Azopardi hits back at Picardo’s ‘superficial populism’
The furious political spat between the Gibraltar Government and GSD flared up again today as the Leader of the Opposition Keith Azopardi accused Chief Minister Fabian Picardo of “superficial populism” and “political dishonesty” over his handling of public finances.
In the latest salvo Mr Azopardi said there was nothing “politically mature” about the Chief Minister’s “wildly defensive” reaction to the GSD’s New Year Message.
He was reacting after the Chief Minister yesterday issued a fierce response to Mr Azopardi’s message, accusing the GSD of “unimaginative, self-centered and entirely negative politics”.
“Mr Picardo seems to have a problem with anyone opposing him,” the GSD said in a statement, adding that his call for unity was simply an expectation that the Opposition should “behave like sheep to his tune”.
“It is obvious that Mr Picardo feels wounded by the truth. As the saying goes the truth hurts.”
“And in this case the truth is that the GSLP that he leads is economically reckless with our future.”
“No amount of personal jibes will stop us from saying that or from pointing out unfairness or public wastage.”
The party reiterated its belief that Gibraltar has “never been so much in debt”.
“It is his leadership that has tripled the gross public debt when he sold the lie to the people of Gibraltar in 2011 that he would halve it,” the GSD said, repeating its often-stated view that the government has kept huge amounts of capital investment off the government accounts by channelling it through publicly-owned companies.
“That was a massive broken promise of his leadership and the start of his legacy of debt.”
“We will not tire from saying so. Nor will we tire from arguing that there is a need for economic prudence. He cannot answer that so he resorts to personal jibes instead.”
“It is understandable why Mr Picardo is so defensive when one of his own Ministers - Sir Joe Bossano – has described some of his decisions as financially unsustainable,” the GSD added.
The party said the “irony” and “hypocrisy” of the situation is that Mr Picardo is only sensitive about the argument of economic prudence when it is raised by the GSD.
“During the election campaign he promised to spend hundreds of millions more so as to persuade people to vote for him,” the statement added.
“On the morning of his election win he suddenly discovered his new “Age of Responsibility” which is nothing more than a very tardy recognition that there is a need for prudence, civic pride and responsibility – all things that the GSD have been saying for years.”
“Mr Picardo needs to get off his high horse and understand once and for all what the GSD is saying.”
“We are not saying that we should not build houses or schools. We are saying that it should be done prudently. We are saying that he should not gift the developers of Victoria Keys with taxpayers’ money so that they can develop land for private development.”
The GSD said the biggest issue here is the truth, insisting that Mr Picardo is “continually politically dishonest”.
“He was politically dishonest before the election, during the campaign and again as recently as during the Viewpoint interview on Thursday.”
“He is quite willing to present a picture to people that he knows is untrue or full of half-truths.”
“The problem about fighting politics in Mr Picardo’s age of superficial populism is that truth doesn’t matter to Mr Picardo. That is why teachers chanted ‘no more lies’. He is swiftly getting a reputation in Gibraltar.”
GSD Leader Keith Azopardi added: “I’m not going to stop doing my job because Mr Picardo acts like a wounded animal - lashing out without any coherence because he is worried and defensive that the truth hurts.”
“Mr Picardo needs to get real. We have offered him unity and to work together with Government on a number of fronts including Brexit.”
“But we have a clearly different economic view of how public finances should be run. Mr Picardo needs to get beyond his petulance just because we do not share his economic recklessness.”
“There is scope for unity on some fundamentals and his shrill intemperate language on issues on which we disagree do nothing to demonstrate that he is capable of conducting politics in a mature way.”
“He needs to get beyond his usual reaction to people who disagree with him or he will confirm the suspicions that all he wants is to surround himself with people who agree with him all the time. That is not good for democracy.”