Politicians need to be at the top of their game not wake-up at the end of it!

Leo Olivero

This has been described as an election year unlike any other; and in many respects this is true if Brexit alone is brought into the electoral equation.

Politically so far this year, it’s been a supercharged summer. A new Prime Minister in Britain with a hell of a lot more spunk about him has practically turned Brexit upside down with another direction and manner of doing things. Something which in my opinion, was badly needed.

These are key moments in our political history, the on-going Brexit debate considers the future of our nation that will be inherited by today’s younger generation, and how the turmoil and division of the last three years has influenced political engagement.

Locally we are mindful that the Government have kept pace with the goings on in the UK by the amount of press statements, interviews and official announcements made locally and abroad, including since Boris Johnson took up office.

Yellowhammer Wakes Up Opposition Three Days After the Event
From the Opposition, the reaction has been similar to their role in politics today ‘the reactive opposite’ and in keeping with the current season of the year in a quite typically lazy summer afternoon scenario, as we saw this week.

With so many fast paced stories moving backwards and forwards during the whole summer especially these last few weeks and days, it took opposition leader Keith Azopardi over 3 days to respond to the political story of the week regarding last Sundays Times ‘Yellowhammer report’ as opposed to the Government who made a statement relatively early Sunday morning when the story broke.

A traditional sledgehammer not a yellow one, would probably have woken up our well-paid opposition party a lot sooner to give us their perspective on this important issue. It came three days later when the yellowhammer story was a political dead duck and things had moved on and Boris Johnson had left British shores on his whistle stop visit to Germany and France and then onto the G7 summit in France.

But after all, it is the silly season, which the opposition appears to have embraced literally, with hardly any press releases or statements of note or substance in the whole month of August and a good part of July. Instead, depending on the online, one-dimensional blog of one of their senior executive members who also doubles up as a contributor to a regional Spanish right wing anti-Gibraltar online rag!

As for the ‘Together Gibraltar’ at least there appears to be more ‘summer fire in the belly’ then their opposition counterparts. Although the TG party with all the good intentions they may have in promoting an emotive social issue like abortion, would do well not to verbally over indulge, particularly on social media or Facebook. The fire in the belly could easily turn into severe pre-election heartburn or worse, and extend into a nasty political bout of chronic acid reflux disease. And all this, even before they really hit the election trail and properly find their political feet in life!

Political Parties Difficult to Control

Political parties are often difficult to control. Some people are in politics to unashamedly feather their own nest. They might talk eloquently in public, might make all the right noises about transparency and accountability while trying to be elected, but soon prove not to have a single altruistic fibre in their being.
Others are honest, well-meaning and truly dedicated men or women who want to make a difference and leave a positive influence on their community. They promote the common good. However, these well-intentioned politicians seldom enjoy longevity, as they tend to quickly burn out. We’ve had a few.

Leaders are made of sterner stuff. A political party can only aspire to gain power if it makes the right decision in the selection of its leaders. This maxim applies to the GSD Party as it does to any other political party.

Many are asking what will it take to ensure the GSD Opposition faces the next election with a good chance of winning. A yellowhammer, a sledgehammer or a kango hammer, they may think they do not require such an aggressive tool at all and decide to ‘wing it’ into the election and back into power once again. But that notion, would be like reliving one of the many summer dreams of this year while decked out on the beach, this before the yellow-sledgehammer brought them back to reality on Wednesday. Very belated for the official opposition party!

Nonetheless despite all this, it remains an election year and like all other elections the individual voter will be swayed by a wide variety of concerns... not just the concerns the three parties now, necessarily want them to focus on.

Electorate Will Make Ultimate Decision

Ultimately the decision to be taken by the electorate will be very much be based on their own experiences as individuals. Most people will vote tribally; others will compare and evaluate the three parties’ track records or those that have one. Some may have personal preferences among candidates, and would consider cross-party voting. Others will be persuaded on the basis of a single issue: be it governance, drugs, the environment or the abortion debate, or other important bread-and-butter issues, etc., like jobs and the fair distribution of wealth.

Although I have no doubt Brexit will at the forefront of everyone’s mind!

New voters in particular, will be attracted to the messaging and the priorities of the different parties. But there will even be some who will make up their mind only in the polling booth itself.

It would be unwise to base expectations only on one’s own perspective of a single issue like Abortion, which will not, ultimately prove the deciding factor in this election. There is, in brief, a danger that people attribute too much to all manner of allegations, criticism and disparaging remarks regarding politicians from all sides.

But people then forget or overlook other important factors that may and probably will influence the election result, like ‘stability, continuity and using the analogy ‘better the devil you know’ some may even find the whole election process quite painless to the mind.

The Political Orphans

However, if I’m sincere and frank which is my reporting hallmark. I do believe that today there is a growing minority of people who consider themselves as political orphans. They feel betrayed for instance, by the way GSLP/Liberals has acted in government or how the GSD Opposition have let their members down and are not half the party they once were. As for the novice in the political pack ‘Together Gibraltar’ who in my opinion, are not yet combat ready and are probably short of a qualified drill sergeant to get them into shape for the arduous months of political electioneering ahead!

There is no doubt that the political tempo has slowly amplified.

But whatever the result of this post Brexit election, the new government will have to work to calm the nation down.

Importantly, If Fabian Picardo is re-elected he will have to ensure that reconciliation is a priority and that the political situation that Gibraltar may find itself in, does not create more division but seeks consensus!!!