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GSD Executive Elections 2024 Round 2 takes place on 30 May

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GSD Executive Elections 2024 Round 2 takes place on 30 May

16 candidates will contest the 8 available places in the second round of the GSD Executive elections.

The voting will primarily take place at the Party’s AGM on Thursday 30 May 2024 at John Mackintosh Hall. Party Members are being written to with the details on the voting process and information on the candidates.

The candidates are: Sean Ballester, John Calderon, Joseph Capurro, Julian Celecia, Matvey Celecia, Kim Karnani, Nuhaila Mkerref, Yusef Moudden, Darren Olivero, Jeremy Perez, Brian Richardson, Magelle Segovia, Noah Segui, Willie Serfaty, Matthew Turnock and Eddie Wood.

Ahead of the vote Party Members will have a chance to “Meet the Candidates” at an event being held at Party HQ in College Lane this Saturday 18 May between 11am-130pm. All members are welcome to drop by and meet as many candidates as they wish and receive information as to these.

Those 8 candidates that are successful on 30 May will join the other 8 members elected in Round 1 in March 2024, the 8 GSD MPs and a small number of life and co-opted members on the Party’s 30-strong Executive.

Edwin Reyes MP is overseeing the electoral process which under GSD rules takes place every two years.
GSD Leader, Keith Azopardi said: “The conclusion of this process of internal democracy will then allow us to go forward together and conduct the work necessary over the next couple of years to keep pushing our campaign for change. In all and over the two rounds there have been 30 candidates for 16 elected places on the Executive. The level of interest and competition is testament to how vibrant the GSD is today.

Beyond this immediate contest a number of current members of the Executive have for a variety of personal reasons also decided not to contest the Executive elections on this occasion and will stand down on 30 May. We are very grateful for their service and support. Being in politics is hard and Gibraltar needs dedicated individuals prepared to work tirelessly behind the scenes at so many levels of political parties.”

Leader of the Opposition, Keith Azopardi – May Day & Workers Memorial Day Message

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Leader of the Opposition, Keith Azopardi – May Day & Workers Memorial Day Message

𝗪𝗮𝘆 𝗚𝗦𝗟𝗣 𝗥𝘂𝗻 𝗚𝗶𝗯𝗿𝗮𝗹𝘁𝗮𝗿 𝗦𝗵𝗼𝗿𝘁-𝗖𝗵𝗮𝗻𝗴𝗲𝘀 𝗪𝗼𝗿𝗸𝗲𝗿𝘀 & 𝗕𝘂𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗲𝘀

The Government has a long track record of financial mismanagement and has not delivered much needed economic certainty. Gibraltar would benefit if there was a different way of governing that delivered transparency and better controls over conflicts of interests, waste, or abuse. Public contracts and land deals need to be awarded more fairly and monitored better to deliver value for money for you. The net effect of these deficiencies leads to the misuse of millions of pounds of your money. This penalises workers and businesses.

As we mark Workers Memorial Day and May Day over the next few days we reflect that this economic rigour on good financial practices and better management of our public finances could only be beneficial to all in our community. As a worker, business owner or someone in need of employment or better training the waste or abuse of public monies deprives you of a better future.

The long shadow of unprecedented debt and opaque financial practices affects how tax-payers’ monies are used or what is available to public sector workers or private sector business. There are rampant examples of waste or abuse in the use of public monies as has been clear from the latest Principal Auditors’ Reports and beyond. This diminishes public resources and cheats the taxpayer. The way things are currently run by the present Government in terms of lax practices or the inability or unwillingness to properly deal with financial waste or abuse simply worsens the economic environment all citizens live in.

Additionally, almost 8 years after the BREXIT referendum Gibraltar is still gripped with the uncertainty of not having concluded the negotiations towards a Treaty for a new relationship with the EU.

All this hurts workers and the self-employed alike. It affects jobs and job creation, business profits and the ability to pay wages. It affects opportunity, diversification and the competitive economic environment within which business and workers’ rights should thrive.

Six months after the last election things have not improved in the field of financial management of your money or as to how Government handles the governance of Gibraltar. Indeed, the facts that have emerged since then all indicates a systemic political problem that would only be cured with the replacement of this Government that has lost its way so badly.

Red ID Card Uncertainty

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Red ID Card Uncertainty

The interim arrangements that the Government had long told the public were in place pending negotiations for an EU Treaty are progressively being called into question. Some of the latest advice from the Government is deeply unsatisfactory. It should be possible for the Government to seek the relevant clarity from Spain to reassure people.

