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Opinion & Analysis

A bold and positive vision for Gibraltar

Photo by Eyleen Gomez

By Nicky Calamaro

As elections draw nearer and the clamour for change becomes louder and louder, I wanted to add my own voice with an important message: Gibraltar needs more than just a simple change in government. What Gibraltar needs is a bold and positive vision for the future of our nation, backed by progressive voices who can make it happen.

At Together Gibraltar I have been proud to be part of the only team which has acknowledged, from the start, that Gibraltar needs a lot more than a mere changing of the guard. We need to ask ourselves fundamental questions about where Gibraltar is going and what will be left if we keep on this unsustainable path.

Our economic model has no doubt brought positive changes. But under successive administrations it has quickly become a way for a privileged few to use Gibraltar as their playground. They have filled their own pockets while leaving our public services to deteriorate, leaving less and less for working class Gibraltarians. It is making the Gibraltar we love unrecognisable and unpleasant.

You don’t need to be caught up on politics to know what I’m talking about. You can walk around and see the towering private developments go up around us, while so many Gibraltarians can no longer afford to live in their own hometown.

You can breathe in the air and know that for all the government’s talk of a ‘green Gibraltar’ pollution is still abundant and that rubbish piles up around our ‘world-class’ tourist product.

Or you can simply walk around and ask your fellow Gibraltarians about their own experiences. Everyone has a story about mismanagement and nepotism they’ve witnessed. But draconian rules, punitive measures and oppressive management have fostered a culture of fear, scaring off those who would expose or address our prevalent issues and perpetuating a climate of silence and inaction.

But there are matters about which we must speak out. Not least of which are the gaping holes in our health and education systems which have been left by the wayside. Just last week, our disabled community had to take to the streets to demand basic services and the proper implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, passed in 2017 but still not acted upon.

So our public services are deteriorating, our economy is at risk, and a culture of fear is taking root among those who simply want better for their nation. What’s the alternative?

As Together Gibraltar has long argued, Gibraltar needs to move away from an antiquated, top-down approach to governance, where ministers ignore issues for extended periods and only intervene when the public outcry becomes too loud to ignore. Ministers must focus on high-level strategy and good governance. Institutions must be given the tools, resources, and authority they need to carry out their work for the good of our community: building an open and effective state worthy of our British heritage.

We need to move away from this attitude that Gibraltar must pursue economic growth at any cost. We need to ensure that our heritage and land are protected and that any investments we make are for the benefit of Gibraltarians.

Uniting all this we need a new kind of politics. We have all seen the horrid tone of political discourse in recent years, with toxic, and chauvinistic attitudes becoming more prevalent. This atmosphere has driven people away from public service and from the hope that things can improve. We can and must choose a different path. We need a government that sets a good example. One that shows that politics is open to diverse voices and that anyone can make a change, regardless of background or personal connections.

Gibraltar has the potential to be a shining example of progressive governance, where the well-being of our citizens is valued above all else. But that change can only come about if we embrace this positive vision: of open and transparent governance; of leaders who embrace public service and prioritise our quality of life over short-term profits.

Whatever the future holds, Together Gibraltar, and I, will keep pushing forward for that vision of Gibraltar. As the political debate inevitably erupts into rhetoric, promises and slander I just hope we remember the big questions: what kind of Gibraltar do we want to be a part of, and what do we want our children to inherit?

Nicky Calamaro is a member of the TG executive.

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