Well it is election day in Gibraltar today so I thought I would write something appropriate.
To start with, some weeks after we first bought the flat we received a reminder from the Electoral Office that we hadn’t sent in the form.
Obviously not as we had only just arrived in Gib. The reminder was presumably referring to the previous owner.
Anyway eventually I staggered down to the electoral office which turned out to be hidden behind a glut of cafes, instead of prominently displaying its identity on Main Street as I had expected.
The door had an entryphone. I explained my mission and the door swung open. The carpet up the stairs was very thick and plush. The guy looked a bit surprised to get a visitor.
I explained that I had only recently bought the flat and wanted to know what I should do.
“Nothing,” he said. “The register has already been compiled.”
“Do you need my details then? Is there another one for next year?”
“No,” he said nicely. “There won’t be another register until the next election is due.”
“Well, I don’t want to have to pay a fine for non-completion like we do in the UK.”
“Really?” he said, looking even more surprised than he had done at receiving a rare visitor.
I’ve just done a quick search and according to a House of Commons Select Committee Report (July 2007), the maximum current fine is £1000, although rarely enforced.
So I can’t vote today. But to be honest I’m rather pleased as I don’t feel informed enough to make a fair decision. Hopefully I might have a more intelligent view for the next election.
I have, however, been interested in the very glossy political magazines that have been delivered.
The Gibraltar Social Democrats (GSD), the current ruling party, produced some 60 pages to plough through. A large part of this is highlighting their achievements while in power. The rest outlines their proposals for the future.
The poor old Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party (GSLP)/Liberal manifesto can only manage a mere 20 pages, no doubt because they have no achievements to boast about.
So here are some totally arbitrary comments having read the manifestos.
I’ll start with taxation. Since GSD came to power, they have abolished road tax, tax on savings income, death duties, TV licence fee, and the need to buy a pension annuity. There is no income tax if you earn less than £7,000. They have abolished other taxes too, but these will do as examples.
The GSLP/Liberals obviously have a tough job competing with this, so they have pledged to maintain all the existing allowances (for homeowners, mortgage interest, life insurance etc) and bring down personal tax.
Well I have to say, the Gibraltar economy is good, wages are not brill, but you can get a job. With decent tax breaks. Why would people vote to change the status quo?
Each party also talks about health, older people, sovereignty, the environment, and employment as well as a few other topics.
GSD says there is a new commitment from the UK not to enter into any negotiations about sovereignty without Gibraltar’s consent. Quite right. I fully agree with the principles of self-determination. It is not up to the UK or Spain to arrogantly decide on the future of Gibraltar.
There are discussions from both parties about the airport and the proposed new tunnel and diversion of traffic and pedestrians away from the airfield. I have to say I like the quirkiness of walking across the runway, it must be pretty unique. And it would take even longer if we all had to bus round and underneath. Hmm.
The GSLP/Liberals commit to government work and services being carried out by direct labour. No privatisation or contracting out. I agree with that.
I find the manifesto proposals interesting as Gibraltar is such a small place and they do affect everyone. But I doubt any of it will make any difference. So my prediction, for what it’s worth is that the GSD will be returned. We’ll see. And I will post if I am wrong. Or right.
Almost forgot. Here are the candidates. Ten for each. One woman for each party out of ten people. I don’t really think that is a fair representation of the female population in Gibraltar. And people think women have achieved equality?