Given that the Chief Minister is in talks with Spain and has said that Gibraltar within “kissing distance” of an EU agreement it should not be impossible for people to expect the confirmation of clear interim good faith arrangements that are effective throughout Spain and that any uncertainty is cleared up promptly.

People need to have confidence about arrangements. Blue ID card holders have long suffered because the Government
were unable to get Spanish authorities to deliver on temporary arrangements that the Gibraltar Government had originally said were in place. Those arrangements fell away despite Government promises to Blue ID card holders. Now it is the turn of Red ID card holders to face uncertainty.

The latest contradictions are emerging as to the stamping of passports of Red ID card holders. The Government has maintained for some time that no stamping is necessary and reiterated that position in a press release of 22 February 2023. It said then:

“The Government understands that the position remains that Gibraltar red ID card holders should
not be stamped unless they are travelling for onward travel outside Spain, and that those crossing the border will not routinely be asked to provide a reason for travel.”

Now in the wake of people reporting concerns of being stopped and the risks of fines the Government’s advice in answer to press questions is that people should seek to get their passports stamped if going “ …beyond an area where the bridging measures are known to the Spanish authorities.” This is obviously unhelpful, vague and impossible to define by the ordinary citizen.

It is known that there has been a unilateral concession by Spain not to stamp passports of Red ID card holders. But surely this is equally capable of confirmation by the Spanish authorities in a way that delivers clarity. Advice such as that given by the Gibraltar Government simply accentuates uncertainty which the citizen cannot be expected to
resolve.

SEN Prevalence Report Welcome But Action Plan Needed

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SEN Prevalence Report Welcome But Action Plan Needed

The recently published report on prevalence of Special Educational Needs (SEN) in Gibraltar is welcome but only provides partial answers. Much more needs to be done to better understand how the increased SEN of our children can be supported. The next step is to commission an Action Plan for the future.

The GSD commends the initiative taken to conduct this review and acknowledges the importance of shedding light on the notable increase in children with SEN in Gibraltar.

We strongly urge the Government to take decisive action based on the insights provided by the report. Specifically, we call for the commissioning of an independent audit to evaluate the impact of the escalating SEN prevalence on various service providers, the community and government departments. Such an audit would identify areas where better resources or support needs to be provided to effectively address the growing needs within our community.

Atrish Sanchez, Shadow Minister for Care and Opportunity said: “This further work is necessary to tackle the support required to help the increased numbers of children with special educational needs. This Report has confirmed there are now around 30% of our children with SEN. We now need to conduct more work to plan how to support them and resource those providing support. The report published provides an insight as to the factors contributing to the increased prevalence of SEN but it now needs to be followed up by a clear Government plan addressing both present and future needs.

The community may have been provided with some answers as to the factors contributing to the increased prevalence of SEN, but they are left without an analysis of the impact that this has had on our current service provision and the delivery of our services together with what the Government plans to do about this. These answers warrant an independent review to identify key recommendations and make meaningful progress.

Although the commissioned report provides some recommendations, its scope is limited to factors contributing to the increased prevalence of SEN and not the impact that this has had on service provision and delivery. Therefore, it is imperative that the next step is taken to progress this work further by commissioning an independent audit/impact review to assess how this notable increase in SEN will be better supported across Government and by service providers. This will allow for key targeted recommendations that will hopefully lead to targeted action and improvements where needed.“

GSD Executive Elections 2024

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GSD Executive Elections 2024

Under the GSD Constitution elections to its Executive are due in 2024. The first round of 8 elected places from among current members of the Executive was held on 11 March 2024. The second round of elections in which a further 8 places are available for election will be held to coincide with the Party’s AGM on 30 May 2024.

Yesterday the GSD Executive agreed the rules and deadlines for the Round 2 Elections. The election to these further 8 places is open to Party Members as well as those members of the Executive who were unsuccessful in Round 1 and wish to offer themselves for candidature in Round 2.

Edwin Reyes MP has been appointed to oversee the electoral process. In coming days Party Members will be receiving a communication setting out the nomination process and the elections deadlines.

The nomination deadline will be Monday 6 May 2024 at 2pm. Nominations will need to be submitted on the relevant form and supported by the
requisite number of signatures of Executive and Party Members.

GSD Leader Keith Azopardi said: “I very much look forward to the conclusion of the 2024 Executive Elections process.

