Will they, won’t they?

Get in again?

Someting is rotten in the state of Denmark British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar. Or maybe the natives, and the imports too, are getting restless.

Actually pretty much all of the Gib population was imported from somewhere, whether Sephardi Jews, Maltese, Spaniards, Genoans, Portuguese, Moroccans or British.

So, what’s the issue?

Well, three years ago this month, it was all change in Gibraltar as after sixteen years we finally got a change of government. The GSD, who I tend to think of as the German Shepherds although I think they could possibly be Gibraltar Social Democrats, were ousted by the GSLP, Socialists and Liberals.

Change was in the air. In fact the GSLP electoral slogan was ‘Time for Change’. The GSLP got in with a three and a half thousand majority, around two per cent. Not much, but enough.

Jubilant GSLP supporters after the election in 2011
Jubilant GSLP supporters after the election in 2011

We looked forward to a more assertive stance on Gib’s independenc and no back door sovereignty deals that were the hallmark of the Caruana/GSD era, full employment for Gibraltarian residents favoured over cross border workers, more government housing and general investment in the public sector. Typical left of centre manifesto basically.


And indeed, come the new year, the job centre had a zillion jobs, whereas previously there were none apart from gambling gaming. Firms and organisations were told they must go through the job centre, although it seemed the government jobs were exempt from that rule. Still, mustn’t carp.

I got a number of interviews, Partner went for two and landed both jobs. Who needs a couple of degrees and a journalism qualification and a health services management one and a trade union one and … when you really need to be a qualified tradesperson in construction? Note: I have the same trade papers as Partner, just that painters and decorators are more in demand than journalists.

So life was cool.

Over time, the jobs started disappearing out of the job centre. But people were still getting work. Cross-border workers were still coming in, many of them on the black, undercutting the going skilled, and unskilled rate. And what did the government do to ensure jobs for local residents?

They set up a list to ring unemployed people about prospective jobs from a call centre. No, it wasn’t from Ireland or Bangladesh, it was in Gib. I was told a number of times I would be rung. I never was.

After about eight months, Partner was laid off, as were a few others when the job ended. Fast forward twelve months, and he bumped into a former workmate who said one of the supervisors would like him to start work on the previous firm. So he did.

When he went to the office to sort his contract, he was told his name hadn’t been on the list of painters sent by the job centre. Hmmmm.

Fast forward another twelve months and that job finished so it’s unemployment time again, unless you count looking after the broken ankle woman as employment.

Construction sector

‘There’s a list,’ said a British pal. ‘There are construction jobs on there, ask about it at the job centre.’

So he did.

‘What list? There’s no list,’ said the jumped-up clerk employment advisor. ‘Go find a job on the street.’

We’d obviously got duff info from our contact, who is a pensioner anyway. Then Partner met a former workmate. Nice lad, Gibbo, good worker and very personable.

‘Oh, yeah. I got a job with this other firm. They got my name off the list.’

Not that all Gibbos are racist and discriminatory but if you don’t have a Gibbo surname … You ain’t going to make the non-existent list.

How about some more horror stories?

People being promised contracts in Gib, shipped in from outside in areas of zilch unemployment. When they get here, their pre-signed contracts are ripped up and they are given a newer one on a lower rate. What choice do they have? Oh, and it’s up to 12 hours a day six or seven days a week.

Then there was the worker who fell down a hole that shouldn’t have been there. They told him to get himself to hospital. Given that he couldn’t walk that was a tough call. They took him and dumped him at the bottom of the hospital steps, that he had to crawl up.

What about the scaffolding firms? Sack all the employees and tell them they can come back as self-employed. Meanwhile, for some reason, more and more Spanish scaffolding firms are seen around using Spanish labour while Gib firms are laying off local staff and going out of business.

My newshound on the street was chatting to a customer who is a staunch socialist. Apparently someone had come out of prison, set up a business and been given loads of work.

Lots of Gibraltarians are racist. Lots aren’t. Some like the British, ‘We wouldn’t be here without you. Franco would have rounded us up and put us in concentration camps.’

In conversations on the bus, more and more Gibbos are dissatisfied with the unemployment. And the amount of Spaniards who are employed in Gib, especially on government jobs.

‘Same old story,’ they say. ‘They’re doing what they did before and feathering their own nests.’

‘The people who have been allocated right-to-buy new government housing are all mates or family of those in power.’

‘We’re not voting for them again.’

