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Opinion & Analysis

We cannot have four more years of this

By Keith Azopardi, Leader of the GSD
We are at a crossroads in this election. We cannot afford four more years of Mr Picardo’s Government. The promised new dawn of 2011 has proved to be a false dawn and in its slipstream the pile of broken promises stacks high.

Mr Picardo’s 2011 promise to halve the gross debt was shattered and instead he has quadrupled it. Debt is now £1.9Billion – the highest it has ever been. It is a legacy that leaves us poor of options and deprived of leeway. It means that there is less flexibility to raise wages or help business. Compounding that we have had years of vanity projects and an inability to crack down on waste, abuse and corruption by introducing robust controls to make sure your money is used properly. These lack of controls benefit the usual few to the detriment of the many. Special interests are rife and uncontrolled. This is exacerbated still by tendering processes that are ignored or circumvented brazenly with land allocations to entities that did not even participate in processes.

Making things worse Mr Picardo has parked hundreds of millions of your money behind an opaque jungle of companies. They do not tell you how much is left and how precisely it’s being used. You have a right to know what they do with your money.

There is a crisis of truth at the heart of this Government where the facts get manipulated, twisted and repackaged to often deliver a set of half-truths, spin and downright lies. Combined with a systematic compulsion to make relentless promises to everyone just before the last few elections all that has happened is that the credibility of Mr Picardo and his Government is in tatters.

The culture of fear has made a reappearance with critics squashed and people feeling uncomfortable of taking on a GSLP Government that exerts all its power with your money to stamp down criticism. Additionally, as a further backdrop to the governance issues Mr Picardo goes into this election with dark clouds and unprecedented allegations of improper conduct hanging over him in the McGrail Inquiry. No Chief Minister has ever faced such allegations.

If all that was not bad enough there are increasingly large numbers of people being left behind, facing broken systems in health or housing, languishing without real futures in dead-end jobs or without training opportunities. People who feel they aren’t listened to or have nowhere to turn. People who feel their health follow-ups are poor, their housing complaints are ignored or that creaking public services infrastructure is too slow and too inefficient to deal with their day-to-day problems. It shouldn’t be so hard to make simple things work.

The only card that Mr Picardo thinks he has left is to scare you into voting for him – by fear or lies. Fear that he is indispensable to the culmination of the post-Brexit discussions and lies and outrageous slurs about the GSD and me. His track record is one of failure, missed opportunities and concessions. How is his track record of past failure a recipe for future success?
We have the competent team to deal with the EU, UK and Spain. I have had the experience of doing this before – all those years ago in Government when as Peter Caruana’s deputy I worked shoulder to shoulder with him to defeat joint sovereignty. We protected you then and will do so again. You know you can trust me and we will not let you down.

It’s time to get Gibraltar back on track and deliver a bright future for you and your families. Time to launch a deep and effective package of reforms that deals with waste, abuse and corruption. Time to do things differently, to govern differently, with truth and with accountability. Time to deliver hope to our young people with real training and with opportunity of dignified jobs. Time to tackle the broken systems in public services.

Our programme is comprehensive and high in ambition because we aim high. We want to carry out reforms that leave a legacy of new systems and controls and change the way we are governed for good. If you want change don’t stay at home. Vote for it.

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