It is accepted as general practice that opposition politicians from democratic nations do not criticise their governments when travelling abroad. Hence you can only have total sympathy for Gibraltar’s Chief Minister, Peter Caruana, when this week he bitterly criticised Opposition Leader and former chief minister, Joe Bossano, for taking local political differences to the international audience at the UN.
Both politicians were in New York to address the UN Fourth Committee which deals with decolonisation. If ever a united front was called for this was it.
An angry Caruana stated: “I was very disappointed with Mr Bossano’s speech. It was an embarrassment to the Government and it was outrageous. He seems to be playing at the UN the same party politics as he plays in Gibraltar.”
The chief minister continued that the purpose of Bossano’s speech was to “undermine and rubbish the arguments and the position of the Gibraltar Government to tell the Fourth Committee that the views of the Gibraltar Government do not represent the views of Gibraltar because we only won by 300 votes, that is not true. He has to understand that Governments govern and represent the country abroad. And oppositions, especially oppositions that have lost four elections in a row do not. He cannot come here to undermine, rubbish and embarrass the Gibraltar Government’s position as if this was Parliament in Gibraltar. The place for Bossano to rubbish my foreign policy is in Gibraltar not here. Here I come as Gibraltar’s formal representative not as the leader of the GSD to be contradicted by the leader of the GSLP. He does Gibraltar a huge amount of harm.”
In some instances Gibraltar takes itself too seriously but here is an occasion when it has not taken itself seriously enough.
In the near on 15 years that I have written a weekly column about Gibraltar I have been careful to try and reflect the views of the Rock rather than my views on matters Llanito. However I have in the past been critical of Bossano’s desire to go show boating before the UN and can only repeat my distaste now. If he has a role to play before the Fourth Committee it is to stand shoulder to shoulder with his Chief Minister. If he can’t do that then he should stay away.
With some 18,000 voters the Rock is in world-terms a village, and a small village at that. Gibraltar’s inability to present itself before the UN speaking with one voice has made it a laughing stock in the international corridors of power. And for that the ball of blame is firmly in Bossano’s court.