Have I mentioned backhanders? We priced a job recently and had to factor in 10% on top of the price for the contact’s cut. For passing on a ‘phone number. The irony was that Partner had worked in the block before and if the brain dead twerp he knew had thought to contact him that would have been a few hundred quid off the price.

We looked (well he looked, I looked at the photos) at another job.

‘Oh no, I couldn’t possibly take anything if you get the job for the staircase and hallways because that’s for the management committee and they pay me. I just take £50 if you get a job in a private flat,’ said the caretaker.

But, the word on the street is, that it’s how to get government jobs too.

Greed. Don’t you just love it.

It’s not just Gibbos. Brits here are equally grasping and often totally illegal. One person we know who works for a public sector department I had better not name, told us he has no ID, no residency, doesn’t pay tax, has his money paid into his UK bank account …

Of course, these may all be stories and not remotely true.

True (?) anecdotes

Here is a true story though. It is only second hand, at any rate. Partner was walking a dog, probably Snowy, and was chatting to a dog-walking Gibbo neighbour.

Up walks a government minister and says to her, totally ignoring Partner, ‘Quien es el?’ (Who’s he?)

‘Un vecino,’ (A neighbour), she replied rolling her eyes at Partner.

‘Yes,’ said Partner. ‘I live just down there.’

Minister does double take at patently obvious Brit with GUIRI (WOG) stamped on his forehead being able to understand Spanish, and said something to that effect. And quickly added what a nice Podenco Snowy was. Luckily Snowy didn’t bite said minister to bits.

But not a good way to get a repeat vote, dear racist anti-Brit minister.

Down the same street, Partner met a couple of Brits, been here years.

‘I’m not voting GSLP again,’ she said.

‘I don’t know,’ said her partner, ‘I’m socialist, so I don’t want to vote for the others.’

‘Me too,’ said Partner.

But the clincher came the other day. Someone told Partner bus fares are going to be reintroduced in the new year. Horrors! Paying for buses? An election loser if ever there was one. No idea if its true or just rumour though.

Visible achievements

What has the GSLP done in three out of four years in power? Started off well with employment and gone down the rattle ever since.

Achieved stuff all re border queues and territorial waters invasions although that is a UK responsibility (ie defence and foreign affairs).

Scrapped a few hundred parking places to build a park. I’ve not seen it since finished apart from a fleeting glimpse from the back of an ambulance.

Proposed ruining Europa Point with a football stadium and desecrating parliament building with an external glass lift.

I’m sure there are other achievements and no doubt we will be told about them over the next 12 months.

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo is already preparing as he’s had a ministerial reshuffle.

Employment minister Joe Bossano has been sidelined given a new portfolio of economic development. In an interview on GBC, he denied being sidelined and talked about getting a thousand people into work and saying he’d done his job and there was no point creating employment opportunities when there were no unemployed people to fill those posts. Um. That isn’t how it feels on the street, Joe.

Joe Bossano
Joe Bossano

And if nearly everyone’s working, (which they aren’t), what’s poor old Neil Costa going to do now that he’s been handed the poisoned chalice of (un)employment?

Neil Costa, surprised and delighted after winning the election
Neil Costa, surprised and delighted after winning the election

GBC poll

GBC polled 650 people giving them a choice of eight topics, to rank in order of importance. The clear winner was a new power station. Uh? It received 25% of votes. Employment was second with 19% of votes, followed by the state of public finance, and, commerce/frontier fluidity, coming joint third with 12.5%.

Frontier fluidity? Why didn’t they just say ‘pissed off with border queues’. And what has that to do with commerce apart from Gibraltarians visiting Spain for cheap goods and Spaniards visiting Gib for, specifically, cheap fuel, tobacco, spirits, chocolates and perfume?

My top four are, first, unemployment, followed by border queues, public finance and the proposed vile stadium at Europa Point. That leaves housing, traffic/parking, the power station, and ad hoc chats with Spain, none of which I care hugely about. Except ad hoc talks was linked with territorial waters intrusions. Just like border queues were linked with commerce. Who designed the poll? Colourworks carried it out, but still, where was sovereignty on the list?

The same poll said more than half of the electorate, ie more than 325 people out of 650, was undecided about who to vote for in the next election. Ignoring those don’t knows gave the GSLP a strong lead. No. That is not how to interpret a poll of 650 people. Floating voters are key in elections. Ignoring how they could vote is silly. And 300+ voters is not statistically significant when we are looking at nearly 22,000 voters. Are numerical journalists no longer employed?

