A Student’s Perspective on Why to Vote GSLP/Liberals
By Brian Caetano
Growing up in Gibraltar, politics has always played an important role in my life. Our community is shaped by the government which it chooses to elect every 4 years.
This means that young people are able to see and experience the effect that our politics has on our day-to-day lives first-hand.
As such, I believe that it is imperative for the younger members of our society to get involved with our local politics in order to help create and aid the evolution of our policies, which in turn, shape Gibraltar’s future.
Prior to getting involved, as a young member of society, I had to evaluate the different parties within the local political atmosphere in order to choose the one that found itself most aligned to my ideals, beliefs and values.
Upon this evaluation, it was evidently clear that no matter what generation or background one is from, the GSLP (now in an alliance with the Liberals) is the party which nurtures and cares for ALL Gibraltarians.
Looking at the political spectrum from the angle of a young Gibraltarian student, it is clear that there is only one party with both a striving youth and student section.
Where the GSLP Youth Section focuses on the needs and desires of all young people based in Gibraltar between the ages of 15-30, the GSLP Student section aims to bridge the physical gap between our students studying abroad and their homeland, by providing a platform from which their voices and needs can be heard and accommodated.
This means that, as a young person, whether you decide to stay in Gibraltar or leave to pursue your studies (a decision entirely down to the individual ever since the introduction of the student grant system by Sir Joe Bossano during the first GSLP government) you can express your ideas and desires through a tangible platform.
Neither of the other parties standing for election have a student group to aid those of us who go abroad to study, let alone a Youth Section focussing on the needs of our youth in Gibraltar!
Putting aside the given fact that it is the GSLP who have promoted university studies to a level unmatched by any other government in Gibraltar’s history (this position reaffirmed by the decision of Fabian Picardo’s GSLP/Liberal Government to make postgraduate grants also mandatory), if we were to turn our attention to housing, we will also observe that, by taking into account the affordable housing projects that have both been completed, as well as those that are planned and are due to begin, this GSLP/Liberal Government would have created over 2000 new affordable homes in Gibraltar. 2072 to be exact.
This is the equivalent of 3 and a half Montague Gardens! Quite clearly the emphasis placed on the creation of affordable housing for Gibraltarians by this GSLP/Liberal Government has only been matched by the previous GSLP Government that also created over 2000 affordable homes.
With regards to sport, Gibraltar has never been better positioned. We now have facilities capable of enabling and aiding the growth of our athletes. Not only do we have two brand new, state-of-the-art sporting complexes in the Europa Sports Complex and the Lathbury Sports Complex (which have provided new homes for Gibraltar Cricket, Gibraltar Rugby and Gibraltar Athletics amongst others), but we have also been provided with a new home for our Special Olympic athletes in order to allow the work that has been undertaken within this area to continue flourishing.
Furthermore, we only recently hosted the Island Games. This, aside from being a great success within our community by enabling our athletes to compete at home, under our rock, in front of their friends and families, also did massively for Gibraltar’s reputation globally, as we were able to host an International event of this magnitude, within our small hometown without issue!
In this short piece we have just glanced upon a few areas of importance within our community. However, regardless of whether we merely glance or actually undertake an in-depth analysis, it is apparent that it has been this GSLP/Liberal Government that in the last 8 years has enabled Gibraltar, as a whole, to grow to an extent never seen before. We have numerous brand new, state-of-the-art schools, whilst refurbishing almost all the others.
We have multiple new sporting facilities. We have more people in employment than ever before. Our GDP, as was predicted by Sir Joe Bossano, is higher than it ever has been (at around 2.4Bn) and has grown in the last year at an impressive rate of 8.2%. Furthermore, Gibraltar will soon be larger than ever before! Via the Victoria Keys project, we will have a new ‘green city’ that ALL Gibraltarians will be able to enjoy as this development will add another element to the diverse nation, we all love by creating a new green area by the sea.
Before concluding, I have to mention how exciting the GSLP/Liberal’s Green Gibraltar manifesto is for students. It is the only manifesto which pledges to combat climate change in a realistic manner. It promises the delivery of several new green areas in the heart of our community.
Additionally, it is the ONLY manifesto to have a commitment to increasing the maintenance grant and creating a rainy-day fund in order to protect it. The manifesto is also full of other student-friendly initiatives such as free eye checks for all students and the continuation of the Washington Scheme.
This scheme has allowed Gibraltarian students to experience working and living in the United States. Not only has this provided an invaluable experience for all Gibraltarian students that have participated, but furthermore has expanded the brand of Gibraltar and allowed those students to represent our interests, needs and ideas whilst being in one of the world’s most critical political locations.
On the 17th October we all, as a collective, have a crucial decision to make with regards to the future we seek for Gibraltar. This choice will determine the path upon which Gibraltar will find itself for the foreseeable future.
We could decide to choose an untested and untried group of individuals, who, as per their manifesto are asking voters to choose “hope” when in reality they know that prudence and strong leadership is needed during these times of political turmoil; or we could decide to insert a party that has successfully contradicted itself at every turn (i.e. a party that in its manifesto claims they 'will ban the importation of new diesel cars by 2025 and immediately ban the importation of second hand diesel cars', when only 4 years ago they stood on a manifesto commitment to create a BRAND NEW DIESEL POWER STATION).
Alternatively, we can trust the current GSLP/Liberal Government to continue delivering on their manifesto promises whilst navigating us around the abyss that is Brexit. This piece has purposely avoided the discussion of Brexit.
However, if we were to take Brexit into account at the following elections (which we most definitely should) then there is clearly only one party that has established the necessary connections, devised the required plans and is thus best positioned to deal with whatever situation we may find ourselves in on the 1st November.
Nevertheless, even if we were not to take the issue of Brexit into account and simply focus on what has occurred domestically, it is evident that this GSLP/Liberal Government has done exceptionally well for Gibraltar. Gibraltar, both domestically and internationally has never been stronger, and as such, it is with immense pride and excitement that I plan on voting for the 10 GSLP/Liberal candidates on the 17th of October, as the team most suited and best capable of guiding Gibraltar down the best possible path.
Brian Caetano, GSLP Students Committee Member