With a refreshed Executive we will then take further steps to continue to grow the Party’s support so we can deliver the changes that are so badly needed in Gibraltar. We made huge progress at the last election coming within a wafer of success. Everything that has happened over the last few months from financial governance to democratic governance has in many people’s minds further demonstrated why change is so necessary.”

Edwin Reyes said: “Under our Party Constitution elections to the Executive are held every two years. This provides an opportunity for regeneration and strengthening of the Executive. It also allows members who have been contributing at different levels of the Party an opportunity to offer themselves to make a more senior contribution in the Party and can also be a stepping-stone for candidature. Two of the Party members – Atrish Sanchez and Giovanni Origo – who were elected in the 2022 intake, for example, have gone on to become GSD MPs.

Mr. Picardo’s Political Broadcast: Falsehoods, Distractions, and McGrail Inquiry Scrutiny

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There were aspects of Mr Picardo’s party political broadcast yesterday that smacked of cloud-cuckoo land and other aspects that were simply repeated falsehoods.
As his own fitness to ringfence conflicts and govern is under scrutiny in the McGrail Inquiry all Mr Picardo can do is do what he normally does – namely distract from his own failings. People will make a judgement in due course on his legacy
His insistence that there is nothing in the evidence before the McGrail Inquiry suggestive of concern is in stark contrast to the content of several opening submissions so far which clearly point to a highly inappropriate course of conduct by him to say the least. The GSD will not prejudge those issues. They are matters for the Chairman of the Inquiry. What Mr Picardo cannot however expect is to simply have his version accepted blindly until such time as the Inquiry has reached its findings. People will have heard for themselves and considered what has been said so far. Ultimately those matters will be decided by the Chairman.
In Mr Picardo’s rush to personalise an attack on Mr Azopardi as a distraction from the hole in which Mr Picardo finds himself he has repeated the falsehood that the GSD sought an appointment to invite direct rule. Mr Picardo knows this is a lie. For him to repeat this is scandalous. Mr Azopardi has published an extract of his communication to the Governor that says the precise opposite and made clear that the GSD were not seeking an assent conversation or inviting direct rule.
The GSD were always conscious of the constitutional boundaries. This may however not be the case with Mr Picardo’s somewhat incestous dealings at the heart of the McGrail Inquiry. Time will tell on that issue. That is a matter for the Inquiry.

The broadcast was simply a tired attempt to launch another attack on Mr Azopardi and portray himself as the only guardian of people’s interests. This portrayal is so thin and fragile in the face of the criticism he is facing in the McGrail Inquiry that it is hardly worth responding to. People see through his pathetic attempts. As his own fitness to occupy high office comes under scrutiny all he can do is try to distract from that. But that won’t succeed as the evidence unfolds in technicolour over the next few weeks.”

𝗚𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗿𝗻𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗲𝗻𝗴𝗮𝗴𝗲𝗱 𝗶𝗻 𝘀𝗶𝗱𝗲-𝘁𝗿𝗮𝗰𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝗜𝗻𝗾𝘂𝗶𝗿𝘆 𝗵𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴

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𝗚𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗿𝗻𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗲𝗻𝗴𝗮𝗴𝗲𝗱 𝗶𝗻 𝘀𝗶𝗱𝗲-𝘁𝗿𝗮𝗰𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝗜𝗻𝗾𝘂𝗶𝗿𝘆 𝗵𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴

The Government’s latest irrational and angry statement is built on falsehoods and is nothing other than a bare-faced attempt at turning the tables from itself, on to the Opposition and away from the Inquiry hearing that hasstarted today. This is nothing other than raw party politics which is laying out in the open a stricken government which is now in full panic mode.

People know this and the Government is all too aware of its failure and this is why it has sought to start on a
personal smear campaign against the Leader of the Opposition.

To be clear. What is at stake here has absolutely nothing to do with the Leader of the Opposition and everything to do with Mr Picardo and the Government he leads, both of whom are facing very serious allegations. The Chief Minister’s and not the Leader of the Opposition’s reputation is under scrutiny. No amount of personal attacks will pull the wool over people’s eyes.

In reality Mr Picardo does not welcome this Inquiry. If he did he would not have convened it 18 months after he promised it and so late that it was impossible to be held before the last election.

His repetition that the GSD sought to invoke direct rule is false and Mr Picardo knows it but that does not stop him from repeating the assertion, in the hope, no doubt, that repetition will make it true.

The Inquiry needs to be allowed to do its job and not be side-tracked by party-politically motivated statements which many are cynically viewing as an attempt at deflecting attention from the statements which are being made at the hearing.

