GSLP and GSD in fresh exchange over Community Care articles
The GSLP and GSD continued their row over party newspaper, The New People, after it published two articles published on Community Care.
The GSLP have accused the GSD to trying to censor and silence The New People, but the GSD said nothing in the GSLP Executive’s response deals with the core issues they have raised.
This latest row over the party newspaper stemmed from articles on Community Care where The New People used pension and financial information.
Community Care last year changed its eligibility criteria for its ‘community officer scheme’.
The articles published by The New People suggested that many of the people campaigning for the charity to reverse its decision did not need Community Care payments to make ends meet.
The GSLP called the latest statement from the GSD as an attempt to push their campaign in favour of Community Officer payments granted to persons who are not suffering any hardship.
On the other hand, the GSD said The New People’s articles shines a light on the fact that Chief Minister Fabian Picardo is meeting members of the Community Care Action Group to sympathize with their concerns.
“But then allowing his party newspaper to run wild in a vitriolic and personalized campaign against mostly retired individuals who are simply seeking recourse for legitimate expectations,” the GSD said.
“Those individuals are being vilified with the use of confidential financial information seemingly leaked by people in the know. Where has that information come from?”
“How can Fabian Picardo look at members of the Community Care Action Group with a straight face when he is authorizing the most hostile and personal attacks on them which continue in [yesterdays] June 3 edition of the New People? Is this done in the name of GSLP members? Is this socialism or Stalinism?”
“Finally it beggars belief that Fabian Picardo should cry foul about the GSD press release saying it is a personalized attack on him. It is not a personal attack to say he has been found out with his double game that affects people’s lives.”
This, the GSLP said, was a contradiction.
“On the one hand they say that our public finances are in a ‘disgraceful state’ and on the other hand – in a clear attempt to buy votes – they say that the Community Officer payments should continue to be made, even if that means that the Government needs to provide more money to the charity,” the GSLP said.
“In the end, the position of the GSD is to work to make the rich richer and to increase inequality by supporting the idea that those persons who are not in any hardship should receive payments from a charity.”
“That is certainly not a socialist position – although that will not surprise anyone coming from the GSD, as they have no discernable ideology, policy or position on anything.”
The articles drew flak from the GSD, which highlighted the paper’s structure, naming Chief Minister Fabian Picardo as its owner.
“It is a fact that the New People is the GSLP party newspaper and its controlling shares are held by the Chief Minister,” the GSD said.
“That it is now claimed those shares are held on trust for the Executive Committee and Members of the GSLP only reconfirms the blatant conflict of interest.”
But, in response, the GSLP said the GSD has been well aware of the newspaper’s structure for years, adding that The New People is owned by the members of the Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party and run by an editorial board appointed by the executive of the GSLP since the newspaper was created on May 1, 1980 to fight against the Lisbon Agreement.
“This is surprising, especially given that GSD Members of Parliament have repeatedly referred to this fact in Parliamentary debates in recent years,” a statement issued by the GSLP said.
The GSLP said the issue has been longstanding, when the GSD were in power and did not allow The New People access to press conferences “in a blatant breach of the obligation to recognise the freedom of the press.”
“This led to many and repeated, brazen instances of breaches of the principles of freedom of the press and blatant censorship by the GSD against the New People on the very basis that they now pretend to discover,” the GSLP said.
“That GSD behaviour was Stalinist and, moreover, it was dictatorial behaviour of the worst sort which rendered Gibraltar no more than a banana republic in that regard. That behaviour was also unconstitutional.”
“At that time, the current leader of the GSD, Mr Keith Azopardi was a member of the Government that censored and sought to silence the freedom of the press and The New People.”
The GSLP described how the GSD set up its own party newspaper, the 7 Days, which was funded by the GSD Government “to the tune of over £100,000.00 of taxpayers’ money to print lies and innuendoes about the GSLP and Mr Picardo.”
The party accused the GSD of introducing a vile style of politics, unseen in Gibraltar before, that was carried in the pages of its newspapers, namely ‘The Gibraltarian’ and, latterly, ‘The 7 Days’.
The 7 Days, it said, was given access while The New People was excluded.
The party added that the GSD had made attempts at character assassination in their party newspapers.