Seems Picardo has now issued a register of electors order for February 2015. Could we be voting in less than a year? Will people give them the benefit of the doubt? Has Picardo worked out that not everyone is entirely happy or convinced they have fulfilled their election pledges?

And my boys say:

Do we support the German Shepherd Dogs (GSD) next year or German Shepherds Love Podencos (GSLP)?

Vote German Shepherd Dogs if they are crossed with huskies!
Vote German Shepherd Dogs if they are crossed with huskies!

German Shepherds Love Podencos!
German Shepherds Love Podencos!

40 comments on “Will they, won’t they?

    • Gibs been British longer than America’s been, well America, and Gib goes back with Spanish and Moroccan and Neanderthal history much further. But, it’s a country, not a sovereign nation, of 30,000 people crammed into a couple of square miles. You need to know the history to understand the place. Wages for most people are poor, private housing is expensive – limited space, and people are on the make for a fast buck. Simple as that. Smuggling was, and still is, part of the economy. I like Gib, but it isn’t perfect and I don’t want to pretend it is. It’s still better than a load of other places.

      What really racks me off about the politics is that they are incapable of splitting party political propaganda and genuine government news. That is so juvenile and indicative of a young government even though it’s an old country. Yawn 😀


    • I think you are up the road aren’t you? Well, up from the frontier anyway. No idea if Jimena is higher than the Rock.

      Gib is full of stories, and to be honest, a lot of misinformation. Unless you have 100% spot on source, you have to check out your stories two or three times. Hence why I said anecdotes. Nameless minister disrespecting Partner was a true story.

      I’d love to know what stories you hear though. We have a pal who rents in Jimena from time to time, think it started off at 200 euros a months, might be 100 now! Signs of the times.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. We thought we have problems here! Perhaps it has all become universal. A whirlpool of people seeking solutions to problems that are not of their making. We dash in and out hoping it will come good. Perhaps that’s how it is.
    Who would have thought ordering a coffee in a Lindl chocolate shop could end up in a hostage situation?


    • We don’t have your problems. Abbott is unbelievable. He should write a book of fairy tales and market it for Christmas. Or maybe horror stories.

      Would you believe it was the first thing we heard about this morning? Partner went on his dog walk for our neighbour and she’d woken up early and flicked on her iPad. As you do at 76. And read about the hostages so she promptly told Partner at 7.15. Power of the Internet. Good and bad.
      Glad I avoid any temples of consumerism but I don’t wish all on those who frequent. Must check the latest, no news last time I looked.


  2. I have just read about the Lindt siege. I wonder if he was meaning to go for the NSW parliament, but bottled it.

    half of voters being Don’t Know means easy pickings for a UKIP style populist/ nutcase right wing party. Just to cheer you up…


  3. I am reminded of two comments.
    The first is by José Maria de Eça de Queirós, (and, yes, I did have to look up the source) “Politicians and diapers should be changed frequently and for the same reason.”
    The second is by Lloyd Gill, the fellow physics teacher with whom I shared an office for 6 years, “It doesn’t matter who you vote for — the Government always gets in.”
    Between the two of them, they’ve said pretty much all that needs to be said. My condolences on the current state of affairs. Perhaps, for a time, after the next election things will be a bit better.


    • I like the first one, can’t remember if I’ve heard it before, but it is so neat. The second one is interesting. I heard a British one on the lines of, ‘doesn’t matter who gets in as the civil service is the one in power’. I think that’s less true nowadays with some of the nuttier policies politicians seem to be coming out with. The civil service was always pretty conservative (small c, rather than party political Conservative).

      I don’t know. It’s a bit like world affairs. The outlook seems bleak with no joy on the horizon. Best to find and appreciate the small good things in daily life.


    • Gib politics are a product of the history and the environment. It’s always been seafaring and is strategically placed. Smuggling was, and still is, part of life. Smuggling = black market. Black market = black money. Black money = cash, and lots of it. Ergo, corruption and the ‘need’ to make a fast buck when you can.


  4. With so many Spaniards coming in and taking jobs on the black I have to ask if there’s a large part of the Government who are pro Unity with Spain? I can’t understand the anti-Brit sentiment considering in the past they’ve voted to retain the relationship.And as residents I’d have thought you and partner would have been included for any and all jobs with locals. Allowing the black economy surely hurts the local Gibs too?
    Are you eligible to stand for election? Perhaps you should start the ‘Fair’party and like UKIP here threaten the two big parties there.
    Hope you’re walking better and much more comfortable.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx Nadolig Llawen


    • Not this government. Moreso with the previous one. Financially/economically it would be a crass move. Cross-border workers aren’t just Spaniards. They include Brits, Portuguese, other northern Europeans, Eastern Europeans, basically everyone who can’t afford to live in Gib (accommodation is expensive, both to buy and to rent), or doesn’t want to live in a small poky flat like ours.

