the EU: no mention, however, of what will happen or what the GSD will do if there is no such EU deal.
Mr Bossino promised that the GSD will be ready to offer you the alternative Government to deliver for you in a cost-effective and prudent way; in essence a wholly different approach to that which has directed our fortunes in the last 11 years because the GSLP/Liberals have lost their way, are failing you, not kept their promises and need to be replaced as soon as possible.
Why did they not do that when last in Government? Mr. Bossino has the excuse that he was not a minister then, but Mr. Azopardi does not, he was a GSD Minister.
PROJECT FINANCING REMAINS SECRET SO VOTERS CAN “LUMP IT”
Mr. Bossino points to the GSD having quite rightly been approached with questions as to how all the Community Services and Supplies Limited projects are being financed; who they are for; whether planning considerations have been taken account of – but Mr. Bossino says that to get answers in Parliament to these questions has been like an exercise in pulling teeth.
Mr. Bossino puts forward the example of the construction of the 300 50 m2 units at Coaling Island.
Documents filed with the Planning Commission reveal that these are for ‘temporary housing’; for the purpose of ‘adaptable accommodation for key workers’ and to ‘temporarily house…populations from neighbourhoods subject to alteration and demolition in urban remodelling’.
Mr Bossino as one of your Opposition MPs with responsibility for planning asked in Parliament what anyone would consider would be reasonable questions to ask. He asked questions like who the flats were intended to rehouse; and which ‘neighbourhoods’ were going to be altered and demolished.
But the Government refused to answer a single question. The GSLP-Liberal Alliance hides saying that the Government ‘has no involvement’ other than ‘sponsoring the project under the National Economic Plan’. Well sponsoring must mean directly or indirectly financing with public money or financial obligations. Is that not Government involvement?
When pressed further it got to the point that Mr. Bossino was told by the Minister, Sir Joe Bossano, that if he did not like the answer then he should lump it as he didn’t care! Yes, lump it, that’s what was said. It is an insult to the intelligence of the electorate and evidences the disdain that Sir Joe Bossano holds voters in.
How is it possible that an application for planning can be signed on behalf of Community Services and Supplies Limited by a civil servant who describes himself as the ‘Head of International Division’ at the Ministry of Economic Development, yet the Minister responsible, Sir Joe Bossano, distances himself from it in Parliament as if this was a project that he knows nothing about?
DEMOCRACY OR DICTATORSHIP?
We all fought the war against Franco during the closed frontier years. One of the fundamentals guiding that was to defend our democracy, despite that it was much less in those days.
Now the supposed greater constitutional democracy that we have is being threatened and undermined by undemocratic actions of the GSLP-Liberal Government. It is using precisely the failings that our system has, namely rule by government and not Parliament, to curtail democracy further.
The sadness is that people do not come forward to deliver an alternative, and the available alternative does not promise to reform that retrograde anti-democratic system that are our current electoral and parliamentary systems. Even representative organisations like the Chamber of Commerce, The Gibraltar Federation of Small Businesses, the Trade Unions and so many more are silent.