GSD Still in Dark & Won’t be Gagged

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The ramped-up Government spin machinery since Friday with almost carbon copy messaging from Ministers on social media displays a nervousness as to the very late Restriction Notice issued on the last working day before the Inquiry begins

The eleventh-hour attempt to offer a private briefing on “reasons” to the Opposition which has not been accepted by the GSD also smacks of an insincere afterthought by the GSLP/Libs

In any event and despite the Government offering to show the Restriction Notice to the Opposition confidentially this has not been provided in its entirety rendering the document meaningless.

On Friday the Government issued a Restriction Notice in relation to the McGrail inquiry. The effect of that notice is to exclude certain evidence from the public and from being published. The Chief Minister offered to brief the Opposition confidentially as to the “reasons”. The Leader of the Opposition has not agreed to be briefed confidentially as to the “reasons” but agreed to receive a copy of the Restriction Notice confidentially pending the decision of the Chairman of the Inquiry, Sir Peter Openshaw as to its publication so as to understand precisely what this Notice was about and its specific scope.

On Friday the GSD in its own communication made that distinction clear because after all this is in relation to a public inquiry and as a matter of principle the GSD does not wish to be gagged by having eleventh-hour private briefings as to “reasons” on this issue. The offer to do so on the last working day before the inquiry begins when the Government has had ample time to do so is a clear afterthought deployed for tactical reasons only.

On Friday the Chief Minister sent the Leader of the Opposition part of the Restriction Notice but not its schedule. It is the schedule to it which sets out the particular evidence that is subject to the Restriction Notice. The Leader of the Opposition made clear to the Chief Minister that without the schedule the rest of the Notice is “meaningless.”

Leader of the Opposition, Keith Azopardi said: “the Schedule sets out the relevant evidence which the Government is subjecting to the Restriction Notice. Not showing us the Schedule which is an integral part of the Notice renders the rest of it absolutely meaningless. It is like receiving a law that explains that things in a schedule are rendered confidential and not to be published but not showing you what those things are. That has, in effect, rendered the offer to show us the Restriction Notice on Privy Council terms absolutely meaningless. We make clear therefore that we remain in the dark as to its scope.

The Opposition on Friday explained that we have not accepted a confidential briefing as to “reasons”. We only accepted to receive the Notice confidentially on a temporary basis until the Chairman had an opportunity to comment or decide on what is published and to see what this was about. This is after all a public inquiry and we do not wish to go along with actions that render material excluded when the Government are issuing its own jaundiced perspective on the process and it and Mr Picardo are core participants in the Inquiry.

As we explained on Friday we have serious misgivings that this is all about sidestepping the Chairman’s previous rulings on evidence. The Chairman has already rejected the Government’s public interest submissions when they sought to withhold evidence some months ago. If that is what is happening then it is a transparent manoeuvre

In effect it is now obvious that while the Government said they would show us the Notice on Friday they have only provided us that part of the Notice which does not show us precisely what they are restricting. That is as good as providing nothing to us.”

Since then the Government have gone into social media overdrive. It is very clear what the Government is doing. They are now embarked upon an exercise of trying to undo the damage they have caused to themselves politically and to Gibraltar’s wider reputation.

Gibraltar should not be fooled at the window-dressing that is going on here. The GSLP spin machine is in overdrive; offering late in the day confidential briefings to the Leader of the Opposition; and bizarrely seeking to turn the tables on the Opposition as the party responsible for damaging Gibraltar’s international reputation. Something which is demonstrably the reverse given that the effect on Gibraltar’s international reputation lies at the Government’s door.

All of this begs the question: why did the offer of consultation not materialise before the Bill was inelegantly rushed through Parliament? The atmosphere of trust should and could have been created by the Government in advance of acting the way it did. What trust and confidence can the GSD and indeed the wider population, have at this 11th hour approach?

GSD Statement on Inquiry Restriction Notice

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“We note the statement issued by the Government confirming that they have issued a Restriction Notice under their newly acquired powers under the Inquiries Act 2024. We have serious concerns that this is no more than an attempt to side-step the Chairman of the Inquiry who has already ruled against the Government when it made submissions on public interest grounds to seek to exclude certain evidence. If this is a second bite at that particular cherry then all that has happened is that the Government have converted themselves into the Court of Appeal from the Chairman.

We further note that the Government has offered to show the Notice to the Opposition on Privy Council terms only. This means that the Opposition would be unable to comment publicly on the terms of the Notice for the moment. Despite that the Government appears to feel free in their own press release to tell the public what the Notice allegedly is and isn’t about. It is, however, impossible for the Opposition to say one way or the other what all this is about as we have not seen the Notice and neither is it able to publicly comment on the real reasons behind the decision.

