Azopardi and Clinton make their pitch in GSD leadership bid
GSD leadership contenders Keith Azopardi and Roy Clinton have set out their visions for the party in letters to the membership.
Both men are looking to curry support from the GSD membership ahead of elections on November 30.
Mr Azopardi, a barrister, served as a GSD minister from 1996 to 2003 and was deputy Chief Minister during the second of those terms under Sir Peter Caruana.
He re-joined the party earlier this year and headed his message to GSD members with the phrase “Experience, Energy, Vision.”
Although he does not go into details about his departure from the GSD in 2005, he said he would “happily explain” when he makes a full presentation to members on election night.
“I know some of you may feel disappointed at the fact that for a few years I openly disagreed with the party,” he said.
“Family disagreements happen sometimes.”
“But I never stopped being an ideological social democrat.”
Mr Azopardi explained that he had been discussing his return to the GSD with senior figures in the part and former Leader Daniel Feetham ‘for some time’.
“I never placed any preconditions on my return,” he said adding that he intended to return to play his part – whatever that would be – in trying to strengthen the GSD.
He added that Mr Feetham’s departure had accelerated his return to the political fold and indicated that both former GSD leaders – Mr Feetham and Sir Peter – had supported his return to the party.
“There is a clear need to rebuild and reenergise the Party so that it, once again, becomes the strong alternative to Government and one day the Government itself,” he said.
Mr Azopardi pledged to work towards that goal and throw all his energy and enthusiasm behind that objective.
“I believe that the Party can emerge stronger from this,” he added.
“I think it is important to choose someone who can reach all sectors of our community, who can communicate a clear vision and who can go into battle with Spain as well as fight for our interests in Whitehall,” he said stressing the importance of the choice for members in laying the base for the future development of the party.
Mr Azopardi has, thus far, opted to run a low-key campaign in contrast to his opponent Mr Clinton who launched a high profile campaign for the GSD leadership last month in a bid to tap into the membership vote.
Mr Clinton vowed to “take the fight” to the GSLP/Liberals as he seeks a mandate from GSD members to continue in the role as Leader of the party in the forthcoming leadership elections.
In his message to GSD members Mr Clinton said: “I believe in this party’s potential to offer strong Opposition and a good Government which we will achieve with the active support of our members.”
Setting out his three key manifesto pledges, Mr Clinton vowed to reinstate annual party conferences whereby policy is debated and voted on by the membership.
The GSD constitution needs to be reviewed at the first party conference and assessed as to whether it needs updating and improving, he added.
Finally, Mr Clinton said: “We need to consider the structure and strategy of the Executive and its preparedness to contest the next general election.”
“We can and will take the GSD to new heights,” he tells members.
Mr Clinton further highlighted his “27 years of unbroken loyal membership” of the GSD as he emphasised his commitment to both the party and task ahead in contesting the next general election.
Mr Clinton left his career in banking in order to hold the Government to account and explained that he is therefore able to devote all of his time and energy to the growth of the party as he has no other full-time employment.
“I am committed to the GSD as I have demonstrated in 27 years of unbroken loyal membership and by my actions since standing for election into Parliament,” he said.
Mr Clinton explained that instead of taking home his allowance as Leader of the Opposition he has been paying it into the party.
“I have paid into the Party the monthly after tax equivalent of the £25,000 per annum Leader of the Opposition allowance since August.”
“This will rebuild the party’s resources and help fund a general election campaign.”
He pledged to continue to do this for as long as he is Leader of the Opposition.
He added that he intends his Leadership to be about renewal and energy.
“I intend to take the fight to the GSLP/Liberals holding them to account every step of the way as I have already done on public finances,” Mr Clinton said.