      Black economy has two advantages to employers and customers. Rates are invariably cheaper, no tax and social to pay, so employers make more profit, and for domestic customers, they may get a cheaper job. And, because the workers are on the black, both employers and domestic customers can stiff them for all or part of the money. It’s harder to do with someone who is legitimate and living in Gib.

      Even when firms employ cross-border workers legitimately, they often like using Spaniards because they can push them around and intimidate them. They can’t get jobs in Spain so they need the Gib employment. Brits and Gibbos tend to answer back, point out if scaffolding isn’t correct, refuse to do work unrelated to their job, refuse overtime etc.

      I forgot to mention there is another party. Popular Podencos. Can’t remember what it really stands for. It was a breakaway from the GSD and came last in the last election. They had one Brit candidate who I knew, so I voted for him. He came the very last of the thirty candidates (ten for each party). Gibraltarian politics are complex and incestuous, and to have any hope of success you need a Gibbo name.


  5. Electoral slogan’s amuse me… The the GSLP electoral slogan ‘Time for Change’ sounded familiar and sure enough Australia has had these gems amongst others:
    ‘Choose real change’ – Liberals 2013
    ‘Turn on the lights’ – Liberals 1975
    ‘Think again’ – Liberals 1974
    ‘It’s Time’ – Labor 1972
    ‘Not Yet’ – Liberals 1972
    ‘Right today. Right for your future’ – Liberals 1972
    ‘Time for action’ – Labor 1973
    ‘Secure your tomorrow today’ – Liberals 1963
    ‘Build for tomorrow’’ – Liberals 1961
    “It’s time for a change’ – Liberals 1949
    The article http://electionwatch.edu.au/australia-2013/election-rewind/its-time-discuss-slogans is summed up with the words “The same words and concepts are frequently recycled.” All over the world it seems…


    • That’s an interesting compilation. Saves thinking up new slogans though. All pretty unoriginal aren’t they? 😀 can’t say I find any of them inspiring, but there again, politics and inspiring don’t really fit in the same sentence do they?

      Liked by 1 person

    • The problem here is that Gib is such a small place, everybody knows everyone, or at least knows someone who knows them, so you get all the dirt on people. There’s a lot of misinformation too, but it’s difficult to argue with an unsatisfactory situation of locals being unemployed, a host of people working on the black, and the government giving work to firms that employ cross border workers, people who aren’t legal, and who undercut the basic rate.

      A snort award? A new one perhaps. ‘Quiet Snort Award’.


  6. Corruption is a bad thing. You pay to get a job, then you have to pay when you are paid.
    Between two sets of good for nothing politicians, you vote for the one you hate the least and appears like they could do something


  7. Frontier fluidity. If I saw that on the poll I would be scratching my head. If it wasn’t for your definition I wouldn’t have a clue. The more I learn about politics around the world, the less I like politics, politicians, and polls.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ridiculous isn’t it? I thought about putting in a CV to that agency a while back, I never did. But whoever came up with frontier fluidity when they mean border queues deserves slapped wrists. It’s a great twist on words. The problem is the queues, so, address the problem. Fluidity wouldn’t be a problem, the word is but that’s irrelevant, just address the issue and all it what it is.

      People make things unnecessarily difficult. I could design a poll for key Gib issues in ten minutes flat. I joke not.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Try not to get too involved in Bolitics. (boring politics) Nodded off several times (heard similar stories before… have lived it! Not your fault, just life. It’s same ol, same ol, everywhere to me) However, got to the doggie pics and breathed a sigh of relief as the post came to life. Thank goodness for Pippa and Snowy! See, even YOU can make a dull post lively. :D


    • The point is we should all care. And do I read the news? Of course not. I learn of things internationally via blogs normally. Because, basically, none of it affects me and I can do stuff all about it.

      But in a city of 30,000 people life is a bit different, and our news comes from the streets. Politics here are different, it’s a strange microcosm.

      I thought a reward was merited. My boys are much prettier than politicians. Selfless, generous, good-hearted. Snuggle up. OK I wouldn’t want to snuggle up to a politician. My dogs’ values (and judgement) are far better. Not saying much is it? 😀

      Vote German Shepherd/huskies! Vote Podenco!

