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Opinion & Analysis

Trust, transparency and responsible government

By Orlando Yeats, GSD

There was a time in Gibraltar, during the period in office of the GSD, when it was normal to see information in the press about the estimated cost of official projects or the proposed investment in infrastructure by the Gibraltar Government.

Questions were answered in parliament and in general terms the media had access to information and the possibility of printing stories which could be openly critical or unsympathetic of the administration’s management of public affairs.

Whether it be the new, state of the art Airport Terminal – a favourite target of criticism by the then opposition which later became a central plank of their tourism strategy – the Kings Bastion Leisure Centre, the Europa Point redevelopment or any other of the plethora of projects undertaken by the GSD administration, the public obtained timely, relevant and accurate information about the public finances involved at each of the stages of the respective initiatives. That was then.

Fast forward to 2019. The GSLP curtain of silence that fell upon parliament, on the press and on society in 2011, is still choking democracy.

This is now. While spin is readily forthcoming from 6 Convent Place and official press releases and the virtues of this or that minister flow incessantly, facts and figures about public finances, details about diplomatic exchanges with the UK Government in relation to Brexit and contingency plans for a potentially devastating no deal scenario, and also regarding the extensive, done deal negotiations Mr Picardo is unilaterally conducting with Spain, are conspicuously absent, suppressed from the public domain, from public opinion and from the normal outlets, parliament and the media, of a healthy democratic society.

Instead the GSLP-Liberal regime has invented numerous ploys to withhold information, weaving impenetrable layers of secrecy behind which Mr Picardo’s trademark political style of smoke and mirrors thrives in the typical fashion the GSLP are notorious for.
Whether it be that information is ‘commercial in confidence’, ‘sensitive’ or delicate to the ‘national interest’, at other times when embarrassing documents come to light such as the leaked Operation Yellowhammer, pointing at the Gibraltar Government’s unpreparedness to cope with a no deal Brexit.

The manner in which Mr Picardo has taken advantage of his electoral majority to bulldoze his way through parliament, to systematically shut down the efforts of the GSD opposition to bring greater transparency to its proceedings has marked a low point, like never before in our modern political history.

We have seen that the GSLP-Liberal Government, are a law unto themselves, and have little regard for democratic convention, blurring the lines between government and party, between society and party at every available opportunity and always for party political gain.

The public now have a chance to remedy all of this, to vote for the GSD a party which puts transparency and accountability at the heart of all its political endeavours, at the heart of its dynamic and reinvigorating project for political advancement and democratic renewal.