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‘Del pish’ but with Gibraltar at heart

Robert Vasquez, who is vying for a seat in parliament as an Independent Social Democrat candidate, yesterday delved into his 50 years affiliation with politics, adding that it is a “selfless dedication for the betterment of Gibraltar”.

On Tuesday he held a press conference and issued a statement explaining his background.

Mr Vasquez was born in Gibraltar and at the age of nine he was sent to study in boarding school in England and was unapologetic for his accent even though people accuse him of being “pish”.

He went on to study at the University of Bristol which incentivised him to speak up for others.

On a visit to Gibraltar during his Christmas holidays in the early 1970s, Mr Vasquez wrote a letter to the Chronicle after hearing the Government only paid for a select few to further their studies at university.

“I couldn't understand how in the UK everybody means tested maybe, but everybody was entitled to a grant and a free place in university,” Mr Vasquez said.

“Yet our ability to develop economically and socially was being stifled in Gibraltar because our Government was not prepared to pay people's university studies despite they had the right grades and that they had got places at university.”

This ruffled feathers across Gibraltar, and it was only a matter of time before he became involved in the local political sphere on his return.

“I want people to get a taste of what makes me who I am today,” Mr Vasquez said.

“I cannot help it but from me you get what you see: truth and honesty within my power.”

“The worst part is that I did not do my schooling with fellow Gibraltarians, I had to build all my friendships with ‘real’ people afresh.”

“But one thing that I was taught at home: love, consideration, honesty, and kindness to my neighbour.”

“It was my late father, Sir Alfred Vasquez, who taught me that.”

“He led a selfless life for Gibraltar generally, and as Mayor and Speaker, the latter for nearly 20 years. I have not lost those qualities.”

“I believe that my behaviour, my online blogs for nearly 20 years, and my manifesto show my selfless dedication for the betterment of Gibraltar.”

“I do not have any need to stand for election.”

“I do it out of a sense of dedication and a desire to deliver to Gibraltar what I say.”

This is the third time Mr Vasquez is contesting a general election in Gibraltar, and the second time he is doing so as an independent candidate.

Over the past 20 years, he has also written the Llanito World blog, which is closely followed by the political circles on the Rock and has “influenced” policies adopted by the parties.

“My engagement and involvement in politics is not now,” Mr Vasquez said.

“It's been for a long, long time and for most of my life.”

“And this is my last chance at being elected into Parliament because I'm now 71 and I think if I'm not elected this time when I'm 75, it's going to be too much.”

Quizzed on his opinions on this year’s election campaign, Mr Vasquez said he thinks both the GSD and the GSLP/Liberal Alliance “should desist from all the personal and personality attacks and concentrate on politics”.

This is why, he said, he supports proportional representation.

“We would need to make sure that it deliver to us a real proportional representation of people and that it would encourage more parties, more voices, and less divisive argument, more inclusive argument, more unity, and I see online that that is what people want,” Mr Vasquez added.

“I hope that people understand you do not have to block vote,” Mr Vasquez said.

He added that this is a message that “suits the two parties”, and he is a “lone voice that is making that clear”.

Asked on whether the Gibraltarian electorate is demanding something more than a two-party system, Mr Vasquez said there is a huge demand for more people to come forward and stand for election, “but the system that we have now is putting them off”.

He added that at the end of the day, a two-party system is something that helps the UK and their foreign policy “because they end up with one Chief Minister that they can deal with”.

“I am totally pro-British, but I also believe in Gibraltarian democracy and I do think that changing the electoral system will improve Gibraltarian democracy,” Mr Vasquez said.

“It may lead to having to have more coalitions, but at the end of the day, you need a majority grouping in Parliament to govern.”

“But I don't think that what we have today delivers us true democracy.”

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