      Liked by 2 people

      • I never said, I don’t care… I do very much, but politics is not my forte so to speak. Of course, if it were something that affected me directly, you wouldn’t get me to shut up!

        Yes I can imagine that, having lived in suburbia where everyone pretty much knows everyone else. Microcosm indeed. Of course, you’ll know all about that. :D

        Naturally. :D


        • I used to be fairly up on it. Bit difficult/stupid not to be when working in the political public sector … especially in press office/PR.

          Easier living in a small spanish village really, but maybe that’s because we’re not spanish.

          But does one go for age and experience or youthful energy and exuberance?


  9. Seasons Greetings and Felicidades to you and your boys, and I hope your ankle gets its toe out and makes a big effort to get back to normal service in 2015.


  10. Christmas paw waves and barks of joy.
    This post sounds so familiar. You even assign dog breeds to political groups.
    I gave up looking for a job. (Networking is the only real way to find any job worth looking out right now) Lots of applicable experience in multiple fields, certifications, highly recommended…but refuse to work for next to nothing (and being driven crazy they whole time) It seems everyone wants highly qualified people but want to pay entry level salary/contract fees – why? Because they can hire (and beat up) the desperate and the ones who will work for nothing to gain entrance here. Marginal language skills in English to work with clients – no problem. Can’t write a decent sentence – no problem. Bar for acceptable level of work is so low – good escuse if the project isn’t going well (Oh, this employee isn’t capable, but works in budget) I see this in offices and work everywhere right now. Discouraging. (Why should anyone try to do the best you can?).
    Government only looks out themselves everywhere it seems. Their list of “important issues” never matches most people’s. And they polling questions are obviously framed to get the response they desire.
    Well, dogs know how to keep things in perspective.
    And now the comments about the next post:
    Oh, had a red cactus like the one on the next post. As long as I ignored it, it was happy. Of course, can’t leave well enough along. Lovely while it lasted. I used to put it in the shower when dusty.
    Last night we went to a very old historical mansion hidden in the middle of a park in town – the house and all the furniture and relics were deeded to the Museum of Fine Arts by the remaining daughter (old prominent/wealthy family) before her death. She wanted to make sure some of Houston’s heritage was saved. You have to cross over a wooden suspension bridge over a nice full stream to get there.Toured the period rooms with old toys, Christmas tree, dining room all formally set. Drank warm spiced cider and walked among fountains and some very English gardens with a trio playing harp and violins on the porch. Gentle life from a different era. Quiet and calm. An oasis.
    Merry merry and Jingle on! Enjoy all the lights and giddy community right now! (any chance good will and smiles will carry over to next year? We can always hope! Celebrate while you can…carefully on the steps!)


    • The only barks of joy around here are when Partner comes back from his cycle rides! Both dogs go ballistic. A high pitched shriek from S and a deep Haroo from P. Anyway, how else are you supposed to remember political party abbreviations?

      Networking was probably only ever the way. Bit difficult when you are low on networks … Totally agree with your assessment. Hire cheap, who cares if they aren’t any good? Avoid an intelligent experienced person at all costs. Mainly, they will think they can do your job better than you can.

      Fine Arts place sounds lovely. Went to a similar place once in a Greek city on an island. Very nice.

      No merry jingles for us, just calm and serene enjoying the peace and quiet. Perhaps that’s more appropriate anyway. Don’t mention steps, I’m paranoid about going down them, although upwards is fine.

      Hey ho, off to 2015 and whatever it brings.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. If they get voted in again, they may feel secure enough to take a postgraduate course in South Africa on how to be utterly incompetent, blatantly dishonest, but stay in power for ever.


  12. Key West Florida, a backwater of the evil empire, a city of 23,000 on a four square mile roc,k a mixture of Conchs, Cubans and Carpetbaggers and messed up politics and suffocatingly little space, and high rents and a history of smuggling, lots of fishing, a colonial overlord Up North and ….wait a minute! Is this Gibraltar or Cayo Hueso the Southernmost City?

    No wonder I enjoy reading about Gibraltar’s problems.


    • Laugh. Thanks for the comment. Always fancied visiting Key West. Sounds so exotic. Doubt I ever will, so visiting a blog about it is good enough right now. I’ll try and follow your blog but WP and blogger don’t seem keen on fraternisation. I used to be on blogger for years, but WP is easier.


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