The Government really cannot have it both ways – to seek to gag Opposition comment but then proceed to comment itself in a one-sided way. However, in deference to the Inquiry Chairman who has not yet expressed a view on this the Leader of the Opposition is confirming to the Chief Minister that he is prepared to receive the Notice on Privy Council terms at this stage to see its context and until the Chairman decides whether it should be made public. This is out of respect to the Inquiry Chairman as the Opposition have always proceeded on the basis that the Chairman should be allowed to carry out his job in the way he considers appropriate. If the Chairman makes the Notice public the Opposition may comment further or indeed comment on the details as disclosed by the Government. At this stage the Opposition will not accept any further private briefing in relation to purported reasons.

Finally we are dismayed at the nonsense being spouted by the Government and Mr Feetham in particular, about the Opposition having damaged Gibraltar’s reputation. This is palpably false. The damage to Gibraltar’s reputation has been caused by Mr Picardo and his Government. There is now a litany of examples in this saga that show this.”

Picardo Lies & Smokescreens

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Picardo Lies & Smokescreens

 

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In his utter desperation to distract from the real issues Mr Picardo is now resorting to pure invention and misinformation. It is simply not true to say that the GSD has sought “direct rule” in any shape or form after the passage of the Inquiries Bill.

The remedy for this assault on good governance and the mounting examples of democratic deficits or examples of waste, abuse or corruption is for people to speak clearly through the ballot box and decisively unseat this GSLP/Lib administration.

The letter we hand-delivered to the Governor at our meeting with him has been published and sets out the position of the GSD. There is not a single paragraph in our letter that raises the issue of direct rule or seeks it. People will be able to see the nonsense that Mr Picardo is spouting. What we do in that letter is what the Leader of the Opposition said we would do – share our candid views on the new law with the Governor as a matter of formal record.

Leader of the Opposition, Keith Azopardi said:

“This is just a desperate Chief Minister who doesn’t know what to do to distract from the festering conflicts of interest he is immersed in and his own inability to ringfence his personal conflicts or wade in to act in his self-interest. He doesn’t know how to get out of all this or how to distract people from the real issues.

These are that this new law was proposed by his defence team in the Inquiry. It has been introduced in an ugly power grab so he can use new powers in the very Inquiry investigating his conduct and so that he can side-step the judge in the Inquiry. He has been unable to ringfence those deep personal conflicts of interest just like he was unable to do so when he personally signed 14 Letters of Assurance for Police Officers who signed witness statements against Mr McGrail. He is deeply personally conflicted. So is the Government that is also a core participant. How the Government have behaved in rushing this Bill though Parliament is nothing short of a scandal. They will compound things if they take steps in the Inquiry using the new powers they have given themselves.

One wonders whether that will happen very soon and that’s why they need a distraction now. Is it an accident that the Act was commenced today?

I was very careful when engaging with the Governor that we kept within constitutional boundaries. As such there was nothing wrong with sharing candid views with the Governor on the Bill. Surely Mr Picardo is not saying that it is alright for him to consult the Governor on the Inquiries Bill but it is not acceptable for the Opposition to convey our own views on that Bill to him? Mr Picardo’s contradictions implode into themselves.

As someone who has fought for the notion of self-determination and self-government for 30 years I am very careful in navigating these boundaries and would not take a step that I would deem colonial. Mr Picardo knows all this and that’s why this is not just a smokescreen but a deliberate lie.

I do think this Act is a constitutional outrage and an assault on good governance. But this needs to be resolved democratically by the people kicking out this Government.

Mr Picardo’s assertions are not only false they can be demonstrated to be false. On Monday night ahead of the meeting originally scheduled for Tuesday 10am I had a series of communications with the Governor. In one of those I said:

“As my request made clear what we ask is to formally record our views to you on this important matter. I have not suggested in any communication that I am going to seek to persuade you on whether to assent to this Bill or not. I am very conscious of the boundaries here and I have no intention of crossing lines that I view should not be crossed. That judgment is a matter for you within the constitutional provisions and I intend to make no submissions or requests in that regard.”

We have, however, said that we think the Office of the Governor is conflicted because that is how we see the deep festering swamp of conflicts that affect this Bill. Our role is to call it how we see it and not worry whether the Governor is offended by that. That however is a mile removed from the pure invention by Mr Picardo that we are seeking direct rule which we have not sought and do not seek.”