New Year Message 2019
With Christmas and New Year celebrations now over, for many of us it is time to get back to our daily routines and into the swing of things.
Last year we saw many changes in our political landscape. It was a year dominated by Brexit and the continuous uncertainty of it. No doubt it will continue to be an ever-prominent issue up to the date of leaving the European Union and beyond. Many exchanges have been had between Government and Opposition who have spent so much time locking horns on the agreements and directives that are being worked on. I have always said that I believe that we should support our government and give it the political space it needs to navigate our Brexit fallout without petty politicking, especially when we are all equally invested in the outcome and we are still quite far from a clear overall position emanating from the UK that we can evaluate and negotiate. Once the meaningful vote takes place in Westminster and we are somewhat wiser to the direction that Brexit is taking, all relevant entities shall be in a firm position to scrutinise what the deal, directives and MoUs will mean for us on the ground.
In the meantime, Together Gibraltar believes that the most constructive and mature approach at present is to focus on long term contingency arrangements on matters relating to business, trade and industry, and frontier challenges in order to genuinely reinvent ourselves and develop a new way of working our economy post Brexit, deal or no deal. It is crucial to be engaging with business leaders, captains of industry and unions so that we can collate a bank of needs, requirements and connections, which we can effectively use for the future. We understand how busy the current administration is at this moment, fighting the eternal and ever changing Brexit fires, but we also believe that in parallel, there has not been enough dynamism on matters of future planning. For example, the question of whether Gibraltar can manage to survive out of the EU without the procurement of goods from the UK is an important one, because if we are clear about wanting to continue trading with UK products, what we do know is that currently, expected delays after March 29th are set at three to nine months -as reported in the widespread media. This means that we could very easily face shortages during this period, potentially destabilising various sectors of our industry and economy. We shall be pressing Government for updates and its record on such planning, as well as the level of priority it has been setting on matters of logistics.
Last year also saw important debates in our community, which for so long had been pushed aside and swept under the carpet. This is a testament to changing times and sectors of our community no longer being silenced or sidelined. Issues of people’s rights, be they human rights, female reproductive rights, elderly citizens’ rights or workers rights need to be addressed as the modern society that we are, to ensure we are all treated fairly and enjoy the same opportunities. It is an inescapable reality that the current state of play with long-term supply and agency workers on zero hour contracts is less than justified and even borders on immoral. A Government that calls itself ‘socialist’ must instantly end this extremely demoralising practice which is sadly becoming the norm and while inflating the pockets of recruitment agencies, is in turn deflating so many individuals in our workforce who are being left with the many socio-economic challenges relating to lack of permanent job contracts and the insecurities that brings.
Our concerns on the environment are serious. Gibraltar has to catch up and be a leader in sustainability and green policies. We have the perfect surroundings for it, and especially in times like these, with so much uncertainty about our post Brexit future, Gibraltar should be a model of sustainability and clean environmental practices and directives. We also and above all have a duty to our children and future generations to educate on the part we must play in the environment agenda and we should continue to build on the good work carried out across our schools and colleges by the NGOs who are tirelessly educating our youth on the environment.
Since the days of the Together Gibraltar grassroots movement, the environment has featured prominently in our program for change and following a packed and passionate live debate last year, we provided a paper to Parliament for discussion as a motion, which has to date, formed the skeleton for our working policy on the environment. We believe it is vital to continuously monitor the environmental issues being raised. Poor air and marine plastic pollution are scientifically linked to a reduction in health and we will work hard to improve quality in both these areas. At our next AGM, motions relating to our environment will be presented to the membership for a vote and ratification.
FROM GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT TO POLITICAL PARTY
The progression of Together Gibraltar from a civil society platform to a party structure has been an exciting development, one that we embrace with all the hard work and responsibility it entails. We need to break the impasse of the stale two party barristocracy that has dominated our political landscape for as long as we can remember, and bring politics back to the people who make this community. We will strive to bring positive changes in line with our common sense values and what we consider to be the fundamental pillars that underpin our modern society; protection of the environment, equality, inclusivity, transparency, fairness and social justice, while at the same time looking towards a prosperous future full of opportunities.
As our name suggests we are all in this together. We are a small community and need to work together to solve our problems and make a success of the challenges ahead of us. We are excited to be holding our first Annual General Meeting on the 5th of February at the John Mackintosh Hall and welcome anyone that wants to join and make a difference. It is at this meeting where we will set out our policies, our vision and our ideas for a Gibraltar worthy of calling itself a modern nation.
This year is election year. Earlier this year we indicated we would be contesting the general election. This is something our members chose to do when we polled them in October. We have no doubt there is a clamour among the electorate for something new and exciting in the political arena, and the amount of interest we have received from the community since we launched our party has only served to confirm this. But there is a lot of work to do in the next twelve months. We are a fledgling political force and we cannot do this alone. We need you, our friends and supporters to get involved. Whatever your capacity, interest or level of commitment, there is a place for you at Together Gibraltar. Get in touch with us, we’re very excited about bringing you on board.
From all of us at Together Gibraltar we will you all a happy, healthy and prosperous year ahead.